PHILADELPHIA Sprint football opens its regular season on Friday at Cornell. The two teams met twice last season, with Cornell coming out on top both times on its way to a Collegiate Sprint Football League championship.
Penn hopes that the momentum built during its annual alumni weekend will carry over into the regular season. Last Friday, sprint football alumni and current players gathered to celebrate the history of the program and honor its 1996 Eastern Lightweight Football League championship team. The next day, the alums took the field against the current Quakers in the 14th annual alumni game. The varsity emerged victorious, 20-0.
Now, it is time for Penn to focus its attention on its winning another championship. The Quakers are coming off a disappointing 2-4 season in 2006. The offense struggled throughout the season, scoring more than seven points only three times. On the other side of the ball, the defense was consistently solid, never giving up more than 21 points.
2007 Quaker Outlook:
Quarterback: It is not often that a team takes its leader in receiving yards and changes his position. Penn will do just that in 2007 as captain Michael D'Angelo will be the starting quarterback for Penn. The junior was a triple threat for the Quakers last season, playing wide receiver, defensive back, and serving as the backup quarterback. His ability to both pass and run will present a challenge to defenses each week. Head coach Bill Wagner may still use him in the defensive backfield if needed.
Running Back: Penn lost its two leading rushers to graduation, opening up a position battle in the backfield. Rob Lombardi and Max Greenky have taken the lead in the race. Lombardi is a powerful back who is not afraid to run right at defenders. Greenky is quick and possesses an ability to make defenders miss. Albert Tsai will provide depth and Mike Bagnoli is a freshman with a lot of promise.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: Much like the running back situation, Penn lost its three leading receivers from 2006. Two were lost to graduation, while its leading receiver, D’Angelo, was moved to starting quarterback. Tomas Altamirano will be the number one receiver. His speed makes him a deep threat, and he should see plenty of action come his way. Marten Basta is the Quakers’ tight end. Basta had eight receptions and a touchdown last season. Michael Stack, Mike Kaplan and Jordan Marin will see action, as well.
Offensive Line: The offensive line is looking to improve upon a season where they struggled as a unit, allowing 28 sacks. Thomas Davis returns at center, while Ben Eisenstat and John Marsh come back for another season.
Defensive Line: Senior captain Andrew Migdail and Christian Corrigan highlight this group. Migdail was the team leader in sacks in 2006 while Corrigan was sixth on the team in tackles. Both will be counted on to stop the run and free up space for blitzing linebackers.
Defensive Backfield: Andrew Feigenbaum returns for Penn as its leading tackler in the secondary. Drew Dampier and Michael Brous are back for the Quakers, as well as Bryun Williams. Lombardi should also see some time in the secondary when needed. Patrick Hillstrom and Dave Hubsher are freshmen who should see playing time immediately.
Linebacker: The Quakers’ leading tackler from 2006, Michael McMullen, anchors the linebacking group. Kyle Kekesien and John Curran also provide experience at the position. Sam Biddle and Matt Manin will compete for playing time right away during their freshman seasons.
Special Teams: The kicking game is wide open as Penn lost both its kicker and punter to graduation. Coach Wagner brought in two freshmen to compete for the job. Mark Dziemianowicz and Raiam Santos have strong legs and split time during the alumni game.
The Quakers will play both Cornell and Princeton twice this season. In addition, they have a home game against Navy and will travel to West Point, N.Y. to face Army. All home games are at Franklin Field.