Category Archives: Football

CCSU Run Down by Holy Cross

By Sean Begin

In the first meeting of the two teams, Central Connecticut State University couldn’t stop the run game of Holy Cross, falling to the Crusaders 52-21 in Saturday’s home opener at Arute Field.

Holy Cross (1-2, 0-0 PL) came into the game averaging only 55.5 rushing yards in their first two games before storming for 419 yards against the Blue Devils (0-3, 0-0 NEC).

“They came out and ran it right down our throats and out physicaled us,” said Head Coach Jeff McInerney. “We weren’t adept at making the adjustment. I think that’s clear.”

Holy Cross senior running back Reggie Woods rushed for 153 yards on 24 carries after replacing freshman Gabe Guild in the second quarter following an injury.

The Crusaders rushed for three touchdowns as well, with two coming in the fourth quarter already up by 17 points and running the ball to kill the clock.

Even though they easily conceded the ground game, the Blue Devils managed to stay close to the Crusaders, down only a touchdown with six minutes left in the third quarter.

A fumble from sophomore quarterback Nick SanGiacomo, however, was recovered by Holy Cross and returned 11 yards for a touchdown, putting the Crusaders up 38-21 and the game all but out of reach.

“He just held onto the ball,” said Coach Mac. “He’s a sophomore quarterback and he just held on. It’s a learning experience.”

SanGiacomo played fairly well despite the fumble, completing 11 of 20 passes for 165 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Aaron Berardino caught SanGiacomo’s only touchdown, a 68 yard bomb that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter.

Junior running back Rob Hollomon broke 200 all-purpose yards for the second straight game, including rushing for 145 yards and scoring the Blue Devils first and last touchdowns.

“My offensive line does a great job of executing the plays we run and making holes for me,” said Hollomon. “They make my job easier, it’s just pick a hole and run through it.”

The loss keeps the Blue Devils winless so far this season, with two more road games looming over the next two weekends before conference play begins.

“Coming in 0-3 now, of course there’s a concern about people putting their heads down,” said senior defensive back Antwione Reese. “As leaders though, me and Rob have to keep the morale of the team up.”

“The thing about this game is good and bad is going to happen but the most important thing is how you respond,” added Reese, who racked up a team high eight total tackles. “We have to respond. It’s as simple as that.”

The Blue Devils next game is on the road at Albany Saturday, Sept. 21, while the Crusaders head home to play Monmouth the same day.

Blue Devils Honor The Bear

By Brittany Burke

 

Music at a sporting event is generally used to pump up the players entering the field, get the crowd going by signaling them to cheer even louder and in some cases to put the opponent on edge, but not for the Blue Devils.

On Thursday’s football practice, the team’s last before heading on their first road trip of the season, music wasn’t used as entertainment it was used as a learning tool. The Blue Devils football team began its season against the James Madison University Dukes, a ranked powerhouse of the South. The last time the Blue Devils entered Virginia they left JMU’s Bridgeforth Stadium with a 14-9 loss and a lot of that could be attributed to the noise.

Inarguably the south is football country and the Blue Devils learned that as they played their second game of the 2011 season in front of 25,000 people. The sound was defeaning and it overwhelmed the players who weren’t used to such a crowd. Head Football Coach Jeff McInerney wanted to make sure that his squad was prepared this time around, hence the intermittent blasts of Top 100 hits.

“In 2011 when we went down there it was quite loud … the student section is like a division 1 section and you can’t hear. I didn’t prepare them that year and we lost a tough one so we said we were gonna get ready and that’s what we did all week to get them used to it,” said McInerney.

McInerney has learned that you have to own up to your mistakes in order to change them and that’s the mindset going into the new season. CCSU is predicted to finish sixth in the NEC pre-season poll. They’re coming off a 2-8 season, a far cry from the back-to-back champions they once were but despite the down years McInerney is expecting good things this year.

