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Four Players Trying to Replace Randolph at QB for Holy Cross
WORCESTER — Holy Cross spring football practice is under way — without Dominic Randolph.
Well, sort of.
Randolph, HC’s record-setting quarterback who graduated in December and is now working toward his dream of playing in the NFL, has been a regular visitor to the Crusaders’ practices the last two weeks, watching and encouraging his former teammates from the sidelines.
On the field, though, the battle is on among Randolph’s possible replacements. Imagine filling those shoes? Senior Ryan Taggart, junior Kevin Watson, junior Mark Tolzien and sophomore Grant Enders will try.
“Obviously, we lost a big player in Dom,” wide receiver Luke Chmielinski said, “but you can see everyone getting more comfortable, everyone looking really good, and it’s competitive.”
Watson and Taggart both served as Randolph’s backup last year and saw little playing time before suffering season-ending injuries. Right now, they are the frontrunners to become the new starting QB, coach Tom Gilmore said, but the competition is wide open.
Watson, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder from Belle Mead, N.J., began last season second on the depth chart. He had a 7-yard touchdown run against Sacred Heart and was hurt two weeks later. The 6-1, 190-pound Taggart, from Bedford, Texas, took over as the backup and completed both of his pass attempts before being injured at Fordham.
Tolzien improved dramatically, Gilmore said, from his freshman to sophomore year, and Enders shows promise as well.
Holy Cross’ veteran group of returning wide receivers, led by Chmielinski and Freddie Santana, both seniors, and Bill Edger, who will return for a fifth year, should certainly ease the transition for the new QB.
Edger led the team last year with 818 receiving yards, while Chmielinski had a team-high 63 catches for 807 yards, and Santana had a team-best eight touchdown grabs. The Crusasders topped the Patriot League in scoring, averaging 32 points a game.
Last year’s success — nine wins, the Patriot League championship, and a great showing in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs — made HC’s returning players even more eager for spring ball.
“Absolutely,” Santana said, “but this is the 2010 Crusaders. We’re just as hungry, if not more hungry.”
The Crusaders return 10 players, five on each side of the ball. They include senior strong safety Anthony DiMichele, an All-America candidate, as well as placekicker Rob Dornfried and punter Don Lemieux. Inside linebacker Sean Lamkin, who missed most of last year with an injury, will also return for a fifth season.
Gilmore has been thrilled with his team’s enthusiasm during spring sessions. The Crusaders had a particularly spirited practice during Monday night’s rainstorm.
“The biggest thing you hope for in the spring is the effort being there,” Gilmore said, “and it certainly is. I’ve been real pleased with the effort and the attitude. We’re nowhere near where we need to be, but that’s not unexpected this time of year with new guys moving into new roles and getting everything coordinated. Things need to be worked out, but you can see some of that starting to happen.”
The 2009 Patriot League trophy is prominently displayed in Gilmore’s office, and the Crusaders’ title-clinching win over Lafayette on a wet and windy day at Fitton Field is a great memory, but he and the Crusaders have put last year’s proud achievement behind them.
“It’s a whole new team now,” Chmielinski said.
The annual spring game will be played at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 17, and afterward the Crusaders will receive their PL champion rings.
“We have moved on,” Santana said, “but once we get the rings, I think we’ll live out the moment again. We’ll feel it again.”
Four players trying to replace Randolph at QB for HC
By Jennifer Toland, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette