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Holy Cross Spring Outlook
After posting an overall record of 7-4 and coming up just one game short of winning the Patriot League title in each of the last three seasons, the Holy Cross football team has high hopes as it prepares for the 2009 campaign during spring practice. The team has shown constant improvement during its five years under the direction of head coach Tom Gilmore, and has now finished with a winning record during each of the last four seasons. This fall, the Crusaders will look to win their first Patriot League title since 1991.
On the offensive side of the ball, Holy Cross returns six starters and 17 of the 22 players on last season’s fi nal two-deep chart. That group will look to build on the success which they had a year ago, when they led the conference in scoring offense (34.4 points per game), total offense (455.4 yards per game) and passing offense (348.9 yards per game). With all of this experience returning, Holy Cross should once again have one of the top offenses in the nation this season.
As for the defense, the Crusaders have nine starters back on a unit which looks to be one of the top defenses in the Patriot League. Holy Cross allowed 25.8 points and 367.3 yards per game in 2008, and will look to improve upon those numbers with a number of experienced players returning to the lineup. The strength of the defense could come from the linebackers, where all four starters return from 2008.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of how the Crusaders should look in 2009.
The Holy Cross offense will be led by senior quarterback Dominic Randolph, who has won two straight Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year awards and fi nished ninth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award last season. In 2008, Randolph completed 340 of 520 attempts for 3,838 yards and 34 touchdowns. He led the nation in completions, passing yards and total offense (3,917 yards), while setting school single season records for passing yards, total offense, completions, pass attempts and touchdown passes. This fall, Randolph will be one of the favorites to win the Walter Payton Award, as only two other returning players in the nation received more votes for the award than he did last year. Senior Joe Kosich looks to return to his role as Randolph’s backup, where he will be pushed by senior Taylor Glor, junior Ryan Taggart and sophomores Mark Tolzien and Kevin Watson.
Randolph should have a number of excellent targets to hit, as Holy Cross returns fi ve of its top seven wide receivers from last season. Leading the way is junior Josh Jenkins, who totaled 35 catches for 329 yards last season. Senior Nick Cole is also coming off a strong year in 2008, when he totaled 30 receptions for 281 yards and two scores. Junior Freddie Santana added 27 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns last season, while senior Bill Edger totaled 24 receptions for 345 yards and four scores, and junior Luke Chmielinski caught 24 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown. Senior Mike Frawley, junior Rob Koster and sophomore Charles McCall will also be in contention for starting spots, while junior Rob Turner and sophomores Matt Bosnjak and Paul McKelvey will look to become factors at wide receiver.
At tight end, seniors Paul Nielsen and Josh Nims look to compete for the top spot. Nielsen played in fi ve games as a backup last season, while Nims saw action in seven contests. Senior Mike Argillander and sophomore Alex Schneider will also look to contribute.
The Crusaders have a number of young players who will compete for the starting spot at tailback. Sophomore Matt Bellomo leads the way, after rushing for 150 yards on 39 carries and catching four passes for 37 yards in six games last season. Sophomore Francis Camara and junior Drew Volkmann, who both had three carries last year, will also be in the mix. Senior Matt Jackson and junior Jo Jo Moore will also look to earn playing time.
In addition to all of the talent returning at the skill positions, the Crusaders return four out of fi ve starters and two All-Patriot League selections on the offensive line. Last year, the line paved the way for Holy Cross to average 455.4 yards of total offense and 34.4 points per contest. The Crusaders also allowed just 16 sacks during the 2008 season, while the team attempted 523 passes (just one sack for every 33.7 times the team dropped back to pass). Leading Holy Cross this season will be four players who started at least nine games during the 2008 campaign. Senior Chris Smith will be back for his fourth year as the starting center, while senior Chris Poole and senior Rob Petrosino return as the starting guards, and senior Aaron Jones is back as the starting left tackle. Junior Mike McCabe, who may be the most talented of all the linemen, is expected to be back in the starting lineup at right tackle, after missing the fi nal nine games of the 2008 season due to injury. Senior Chris Fucillo, junior Mike Bernazzani, junior Scott Wise and sophomore Kyle Seddon all saw action as backups last season, and will look to push the starters for playing time, along with sophomores Andrew Jameson and Sean Whited. Others who will look to contribute, include seniors Matt Brady, Justin Johnson and Brandt Tierney, and junior Graham Gawryszewski.
