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Springfield College Football Set To Kick Off 2011 Season

Matt Ramos Springfield, Mass. -- September 9, 2011 -- The Springfield College football team has met with much success over the past several years, especially the last two. Indeed, the Pride, under the leadership of Head Coach Mike DeLong, has produced two very successful seasons by coming up with a 17-4 record in the back-to-back years of 2009 and 2010.

Not only did DeLong’s teams finish 8-2 and 9-2, they each won an ECAC Division III Championship Bowl game – over Plymouth State in ’09, and Mount Ida in ’10. SC is now 4-0 in ECAC Championship Bowl games since 1995, and is 3-0 in those games in the past seven years.

Also within that seven-year period, Springfield College competed in the NCAA Tournament, as it was named the representative of the Empire 8 Conference in 2006 when it finished 10-2 overall.

In the past 16 years, SC has appeared in five NCAA Tournaments (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006), making it a total of nine postseason tournaments in that span.

Springfield College and Coach DeLong have enjoyed much success on several fronts in recent times. Please pay attention to these marks.

Since the 1995 season, the year that Springfield College first began competing in Division III, SC’s won-loss mark is 111-55, good for a .669 winning percentage. At home, in the friendly confines of Amos Alonzo Stagg Field, that percentage rises to .736 with a 64-23 mark.

DeLong owns a distinguishable record of .591 (171-118-2) in his 29 years as a head coach, all in New England. In fact, he is the active leader amongst New England Division III coaches. All but two of those years were at Springfield College (the other two were at Maine Maritime in 1979 and 1980). At Springfield College alone, DeLong is now 159-112-2, good for a .586 winning percentage.

This year will serve as a line of demarcation of sorts. It will be the final year in which Springfield is a member of the Empire 8, which includes Alfred, Frostburg State, Hartwick, Ithaca, St. John Fisher, Salisbury, and Utica. Next year, SC will join the Liberty League, which includes Hobart, Kings Point, RPI, Rochester, St. Lawrence, Union, and WPI. SC has been a member of the Empire 8 now for seven years. This will be the eighth.

Springfield will be looking to maintain its remarkable recent string of success.

On offense the major story upon entering camp is the fact that it would appear that Springfield has two returning starting quarterbacks. They are senior Josh Carter and sophomore Austin Bateman.

Carter is the incumbent. He started in 2008 as a freshman, 2009 as a sophomore, and 2010 as a junior. However, halfway through his junior year with a 4-2 record, nagging injuries cropped up.

That’s when then-freshman Bateman took over. As impressive as Carter was in his starting role, Bateman was equally as impressive right from the git-go. In fact, Bateman would finish the season, including the bowl game, with a 5-0 record as the starter. That included wins over Kings Point (64-0) and St, John Fisher (55-49), in which he won the weekly Gold Helmet Award.

Carter, the 2009 ECAC Bowl game MVP, passed for 321 yards and three TD’s in SC’s multiple offense. Bateman, meanwhile, passed for 252 yards (with a .542 completion percentage).

Bateman would lead SC in rushing on the season, despite starting just five games. He finished with 858 net rushing yards for a 5.9 yards per rush average. Carter finished with 432 net yards and a 4.2 yards per carry average.

Brian Staub, who played a little at QB as a freshman and as a sophomore, is a junior now, and is the only other returnee who has quarterback experience.

Springfield normally attracts a bevy of running backs and fullbacks. And this year is no different.

Those who will be missed include the graduated duo of Antoine King (547 yards, 4 TD’s) and Joe Myhren (491 yards, 1 TD). But of the top 12 rushers from last year, nine return, including senior co-captain Mark Safer (453 yards, 8 TD’s). Safer averaged a team-high 12.6 yards per carry, including a long of 67 yards.

The fleet-footed Safer would appear to be a safe bet as a starter at halfback. Others who will shine will include Mike Davis (362 yards, 6 TD’s) and Brodie Quinn (97 yards). Quinn could get the nod at fullback. Davis is versatile enough to play at either position. Others in the hunt for backfield slots include Joel Altavesta, and Andy Bean.

The tight end would appear to be Brian White, who has become a significant blocker within the front six.

On the offensive line, right tackle and senior co-captain Sean Meagher. (Second Team All-Empire 8) will lead that unit. Sophomore Scott Leech could start at guard. There is one other senior expected to start – center Matt Dugan.

Other tackles who expect to see significant action include Duke Ekblom, Tom Murray, Connor Devlin, and Sean Degnan. Other guards include Mike MacDonald, Tim Tuttle, Jake Hart, and Luke Osberg.

At wide receiver, both the reliable Tim Brady (11 receptions, 180 yards, 2 TDs), now an SC coach, as well as John Schmaltz (10 rec., 212 yards, 1 TD), have graduated. Brady was Springfield College’s Male Unsung Hero Award winner a year ago. Schmaltz was SC’s Male Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year last season. Backing them up last year were Brian Staub, Phil Baier, and James Poggio.

On defense, there’s no secret that the Pride has lost a few of its “stars” over the last two years, including DE Cody Flanigan, LB Ken Goodwin (now a coach), DE Chris Kulcsar, Tim Schumacher, and Ryan Gunningsmith. Goodwin and Flanigan were both well-decorated.

So, it would appear that SC’s defense may be a little on the green side especially when it comes to the line. But those returning include linemen Max Ford, Joe Knaub, Paul Freeman (8.0 tackles-for-loss), Mike Hurst, Rob Ruggiero (9.5 tackles-for-loss), and Jonathan Manor. Freeman and Ruggiero must be relied upon.

The linebackers have more experience. Expected to help are Will Deffley, 2010 ECAC Bowl MVP Scott Christy (second-leading tackler last year with 86), Kevin Shields, Cory Kaiser, and TJ DeMartino.

The secondary will claim the most experience on that side of the ball. Senior Matt Ramos, a co-captain, and a two-time Empire 8 Defensive Player of the Week winner, is expected to be the “chief”, the lead roamer within the secondary. He had three interceptions last year, and was the sixth-leading tackler, despite appearing in just eight games.

A second returning co-captain from the secondary includes senior free safety James Kikel, the seventh-leading tackler with 44 and with eight pass break-ups.

The cornerbacks would appear to be veterans Will Turner and Niall Murphy, with another veteran, Phil Davis, also ready to go.

In terms of the kicking game, SC appears to be in good shape. The placekicker is veteran Ricky Peacock, a two-time Empire 8 Special Teams Player of the Week award winner, who made 6-of-8 field goals as a sophomore a year ago. James Poggio enters his sophomore year as the returning punter, averaging 33.0 yards per punt a year ago.

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Head Coach Mike DeLong

Head Coach Mike DeLong Mike DeLong enters his 32nd season as a head football coach in the fall of 2013, including his 30th year as the head coach at his alma mater, Springfield College. To date, DeLong currently has the second-most career wins of any active Division III football coach. Read more.

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