Franklin & Marshall Football Looks to Shock Centennial Conference in 2004

LANCASTER, PA -- From the uniforms to the team on the field, the 2004 Franklin & Marshall College football team will have a new look this season.

Last season, the 2003 Diplomats began to undergo a change as only the uniforms, the mascot and the tradition remained the same. From a new head coach (Shawn Halloran), to first time opponents (Centre College) and a batch of new recruits, the Diplomats season was one of change from the top to the bottom.

For year two of the Halloran Era, change the uniforms, erase a two-time All-America wide receiver, an Academic All-America tightend, six 2003 All-Centennial Conference selections, but add in experience, a fresh batch of recruits and the constant tradition of Diplomats' football and you have the makings of a championship dogfight.

Following the loss of nine starters, the Diplomats will be looking to fill several holes in the lineup as the team will need to find a starting receiver combination and replace holes in the offensive line and defense on the heels of a 4-6 season, 3-3 in the Centennial Conference.

A look at the Diplomats by position:


WIDE RECEIVERS:

The biggest loss for Franklin & Marshall will be at wideout as Halloran will need to find a trio of wide receivers following the graduation of Sean Flynn '04, Matt Wagaman '03 and two-time All-America selection Justin Salton '03.

A 2002 & 2003 D3football.com All-America honorable mention, All-ECAC first and unanimous All-Centennial Conference first team selection, Salton rewrote the Centennial Conference record book finishing the 2003 season with new Conference single season (84) and career (241) receptions records as he eclipsed the previous CC and Franklin & Marshall single season record of 77 catches that he established in 2002.

He closed his career with 241 catches for 3,146 yards to establish a new Centennial Conference (CC), Franklin & Marshall and ECAC records in career receptions erasing the previous record of 233 for 3,846 yards held by Franklin & Marshall College's Dale Amos '90.

The second CC receiver to gain 3,000 yards or 200 receptions in a career, Salton ranks sixth in Centennial Conference history in career touchdowns with 23.

The loss of an All-America receiver is bad, but consider that Wagaman garnered All-CC second team honors last year as he caught 31 passes for 379 yards with two touchdowns to finish his career with 138 catches for 1806 yards and 10 touchdows.

The pairing of Salton and Wagaman sttistically marked the best receiving tandem in Centennial Conference and Franklin & Marshall history as they combined for 379 catches for 4,952 yards to obliterate the Conference career catches mark by a pair of receivers. Historically, Salton and Wagaman are the first receiving tandem that each recorded over 100 career catches in the history of the CC.

However, the question for Halloran this year is who will step into the open slots left by the "Dynamic Duos" graduation?

A leading contender to start is local wideout Derek Boyce (Jr., Lancaster, PA/Lampeter-Strasburg) who reeled in 13 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown after transferring to the College prior to the 2003 season from Division II West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Other contenders for playing time are John Mervin (Sr., Yardley, PA/Hun School), Bobby Freiler (So., Orwigsburg, PA/Blue Mountain), Rob Donofrio (So., Sea Girt, NJ/Wall Township), E.J. Leary (Jr., Seymour, CT/Seymour), Marc DeSimone (Jr., Wilton, CT/Wilton), James Ellis (So., Bethesda, MD/Walter Johnson), Mat Monfort (Fr., West Harrison, NY/Harrison), Tom Salzbrenner (Fr., Hockessin, DE/Charter School of Wilmington), Anthony Complattaro (Fr., Lyndhurst, NJ/St. Mary) and Chris Wagner (Fr., Media, PA/Penncrest).


QUARTERBACK:

A competition will occur at quarterback as Franklin & Marshall will boast three potential starting quarterbacks in Kyle Turner (Fr., Haddonfield, NJ/Haddonfield), Doug Hiltner (Sr., Margate, NJ/Atlantic City) and 2003 All-CC second team honoree Jeff Harner (Jr., Mohrsville, PA/Schuylkill Valley).

Harner, who transferred to F&M from West Chester University prior to last season, stepped into the starting quarterback role beginning with the first game of the season and finished the year ranked among the Conference's best in passing average (2nd, 138.0 ypg), touchdown passes (3rd, 8) and total offense (3rd, 148.8 ypg).

Historically, he tied for second all-time in single game completions with 27 for 306 yards versus the #1 nationally ranked pass defense of Johns Hopkins.

The most experienced quarterback on the Diplomats' depth chart, Hiltner, who returns via an NCAA granted fifth-year of eligibility due to an injury in his freshman season, completed 48-of-106 attempts for 569 yards and seven touchdowns in five games as a backup last season. His best game came in a 20-14 win over Dickinson College as he rallied Franklin & Marshall from a 14-6 fourth quarter deficit by completing 13-of-32 passing attempts with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion pass.