Change began this offseason starting with McInerney and trickling down to his assistant coaches, captains and then the other members of the team.

“What we did right after the season is evaluate it and right when they came back we started a leadership program and accountability is huge for me. If I didn’t change they would never change, the assistant coaches wouldn’t change, the players, I needed to change. It wasn’t going the way it was supposed to go and if I didn’t change it was never going to … we’ve worked hard on it and its been fun our tempo’s good. I don’t know what it’s going to do wins and losses I don’t want to make a great prediction but I know we’re a better team and I know our tempo is better I know our organization is better and I know our communication is better that I know,” said McInerney.

Luckily for the Blue Devils they didn’t lose many to graduation but they did lose key players such as go-to kicker Juan Duque, wide receiver Deven Baker and linebackers D.J. Radich and Lorenzo Baker. The team does have veteran returners for the season, which should offset their losses.

A strong core including Blaise Rosati at center, Taylor Fuller at right tackle and Tyler Hurd at left tackle will anchor the offense while Rob Hollomon, Chris Linares and Tyrell Holmes are back to diversify the scoring abilities. Hollomon was named pre-season All-NEC at running back, punt returner, and kick returner.

The biggest things on the mind of McInerney are controlling the turnovers and bettering the defense.

“If you look at our stats last year we were horrible and you can’t sugar coat that and it comes down to fundamentals,” said the coach. “You can have all the ability in the world but if you aren’t doing your fundamentals right, you’re not working as one, you’re not going to do any good and we lost our way.”

As the summer practices come to an end and the team prepares for the Dukes there is still an inter-squad competition for starting kicker and punter. Heading into Saturday night’s game McInerney was still unsure if it would be Steve Calitri or Ed Groth permanently kicking for the extra point, the same could be said for punter with Groth and Joe Carter vying for the spot.

The Blue Devils are also playing harder this year in honor of their fallen teammate, Jamar Johnson. Johnson, a would-be sophomore at CCSU passed away on August 1, 2013 following a car accident in Bloomfield, Conn., on July 28.

Johnson was a redshirted defensive end with an impressive athletic resume through high school though he didn’t play with the Blue Devils last season. Prior to CCSU Johnson was named to an All-Conference Team as captain, given the most-athletic student award and was a part of two track and field championships, but it was his presence off the field that touched most closest to him.

“He was a bright man with a smile,” said McInerney, donning a sweat stained hat with an embroidered bear on the front. “His nickname was the Bear … he always had a smile. His favorite color was green, he was born on St. Patrick’s Day, he had nicknames for everybody…he always had a smile and that’s probably one of the brightest things.”

Johnson’s death wasn’t the first that McInerney has had to deal with in his time as coach. In January 2011 the Blue Devils lost Rich Royster and his girlfriend Brittany Mariani, again to a car accident. Many of the athletes now weren’t on the team when Royster passed away but McInerney is taking into account what he’s learned and applying it to help his team through Johnson’s death as best he can.

“We’ve learned from past none of them are easy they all hurt it doesn’t matter … We learned the last time, it just doesn’t go away,” said McInerney. “The pain can come up two months from now. His roommate was a student here that wasn’t a student athlete, there’s just so many people who you have to reach out to and you have to keep your eye out because something like that doesn’t necessarily stop today.”

As a way of helping the students and faculty affected by Johnson’s loss the school provided counselors. The team is also finding ways to keep his memory alive. The team has put his picture up alongside his jersey and will have the number 93 patch on all of their jerseys. McInerney not only wears his baseball cap with the bear but also a green pirate hat in honor of Johnson’s favorite color.

“One of the things they said at his funeral and his vigil [was] you know lets love each other and if we want Jamar to live, lets help the 19-year olds, he was 19 years old when he passed away and when we see somebody down pick them up and spread the love that’s really what we’ve done.”

There will be a vigil on campus in his honor but according to Dr. Laura Tordenti it is still being planned and they have yet to set a date.

