Despite what the schedule reads, the sprint football season didn’t begin on Sept.16, with the Red’s victory over Penn at the Allegiance Bowl. Rather, the Red’s season began at the start of classes the preceding spring.
Unlike most sports, the sprint football team names its captains for the following season at the end of the present one. These captains are then completely responsible for running off-season workouts — a process which has greatly contributed to this year’s 5-0 (3-0 CSFL) record.
“Our captains have really been excellent this year,” said head coach Terry Cullen. “Through handling the whole off-season program, they were able to develop into leaders.”
[img_assist|nid=19185|title=sprint|desc=Senior running back Mike Fulllowan (23) carries the ball during the sprint footballteam’s 21-7 victory over Penn last Friday.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=67]
The Red’s tri-captains — Mike Fullowan, Derek Johnson and John Samuel — are part of the team’s large senior class that includes 22 players in total. This year, numerous members of the Class of 2007 have stepped up their performances, playing a large part in Cornell’s undefeated season. Defensive end Matt Collin leads the team — as well as the CSFL — in sacks (seven) and deflected a critical field goal in the Red’s 16-10 overtime win over Navy on Oct. 6. In that same game, senior defensive back Daniel Brewer was part of a secondary that held a potent Navy offense to just 133 yards through the air and caught three interceptions.
Cornell’s graduating class also sports a number of versatile players — including senior Jason Zittel — who not only handles responsibility for the Red’s kicking game but is also second on the team in tackles (15). A quick perusal of the Red’s statistics shows seniors leading the team in receptions (Sam Coe, 22 receptions), rushing touchdowns (Fullowan, four touchdowns), yards rushing (Fullowan, 192 yards) and interceptions (Samuel, three interceptions). Yet, in spite of the class’ impressive on-field performance, Cullen believes they contribute even more than their numbers reveal.
“[The senior class] is really the reason for our success, but it’s not so much their play as it is the intangibles they bring,” Cullen said. “The entire class, even the guys who aren’t playing, have been able to instill discipline in the team.”
According to Fullowan, this ability stems from the team’s participation in the aforementioned off-season workouts.
“[Spring workouts] really helped make us a comfortable and close-knit group,” Fullowan said. “When it’s Saturday morning, it’s beautiful outside and everyone is going through a tough workout together, it just helps reinforce that closeness.”
As a result of such dedication, the Red stands on the verge of an historic season. Coming into its final game — a visit to West Point this Friday against an Army team that leads the league in total offense — Cornell has a chance to finish the year with its first unblemished record since 1982. In fact, since that season, the Red has finished on top of the standings just twice and has had only four records above .500 since its last championship in 1986.
Fullowan has not lost the opportunity presented by Friday’s game.
“If we can beat Army, it would easily be one of the biggest accomplishments of my football career,” Fullowan said.