Quakers Set to Kick Off 2004

Game 1

No. 23 Penn at San Diego
Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004
Torero Stadium - San Diego, Calif.
1 p.m. (PST)/4 p.m. (EST)

- First meeting

Are You Ready For Some Football
— The Penn football team kicks off the 2004 season on Saturday, Sept. 18 against the University of San Diego. The Quakers will look to resume the longest current winning streak in I-AA football as they travel to the West Coast in search of win number 17. The Red and Blue return 38 letterwinners and 12 starters, including 2003 All-Ivy honorees Dan Castles at wide receiver, Sam Mathews at running back and preseason All-American Duvol Thompson at conerback. Penn is also in search of its third Ivy League title in as many years, a feat not accomplished since 1990-92.

Listen Live — Matt Leon (play-by-play) and Hench Murray (color analyst) return for their second season together to bring the Penn fans Quakers football. This season the broadcast can be heard locally on ESPN Radio 920 AM and on the Internet at www.pennathletics.com and www.920espn.com. The pre-game show begins approximately 15 minutes before kickoff.

Coaching the Quakers — Al Bagnoli begins his 13th season as the George A. Munger Head Football Coach. Bagnoli enters 2004 with the second-highest winning percentage among active I-AA coaches (.771) and is sixth among those same coaches in wins (172). He is first in wins (63) among active Ivy League coaches, second at Penn in years coached (12) and second in wins at Penn (86).

Starting at Quarterback — Penn will start junior quarterback Pat McDermott (6’0, 205 lbs.) for the 2004 season opener. McDermott entered the frey two times last season, earning one start and throwing for 204 yards and two touchdowns. One area that the Yonkers, N.Y. native will benefit his offense is his mobility. McDermott tucked the ball five times in 2003, rushing 32 yards for a 6.2 yards per carry average. This threat will make opposing defenses respect the Quakers QB’s ability to hurt with his arm or his feet.

Wide Open Spaces — Senior wide receiver Dan Castles (6’3, 210 lbs.) returns for his final season in Red and Blue. The Toms River, N.J. native hauled down 71 receptions for a team-leading 1,067 yards and a record-tying 13 touchdowns. Castles became only the second Quaker to hit four digits in receiving yards for a season (Rob Milanese - 1,112 yds. - 2002) and is just three catches shy of hitting the century mark for his career. His 97 career grabs ranks sixth on the Penn all-time list and his 1,478 receiving yards ranks fifth all-time. The senior’s accomplishments not only caught the eye of Quakers fans but of the entire Ivy League nation as well. Castles ranked first in the Ancient Eight in receiving yards per game (106.7) and was fifth in the country. He ranked third in the League in receptions per game (7.10) and ninth in all of I-AA football. Castles had a career day to close out the 2003 season, recording 204 yards receiving and scoring four touchdowns. One of the scores came on a season-high 60-yard reception from 2003 Ivy League Player of the Year Mike Mitchell.

Two if By Air — Pat McDermott will have a pair of wide receivers to choose from when he steps under center for the first time this season. Along with Castles, Penn will start Gabe Marabella (5’11, 200 lbs.) at the second wide out position. Marabella saw action in all 10 games last season, recording seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Sam, I Am — Junior running back Sam Mathews (5’9, 200 lbs.) is set for his second season with the Quakers. After transferring from Navy after the 2002 season. Mathews stepped into the role of starting tailback, flourishing for 1,266 yards and 13 touchdowns. Mathews also garnered national attention for his accomplishments, as he ranked 11th in the country and third in the Ivy League in yards per game (126.6). Mathews also ranked 10th in the Ivy League for total offense and third and 13th in the Ancient Eight and the nation, respectively, for all-purpose yardage per game (157.7). Mathews rushed for over 100 yards in five-straight games last season, registering a season-high 204 yards against Yale on Oct. 25.