CCSU Student Deven Baker To Tryout For Raiders

By Matt Aveni 

Central Connecticut State University’s Blue Devils wide receiver Deven Baker has earned himself a tryout for the Oakland Raiders from May 9-12. Baker will be the fifth player in CCSU history to be affiliated with the National Football League.  All of these players have seen a future in the NFL under current Head Coach Jeff McInerney.

Baker spent three successful seasons with the Blue Devils after he transferred from Temple. He proved to be one of the best receivers in the University’s history. He finished his three seasons with 105 career receptions and 1,413 yards.  He finished fifth in receptions and eighth in receiving yards. Baker’s best season came his senior year.  He totaled with 42 catches for 609 yards. The more impressive stat is his six receiving touchdowns which led the Blue Devils.

Baker and his family members have not yet commented on the recent news. Tommy Meade, CCSU’s Assistant Communication and Media Service Director, released a press release with this statement on April 28.

Central Connecticut football’s Deven Baker has accepted an invitation to Oakland Raiders’ Mini Camp, which will be held May 9-12 in Oakland, CA.  Baker finished his collegiate career with three seasons at CCSU after transferring from Temple.  The Bound Brook, New Jersey native ranks among the top receivers in Blue Devil football history with 105 career receptions for 1,413 yards.

Blue Devils Face Off In ‘Blue Versus White’ Spring Game

By Corey Pollnow

Andrew Clements threw three touchdowns and carried the White Team to a 22-9 victory Friday evening at Arute Field in the annual CCSU inter-squad “Blue vs White” Spring Game.

Clements and the Blue Devils are looking to rebound from 2012, when they had a disappointing 2-8 record and Coach McInerney attributed some of the lack of success the past two seasons to an absence of leadership. Despite back to back losing seasons, McInerney’s brought two NEC championships to Central during his seven year tenure and has an overall record of 44-33. He has the team concentrating on basic fundamentals and tackling in the spring. He’s also made changes such as having his players take snaps on both sides of the ball to determine the best 22 players on the team.

Clements threw his third touchdown to put the game away in the fourth quarter when he connected with Aaron Berardino on a 65 yard pass to put the White Team up 22-9.

The Blue Team’s only touchdown came on a 15 yard yard run by Rob Hollomon.

“As the game went on it seem like [the Blue Team] came together and got things rolling,” said Holloman who scored five touchdowns last season and led the NEC in rushing with 1104 yards.

Mark Robinson earned three sacks for the Blue Team, one of the sacks being a safety late in the third quarter when the White Team was deep in its own territory. The safety finally put the Blue Team on the scoreboard.

Matt Kral’s 27 field goal with 35 seconds remaining in the first half gave the Blue Team a 15-0 cushion going into into halftime.

Clements threw his second touchdown of the evening on a 28 yard pass in the second quarter to Jevon Elmore, who will play as a redshirt freshman this fall.

The White Team was first to score in the inter-squad scrimmage when Clements threw a 38 yard touchdown pass to Chris Linares with 7:40 left in the second quarter, giving the White Team a 6-0 lead. The point after attempt was missed.

“Everyone got a sense of real game speed today,” said Clements who threw for 1266 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2012.

Joe Efese, the starting Center for the basketball team has chosen to join the football squad after jokingly saying he could carry his own weight on the football field. According to Efese he hasn’t played since middle school and despite the long lapse since he’s put on pads, he was active on defense for the White Team recording four tackles. What started out as a joke became real when Coach McInerney encouraged Efese to join the team. Efese says, “I started thinking and I talked to my family about it and Coach said if you don’t like it you can quit anytime. But I don’t like quitting, so I said I’m gonna go out there and do it.”

Efese has come to appreciate all the preparation that goes into being a football player and said, “It’s like going to school and it’s a lot of work. They’re studying and taking test and they’re in [football class] It was like Chinese at first. I didn’t know what was going on.”

