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2002 Football Preview: Veteran Bobcat Squad Sets Sights on Postseason Berth

FROSTBURG, MD - An air of confidence and excitement surrounds the Frostburg State University football team as it enters the 2002 season, and rightfully so. Riding the momentum of a strong finish and welcoming back 15 starters from 2001, third-year head coach Rubin Stevenson and the Bobcats have their sights set on a run at the program’s first post-season berth since 1999.

Stevenson will benefit from the return of nine starters from a potent offense that averaged 30.9 points and 371.6 yards per game in 2001.

Anchoring the unit is a veteran front line that could rank as one of the best in school history. Seniors Matt Smith, Ryan Long and Chris Golliday will team with junior Jason Cutsail and sophomore Jared Toler to pave the way for an FSU ground attack that led the Atlantic Central Football Conference with 194.3 rushing yards per game and also allowed a league-low nine sacks in 2001.

Golliday and Cutsail started all nine games at right tackle and right guard, respectively, and helped clear space for the now departed DeNelle Hale, who ran for a career-high 1,073 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

Golliday, a strong candidate for All-America honors, was a first-team All-ECAC and All-ACFC selection, while Cutsail earned second-team All-ACFC accolades. Long battled through an injury-plagued season but still started six games at center, while Smith and Toler anchored the left side.

Smith, another All-America candidate and first-team All-ACFC selection last season, started eight games at left guard and filled in for Long at the center spot once. The durable lineman has started all 30 games of his Bobcat career.

Toler emerged as another talented lineman and started all nine games at left tackle in his rookie season.

“This is definitely the strongest and most experienced area of our team,” said Stevenson. “They are a very close group; they drove five hours together to the NCAA Division III Championship Game (in Salem, Va.) to see the level at which they need to compete to reach the postseason.”

Benefitting from this group will be veteran quarterback Grant Burrough, who enters his second full season as the starting signal-caller.

The redshirt junior is coming off a breakthrough season in which he completed 113-of-262 passes for 1,607 yards and 15 touchdowns, just one scoring pass shy of the single-season school record set by Jobie Waldt in 1982.Burrough also did damage to opposing defenses on the ground, running 86 times for 346 yards and four more scores.

“Grant’s a strong leader who matured last year,” said Stevenson. “We’re looking for him to build upon his solid 2001 season.”

Senior Jeremy Strother, sophomore John Vislocky and freshman Jimmy Ward will compete for the back-up spot behind Burrough. Strother brings strong knowledge of the offensve, while Vislocky, who started the first five games of last season at free safety, returns to his natural position. Ward has great size and carries impressive high school credentials.

Burrough will have plenty of targets with a receiving corps featuring five excellent athletes. Senior Tim Wilkins returns after a stellar season in which he led

FSU with 52 catches for 646 and eight touchdowns. Wilkins enjoyed a career day against Catholic when he hauled in 12 catches for a school-record 210 yards and a pair of scores. He also snared a 13-yard scoring pass from Burrough to give the Bobcats a thrilling 30-27 overtime win over Salisbury in the Third Annual Regents Cup Game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Fifth-year senior Aaron Deeb gives FSU another experienced receiver, grabbing 22 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown last season.

Junior Anthony Long was the team’s top pass catcher over the first three weeks of the season before suffering a season-ending broken hand against Wesley. Long had 14 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a team-high 16.1-yard average.

Sophomore Adam J. Snyder matured as the season progressed and finished with 17 receptions for 195 yards and a pair of scores. He also led the Bobcats with 15 kickoff returns for 260 yards (17.3 ypr).

FSU will also benefit from the return of junior Reggie Brown, who missed 2001 with a torn ACL suffered during the track and field season. Brown was the team’s leading receiver in 2000, grabbing 18 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

“This could be one of the top receiving units in school history,” Stevenson claimed. “We have a nice mixture of size, speed and leadership in these five guys.”

The Bobcats aren’t without some drawbacks on offense, as the Red and Black must replace stalwarts Hale and tight end Andrew Dinbokowitz, a second-team All-ACFC selection in 2001 after snaring 17 passes for 178 yards and supporting the Bobcat ground game with solid blocking.

Junior Edward Kearney (5-9, 165) is the likely starter in the backfield after spelling Hale in the third quarter of many games last season.

Kearney made the most of his opportunities, carrying 49 times for 280 yards (5.7 average) and scoring four touchdowns. He recorded his first two career scores against Chowan and added a 61-yard touchdown run against Catholic.

“Ed showed flashes last year in relief of DeNelle,” said Stevenson. “He gives us good speed and elusiveness out of the backfield.”

A host of newcomers will compete for time as well. Sophomore Bereket Godsey returns as the team’s top fullback after starting all nine games a year ago. Godsey, a smart player and solid runner, had 11 carries for 39 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman.

Junior Jack Walsh, sophomore Norris Goode and several newcomers should provide depth at the position.

Candidates at the tight end position include senior Adam Weddle, a converted offensive lineman, junior Jason Wells and sophomore Stephen Riley.

“This is an untested group, and we’ll be looking for someone to step up and fill the void left by Andrew’s graduation,” Stevenson commented.

Stevenson’s defensive unit should once again be a force with the return of six starters from last year’s squad that led the ACFC with 26 sacks.

The defensive line should continue to be strong with three senior starters back. Headlining the unit is tackle George O’Brien (6-4, 235) and ends Allen Jordan (6-2, 225) and Ronald Luczak (6-2, 230).

