Cornell sprint football is looking to its depth and experience to separate it from the competition during its upcoming season.
A year after bringing in 10 promising freshmen and revamping nearly the entire defensive line, the coaching staff is hopeful that the 2019 team, led by 19 seniors, will be more comfortable this year and ready to finally take down Ivy League rival Penn: a feat that has eluded them since 2012.
Although Cornell did graduate nine seniors, star running back Will Griffen, who associate head coach Bob Gneo called an “incredibly outstanding” player, is returning for his senior campaign. After torching the Collegiate Sprint Football League for over 500 rushing yards in his first three seasons, Griffen looks to finish out his impressive career with Cornell sprint football’s best season yet.
“I think we’ve got a great team this year,” Griffen said. “We’ve grown a lot as a program and I’m super excited to build on that and make a run this year.”
Among the other returning seniors are former all-league first team selections Marcus Weeks and Jonathon Klobus, who will serve as team captains this year along with Griffen. Weeks and Griffen secured 21 and 23 solo tackles, respectively, last year and Klobus will return to being a brick wall in his role as offensive lineman. In addition, Cornell returns seven other all-league selections, which is the third most of any team in the CSFL.
The Red hopes another bright spot will be quarterback Aneesh Agrawal. The junior saw some action in his first two seasons but will play a much bigger role this year after Connor Ostrander’s ’19 graduation.
Ostrander was Cornell’s starting signal-caller during his junior and senior seasons, and also saw time under center as a sophomore. Ostrander piled up double-digit total touchdowns in each of the last two seasons, leaving big shoes for Agrawal to fill for Cornell’s offense, both on the ground and through the air.
Gneo said he’s looking for Agrawal to come into his own as he becomes the center of the offense for a team that has previously relied on the strength of its special teams to win games.
Cornell went 4-2 during a transitional 2018 season, which is a good indicator of potential success for 2019.
“If Agrawal plays to his potential and our returning guys continue to lead and perform, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this year,” Gneo said.
Cornell’s six-game schedule features games against Ivy League foe Penn, perennial powerhouse Army West Point and four total home games.
The Red has its first test this Saturday at Alderson Broaddus. Cornell’s first home game will take place Sept. 20 against Penn at Schoellkopf Field.