Leading the Way — Leading the way for Mathews in the backfield will be senior fullback Kevin DeSmedt (6’1, 230 lbs.). DeSmedt is a triple threat; He blocks well, has the size to get the ball into the end zone in short yardage situations and is a passing option out of the backfield. Last season he scored three touchdowns; two catches of two and seven yards and a run of one yard.

O-Line Looking Fine — Although Penn is replacing the entire starting offensive line from a year ago, the truth is the 2004 front five look ready to pick up where their predecessors left off. Erik Curtis (6’4, 280 lbs.) is the lone letterwinner of the group, playing in four games and starting against Cornell (Nov. 22). All but one of the 2004 starters saw action a year ago. Michael Pierce (6’3, 300 lbs.) saw action in three games in 2003 as did Greg Williams (6’1, 285 lbs.). Don Snyder (6’2, 270 lbs.) entered into two contests a year ago and Keith Walewski (6’3, 300 lbs.) will make his collegiate debut against the Toreros.

Go West Young Man — The Penn football team will play its first game on the West Coast since Oct. 1, 1955 when the Quakers kick off against the Toreros on Sept. 18. Penn traveled to the Golden State 50 years ago to face California. In fact, the Red and Blue do not make many trips west of the state of Pennsylvania very often. The last time Penn met an opponent outside the eastern time zone (besides California in 1955) was when it traveled to Wisconsin in 1951. The Quakers fell to the Badgers, 16-7, on Nov. 10 in the seventh game of the season. This game will be a homecoming of sorts for certain members of the Red and Blue squad as 15 student-athletes hail from California.

On a National Stage — Penn was ranked in the top-20 in the nation in six statistical categories a year ago. Penn boasted a 267.4 yards per game passing offense, which ranked 12th in the land and third in the League. The Quakers ranked ninth in total offense (438.2 ypg), 10th in scoring offense (34.6 ppg) and passing efficiency (145.23) and eighth in scoring defense (16.4). The Red and Blue cracked the top-five nationally in rushing defense (fourth; 92.9 ypg) and turnover margin (third; 1.6).

A League of Their Own — The Quakers also took care of business against League opponents, leading seven categories and finishing the season in the top half of the conference in all categories. Penn paced the Ancient Eight in rushing defense (92.9), passing efficiency defense (111.85), total defense (326.1 ypg), scoring defense (16.4), kickoff returns (20.88 ypr), turnover margin (1.6) and passing efficiency (145.23).

Red and Blue Streak — Despite what you may hear from the Penn football team, the Quakers current winning streak is a pretty big deal. Penn has been victorious over its last 16 opponents, the longest current winning streak in I-AA football. The longest I-AA winning streak in the nation, 24, also belongs to the Quakers and is shared with Montana. Penn boasts another winning streak and that is 19 straight wins at Franklin Field, a mark that will be put to the test in the Red and Blue’s home season opener on Sept. 25 against Villanova.

Putting the ‘D’ in Defense — Senior cornerback Duvol Thompson was named a Sports Network preseason All-American, and rightfully so. The Calumet, Ill. native finished fifth on the team in tackles with 43 (26 solo) a year ago and also broke up seven passes and picked off one to give him four interceptions for his career.

Nothing Second Rate About the Secondary — Along with Thompson, the Penn secondary also returns Bryan Arguello, a Cali-native and the team-leader in interceptions (four) in 2003. Arguello also finished third on the squad in tackles with 45 (28 solo). Rejoining the Quakers in the defensive backfield is senior tri-captain Kevin Stefanski. After missing most of 2003 due to injury, the Wayne, Pa. native will look to add to his 54 career tackles and seven career interceptions. Seth Fisher will claim the cornerback spot opposite Thompson. Fisher is coming off a season where he saw action in nine games, starting five, and recorded 36 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 tackles for a loss and a pair of interceptions. Michael Johns (5’9, 165 lbs.), who also saw action in nine games last season, gets the start at safety alongside Stefanski. Scotty Williams (6’1, 190 lbs.), Kelechi Okere (6’0, 195 lbs.) and Casey Edgar (6’2, 210 lbs.) round out the Quakers’ talented corps of defensive backs.

