PHILADELPHIA – The 2014 Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) season and the University of Pennsylvania sprint football team kickoff this Saturday at 7:35 p.m. on the road against Mansfield at Karl Van Norman Field in Mansfield, Pa.
Saturday’s game is part of Mansfield’s ‘Light up Mansfield Again’ promotion, culminating in the Penn and Mountaineers football game. The contest will be featured on ESPN3.com and ESPN Radio.
Penn is coming off a 3-4 season in 2013 that saw it finish fifth in the CSFL. The Quakers recorded wins against the Mountaineers, Cornell, and Princeton a year ago, and fell to Army, Franklin Pierce in overtime, Post and Navy.
The Quakers return starting quarterback sophomore Mick McCurdy (90-165, 1,403 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT) and leading rusher senior Mike Beamish (118 carries, 574 yards, 5 TD) on offense. McCurdy finished third in the league in passing, and Beamish fourth in rushing.
On defense, the Red and Blue return all five of their top five leading tacklers from 2013; junior Stu Helgeson (62 tackles), sophomore Robert Diorio (47 tackles) junior Derek Shnider (34 tackles), junior Ed Cai (29 tackles), and junior Wesley Zhao (28 tackles). Helgeson finished tied for second in the league in tackling.
SCOUTING MANSFIELD: The Mountaineers finished 1-6 a season ago, winning against Princeton in the season opener, 24-14. On offense Mansfield lost its starting quarterback, but returns senior Mike Maniscalco who played in all seven games, completing 38 of 65 passes for 513 yards and five touchdowns. The Mountaineers 2013 leading rusher Jeremy Estremera (87 carries, 264 yards, 5 TD) has shifted to receiver for his senior season. Estremera led Mansfield in scoring last season with six total touchdowns. Defensively, the Mountaineers return two of their top five tacklers in junior Evan Ruggles (53 tackles) and senior Anthony Mazzone (45 tackles).
THE SERIES WITH MANSFIELD: The Quakers are 6-0 all-time against the Mountaineers, including a, 42-14, victory last season at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. In the 2013 meeting, Penn quarterback Mike McCurdy went 12-of-14 passing, for 237 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception. Running back Mike Beamish toted the ball 14 times for 72 yards and a touchdown. Defensively Stu Helgeson recorded 18 tackles, including three for a loss, forced a fumble and pulled in an interception.
2013 – Penn def. Mansfield, 42-14
2012 – Penn def. Mansfield, 16-13
2011 – Penn def. Mansfield, 39-14
2010 – Penn def. Mansfield, 27-14
2009 – Penn def. Mansfield, 49-0
2008 – Penn def. Mansfield, 34-12
2014 CAPTAINS: The Quakers have elected four captains this season. Two seniors, running back Mike Beamish and defensive back Keith Braccia, and two sophomores quarterback Mike McCurdy and Robert Diorio.
McCURDY TABBED TO LEAD PENN OFFENSE: After moving to the quarterback position in relief last season, sophomore Mike McCurdy has solidified his role as the Penn starter heading into the 2014 season. McCurdy completed over 50% of his passes (90-165) and averaged over 200 yards per game passing. Against Mansfield last season, he went 12-for-14 throwing for 237 yards and four touchdowns. His season high was 352 yards against Princeton (10/25/13) where he completed 15 of 17 passes, throwing four touchdown passes.
RUNNING WITH SENIOR MIKE BEAMISH: A three-time First-Team All-CSFL running back, Beamish comes into his senior year with 1,961 yards rushing. He will need just 70 yards to break into Penn sprint football’s all-time top five rushers.
QUAKERS IN SEASON OPENERS (PAST FIVE YEARS): Penn is 3-2 in season opening games in the past five years. Wins have come against Cornell in 2009 (20-14), Princeton in 2010 (48-12), and Princeton in 2011 (34-0). The last two season have seen the Quakers fall in their opener, 35-12, last season at Army, and at Cornell in 2012, 42-34 in six overtimes.
PENN SPRINT SECURES COACHING ENDOWMENT: The Penn sprint football program officially announced its coaching endowment during its Alumni Weekend this fall. Eventually, the coaching position will be named after the program’s current longtime mentor, Bill Wagner.
“This is a dream come true,” said Wagner, who enters his 45th season at the Penn sprint football helm. “This was a need for several years to secure the future of the sprint football program. We had many alumni and parents step up and make it happen. The efforts, leadership and loyalty of our sport board made it happen along with the energy and support of the athletics development staff. I sincerely thank everyone who has been a part of this process and made this dream a reality.”
“The Sprint alumni, the current players, and the parents are extremely proud to have finished the endowment of the Sprint head coaching position,” said John Winter C’78 G’78, co-chair of the sprint football sport board. “Our sport holds a unique place in the history of Penn Athletics, and to be able to now honor Coach Bill Wagner is very special to everyone involved with our program over the past 44 years. As a coach, mentor, friend and role model, Wags has had a positive impact on more than 1,500 Penn athletes. Reaching the head coach endowment goal is a small way to say thank you to a man to whom all his players owe so much.”
THE ANNUAL ALUMNI GAME: An annual tradition in the fall for the Penn sprint football program, the current Quakers downed the former Red and Blue greats, 31-14, on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Franklin Field. With the victory, the current Quakers dispatched of the Alumni team for the fourth time in the last five years.
The 2014 Penn sprint footballers saw scoring contributions from junior receivers Henry Mason and Jack Epstein, twice. Junior linebacker Stu Helgeson also returned an interception for a score, and sophomore Patrick Boyle booted a 39-yard field goal in the game.