The University of Pennsylvania sprint football team enters the 2004 ready to rise to the challenge of capturing a Collegiate Sprint Football title, returning much of the offense from a year ago.The Red and Blue will have to step up on defense to fill the void left by all-league players John Pinto, Ray June, Matt London, Chris Malachowski, John Goldschmidt and Chris Caputo.
With just two players, quarterback Jimmer Donapel and wide receiver Tim Murphy graduating, the core of the offensive unit is in tact. The offense showed its capabilities against Princeton and Cornell in early 2003.
The Red and Blue’s offense exploded in the 44-0 win over Princeton. The Quakers running games was outstanding rushing for 320 of their total 405 yards. Greg Bagnoli had 12 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown while Pat Monaghan had two touchdowns. Against Cornell, Donapel, the Penn passing record-holder, threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score.
Head Coach Bill Wagner will be looking to record the program’s ninth-straight winning season after finishing 3-3 overall a year ago. The Red and Blue also finished with a .500 or better record in league play for the eighth-consecutive year as they finished third in the CSFL with a 2-2 mark.
The Signal Caller
Sophomore Mike Loguidice will try and fill the shoes of Donapel. With several strong games at quarterback last season, Loguidice, an outstanding runner and accurate passer, threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He is a triple threat for opponents as he will also serve as the Penn punter.
Freshman Ben Stein may also see time at the quarterback position. Stein, who is coming off an excellent career at Horace Mann High School, possesses a strong throwing arm.Backing up Loguidice and Stein will be senior co-captain Pat Monaghan.
The Quaker offense will rely on the run 50 percent of the time, looking to co-captain Greg Bagnoli and sophomore J.T. Hutchinson to make an impact.
Bagnoli returns as the league’s second-leading rusher. The running back plowed through for 413 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, and scored two touchdowns. Hutchinson had an outstanding first season, seeing action in all six games and averaging 5.8 yards per carry while crossing the line twice to earn All-Ivy honorable mention.
Adding depth are returning fullbacks Masamba Sinclair and Kevin Piro. Both are strong runners and excellent blockers and will lead the way for a strong ground game.
Coach Wagner is also bringing in two freshmen to add to Penn’s offensive strength in Albert Tsai and Stephen Delgado.
The Tight Ends
An integral piece of the program is the tight end. With both David Derr and Chris Gumiela returning, and the addition of freshman Wesley Yamamoto, the position will continue to remain solid. Derr had seven receptions, while Gumiela averaged 10.0 yards per catch. All three have great hands, can block and double as wide receiver.
Paving the way at receiver will be co-captain and league points leader Pat Monaghan. The wideout led Penn with 31 receptions for 337 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Assuring that Penn can throw the ball at anytime will be the talents of Corey Higa, Greg Herman and Mason Poelker. Two-way high school standouts Kale Roth, Andrew Mangano and Zach Weinberg should see time at defensive back as well.
The Offensive Line
Strength and experience marks the offensive line as all five starters return. Seniors Brian Baldwin and Adam Schlosser, with juniors Ben Drane, Jordan Cloyd and Henry Watson yielded just 17 sacks while creating gaps and stopping the pass rush.
Varsity letterwinners Nick Kopec and Matthew Bowen , both juniors, will help man the o-line.A group of talented freshmen in Mike Sanders, Dan Evens and Andrew McGregor will battle for playing time on the line.
The Defensive Line
To help the offense flourish, the defensive unit must keep opponents off the scoreboard.The charge will be led by co-captain and All-League lineman Doug Pires, who had 10 solo tackles and two quarterback sacks a year ago.
With the return of letterwinners and seniors Alex Martinez, Juan Hernandez and Duncan Pelly, the line will be a force in the front, looking to improve on the 19 sacks registered in 2003. Also adding depth is senior Peter Heller who is joining the defensive line from fullback.
The Linebackers and Ends
The Quakers not only will be strong up front but should also be solid at the linebacker position. Back on the field for the Red and Blue will be All-CSFL second team honoree Mike Russo who will help provide a second line of defense. Russo is coming off a 2003 season in which he tied for the team lead in tackles (19) and recorded two sacks and two pass deflections.
Underclassmen Nick Dinges, Nick Kopec, Ryan Stevens and Ryan O’Toole and rookies Stephen Cavaliero and Matthew Perkal will all battle for starting roles.
The Defensive Backfield
With two of the Quakers mainstays on defense - Caputo and June - lost to graduation, the backfield will need to prove that they are still one of the best in the CSFL.
Junior Keith Smith will return to the starting lineup. Helping Smith will be sophomore Alex Russo, seniors John Ohly and Jeff Campbell, and junior Chase Bender. The unit combined for nine fumble recoveries and eight interceptions. Also lending a hand in the secondary will be newcomers Jonathan Rosenberg and David Lopez.
The Kicking Game
Senior Evan Nolan will again handle the kicking duties in 2004. Nolan converted 13 out of 14 point after attempts. Sophomore James McCarrie may also see time at placekicker.
The Quakers welcome back veteran punters Longuidice and Ohly, who combined for more than 800 yards.
The Return Men
Monaghan will once again handle the return game for the Red and Blue. Last season, Monaghan averaged 20.9 yards per return.Adding speed and depth on special teams will be Higa, Hutchinson and Derr.
The Red and Blue’s first test of the season will come against Cornell at Franklin Field. With a strong offense and talented defense, the Quakers will look to place their name on the CSFL Trophy in 2004.
Written by Kelly McCarthy, athletic communications assistant.