Saints to Kick-Off 2011 Campaign Against Utica
Sept. 2: The St. Lawrence University football team will look to kick-off its 2011 season in style on Saturday, as the team hosts Utica College at Leckonby Stadium at 2:00pm.
The Scarlet and Brown, winners of the first Liberty League championship in University history behind a 5-1 conference record, will look to avenge a 31-13 loss to the Pioneers last season in Utica, NY.
"Utica is a very talented football team with solid athletes all over the field," said St. Lawrence head coach Mark Raymond, who enters his second season at the helm. "We know we need to get after the quarterback and try to win the turnover battle."
Though St. Lawrence lost seven starters to graduation, the team returns numerous key players on both sides of the ball that gained valuable experience in 2010. Senior captains Marcus Washington and Ethan Sutton, who each garnered All-Conference honors last season, will look to lead an offense behind a solid offensive line made up of the likes of juniors Don Rohauer, Greg Kelly and Houston Judd and sophomores Brayden Henry and Victor Coker Jr.
Sutton was the team's premier wide receiver last year, but St. Lawrence boasts great depth at that spot in 2011. Seniors Mark Rudy, Brendan Fitzpatrick and Demetrios Haseotes lead a veteran group with talented youngsters like sophomores Mike Tateosian and Evan Shifley. First-year students Colby Johnson and John Wittig will also look to add a spark in their opening season.
The weapons along the perimeter, along with junior tight end Stephen Buskey and senior fullback Matt Pickrell, should help anchor sophomore quarterback Nik Busharis, who is slated to make his first collegiate start on Saturday after winning the job in training camp.
"We had an excellent battle at camp at the quarterback position, but Nik began to separate himself down the stretch," added Coach Raymond. "Andy (Spadoni), Zach (Migliore) and Scott (Davies) all were very impressive and will continue to push Nik throughout the year."
The St. Lawrence defense has perennially been one of the best in the Liberty League over the last six seasons, and Coach Raymond's unit expects to shine once again this fall. Senior defensive lineman Doug Geraghty and senior free safety Trevor Saunders will captain a defense that was second in the Liberty League in 2010.
"We have some tremendous athletes on the defensive side of the football, and we will need them to make plays to stop some of the premier offenses in the region," said Coach Raymond.
Geraghty, an All-Conference selection last fall, anchors a talented defensive line that includes juniors Jesse Clark, Oraene Morgan and Robert McCourt. Sophomores Iyi Okunlola and Terry Cox are also expected to see time in the trenches.
The linebacking corps lost two standout players to graduation in Ben Cryts and Ryan Fedo. However, senior Phil Hamilton and juniors Taylor Zappia and A.J. Blaisdell will look to solidify a group that includes sophomore Andrew Cox and running-back-turned-linebacker Ramon Mignott.
The St. Lawrence secondary may prove to be the heart-and-soul of the unit, however, behind leadership from Saunders and classmates Christian Bianchi and Brendan McCarthy. Junior Derek Delzer has emerged as a stand-out in the secondary, while sophomore Keith Goode Jr will see time at corner. Meanwhile, first-year students John Lesofsky and C.J. Stewart will each be competing for playing time throughout the year.
"We didn't have an answer for Benkwitt and their receiving unit in our last meeting," added Coach Raymond, as the Pioneers' quarterback passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. "Our secondary will need to be sharp on Saturday to slow down their passing attack."
Junior kicker Chris Dris, who had a fantastic rookie season in 2009, was forced to miss his sophomore season due to injury. However, the Tampa, FL native will be in action this fall and returns as the team's place kicker. Ethan Sutton is expected to handle the Saints' punting duties, while Saunders and Wittig will see time returning kicks on special teams.
"Winning the conference title and going to the NCAA Tournament was very special to all us in the football program, and to numerous alumni and fans," said Coach Raymond. "However, we are ready to turn the page and start another chapter on Saturday."
St. Lawrence University will have four home football games in 2011, all of which will be broadcasted live on the America One network. Chris Engel from 99 Hits FM in Potsdam will call all of the 2011 games on the radio, while live stats will be available for each contest as well.