PHILADELPHIA The Penn sprint football team will start its 2008 season Friday night when it takes on Ancient Eight rival Cornell at Franklin Field. The two teams have played 83 times over the years; Cornell currently leads the all-time series 49-34.
During the 2007 season, Penn and Cornell met twice. In the first game, played on Cornell’s home field, the Quakers had the chance to win in the very last play of the game, but were unable to convert, falling 23-18. The second match-up was brought into overtime and Penn prevailed, 35-28.
Penn hopes that the momentum built during its annual alumni weekend will carry over into the regular season. Last Saturday, sprint football alumni and current players gathered for the 15th annual alumni game. The alums took the field against the current Quakers and the varsity emerged victorious, 16-6.
Head coach Bill Wagner is looking forward to Friday’s game and believes that this will be a hard fought game, as with most games with Cornell.
“There will be a lot of energy and excitement at Franklin Field [Friday],” he said. “Cornell and Penn have a great rivalry and are always competitive I expect it to be a good football game.”
2008 Quaker Outlook:
The Quakers return 17 players who were named All-CSFL in 2007. They include first-team selections Mark Dziemianowicz, J. Andrew Feigenbaum and Brian O'Connell. All seven second-team honorees will be back for the Red and Blue Marten Basta, Jacques Beauvais, Sam Biddle, Christian Corrigan, Michael D'Angelo, Thomas Davis and Michael McMullen. Joining them will be seven honorable mention All-CSFL players. They include Clarke Armatis, Kyle Kekesien, Matt Manin, Gage O'Connell, Mike Paci, Raiam Santos and Peter Stevens.
Starting quarterback D’Angelo returns to the helm of the Quaker offense this season. D’Angelo played in all six games last year and threw for 686 yards and recorded six touchdowns. Colin Dampier will also be a threat; Dampier recorded five touchdowns last season.
The Red and Blue return four of the top five rushers from 2007 in Max Greenky, Mike Bagnoli, D’Angelo, and Colin Dampier as well as fullback Joe Portelli. Together they accumulated nine of the team’s 13 rushing touchdowns.Wifi Fernandez will also see time in the running back position.
Penn’s wide receivers will be led by Basta and Armatis. Basta pulled down 16 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns from the tight end position. Armatis is the next leading returning receiver. He caught four passes in ’07, two of which were for touchdowns. Michael Stack and Dave Hubsher will also see time.
The offensive line will be led by senior Brian O'Connell. O’Connell will be accompanied by Thomas Davis and center Manin; all of which were starters last season. Freshmen Brandon Batzel will also see time.
The defensive line will be lead by seniors Christian Corrigan and Peter Stevens. Both will be counted on to stop the run and free up space for blitzing linebackers.
The defensive backfield will rely on senior Feigenbaum and sophomore Biddle. Biddle led all returning defensive players in tackles, with 49 total stops. Biddle, McMullen, Gage O'Connell and Mike Paci will anchor the linebacker group. In addition, defensive backs Bryun Williams and Beauvais will be part of the starting backfield.
Special teams will be lead by punter and kicker Dziemianowicz, who punted for over 1,200 yards, averaging 39 yards. Penn graduated their leading kick returner, Tomas Altamiran, but will look to Armatis, Bagnoli and Fernandez to fill the position.
The Quakers will play both Cornell and Princeton twice this season. In addition, they have a home game against Army and will travel to Annapolis, Md. to face Navy. In addition, Penn will travel to Mansfield, a team who is a recent addition to its school. All home games are at Franklin Field with kickoffs at 7 p.m.