O’Brien enjoyed a career year in his first season as a starter, leading the ACFC with 18 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks and finishing second on the squad with 84 tackles. His efforts brought him third-team Hewlett-Packard All-America, first-team ECAC All-Star, third-team Don Hansen Football Gazette All-South Region and ACFC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Jordan and Luczak give FSU one of the top defensive end tandems in the region. Jordan, who earned second-team All-ACFC honors last year after recording 43 tackles, including eight for loss and 4.5 sacks, is an athletic player with great size and speed coming off the end of the line.

Luczak, a first-team All-ACFC selection last season, posted 61 tackles, including 28 solo stops, 16 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. His 2.0 tackles for loss per game tied him with O’Brien for 26th in the nation.

The Bobcats will have excellent depth at the ends with junior Rob Coffeen (6-3, 220) and sophomore Kevin Culbert (6-4, 220). Coffeen, who appeared in five games and started once, posted 13 tackles and a fumble recovery, while Culbert saw action in eight games and had 19 tackles and a pair of sacks.

Several newcomers will battle for the nose guard position vacated with the graduation of Kurtus Ormberg (39 tackles, four tackles for loss).

For the second year in a row, the Bobcats will have some questions at the four linebacker spots.

FSU will move junior A.B. Wilson (6-1, 190) from the boundary to the wide side of the field to take advantage of his speed. The former Allegany High School standout started seven games a year ago and posted 51 tackles (18 solos), three pass breakups and an interception.

Sophomores Steven Handshoe (5-11, 185) and Robert Medley (5-9, 185) will compete for starting rights at the other outside linebacker spot opposite Wilson. Handshoe appeared in six games with two starts as a freshman and recorded seven tackles, while Medley saw action in a pair of games and posted two stops.

A handful of returning players and newcomers will battle for time at the inside spots. Juniors Junior Carmona (5-11, 201) and David Lightner (5-10, 210) and sophomore Adam L. Snyder (6-1, 215) combined for 24 tackles in limited action a year ago, while freshmen Scott MacGregor and Patrick Sullivan look to make an impact after enjoying stellar careers at powerhouse Urbana High School.

The Bobcat secondary, plagued by injuries and a lack of depth a year ago, should be stronger with the return of cornerbacks Curan Oatts (5-10, 170) and Billy Roy (6-0, 162).

Oatts, a junior, enjoyed a solid spring, while Roy, a sophomore, started the last four games of the season and posted 18 tackles in 2001.

A host of newcomers will compete with Oatts and Roy for playing time.

The safety position, shaky a year ago, will stabilize with the expected return of junior Nick Scott (5-10, 195), who recorded 38 tackles in 2000. His veteran leadership should only bolster a young a talented defensive backfield.

Scott will battle junior Bryan Simms (5-11, 175), who posted seven tackles in four games last season.

The Bobcat kicking game is in good hands with sophomores Nick Quisgard (6-0, 165) and Jarred Boehner (6-0, 167) and freshman Michael Dorn (6-0, 165).

Quisgard was a first-team All-ACFC selection as a punter and shared first-team All-ACFC placekicker honors last season. He punted 44 times for a league-high 36.8 yard average and placed 12 punts inside the 20-yard line, and he connected on 4-of-6 field goals and 12-of-17 extra points.

In his collegiate debut, he kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:23 remaining to lift FSU to a thrilling 25-23 win over Division I-AA Marist and added two extra points and punts of 54 and 61 yards in the contest to earn ACFC Rookie of the Week honors.

Boehner was solid in his rookie season, hitting 12-of-16 extra points and 1-of-3 field goal attempts while averaging 35.4 yards on seven punts. He boomed a 52-yard punt against SUNY-Brockport and kicked a 24-yard field goal versus Wesley.

The addition of Dorn, a Washington Post All-Met honorable mention selection, should only boost the FSU kicking game as all three players look to push each other for time.

Adam J. Snyder should see time as a primary kickoff return man after averaging 17.3 yards on 15 returns, and Jordan may also get more opportunities after returning eight kickoffs for an average of 21.0 yards. Brown, who had four returns for 50 yards (12.5 avg.) in 2000, gives FSU another legitimate threat.

Punt return duties aren’t as certain as the Bobcats head into their preseason camp. FSU must replace the explosive Hale and Derek Kirk, who combined to average a whopping 14.5 yards per punt return. The competition will be wide open throughout camp.

As has been FSU’s trademark in recent years, the Bobcats will once again test their grit against some of the top teams in the region in 2002. After opening at home against ACFC foe Apprentice, the Red & Black travel to powerhouse Montclair State, which has advanced to the NCAA Division III Playoffs each of the last three years and appeared in the national quarterfinals in 1999.

FSU then returns home to host SUNY-Brockport, which has earned a berth in the last two NCAA Division III Playoffs, before hitting the road against Oberlin.

The Bobcats look to avenge that year’s 44-36 shooutout loss to two-time defending ACFC champion Wesley at home on October 12, and FSU has more payback in mind when it v isits Catholic the next week. The Cardinals used a last minute touchdown to post a 31-26 win over the Red and Black at Bobcat Stadium in 2001.

FSU will then host Ursinus for Homecoming and former NAIA power Westminster in back-to-back weeks before visiting Waynesburg.

The Bobcats will then close out the regular-season with its traditional finale against state rival and ACFC foe Salisbury in the Fourth Annual Regents Cup Game November 16.

“This could be one of the toughest schedules in years,” said Stevenson. “We need to stay healthy, get solid special teams play and have our offense continue to put points on the board while our defense gels.”

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-4371
Fax: 301-687-4780