FROSTBURG, MD —
The Frostburg State football team has increased its win total in each of head coach Rubin Stevenson's three years, and the Bobcats are looking to continue that trend in 2003.
After four wins in 2000 and five in 2001, Stevenson's squad took another step last year, posting a 6-5 record. FSU won its second Atlantic Central Football Conference title in four years, handled nationally ranked Salisbury to win its third Regents Cup crown in four tries and advanced to the ECAC Southwest Championship for the sixth time in school history.
While the Bobcats are encouraged by their success, they also know that just 21 points separated them from a perfect season. Of their five losses, three were by a mere three points and two others came by six points in overtime — including a triple-overtime heartbreaker to national quarterfinalist Brockport.
The Bobcats welcome back a host of veterans and believe they are legitimate contenders for another postseason bid. Seventeen starters return, including nine All-ACFC selections, the ACFC Offensive Player of the Year (senior quarterback Grant Burrough) and a third-team Hewlett Packard All-American (senior tight end Roy Olson), and FSU looks to make it back to the NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Seven starters return from a potent offense that averaged 32.0 points and 432.5 yards per game last year.
Highlighting the attack is Burrough (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright), who earned ACFC Offensive Player of the Year and second-team Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-South Region honors after setting 12 school records.
The 6-4, 210-pound signal caller established new single-season marks for completions (232), attempts (421), passing yards (3,041), touchdowns (26) and total yards (3,243), and he set single-game records for completions (35), attempts (65), passing yards (452), touchdowns (5) and total yards (458).
He also became FSU's career leader in touchdown passes (44) and total yards (5,464).
Additionally, Burrough ran 83 times for 202 yards and four touchdowns. However, he tossed 17 interceptions and lost four fumbles, and he will have to protect the football better if the Bobcats hope to fulfill their postseason aspirations.
"There's no question Grant enjoyed an outstanding season last year," said Stevenson. "He could be one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the country with improved decision making."
Sophomore Jimmy Ward (Poolesville, Md./Poolesville), who saw limited action last year, and promising freshman Bobby Alkire (Lonaconing, Md./Westmar) will back up Burrough.
Junior Bereket Godsey (Baltimore, Md./Eastern Tech) and senior Jack Walsh (Glen Burnie, Md./North County) give the Bobcats two proven veterans at the fullback position.
The duo combined for 50 yards and three scores and helped pave the way for a ground game that compiled 1,713 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The Bobcats are also well stocked at tailback with a strong mix of returning players and talented transfers.
Senior Edward Kearney (Bel Air, Md./Calvert) earned second-team All-ACFC honors after leading FSU with 881 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 20 receptions for 159 yards and two more scores.
Kearney earned ACFC Offensive Player of the Week honors twice last year, first after running for 185 yards and two touchdowns against Oberlin and again by rushing for 122 yards and scoring three times (two rushing, one receiving) a week later versus Wesley.
Fellow senior Tim Pearson (Baltimore, Md./Lake Clifton) saw increased action as the season went on, finishing with 526 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
He amassed 339 yards in the final four regular-season games, capped by an outstanding 162-yard, two-touchdown performance against Salisbury in the Regents Cup.
Pearson also made an impact on special teams, earning second-team All-ACFC honors after returning 13 kickoffs for 220 yards (16.9 ypr).
Highly-touted junior transfer Mike Kitchen (Lebanon, Pa./Lebanon) and sophomore Travis Higgins (Edgewood, Md./Edgewood) will also challenge for time.
Kitchen joins the Bobcats having last played in 2001 for Lackawanna Junior College, where he earned NJCAA Northeast Junior College All-Conference honors after running for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Kitchen, who compiled 4,465 yards and 50 touchdowns in high school and started in the prestigious Big 33 All-Star Game, attended Georgia Tech for the 1999-2000 year and carried 11 times for 69 yards as a true freshman.
Higgins carried 14 times for 27 yards in spot duty last year and will also battle as a kickoff returner in 2003.
The Bobcat offensive line should be solid again, with the return of three starters as well as several others who saw action last season.
Senior Jason Cutsail (Middletown, Md./Middletown) will start at right guard, where he has earned second-team All-ACFC honors each of the last two seasons.
