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Flyers look to replace former star QB Valentino
Two-time PFL offensive player of the year graduated.
University of Dayton football fans may be eager for answers about the quarterback position, but Rick Chamberlin, who begins his fourth season as head coach, can’t offer much help just yet.
“It’s not only the fans wondering — the coaching staff is wondering about the quarterback situation,” Chamberlin said.
The concerns are understandable since the Flyers lost two-time Pioneer Football League offensive player of the year Steve Valentino to graduation.
Chamberlin, though, has confidence in the two prime candidates for the job.
Zach Splain, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound third-year sophomore, and Will Bardo, a 6-3, 190-pound redshirt freshman, are listed as co-No. 1’s on the depth chart as the Flyers go into preseason camp Monday. Splain has the more impressive arm, while Bardo, who runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, has the quicker feet.
“In the spring, I thought both grew,” Chamberlin said. “But where Will has to grow more is understanding the offense. Zach already has that. He’s a bright quarterback, and he’s no slouch as an athlete. He can move. His arm is strong enough. He’s just not as big or fast as Will.”
No matter who takes over for Valentino, the Flyers plan on handing off to their tailbacks more than they did while finishing 10-1 last season. Taylor Harris led the PFL in rushing touchdowns with 13, and he combines with Brian Mack and Dan Jacob, who had six TDs each, to give the Flyers a potent trio.
“Our running back situation is the best it’s ever been at Dayton since I’ve been here as far as depth,” said Chamberlin, who is in his 34th season on staff. “We’ve had some talented running backs, but … all three are very similar, and they can wear an opponent down.”
The Flyers, who have won back-to-back PFL co-championships, open the season Sept. 3 at Robert Morris, which made the FCS (Division I-AA) playoffs last season.
Flyers at a glance
Last year’s record: 10-1 (8-0 PFL)
Starters returning: 10 (four offense, six defense)
All-PFL players lost: 7 (QB Steve Valentino, WR Justin Watkins, OL Tyler Friedrich and Eric Studt, DE Brandon Wingeier, LB Joe Ries, DB James Vercammen)
All-PFL players returning: 1 (DE Devon Langhorst)
Sept. 3 Robert Morris noon
Sept. 10 DUQUESNE 1 p.m.
Sept. 17 MARIST 1 p.m.
Sept. 24 Central State 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 BUTLER 1 p.m.
Oct. 8 Jacksonville noon
Oct. 15 DAVIDSON 1 p.m.
Oct. 22 Morehead State 1 p.m.
Oct. 29 Valparaiso 2 p.m.
Nov. 5 SAN DIEGO 1 p.m.
Nov. 12 Drake 2 p.m.
HOME GAMES IN CAPS
By Doug Harris, Springfield News-Sun