The linebackers looks to be a strength for Holy Cross, with all four starters and two All-Patriot League selections returning. Senior Marcus Rodriguez is back at one of the inside linebacker spots, after totaling 68 tackles, four sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2008. Senior Andrew Cialino, who recorded 26 tackles while playing in just fi ve games due to injury, returns as the other starting inside linebacker. Junior Perry Townsend, sophomore C.J. Martin and sophomore Ricky Otis, who saw action as backups and on special teams last season, are also expected to be key contributors. Senior Wayne Nesbit and junior Brian Mauthe will look to win playing time. On the outside, senior Sean Lamkin will be back in the starting lineup, following a 2008 campaign in which he led the team with 71 total tackles, including six tackles for loss. Senior Anthony Campbell returns as the other starter on the outside, after recording 24 tackles and four tackles for loss a year ago. Junior James McLaughlin and sophomore Jimmy Thomas should also play key roles off the bench at outside linebacker. Junior Rory Sullivan will also push for playing time, while senior Pat Anderson provides added depth.
The secondary should also be strong this season, with three out of four starters and an All-Patriot League selection returning. At one cornerback spot, senior Michael Wright returns as the starter, after totaling 34 tackles, an interception and a team-best 12 pass breakups in 2008. Junior Anthony DiMichele, who recorded 66 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups a year ago, is back as the other starting cornerback. Senior John Myrick and sophomore Chandler Fenner will push Wright and DiMichele for playing time, while junior D.J. Kernisant provides added depth.
At free safety, junior Anthony Johnson returns as the starter, after totaling 47 tackles and fi ve pass breakups last season. Senior Quentin Liggins looks to earn the starting spot at strong safety, after making six tackles as a backup and on special teams a year ago. Senior Dakota Allosso, senior Pat Haidon and junior Kyle Smith could also push for a starting spot at safety. Others competing for playing time will be senior Jachin Leatherman and sophomores Colby Husby, Cav Koch and Clay Swigert.
The defensive line will be led by a pair of returning starters in senior Alex Carson and junior Mude Ohimor. Last season, Carson started every game, totaling 28 tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups. Ohimor is also coming off a solid year, during which he recorded 17 tackles and two tackles for loss. Senior Nicholas MacDonald will look to take over as the other starter along the defensive front, after posting 15 tackles and two sacks in 2008. Junior Marcus Morgan, junior Kevin Regan and junior Anthony Ruoti are also expected to be key factors on the defensive line. Also looking to compete for playing time will be junior Matt Ferrel, sophomore Brandon Bamberg, sophomore Ryan McGinn and sophomore Eric Oldiges.
The Crusaders will need to replace their top placekicker and their top punter from last season. Junior Rob Dornfried and junior Don Lemieux will compete for the placekicking spot, this spring, while both of those players will battle with sophomore Corey Page to be the starting punter. Lemieux took over the kickoff duties late last season, and averaged 59.8 yards on 13 kicks with two touchbacks. Dornfried also saw limited action in 2008, punting once for 37 yards.
As for kick returners, the Crusaders have a number of experienced players. Jenkins led the team by averaging 6.3 yards on 23 punt returns last season, in addition to posting a 18.6 yard average on 25 kickoff returns. Santana could also be a factor on punt returns, while Fenner and Swigert will see action as kickoff returners.
The 2009 schedule looks to be tough, as it includes fi ve contests against schools which won at least seven games in 2008. The Crusaders will open the season with a three-game homestand, staring on Sept. 5 against Patriot League rival Georgetown. Holy Cross will then play host to Sacred Heart on Sept. 12, before welcoming 2008 Ivy League co-champion Harvard to town on Sept. 19. Following a bye week, the Crusaders travel to Northeastern of the Colonial Athletic Association on Oct. 3, then head to 2008 Ivy League co-champion Brown on Oct. 10. Holy Cross returns to Fitton Field to play host to Dartmouth on Oct. 17, and will then play host to 2008 Patriot League champion Colgate on Oct. 24. Next, the Crusaders will play two straight road games, at Fordham on Oct. 31, and at Lehigh on Nov. 7. Holy Cross will play its fi nal home game of the season against Lafayette on Nov. 14, before closing out the year at Bucknell on Nov. 21.
By The College of the Holy Cross Sports Information