Easier Said Than Blocked — Michael Sangobowale (6’2, 265 lbs.) may have a challenging name to pronounce (San-Go-Bow-Wall-E) but opposing offensive linemen will find it more challenging to keep him out of their backfield. The senior defensive lineman menaced offensive linemen in 2003 with seven tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. He compiled 38 tackles (20 solo) as well. The Penn D-line does not get any easier with Bobby Fallon (6’3, 230 lbs.) lining up at defensive end, Greg Jones (6’2, 240 lbs.) and Kevin Junge (6’3, 230 lbs.) toeing the opposite side of the line and J.J. Stanton (6’2, 250 lbs.) keeping things peaceful in the middle at nose guard. Besides size and quickness, the Quakers have experience in their favor on the defensive line. All starters, with the exception of Stanton, are seniors and have played in a combined 53 games.

Torrid Start for Toreros — San Diego has wrapped a season’s worth of excitement into its opening two weeks. The Toreros opened the 2004 season with a last-minute loss, 24-17, to Azusa-Pacific when USD gave up a five-yard rushing touchdown with 57 seconds remaining. The football gods shed light on the Toreros this past Saturday. After pinning Holy Cross deep in its own territory, San Diego forced a fumble and scored from eight yards out in the span of 10 seconds to win its first game of the season, 37-31.

Scouting San Diego — San Diego is coming off an 8-2 effort in 2003, finishing atop the North Division of the Pioneer Footbal League (PFL). The Toreros ranked in the top-five nationally in scoring offense (second; 39.9 ppg), passing offense (fourth; 312.6 ypg) and turnover margin (fifth; 1.3). USD led the nation in total offense (483.3 ypg) and passing efficiency (169.53). So far this season the Toreros have put 27.0 points on the board per game on an average of 220.5 passing yards and 71.0 rushing yards per contest.

USD Passing Attack — Torero’s quarterback Todd Mortensen has 441 yards in two games, completing 55.1 percent (38-for-69) of his passes, and has tossed a pair of touchdown passes. Mortensen’s favorite target seems to be Adam Hannula, who has hauled in 11 catches for 127 yards to open the season. He caught one of Mortensen’s touchdown passes while Matt Koller (three catches for 64 yards) hauled in the other.

USD Running Attack — San Diego’s leading rusher through two games is Evan Harney. Harney rushed for 72 yards against the Crusaders while compiling 89 yards to open the season against Azusa-Pacific. Harney has registered three scores on the ground so far after finishing 2003 with 17 touchdowns and 1,475 yards rushing.

USD Defensively — The Toreros’ defensive attack is led by Jeff Langdon, a 236-pound linebacker out of San Bernadino. Langdon has 29 tackles (19 solo) so far this season, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one interception and one forced fumble. San Diego may only average 2.4 yards per carry offensively but its defense holds opponents to a per-carry average of 3.6 yards. One area Penn could expose San Diego is through the air. The Toreros have given up five touchdown passes in two games and opponents are averaging 224.0 yards passing. Chase McBride is someone the Quakers need to be aware of in passing situations. The junior defensive back already has one interception this season, returning the pick 84 yards for the score. Mike Cuevas joins McBride and Langdon with one interception as well.

USD Special Teams — San Diego’s special teams is deep as three of the four kickoff returners are averaging over 10 yards per return. Nick Garton leads the Toreros with an average of 19.0 yards on three returns. Garton also averages 9.7 yards per punt return. John Koker has done all of the punting, averaging 36.5 yards per punt, and most of the place-kicking for the Toreros, averaging 55.6 yards per kickoff. He has shared field goal duties with Hutch Parker, hitting on 1-of-2 attempts and a long of 43 yards.

Download: game notes-USD.pdf