Following a red-shirt freshman season due to an injury and an injury shortened sophomore season in which he appeared in only three games before suffering a broken clavicle on a scramble versus Muhlenberg, Hiltner completed 13-of-25 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns in four relief appearances as a junior in 2002.

Overall, the tandem of Harner and Hiltner guided a pass offense last year that finished third all-time in school history in yardage (1,994) and completed an all-time school record 181 passes breaking the record of 174 from the 1992 season.

Turner will also vie for the starting job without having taken a snap in an intercollegiate game.


TAILBACK/FULLBACK:

The team's leading rusher last year with 676 yards on 190 attempts, tailback and tri-captain Scott Stephen (Sr., Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) returns as the Diplomats primary option on the ground. In three seasons, including a freshman campaign in which he ran for 162 yards on 76 carries and completed 21-of-71 attempts for 243 yards as a quarterback, he now has 1,325 yards on 415 carries with eight rushing touchdowns.

A compact back, Stephen can break games open with this rushing abilities as he recorded back-to-back 100 yard rushing games by carrying 26 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-17 victory at Ursinus on 11/8/03 before rushing 28 times for 141 yards in a 14-13 victory over Gettysburg on 11/15/03.

His performance against Gettysburg marked the second consecutive season in which he ran wild against the Bullets as he rushed for 223 yards on 32 carries in a 20-14 season ending victory in Gettysburg to finish the 2002 season with 587 net yards.

In addition to his legs, Stephen is a potent threat at receiver and passing as he can lineup at tailback, wide receiver, quarterback or kick returner for F&M this season.

The team's punt returner last year with nine returns for 68 yards, he caught 17 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns and completed three-of-four passes for 45 yards and three touchdowns in 2003.

The team's second leading scorer with 54 points on a team high nine touchdowns, he completed both touchdown passes against Gettysburg connecting Salton on a one-yard pass with 13:06 left in the second quarter and tightend Dan Houseman '04 with 10:36 left in the fourth quarter in the season-ending one-point victory over the Bullets. Further, he rushed for 21 and two yard touchdowns in the final four minutes of the second quarter for the go-ahead scores against Ursinus before connecting with Salton on a 42-yard bomb at 12:26 of the third quarter for an insurance touchdown in a 37-17 victory.

His best game of the season came against Oberlin in the season-opener as he carried 18 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns and reeled in six catches for 52 yards and a touchdown to factor in 18 of his team's 30 points in a 30-6 win over the Yeomen at Sponaugle-Williamson Field.

Other backs who could get carries include John Weber (Fr., Harrison, NY/Rye Country Day), Curtis Varner (So., State College, PA/State College), Jacob Gomolinski (Fr., Middletown, NY/Pine Bush Central), Scott Sultzaberger (Jr., New Cumberland, PA/Cedar Cliff) and Elliott Platt (Fr., Cedar Grove, NJ/Montclair Kimberley).

Due to the loss of starting fullback Nick Euculano, the coaching staff will look to the quartet of Rick Dunlap (So., Boothwyn, PA/Garnet Valley), Justin Matthews (Fr., Cherry Hill, NJ/Cherry Hill East), Ricardo Piazza (Jr., Copiague, NY/Copiague) and JB Weber (Jr., Harrison, NY/Rye Country Day) to fill the spot as all possess the size and blocking ability to take up the slack and keep the Diplomats' running game on the move. Overall, inexperience will be an area of concern as only Dunlap and Weber are the only returning fullbacks to carry the ball last year as the two combined for 100 yards on 23 carries.


OFFENSIVE LINE:

The biggest area of improvement for Franklin & Marshall will be across the offensive line as only left tackle Jeff Pawlikowski (Jr., Sinking Springs, PA/Conrad Weiser) and right guard Nick Maturi (So., Oakland, NJ/Indian Hills) return from last season's starting five lineman.

Key losses for F&M across the line include graduated All-CC second team right tackle Dan Eberstein and All-CC honorable mention center Tom Rapone. In addition, left guard Jake Booth (Sr., Georgetown, DE/Sussex Central), who was penciled in as the team's long-snapper, and converted defensive lineman Brandon Zabinski (Sr., Reading, PA/Reading) suffered season-ending training injuries and will be unable to compete this season.