Junior Jared Toler (Sterling, Va./Broad Run), a first-team All-ACFC selection last year, is back after starting all 11 games at left tackle.
Sophomore Jason Palmer (Taneytown, Md./Francis Scott Key) will start at center for the second year in row. He performed well in his rookie season after earning the nod in preseason camp.
Sophomore Jack Hopkins (Mt. Airy, Md./Linganore) will push Palmer for time.
Battles will ensue at the remaining two spots as the Bobcats look to overcome the losses of All-ACFC players Matt Smith and Chris Golliday to graduation.
Sophomores Anthony Nelson (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) and Dave Kenderdine (Westlawn, Pa./Wilson) will compete at left guard. Nelson played a key role in the final two games of last season, while Kenderdine will look to return to top form after missing 2002 with an injury.
Sophomore Jay Davis (Shady Shide, Md./Southern) and a handful of freshmen are in the mix at right tackle and center.
The tight end position is in good hands with Olson (Lexington Park, Md./Great Mills), a first-team preseason All-America selection by Don Hansen's Football Gazette.
Olson, who transferred from Ferrum College last season, enjoyed a stellar year, catching 44 passes for a team-high 825 yards and eight touchdowns.
He earned first-team All-ACFC, second-team Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-South Region, third-team Hewlett Packard All-America and second-team Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-America honors.
Juniors Connor Heath (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley) and Norris Goode, Jr. (Baltimore, Md./Parkville) will look to contribute behind Olson.
Frostburg State will have to rebound from the losses of wide receivers Tim Wilkins and Aaron Deeb, who combined for 88 catches, 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns, but several targets with solid credentials return.
Junior Adam J. Snyder (Scottdale, Pa./South Moreland) caught 50 passes for 581 and three touchdowns, and oft-injured senior Anthony Long (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley) made 19 receptions for 416 yards and three scores as well.
Snyder will be looked to as the team's "go-to" receiver, while Long has big-play potential if he can stay healthy.
Senior Reggie Brown (Laurel, Md./Rockville) and sophomores Gil Bolden (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley) and Jason McLaughlin (Baltimore, Md./Lansdowne) will also push for time.
Brown, who missed the 2001 season with a torn ACL, caught one pass for five yards and added four kickoff returns for 86 yards last year and looks to produce numbers similar to his sophomore season (18-295-3).
Bolden caught three passes for 21 yards in limited action, while McLaughlin, the team's top punt returner, is a solid possession receiver.
Junior Chaz Smith (Rockville, Md./Rockville), freshman Matt Gordy (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run), a transfer from Division II Shepherd (W.Va.) and freshman Fred Howze (Upper Marlboro, Md./From the Heart Catholic) will add depth.
Stevenson will look to the offense and its strong corps of experienced players to lead the way early in the season while the defense adjusts from the losses of five starters.
The Bobcats were hit heavy along the defensive front and will have to replace All-American George O'Brien, hard-hitting Allen Jordan and workhorse Ronald Luczak. The trio combined for 229 tackles, including 61 for loss and 23.5 of FSU's 36 sacks in 2002.
Junior defensive end Kevin Culbert (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley) returns as the lone starter up front after a breakout season. Culbert ranked fourth on the team with 77 tackles, including 20 for loss, and was third with 6.5 sacks.
He posted a career-high 19 tackles against Salisbury in the Regents Cup to earn FSU Mike McGlinchey Player of the Game honors and also had a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown in FSU's big 37-18 win over Wesley.
Sophomores Patrick Sullivan (Monrovia, Md./Urbana) and Jeremy Ober (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) will press for time on the ends.
Sophomores Gabe Pepper (Camp Hill, Pa./Camp Hill) and Justin Bressler (Hollywood, Md./Leonardtown) and freshman Ryan Cutsail (Middletown, Md./Middletown) will look to win the battle at the noseguard position.
Senior Andy Wilson (La Vale, Md./Allegany) and junior James Clash (Baltimore, Md./City College), who each started all 11 games last year, will anchor the FSU linebacker corps from the outside spots.
Wilson earned second-team All-ACFC honors after making 81 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and two sacks.
