PHILADELPHIA - Penn's sprint football team opens their 2009 regular season Friday at 7 p.m. when they face rival Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. The two teams have faced each other 85 times over the years; Cornell leads the all-time series 50-35. Last year, the Quakers split with the Big Red, winning their first meeting 17-3 on Sept. 19, then falling 23-20 in their Oct. 17 contest.
The Quakers finished last season with a 5-2 overall record and 2-2 in the CSFL. Coach Bill Wagner hopes to finish at the top of the standings in his 40th season as head coach.
Sophomore quarterback Todd Busler will lead a strong returning core of running backs featuring Mike Bagnoli and Joe Portelli returning as starters. Clarke Armatis, Dave Hubsher, Joe Squadroni, Matt Wetherell, Ryan Levan, Jordan Marin and Adam Ramada will provide options from the wide receiver and tight end spots. The offensive linemen doing the blocking for the Quakers are Mike Garofalo, Matt Wooten, Brandon Batzel, Brian Flanagan, Mike Pizzi and two-way player Matt Manin.
Defensively, the Quakers have a strong group returning led by captains Jacques Beauvais and Michael McMullen. Several returning starters will be joining them, including linemen Ben Eisenstat, Gordon Murphy, Zak Klinvex, Mario Peia, and Matt Manin. Adding strength to the defense will be the return of linebackers McMullen, Mike Paci, Sam Biddle, Gage O'Connell and Tony Krumbhaar. The defensive backs are led by Beauvais, Marcus Goodwin, Ted Rawlings, JP Julien, and two-way player Colin Dampier.
As for special teams, Raiam Santos and Mark Dziemianowicz will give the Quakers a boost. Both have earned All-CSFL honors at punter and placekicker.
Acting as a dress rehearsal, the Red and Blue took on Penn's Alumni team in the 16th annual alumni exhibition game last Saturday. In their debut, the Quakers came out on top 33-0 with Bagnoli, Armatis, Dampier, and Busler scoring touchdowns in the win. Busler and Bagnoli led the Quakers with 117 yards passing and 106 yards rushing, respectively.
Cornell finished the 2008 season 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference.
The Big Red will look to Elliot Corey for leadership as the starting quarterback after being the team's backup for the past two seasons. Corey is also Cornell's top returning rusher and passer after going 127 yards on foot and 284 throwing.
On the receiving end, Upal Sarker (298 yards) and Chris LaBerge (239 yards) are their top returning receivers, each scoring three touchdowns last season.