September 22, 2011

SPRINT FOOTBALL | Red Prepares to Take On Post

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With four minutes to go in the third quarter, Cornell’s sprint football team trailed Post, 14-9, in their first meeting in school history last year. Led by a field goal from kicker Alex Perilstein ’11 and a touchdown by senior running back Doug Famularo, the Red was able to pull off the fourth quarter come from behind victory. On Friday night at Schoellkopf Field, up against a more confident and more experienced Post team (0-0), the Red (1-0) hopes to come out stronger in the first quarter to secure its second victory of the season.

The first half woes that hurt the Red against Post last year came back to haunt the team in its opening game against Mansfield (0-1) on Saturday. Once again Cornell brought a three-point deficit into the fourth quarter, and it took a 17-point run to give the Red the decisive victory, 37-23.

“We had a couple special teams errors that cost us early and our defense had trouble early too,” said senior linebacker and tri-captain Tim Dooley. “We should be able to come right out of the cage without any mistakes on Friday.”

By fixing these first quarter mistakes, the Red hopes to put away Post early in the game.

“We’re working on tuning up some problems, and we’re just trying to come out giving the performance we gave in the fourth quarter against Mansfield in the first quarter against Post,” said senior wide receiver and tri-captain Tim Bruhn.

Despite this only being Post’s second season in the CSFL, the Red expects to see a much more experienced team on the field Friday night.

“Without a doubt they will be a different team. They have a lot of players returning, and they were a very young team last year,” Bruhn said.

With 10 more athletes on the roster this year and a few juniors to provide leadership and experience, Post might prove to be a more difficult win than last year. Junior wide receiver Daniel Awaad, who scored the touchdown last year that gave Post a six-point lead, returns with another year of strength and experience under his belt.

“The only thing they don’t have going for them is they’re still sophomores and freshmen with few upperclassmen,” co-head coach Bart Guccia said. “But the numbers and types of athletes they do recruit at Post are very good,” he said.

A large part of the Red’s victory over Post last year could be attributed to the stellar kicking of Perilstein, who was named first team all-CSFL in 2009. The recent graduate had two of his three field goals in the fourth quarter of that game to give the Red the lead. Though his loss will certainly hurt the team, sophomore kicker John Rodriguez has been a significant replacement, converting all three of his field goals on Saturday against Mansfield.

“[Perilstein] was a fantastic kicker, but we are confident in Rodriguez to pick up any slack,” Bruhn said.

Rodriguez, who came down from the varsity squad this year, did not have any kicking experience his freshman year, but has had an impressive start with the Red so far. Another key to beating Post on Friday will be the performance of sophomore quarterback Brendan Miller, who threw for 288 yards against Mansfield. If the combination of young talent in players like Miller and Rodriguez can continue to succeed, the Red will be well prepared for Post, Guccia noted.

With the opening game of the season in the rear view mirror, the Red has found more incentive to work hard in practice, knowing there will be another game at the end of the week.

“We’ve been really up tempo at practice this week — the first taste of another team got everyone pumped up and we’ve had much more quality practices,” Dooley said.

However, this week has also been a difficult one for the coaches to schedule.

“The only thing that’s changed [this week] is prelims,” Guccia said with a laugh.

With 17 players who get out from classes at 4:30 p.m., it is taking some adjustment for the Red to have coherency at practices.

“We try to adjust our practices so we find out the least number of people that will be missing when we have to do things,” Guccia said. “Because of the number of players that might have to be leaving early, we’ll do certain things earlier in practice so they get it in.”

With Post at the end of the week, and kinks to work out in the defense and special teams from the Mansfield game, it is important for the Red to have as much of its team at practice as possible, Guccia said.

“But that’s just the nature of the Ivy League,” he added.

In a league that has become much more talented, the Red can no longer only look at Army, Navy and Penn as its most difficult games.

“Now each week the game means something, and in the way our league is structured, if you lose a game you’re behind the eight ball,” Guccia said.

The team no longer has the luxury of experimenting with backup players in less competitive games; Friday’s game against Post will test whether or not the Red has come out a better team from its opening win over Mansfield.

“We’re looking forward to playing Post,” Guccia said. “They’re a good addition to the league, and they’re going to be very competitive.”

Original Author: Scott Chiusano