October 10, 2008

Sprint Football to Take on Lowly Tigers

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The last time Princeton’s sprint football team won a game was in the 14th annual alumni game earlier this year. Against alumni who came into the game with no practice and no workouts, but the benefit of not having to weigh in, the Tigers squeaked out a 20-17 victory.
[img_assist|nid=32598|title=On your toes|desc=Quarterback Zak Dentes (11) needs just six pass yards to move into second place in Red|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The last time the Tigers won a non-exhibition game was in 2005, and prior to that, they hadn’t won since 1999 – a 12-7 win over Cornell, also the last time Cornell lost to Princeton before beating them in 15 consecutive contests.
“Princeton’s a little down — their program’s been down for a few years,” co-head coach Bart Guccia said. “We’re not taking them completely for granted. But we feel that we’ve improved enough that we should be able to go down there and handle them and then look forward to getting Penn and Army.”
It’d be hard to not overlook the Tigers (0-2, 0-1 CSFL), who are 1-44 in the 21st century (0-29 CSFL), having been outscored 1931-388 over that same period. So far this season, the Tigers have been outscored 101-0 in losses to Penn and Army.
Cornell (1-2, 0-1 CSFL), like Princeton, will be looking for its first conference victory, after falling to Navy in a hard-fought 31-25 conference opener last weekend.
“[Losing to Navy] brings our focus to a higher level,” said sophomore linebacker Clay Hemminger, the team leader in tackles. “We realize that we did play really well, but we still didn’t come out with a win. They were a great team, but we still just have to play better.”
“Navy, of course, is such a huge game for the conference championship since we only play them once,” Guccia added. “But they still have tough games against Penn and Army as we do, so we have to look to win out, and hopefully someone knocks off Navy, and we can still tie for the championship — that’s what we’re looking at.”
The first step will take place tonight in Princeton, N.J. Last year against the Tigers, Cornell took a 49-26 victory at Powers Field, followed by a 34-0 shutout of the Ivy foe at Schoellkopf.
In the second matchup, senior captain quarterback Zak Dentes sat out with a hand injury, making room for sophomore Elliot Corey and senior Brandon Stoller. Corey threw for three touchdowns before Stoller came in to throw one scoring pass and run in a touchdown from 45 yards out.
This year, Dentes should resume his role as signal caller, although Corey and freshman quarterback Timothy Bruhn may see some time as they have earlier in the season. Last weekend against Navy, however, it was Dentes who kept Cornell in the game until the final seconds, accounting for all three Red touchdowns.
Princeton’s offense also relies heavily on its quarterback, senior Andrew Dixon.
“Offensively they like to pass the ball a lot, so they’ll give our secondary a good test,” Hemminger said. “I think if the secondary steps up, we’ll have a good outcome.”
That burden falls on largely on senior Matt Malleo, juniors Jeff Soffen and Chris Stanton, and sophomore John Mackin­tosh. The Red secondary will be up against a Tiger passing game that has totaled 22 yards through its first two games, to complement 24 yards on the ground.
While having totaled just 46 yards of total offense, Princeton’s opponents have put together 854 yards. You might want to keep your eye on Ithaca natives Dentes and senior captain Michael Brennan — Dentes is just six yards away from moving into second place on Cornell’s career passing list, while Brennan needs 285 yards to be tops in receiving.