PHILADELPHIA - Sprint football capped off another successful campaign in 2011, going 5-2 and finishing with the best record amongst the Ivy League schools in the CSFL. Looking back on the 2011 season, the team contained a healthy balance of seniors mixed with underclassmen that will return for the 2012 season.
At quarterback, Todd Busler just extended his margin over every other quarterback in the Penn record books during his senior season. He threw for 1,681 yards and had four of the top-eight passing games in program history this season. He graduates holding eight of the top-10 single-game passing records at Penn. His season total for yardage was second-best all-time, finishing one yard behind his sophomore season. For his career he has 1,730 more passing yards than anybody else for a Penn career. Looking to fill his shoes in 2012 will be Keith Braccia. With Busler lighting up the scoreboard, Braccia did not see much action throwing the ball, but played in five games and threw five passes as a freshman.
On the other end of Busler's passes was a talented foursome of receivers. Departing from that group will be Kamil Okroj and Mathew Wetherell. Okroj had a team-high seven touchdown receptions in 2011, averaging 18.5 yards per catch. He finished with 370 yards on 20 receptions, the eighth-most receiving yards in a single-season at Penn. His classmate, Wetherell, had a team-high 420 yards receiving, making 24 catches and scoring four touchdowns. His single-season receiving yardage ranks as the fifth-best mark in the program history. He graduates as the 12th-leading receiver in the history of the program.
Returning to the talented receiving corps are Andrew Donald and Whit Shaw. Donald caught a team-high 26 passes for 351 yards and five touchdowns. This ranks as the ninth-best single-season total for receiving yards. He is also ninth on the career receiving yards list all-time at Penn. At the head of that list is the final member of that receiving quad. Shaw caught 25 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns, while also returning kickoffs and punts this season. In his first three seasons at Penn, Shaw has amassed 1,757 receiving yards, over 400 yards more than anybody else in program history.
The Quakers will return both of their running backs that saw the vast majority of the action in 2011. Freshman Mike Beamish broke onto the scene with 681 yards rushing, which was the second-most in the CSFL. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and finished with four touchdowns. Beamish also added another dimension to the offense with 15 catches out of the backfield. Jeff Grimes had 109 yards rushing this year on 22 carries as a freshman, providing a change of pace in the backfield.
On special teams, all of the prominent players will return in 2012. In addition to Shaw as the returner of punts and kickoffs, Beamish handled the punting duties for the Quakers in 2011, while Kai Peng is also back for one more season after he took most of Penn's kickoffs this year. Sophomore Michael Bass also saw limited kickoff duty, but made his major contributions kicking field goals. He made 22 extra points and converted six of his nine field goal opportunities, including the career-long 35-yard field goal against Princeton in the season finale.
Defensively, the Quakers will return seven of the eight leading tacklers from this season, but will still have several key positions to fill. The one major loss to graduation on defense will be linebacker Matt Cuccinello, who led the league with 74 tackles this season. Also graduating will be sack leader Brandon Batzel after getting to the quarterback a team-high five times in 2011. Antony Krumbhaar added 19 tackles in 2011, ninth-most on the team. Justin Bass, who made 13 tackles this year, and Mike Mele who played in the secondary, making one tackle, will also graduate from the 2011 squad.
Top returnees to the defense include Jack Miller and Anthony DiBella. Each made 48 tackles this past season. Chris Twombly and Alexander Starr also recorded 40-plus tackles this season, while Starr had four interceptions and Twombly intercepted a pair of passes. Nick Rush, Rolando Lyles, and Kai Peng each had 20-plus tackles and look to make even bigger contributions going forward.
All in all, the future looks bright for sprint football as the team will graduate eight key players from the 2011 team, but return 41 players that will be hungry to take the next steps in their playing careers.