Two potential impact players for Franklin & Marshall will be Division I transfers Aubrey "Dev" Wakeley (Fr., Gardendale, AL/Gardendale) of Jacksonville State (AL) and Brian Rice (So., Rockville, MD/Good Counsel) of Southeast Louisiana State. The first 300+ pound linemen for Franklin & Marshall since 400 lbs. Thor Mahan in 2000, the duo will anchor a line which will look to key the Diplomats' rushing attack as F&M gained 1,060 yards on 357 carries last season.

Other lineup who will see time include Michael Thorogood (So., Fairhaven, NJ/Rumson-Fair Haven), Randall Marquis (So., Staatsburg, NY/FD Roosevelt), Rory Regan (Jr., Waretown, NJ/Southern Regional), Jared Barninger (Fr., Columbia, PA/Lancaster Catholic), Jeremy Morowitz (So., Linwood, NJ/Mainland), Jim Ishkanian (So., Wyckoff, NJ/Ramapo) and Josh Lindy (Jr., Dresher, PA/Upper Dublin).

However, if the Diplomats are to be among the Centennial Conference's best squads this year, the line will need to cut down on the number of pass sacks allowed as team's dropped the F&M quarterbacks 33 times for 205 yards in 2003.


KICKER/PUNTER:

A 2003 All-CC second team selection at punter, place-kicker/punter Dan Eggertsson (Sr., Royal Palm, FL/Suncoast) returns to the Diplomats lineup after recording a Centennial Conference best 36.9 punting average as he led the CC in punting average for nine of the season's 10 weeks.

He recorded a breakout season in 2003 connecting on 58 punts for 2,142 yards, including a career long 70 yard punt at Centre College as he finished with a career high 293 yards of punting yardage on seven kicks (41.0 avg.) versus the Colonels.

In addition, Eggertsson led the Centennial Conference placing 14 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line and helped clinch Franklin & Marshall's season-ending 14-13 win over Gettysburg booting a 40 yard punt to the Bullets' one yard line with 3:43 left in the fourth quarter.

At place-kicker, he made two-of-four field goal attempts connecting on 27 yarders versus Oberlin and Ursinus for the first field goals by an F&M kicker since the final game of the 2001 season, as he is now two-for-seven on FG attempts.

Backing up Eggertsson will be Aaron Kolodny (Fr., Delmar, NY) who could see action on kickoffs or field goals this year.


TIGHT END:

Franklin & Marshall's biggest area on concern will be at tight end as All-CC honorable mention selection Dan Houseman was lost to graduation after reeling in 23 passes for 169 yards to tie with two time All-CC first team selection Andy Gilburg '00 for the most single season receptions by a tight end in F&M history.

The team will turn to former quarterback Kevin Walker (Sr., Hamilton, NJ/Lawrenceville) who was converted to tightend to backup Houseman last year.

In addition, Division I transfer quarterback Alan Conrad (So., Cresskill, NJ/Cresskill) of Stony Brook University will be moved to the position for this year.

A two-time All-League and three-time All-County selection at Cresskill High School, Conrad did not appear in a game for the Seawolves last year

.Sophomore Matt Mondonedo (Silver Spring, MD/James Hubert Blake) could also see time at tight end.


DEFENSIVE LINE:

The strongest position on the Diplomats' defense will be the defensive line as All-CC honorable mention defensive end Chris White (Sr., Vestal, NY/Vestal) return to lead a defense which recorded 94 tackles-for-loss of 324 yards in 2003.

White, who will serve as a tri-captain in 2004, tallied 48 tackles and ranked eighth in the Conference in tackles-for-loss with 11.5 for 74 yards in 2003. Further, he led the Conference in fumbles recovered with three, tied linebacker Dan Nadler '04 for fourth in the CC in sacks with nine and finished third in sack yardage with 67 yards.

Defensive coordinator Tony Thompson will need to fill out the line from the cast of Jack Duncan (Fr., Nottingham, PA/Valley Forge Military Academy), Jeff Gunn (Jr., Tunkhannock, PA/Tunkhannock), Joe Kemper (So., York, PA/Dallastown), Tony Marchigiano (So., Hackettstown, NJ/Pingry School), Mark Biafore (Fr., Shrewsbury, NJ/Red Bank), Mickey Rehring (Fr., Port Matilda, PA/State College), Frank Dipaolo (Fr., Wilton, CT/Wilton), Chris Kuchar (Fr., Princeton, NJ/Hun School) and Andrew Dinkelacker (Fr., Fogelsville, PA/Parkland).


LINEBACKERS:

Franklin & Marshall's linebackers will be among the best in the Centennial Conference, as 11 freshmen will battle for playing time with nine veterans.

