Sprint Football Opens 2012 Season at Home on Friday
Offensive captain Drew Owens
Sept. 12, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy sprint football team will open the 2012 season this Friday when it hosts the Coppin State Eagles club football team at 7 p.m. at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Admission to all Navy sprint football games is free.
2012 Season Outlook
Under the direction of new head coach Maj. Kavan Lake, USMC, the Navy sprint football team will look to defend its 2011 Collegiate Sprint Football League title. The Mids claimed their fourth title in the last five seasons in 2011 by posting a perfect 7-0 record. But now looking to the start of the 2012 season, the team is focused on the year ahead and not on its accomplishments of the past.
"I preach to the guys that last year is done," said Lake. "If you want to continue this tradition and make history, you have to buckle down and dig deep again. You have to re-earn that respect that you got last year because nothing is given."
Navy's 65-man roster includes 14 seniors, 15 juniors, 22 sophomores and 14 freshmen. In total, the Mids return 16 All-CSFL performers from 2011.
"We have been very strong both offensively and defensively," said Lake. "The team has come together very well. We have some good freshmen that have proven themselves worthy."
The Midshipmen led the CSFL in total defense last season, yielding an average of just 206 yards per game. The relentless Navy defense produced 54 tackles for loss in 2011 and Coach Lake wants to see even more determination this season.
"As an entire unit, we have looked very strong. We're very aggressive and the guys are ready to get going," said Lake. "I want our defense to be as aggressive as possible. I will never be mad at them for being overly aggressive."
The Mids return two starters from last year's team at the linebacker position in senior captain Will Parker and junior Matt Piotrowicz. Piotrowicz, a first-team All-CSFL selection, led Navy in tackles with 50, while Parker, who was selected to the All-CSFL second team, ranked third with 28.
"Will Parker has been very impressive and he's obviously the standout leader of the defense," said Lake.
The veteran group can expect to get some help from a pair of newcomers as well.
"Temple Sloan and Collin Ascherl are two freshmen linebackers that played very well early on in camp," said Lake.
The defensive line has a core group of returning upperclassmen in senior Julian Jerzerick, a two-year starter, and junior Dylan Etzel. Jerzerick led Navy in tackles for loss with 8.0 and earned first-team All-CSFL honors in 2011.
"The first team has performed very strong," Lake said. "That's another position where we've had a nice group of freshmen step in as well. All in all, the defensive line looks very solid." Etzel started the final four games of last season and has impressed Lake.
"I can't say enough about Dylan," said Lake. "He's a hard-working guy and should have a great season. He's the hands-down leader of the defensive line."
The defensive backfield combined for five interceptions and 31 pass break-ups in 2011 and returns All-CSFL honorees Brendan West (second team), Stephen Meidus (honorable mention) and Ronald Allen (honorable mention), all of which are upperclassmen.
"There are some gaps there because we have some older guys and some freshmen," said Lake. "But the young guys seem to be picking things up well."
Navy outscored its opponents by a count of 232-66 last season, averaging nearly 39 points per game. The Mids return sophomore quarterback Lewis Correale, who appeared in all six games last season, including four starts. He threw for 347 yards and six touchdowns.
Backup and fellow sophomore Will Hampton also saw some action as he appeared in a handful of games.
"Lewis is our field general and all of our quarterbacks are looking very good," said Lake. "You can tell Lewis is the leader of the offense. He takes charge right away and I have given him the authority to make some more decisions on the field. If he sees something, he is able to call an audible. We want him to be aggressive."
Protecting Correale and paving the way for Navy's stable of running backs is a veteran offensive line that includes seniors Vinnie Curley, Mark Reaser and Drew Owens and juniors Ryan Keyes and Josh Escobar. Owens and Reaser were both All-CSFL performers last season.
"Drew, our offensive captain, has very strong character," said Lake. "He is the outright leader of this team. He has performed as expected and gives everything for the squad."
Owens was part of an offensive line last season that helped the Mids to 1,790 yards on the ground, which was the second most in program history. Navy will be looking for more of the same this season as it returns CSFL MVP David Williams, who established himself as one of the top backs in program history by setting the program record for yards in a season with 1,152. His 291-yard performance in the title and Star-clinching win over Army set a school record, as did his 35 carries in the victory.
While Navy will certainly count on Williams to build on his record-setting season, Lake will also look to some new faces.
"As usual, our group of running backs are very strong," said Lake. "In addition to our returners, we picked up some new guys as well. You can expect the Navy running tradition to continue. We have a lot of guys that can get the job done."
One area where Navy will be looking for its younger players to step up is at the wide receiver position. The Mids' top returning receivers are sophomore Jesse Holian (14 catches, 223 yards) and junior Tracy Daniels (10 catches, 51 yards). Holian was a second-team All-CSFL selection last season.
"Our receivers will have to mature quickly," said Lake.
Navy's top-two specialists, senior punter, Michael DeLong, and junior kicker Adrian Montecinos, return in 2012. DeLong averaged over 36 yards per punt last season and knocked 12 inside the 20-yard line. Montecinos connected on 3-of-5 field goal attempts and 30-of-31 extra points.
As for the rest of the special teams units, Lake will be looking for some of the team's nonstarters to make an impact.
"It's a great opportunity for some of our new players, or guys that are a part of the second and third units, to step up. I have no doubts in any of their abilities," said Lake.
After opening the 2012 campaign with Coppin State on Friday, the Mids will play their first conference game of the season on Sept. 22 at Princeton. One week later, Navy will meet Post on Sept. 28 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
After three consecutive weeks of play, the Mids will have a bye week on Oct. 5 and will return to action on Oct. 12 at Cornell. Navy hosts Mansfield on Oct. 19 and then travels to Philadelphia, Pa., to meet Penn on Oct. 26.
The Mids will close the season by hosting Army on Nov. 2.