Frostburg State begins its 44th season of football with Saturday's home contest against Apprentice. The Bobcats look to claim their third straight ACFC title in 2004 and have won eight straight league games dating back to the 2001 season.
Frostburg State is coming off a 4-5 season, just its second losing finish in the last 15 years. Apprentice, which opened with a 17-14 overtime loss to Kean last Saturday, was 1-8 overall and 0-3 in the ACFC last year.
Frostburg State has won three straight openers (two of those wins have come against Apprentice) and nine of its last 11. The Bobcats are 19-23-1 all-time in season-opening games.
Frostburg State holds an 8-3-1 lead in the all-time series versus Apprentice. The Bobcats have won three straight against the Builders by an average score of 38.0-10.3.
The Bobcats have added four new members to the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Mike Silecchia and defensive line coach Trevor Zeiders.
Silecchia was the head coach at Lebanon Valley the last six years and previously served as the offensive line coach at Lycoming for three seasons, helping the Warriors reach the national quarterfinals in 1995, the national semifinals in 1996 and the national championship game in 1997.
Zeiders served the last three seasons as the defensive line coach at Gettysburg. The WVU graduate was also a student-assistant for the Mountaineers when they defeated Mississippi 49-38 in the 2000 Music City Bowl.
Mike Boni (inside linebackers) and Jeremy Cheshire (offensive line) also join the Bobcats as graduate assistant coaches.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS ...
Frostburg State has won two straight Atlantic Central Football Conference championships and three overall in the league’s five-year history. The Bobcats won the conference’s first official title in 1999 (Wesley finished 3-0 in the ACFC in 1998 but scheduling difficulties prevented a full league schedule). Wesley won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001.
BUT NOT THE FAVORITES
Despite winning the past two ACFC titles, Frostburg State is picked to finish third in the league according to the preseason coaches poll. League newcomer SUNY Brockport, which has advanced to the NCAA playoffs each of the last five seasons, is the favorite, while Salisbury, the runner-up to FSU the last two years, is predicted to finish second.
2004 ACFC Preseason Coaches Poll
(first-place votes in parantheses)
1. SUNY Brockport 25 (5)
2. Salisbury 18 (1)
3. Frostburg State 17
4. Wesley 15
5. Buffalo State 10
6. Apprentice 5
TAKING HOME THE (PRESEASON) HARDWARE
Senior defensive end Kevin Culbert has earned pre-season All-America honors from Don Hansen's Football Gazette (first team), Lindy's Magazine (second team) and D3football.com (second team). The 6-5, 235-pound Culbert led the Bobcats with 80 tackles, 47 solo tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2003. He also added three pass breakups, a blocked kick and a safety.
Frostburg State is coached by Rubin Stevenson (Salisbury ‘87), who enters his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcat program. Stevenson is 19-20 in his four seasons and has led FSU to two ACFC championships (2002 & 2003), three Regents Cup titles (2001, 2002 & 2003 – awarded to the annual winner of the FSU-Salisbury game) and one ECAC Southwest Championship game appearance (2002). Stevenson has led the Bobcats to eight straight ACFC wins dating back to October 27, 2001.
Apprentice head coach Phil Janaro (King’s 65) is in his second stint with the Builders. He led Apprentice to a 16-12 overall mark from 1985-87, capping that first stay with an 8-2 mark. The 2004 season is Janaro’s third year of his second stint. He is 22-26 with the Builders and 23-34 overall.
Frostburg State will have a new signal-caller for the first time in four years as redshirt-sophomore Jimmy Ward steps into the starting role at quarterback. He replaces record-setting signal-caller Grant Burrough, who set 12 Bobcat passing records from 2000-2003. Ward is a strong-armed lefty who red-shirted last season. He completed 1-of-4 passes for three yards as Burrough's back-up in 2002.
SCOUTING THE BUILDERS
Apprentice looks to rebound from a heart-breaking 17-14 overtime loss to Kean last Saturday. It was the first overtime game in school history.
The Builders took a 2-0 lead on a safety early in the second quarter, but Kean struck twice in 3:03 in the third quarter to move ahead 14-2. A.J Roque hit Duane Schultz with a 29-yard scoring pass with 8:54 left in the period, and D.J. Fiori rumbled in from 12 yards out.
In the fourth, the Builders rallied to tie the game with a pair of scores in a span of 2:42. Sophomore Robby Goodman connected with senior Ricky Doles for a 19-yard touchdown on the third play of the quarter, and, following an interception by Jamarr Grace,
Goodman and Doles paired up again, this time from nine yards out, to tie the game. Both extra-point attempts were no good.
Grace came up with another big play later in the quarter, blocking a 37-yard field goal try with 7:13 left. Apprentice had first-and-goal at the Kean three yardline with 3:33 remaining in regulation, but the Cougars held and Ben Brown’s 20-yard field goal attempt was wide right. Brown had a rough day, missing three field goals and two extra points.
The overtime period saw the Builders take the ball first and fall short on a fourth-down run from the Cougar 10. Jon Robinson then hit a 37-yard field goal on fourth down to give Kean the victory.
Doles was “Mr. Everything” for the Builders, catching a career-high nine passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns, rushing once for 12 yards, returning six punts for 70 yards and punting five times for a 25.2-yard average.
The Apprentice defense held Kean to just 201 total yards, including 25 on the ground, and posted four sacks (the Builders had just two sacks in 2003).
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303