An area of concern will be experience as Andy Rehring '04 and Dan Nadler were lost to graduation. As seniors, Rehring totaled a season high 97 tackles with 12 tackles-for-loss of 38 yards, while Nadler netted 70 tackles with team highs in tackles-for-loss (16-for-70 yards) and sacks (nine-for-50 yards) as F&M will need to replace not only their statistics but their presence on the field.

Head Coach Shawn Halloran will look to All-CC second team honoree Matt Capone (Sr., Scarsdale, NY/Scarsdale) and juniors Tom Cole (Brooklyn, NY/Sylvania Southview) and Joe LoCastro (Cherry Hill, NJ/Camden Catholic) to take over the slack.

Last year, Capone finished second on the team in tackles (80) and tackles-for-loss (11-for-35 yards) as an inside linebacker to raise his career total to 155 tackles and 21 tackles-for-loss of 56 yards.

Among the juniors, only LoCastro registered a tackle last year making 38 stops with nine tackles-for-loss of 21 yards, an interception for 25 yards, a fumble recovery, three passes defended and a forced fumble.

Sophomores Michael Holden (West Caldwell, NJ/James Caldwell), Jeff Brabant (Randolph, NJ/Baley Ellard), William Cronin (Yardley, PA/Pennsbury) and John Warnick (Rockville, MD/Good Counsel) should also see time.

Other players to watch include the freshmen class of Brian Palabrica (Princeton Junction, NJ), Lucas Burbank (Ridgefield, CT/Ridgefield), Tom Rigby (Shrewsbury, NJ/Red Bank), Joe Maynard (Parsippany, NJ/Parsippany), Andrew Sparks (Fr., Jackson, WY/Taft School), Emre Guzelsu (Princeton, NJ/Princeton), Mike Clark (Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock), Nathan Mintz (Medfield, MA/Medfield), George Farrell (Hatfield, PA/North Penn) and Evan Whaley (Basking Ridge, NJ/Pingry) who could step into the lineup this year.


DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD:

An area where the Diplomats will need to improve in 2004 is the secondary as opponents completed 135-of-270 passing attempts for 1,898 yards.

Leading the way will be free safety Justin Koch (Sr., Schuylkill Haven, PA/Schuylkill Haven) who finished third on the team in tackles (75), including 41 solo stops, with five pass breakups and an interception for 43 yards as a junior.

At cornerback, Chris Santaniello (So., Somers Point, NJ/Mainland) returns after finishing with 40 tackles. The team leader in pass breakups with seven, he grabbed one interception for 30 yards in 2003.

Returners Ryan Sychterz (Jr., Sinking Springs, PA/Holy Name), TJ Scanlan (Jr., Avon, NJ/Red Bank Catholic), Tim Barry (Jr., Madison, NJ/Madison), Chris Smyth (So., West Chester, PA/Cardinal O'Hara), JC Capote (So., Ridgefield Park, NJ/Ridgefield), Matt Pastore (So., Ridgewood, NJ/Peddie School), Chris Stepien (Jr., Fairfield, NJ/West Essex), Sean Curran (So., Sinking Springs, PA/Holy Name), Ryan Carrozza (So., Cherry Hill, NJ/Bishop Eustace) and freshmen Jason Hamm (Columbia, MD/Hammond), Steve Rutland (Millersville, MD/Archbiship Spalding), Kyle Turner (Haddonfield, NJ/Haddonfield), Paul Fields (Bergenfield, NJ/Bergenfield) and Dan Westfield (New York, NY/Cardinal Spellman) will also battle for playing time.


SCHEDULE:

The Franklin & Marshall College football team will open the season on September 4 at home versus Bethany College.

The first ever meeting between Bethany and Franklin & Marshall, the Diplomats will be looking to pick up their fourth straight season opening victory as F&M has knocked off Oberlin College for the last three years.

Following the Bethany game, the Diplomats will hit the road to Oberlin, Ohio to take on the Oberlin College Yeomen on September 11 before returning to Lancaster to square off with Hobart College on September 18.

A two game road trip to Carnegie Mellon (September 25) and Muhlenberg (October 2) will be followed by four straight home games versus Johns Hopkins (October 9), Dickinson (October 23), McDaniel (October 30) and Ursinus (November 6) before hitting the road for the season finale at Gettysburg (November 13).

The Dickinson game marks a change in the previously announced schedule as Franklin & Marshall and the Red Devils traded games in 2004 and 2005. In 2005 and 2006, the Diplomats will travel to Dickinson in exchange for Franklin & Marshall facing Dickinson in Lancaster in 2004 for the second straight year following a 20-14 overtime victory over the Devils at Williamson Field last year.

All 10 games in 2004 are set for 1:00 p.m. kickoffs.