He also finished second on the squad with three interceptions, tied for third with seven pass breakups and blocked a punt and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown in a 37-7 win over Salisbury in the Regents Cup.
Clash ranked eighth on the team with 66 tackles and broke up three passes. He returned his lone interception of the year 31 yards for a touchdown in the Regents Cup.
Sophomore Chris Lentz (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) is back at one of the inside linebacker positions and will look to build upon his outstanding rookie season.
Lentz finished second on the team with 87 tackles, forced a team-high four fumbles, broke up four passes and also blocked a kick. A three-time ACFC Rookie of the Week, he made 14 tackles in two games and has quickly established himself as one of the top defensive players in the league.
The other inside spot will be a battle between junior Adam L. Snyder (Jessup, Md./Howard), junior Terence McCann (North East, Md./North East) and sophomore Scott MacGregor (Ijamsville, Md./Urbana).
Snyder made 38 tackles in 10 games, while MacGregor added four stops in limited action. McCann will look to make an impact after a strong off-season.
Sophomore Jeremy Blanck (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) and freshmen Lathon Romaine (Chantilly, Va./Lake Braddock) and Justin Denmark (Piedmont, W.Va./Keyser) will add depth on the outside, while juniors Steve Handshoe (Abingdon, Md./Bel Air) and Robert Medley (Lexington Park, Md./Great Mill) will be counted on for valuable time in the interior.
The Bobcat secondary will have plenty of experience with the return of juniors Turon Kendrick (Baltimore, Md./Parkville) and Billy Roy (Pasadena, Md./Cardinal Gibbons) as well as senior Bryan Simms (Randallstown, Md./Milford Mill).
Kendrick and Roy are the likely starters at the corners after playing in 10 games each in 2002.
Kendrick made 13 tackles while breaking up four passes, while Roy recorded 28 tackles, tied for the team lead with eight pass breakups and added two interceptions.
Simms returns at safety after earning second-team All-ACFC honors with 55 tackles and eight pass breakups. He also picked off two passes and recovered a fumble.
Junior D.J. Hetrick (Keyser, W.Va./Keyser) and sophomores Jon Menz (Sykesville, Md./Glenelg) and Ricky Davis (Falls Church, Va./McLean) will provide depth on the corners, while junior Ken Lavely (Middletown, Md./Middletown) and sophomores Josh Morris (Freeland, Md./Hereford) and Dan Ruppert (Stafford, Va./Brooke Point) will vie for time at the other safety spot.
The Bobcat special teams should again be strong with the return of several proven players. Juniors Nick Quisgard (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) and Jarred Boehner (Fredericksburg, Va./Courtland) will compete for the kicking and punting duties.
Quisgard nailed 24-of-26 extra point attempts and hit 4-of-8 field goals, including a 41-yarder against Brockport.
Boehner was also sharp, converting 18-of-21 PATs and 2-of-2 field goals.
Freshman Devon Owen (Locust Grove, Va./James Monroe), an all-state punter as a high school senior, and freshman kicker Ben Breakall (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) will look to push for time.
The punt return spot should be a competition between McLaughlin, Pearson and redshirt freshman Matt Swanke (Baltimore, Md./Lansdowne), while Peason, Higgins and Swanke will battle for the kickoff return role.
While the Bobcats will be challenged to fill voids created by graduation on both sides of the ball, perhaps a more daunting task is a tough nine-game schedule featuring six road games.
After opening the year with an ACFC contest at Apprentice September 13, FSU will host regional powerhouse Montclair State before visiting preseason No. 9 Brockport, who advanced to the national quarterfinalists last year.
After a bye week, Frostburg State heads to Wesley for a key ACFC showdown and then welcomes preseason No. 27 Widener to town for Homecoming.
The Bobcats then face consecutive road trips to Maryville (Tenn.) and Westminster (Pa.) before hosting Waynesburg.
FSU will close out its regular season November 15 against rival Salisbury in the Fifth Annual Regents Cup Game to be played at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
"We have another very demanding schedule," said Stevenson. "We have to learn how to win on the road, and we also have to keep from turning the ball over. Playing only nine games makes every one that more critical to our postseason hopes."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303