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Andy Rondeau 'home' to lead Holy Cross defense
The first college football game new Holy Cross defensive coordinator Andy Rondeau ever attended was a HC-Brown matchup at Fitton Field back in 1977.
Rondeau, a native of nearby Holliston, was 9 years old at the time. As he looked around Fitton Field after yesterday’s annual spring game, he noticed not that much has really changed.
“This is home for me,” said Rondeau, who spent the last five seasons as the defensive coordinator at Old Dominion. “I grew up knowing the legends of Gordie Lockbaum and all that, so it was a tremendous opportunity to come here based on the history, the recent history and the location.”
Rondeau, a 1991 graduate of Syracuse, was hired three days before the start of spring practice, so the whole process has been kind of a whirlwind.
Last month, Holy Cross hired former University of Memphis secondary coach Shannon Morrison to replace Richard Rodgers, HC’s defensive coordinator from 2006-2011 who resigned in January to take a position with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Morrison left Holy Cross a couple weeks into the job to become defensive backs coach at the University of Cincinnati.
That opened the door for Rondeau.
“It was a unique situation to start so late in the spring,” Rondeau said, “and I’ve been getting to know everybody and everything on the fly. It was a good spring. There was growth and I got to learn a lot.”
Rondeau’s wife and their four young children were on hand for yesterday’s game. They will be returning to Virginia to wrap up things with the family home there, then join Rondeau here permanently in the coming weeks.
Under Rondeau, Old Dominion ranked second in the Colonial Athletic Association in sacks and takeaways last season and was third in rushing defense. ODU reinstituted football in 2008 and earned an NCAA playoff berth last season.
“It was an awesome ride at ODU and we had some tremendous successes,” Rondeau said. “To be part of something starting from nothing was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We had great success and I enjoyed it down there. Now it’s time to move on to the next opportunity.”
Rondeau previously held positions at Maine, Buffalo, Tennessee-Martin and North Dakota State. He oversaw the linebackers at ODU, and will coach HC’s secondary.
“He stepped right in and he’s been great,” HC defensive tackle Jack Maliska of Winchendon said. “He’s right in there, getting everyone excited and he preaches hustle.”
Maliska, who played at Murdock High, was a second-team All-Patriot League selection last year. He finished with 35 tackles and a pair of sacks.
“Every year has been a step forward,” Maliska said, “and hopefully I get to continue this season.”
Maliska is one of three returning starting defensive linemen along with junior ends Gary Acquah and Matthew Boyd.
Former QB Randolph retires
Record-setting quarterback Dominic Randolph returned for yesterday’s alumni game.
Randolph, who holds the Holy Cross career marks for passing yards, attempts and completions, saw action in seven games for the Chicago Rush of the Arena League last season, but recently decided his playing days are over.
Randolph is working for GE Financial in Stamford, Conn., where he also lives.
“It’s not football,” Randolph said, “but it’s been a great learning experience so far and I’m getting in the rhythm of working in finance.”
Randolph signed with the New York Giants as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft. He was cut after rookie minicamp, but rejoined the Giants during training camp. He was waived before the start of the season.
Randolph threw a pair of touchdowns for the HC alumni yesterday.
“It’s great being back,” he said.
Other notable alums taking part in yesterday’s game were Holy Cross hall of famer Jerome Fuller, one of the best running backs in school history, and 64-year-old Paul Scopetski, a former HC linebacker and 1969 graduate.
NFL interested in McCabe
Senior Mike McCabe had a very encouraging Pro Day at Boston College last month
“I got some really good feedback,” said the 6-foot-6, 315-pound McCabe, who was a three time All-Patriot League selection at left tackle. “There were a lot of (NFL) teams there and about eight or 10 showed some interest in me.”
McCabe is keeping his hopes up between now and the NFL Draft, which is April 26-28.
McCabe started 34 straight games to finish his outstanding HC career. Last fall, he helped the offense average 22.9 points and 400.9 yards a game while allowing just 21 sacks.
McCabe was a two-time New England all-star and has excelled in the classroom. A three-time Patriot League all-academic honoree, McCabe will graduate next month with a 3.62 GPA in classics.
He spent some time yesterday talking with Randolph about his experiences leading up to, during and after the NFL Draft.
“It would be an honor to be drafted,” McCabe said, “but I hope to get the opportunity to sign with a team and be in camp.”
HC under lights Aug. 30
The next time the Crusaders will play a game on Fitton Field will be the 2012 opener against UNH on Aug. 30.
For the second straight year, Holy Cross will start the season under the lights. Last year’s opener against UMass, the first night game in the history of Fitton Field, drew a crowd of 16,000.
“I think UNH is another draw like UMass,” HC coach Tom Gilmore said, “and I think we’ll just have a great atmosphere like last year. I think a lot of people are looking forward to doing this again and I know our kids just like it. It’s a real neat thing, a high-energy night and a lot of people are looking forward to it.”
By Jennifer Toland TELEGRAM & GAZETTE