October 3, 2008

Sprint Football Squad Boasts Depth, Versatility

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After dropping to third place in the CSFL last season following an undefeated run to the national championship in 2006, the sprint football team is looking to return to glory. Despite a season-opening loss to Penn, the Red rebounded with a 35-0 victory over Mansfield and now has the pieces in place for a successful run through its conference schedule.
Cornell (1-1, 0-0 CSFL) began the season with eleven returning starters, and brings back 22 varsity lettermen. The squad has experienced leadership in the three senior captains: quarterback Zak Dentes, wide receiver Michael Brennan and linebacker John Parke.
Dentes leads a trio of quarterbacks who will see time under center in 2008. Dentes is on pace to set the career record for throwing yards, while second-string quarterbacks sophomore Elliot Corey and freshman Timothy Bruhn have both shown promise in their stints on the field.
Through the first two games this season, Dentes leads the team with two touchdowns — one through the air and one on the ground. Bruhn has already gained 50 yards rushing to complement his 62 passing yards, while Corey leads the team with 144 passing yards and an efficiency ratio of 160.96.
The Red has a busload of options in the backfield, with nine different players tallying a rushing attempt thus far. Leading the way this season is junior D.J. Schiavetta, who leads the Red with 84 rushing yards on 29 attempts.
“[D.J.] played a lot of positions last year, so this year we decided to put [him] in one position and just let him play,” said co-head coach Terry Cullen. “D.J. has been playing well, so he got the job.”
Brennan will headline the receiving corps as he tries to set the school record for career receiving yards this season. He already has 100 yards, just 268 shy of the top spot.
Dentes also will be targeting senior Josh Friedman, junior Chris Latimer and senior Brandon Stoller. Upal Sarker, last year’s second leading receiver, has again established himself as a big-play threat with 57 yards on two catches.
The offensive line should be solid this year, returning three starters — senior David Ortenberg and juniors Sam Lincoln and Michael Adler. Senior Mitch Ottinger will be among those who fill in the rest of the line, while also doing the place-kicking for the Red. Sophomore John Mackintosh will return as the punter.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Red is led by Parke and emerging sophomore linebacker Clay Hemminger. After leading Cornell in tackles in the championship year of 2006, Parke missed two games last season with an injury. Like the Red, he will be looking to return to championship form this season, and is currently third on the team with seven tackles.
Hemminger leads the team with 10 unassisted tackles, 12 total, and four tackles for a loss. He has already totaled a sack, interception and blocked kick.
Also on the defensive side of the ball is last year’s CSFL leader in all-purpose yards and touchdowns, senior Matt Malleo. He’s currently fourth on the team with six tackles to lead a talented secondary.
“Excited,” Malleo said when asked what the team’s outlook is this season. “We’ve got an extremely talented group and we know we have the capability to win the national championship. … We’re just very excited for what we can do, and to have the opportunity to win the national championship.
“We have coach Cullen and coach Guccia running things this year as co-head coaches, so we want to make sure that we do well for them,” Malleo continued. “We know how good we are — now we just want to take advantage of our opportunities and win it all.”
Beginning this season, The Terry Cullen Head Coach of Sprint Football, Terry Cullen, will share the head coach responsibilities with Bart Guccia. Heading into their 44th and fourth years at Cornell, respectively, the pair has decided that Guccia will handle the majority of on-field coaching, while Cullen’s decades of work will continue to provide invaluable experience.