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Dayton Flyer Players Showed Plenty of Heart
DAYTON — The University of Dayton football team was already short-handed because of injuries going into the final game of the season, and coach Rick Chamberlin thought he might lose another key player because of a bout with the flu.
Senior Ben Shappie was in such bad shape that the trainers discussed leaving him at the team hotel. But he rode the bus to the game, suited up and even found a way to contribute to the Flyers cause against Jacksonville.
“The guy plays the whole game and plays well (seven carries, 22 yards),” Chamberlin said with amazement. “At any moment, I thought he’d have to run off to the port-a-john … but he never did. You talk about a gutsy performance.”
The Flyers displayed plenty of guts in the de facto Pioneer Football League championship game last Saturday, Nov. 22, but they ultimately couldn’t overcome a rash of injuries and dropped a 19-14 decision to finish 9-3.
Quarterback Rob Florian, who played with a fractured thumb, threw four interceptions. The team’s leading tackler, roving safety Steve McDonald, never got off the bench because of a sprained knee.
Star defensive lineman Scott Vossler played for the second straight week despite a strained hamstring, which probably kept him from scoring a touchdown on the Dolphins’ opening drive when he tipped a pass and pulled it down for an interception.
“You watch him, and he’s dragging one leg, and the quarterback catches him,” Chamberlin said. “You think, gosh, if he had both legs there, he would have been gone.”
But the affable Chamberlin’s first year as a head coach was ultimately fulfilling, even if it didn’t end in a title.
“Sure, here at Dayton we want to always have a championship. But to win as many games as we did with so many new guys in there … it went back to the effort and commitment the players have to this program,” he said.
The Flyers, who have won or shared nine PFL titles in the league’s 16-year history, should be back in the title hunt next season.
They lose Florian and three members of their dominating front four, but they return their top six wide receivers — including Justin Millio, who set a school record with 67 catches — and several key defenders.
Redshirt freshman Jeff Pechan, who earned a PFL offensive player of the week award while subbing for Florian, is the front-runner at quarterback, but he’ll have much competition from highly regarded Indiana native Tim Fogerty, who redshirted this season.
“What’s going to be good is having all those receivers back,” Chamberlin said. “Our quarterback — whoever it may be — is going to have some people to throw to.”
Flyer football players showed plenty of heart
By Doug Harris, The Springfield News-Sun