The quarterback position is in the air according to Clements, who was 9 for 17 and threw for 240 yards. “We go in every practice and there is no set quarterback. That goes for everyone on the team. Nothing is given.”

 

Tailgating Allowed At Kaiser Lot

By Kyle Penn

The confusion over whether or not students of or over the legal age can consume alcohol in the Kaiser parking lot for tailgating purposes is over. According to Chief Administration Officer Richard Bachoo, the permitted use of alcohol in the lot is only allowed on certain days by discretion of Bachoo.

“Kaiser lot is one of areas I permit alcohol use on a specific day for football. I’ve had no problems signing off for tailgating,” Bachoo said. “It’s been going on for years and it’s an acceptable tradition to go on as long as people follow the rules.”

In 2006, Bachoo and University President Jack Miller came up with a set of guidelines and rules that a group must follow if they were to request alcohol at their event. It is Bachoo that holds the power to grant or deny the request, simply with his signature. In regards to tailgating he does not hesitate to allow alcohol use in the lot, as long as the people drinking are of legal age.

Students have been unsure if they were technically allowed to drink in the lot while tailgating for home football games. However, despite the uncertainty students have been attending tailgates and consuming alcohol.

“Tailgating is a football tradition that brings fans together to get pumped up and prepared to support our team on the field and in my opinion alcohol should be involved,” said junior Aaron Taranovich, 21, a frequent tailgater at home football games.

There is a collaboration between multiple departments to ensure that tailgating is done in a safe environment. The athletics department, police department, Student Conduct Office and Bachoo all agree that the tailgating for home football games has been safe and in control. Both the parking lot and inside the stadium are monitored by police officers and an outside security company, Executive Security.

“I haven’t had any reports where any students have violated the code of conduct while at a tailgating party,” said Christopher Dukes, director of the Student Conduct Office. “Crowd safety is important and if something were to go down the police department is equipped, trained and well-prepared to address the situation.”

“Our primary focus has been on maintaining order and enforcing the laws. I’m not aware of any problems that have come out as a result of people tailgating,” Chief of Police Jason Powell said.

Bachoo, who oversees the police department and athletics department believes that the fans at the tailgate are always well behaved and things are handled well.

Different departments agree that designating alcohol use at Kaiser lot for tailgating purposes helps to create a safe environment for fans to enjoy the game.

“Kaiser lot provides us with a safe environment to drink, have fun and support our schools athletics,” said Taranovich.

“One of the goals in allowing it to happen is to make this more than just a football game,” said Thomas Pincince, assistant A.D. for Communication and Media Services. “A lot of people use the opportunity as long they follow the rules and regulations that are in place to do it safely, and make sure they don’t cause any trouble.”

If a student were to violate the student code of conduct it would be, according to Dukes, handled the same way as any other alcohol violation, whether it is in a residence hall or an off-campus party.

“It is my understanding that if it’s a university function and that’s been a designated spot where can people can consume alcohol, they still must be of age to do so. So there would be no violation or conflict with the student code of conduct,” Dukes said.

There does not seem to be a full understanding of the rules of tailgating by students entering the lot for tailgating reasons.

“I think a lot of students have a sense of the basic guidelines, but not a complete knowledge of the rules,” said Taranovich.

Different departments believe it would be better for fans of all ages, especially students, to know exactly what they can and cannot do within the lot on game-day.

“I think anytime expectations are made clear that helps everyone concerned,” said Powell.

Dukes agreed saying, “I’d rather people ask then come up with their own perceptions and be wrong about what really is going on.”

Students and faculty agree that tailgating for a football game creates a safe and positive environment for fans to come together and support their team.

“Tailgating helps to create that atmosphere that is part of that football game. It’s not just a show-up and go to the game, it becomes an event,” said Pincince.

“Football games are on the weekends and that’s the time where students get to put the stress of work aside and enjoy themselves,” Taranovich said. “What better way to do this than tailgating with your friends and supporting our football team?