Marist Football Program Holds Annual Spring Game
Marist hopes to use spring game to fuel the upcoming season. Caitlin Nolan
Football fans that attended last season's spring game had good reason to feel unprepared if they arrived at Tenney Stadium without a calculator. The game, played in an offense vs. defense format, used a point system to decide a winner.
Six points were awarded to the offense for a touchdown, four points to the defense for a turnover or prevention of a touchdown if the offense started a drive inside the defensive team's 35-yard line. The list went on and on.
This time around, a much simpler approach was taken: a draft held prior to the game yielded two sides that faced each other in the program's annual Red vs. White spring game, held on Friday, April 1.
"It's much more competitive [with two teams]," junior quarterback Mike Gentile said. "Kids will have more pride in their team when there's no confusion about what team you're on. You've got two sets of the offensive lines going out there and doing a good job as well as the receivers split evenly."
Players dealt with wet and blustery conditions over the course of their spring practices, a 14-session schedule that commenced on Feb. 28.
"We have never had spring ball this early in the year before," Gentile said. "The trainers take precautions. Other teams that have been playing in this cold are accommodated for that. The back end of our season it gets real cold. Why not get more practice time in that weather?"
Five quarterbacks were active in the scrimmage and the White squad captured a 23-21 victory behind the play of signal-callers Chuckie Looney, Sam Loussedes and Duell Smith.
Tommy Reilly, last season's primary starting quarterback, was inactive for the game and is recovering from ACL surgery.
Gentile, who is recovering from a knee injury of his own, and sophomore quarterback Anthony Varrichione were placed on the Red team.
"Mentally, it was a real building step," Gentile said. "I have one season under my belt and now I have spring ball under my belt. We went live, too. It gave me some confidence sitting in the pocket and I have felt comfortable for the first time since I have been back."
Twelve offensive linemen dressed for the contest and the unit welcomed back Rocco Manfre, Steve Carretta and Peter Evans, who missed the fall season due to a leg injury.
Phede Celestin, a six-foot-five-inch, 317-pound sophomore joined four freshmen to form the Red Foxes starting offensive line last season.
"Now we have people that have had experience," Celestin said. "And the four freshmen that started [plus] myself, we know what we are doing. We can get better physically. Mentally, we have everything down."
The offensive line had to contend with Terrence Fede, an extremely talented defensive end who was inactive last season due to his involvement with a security-related incident that took place during the spring of 2010.
From his down stance, Fede chased down halfback Calvin McCoy to the far sideline twice in the first half and clobbered running back R.J. D'Apolito on the White team's first defensive play from scrimmage.
"Im happy [Terrence] is back," Celestin said. "He has proven to us that he has been putting in the work in the off season since he wasn't here last season."
Several roster changes have also taken place, including moving freshmen Michael Vannucci and Patrick Desaultels from the offensive to the defensive line.
Junior Tim Moller, who played the past three seasons as a defensive back, has worked out as a running back this spring.
"I felt like I wasn't really helping the team out on defense," Moller said. "I wasn't putting my whole self to the team on defense. Maybe moving to offense, I can help us out more. We think we have a chance to do really well next year."
The Marist rushing attack averaged 61.1 yards per game last season behind the efforts of six different rushers while allowing 179.9 yards on the ground per contest to its opponents.
"I definitely feel like I still have a lot to prove to the team and to the coaches," Moller said. "I'm still learning, and I'm going to continue to go over the offense and the packages."
How significant the losses of seniors James LaMacchia, wideout, and Chris Ortner, tight end, will be to the Marist offensive unit has yet to be seen.
The pair combined for more than 1,000 all-purpose yards last season, but the Red Foxes will return six of its top 10 receivers.
"Kevin [Fitzpatrick] and Mike [Rios] really stepped up and became leaders," Gentile said. "One person who has impressed me the most is Anthony Calcagni, the sophomore tight end. He'll just go out and reach for balls like I've never seen and hold onto it because of his strength."
Junior cornerback Jaquan Bryant intercepted two passes in the scrimmage and returned a punt for 75 yards.
Moller, Ryan Dinnebeil and Calvin McCoy all rushed for touchdowns while Armani Martin and Brennen Dodd were on the receiving end of touchdown passes.
Punter Kevin Pauly, who will return for a fifth season, connected on a 36-yard field goal.
Marist opens up its 2011 season on Sept. 3 against the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
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