Football Hopes New Talent Leads to Continued Success

Football Hopes New Talent Leads to Continued Success

Aug. 31, 2009

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-Last season, the six wins recorded by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's football team represented their highest total since they won seven times and advanced to the Eastern College Athletic Conference's Northwest Bowl in 2004.

The Corsairs won three of their final four six games, won three times on the road and played the longest game in the program's history when they went five overtime periods against visiting WPI on opening night.

This year, the hope is that an infusion of new talent will help insure that there is no drop-off and that UMD continues to be successful.

"We're going to be a young football team," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Mark Robichaud. "There are only 35 players on our roster who were here last fall. We've added 47 new players this fall, and we added seven last spring. There is going to be a lot of competition."

Last year, the Corsairs ranked second in the New England Football Conference and third nationally in rushing, and senior running back J.T. Harold, who ranked fifth in the nation and earned a prestigious Boston Globe Gold Helmet Award, led the way.

"Last year, we returned 21 of 22 starters, and this year, we're returning four," said Robichaud. "Despite the loss of J.T. and the phenomenal career he had, running back should be our strongest area. We return (junior) James Moore (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield HS), who had a good year last year, and we also have (sophomore) Matt Brune (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS), who played most of the year on the scout team and gave our defense fits. We've also added three transfers this spring. Two come from Division I Iona, (sophomores) Josh Marsh (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS) and Hymlaire Lamisere (Newton, MA/Newton North HS) and we also have (junior) Ricardo Pierre-Louis (Brockton, MA/Avon HS/Dean), who will see substantial playing time. At fullback, we have (junior) Steve Trudeau (Dartmouth, MA/Dartmouth HS), while (senior) David Menapace (Holliston, MA/Holliston HS) will also play. We also have an incoming freshman in Paul Connor (Milton, MA/Milton HS), who will be participating in football and track. He is an outstanding sprinter who is fast and will add a lot of speed to our backfield."

Senior John Henry was UMD's top receiver last year, but the Corsairs have some replacements waiting in the wings.

"Wide receiver is another pretty strong position for us, led by one of our captains, (senior) Marc Fiore (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield HS)," said Robichaud. "We have several quality student-athletes who will play, including (senior) Blake Brown (Milton, MA/Milton HS), (sophomore) Alan Williams (Mattapan, MA/Brighton HS), (senior) Drew Coveney (Weymouth, MA/Weymouth HS), and a local player from New Bedford, (freshman) Joe Luiz (Bishop Stang), who has the ability to make an impact this fall. We also have tremendously high hopes for (junior) Adam Houghton (East Taunton, MA/Bristol-Plymouth Tech HS), who will also play some running back and slot receiver."

The offensive line, which returns but a single starter, has been rebuilt. "In the two years I've been here, our offensive line has been talented, but we've lacked depth," said Robichaud. "We were able to address that this season. (Senior) Ryan Griffin (Burlington, MA/Burlington HS) is our only returning starter, an d we have some other returners in (sophomores) Robert Yarbough (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS), Paul Daddario (Spring, TX/Flower Mound HS), while (sophomore) Anthony Holloway (Mattapan, MA/Boston Latin Academy), and (sophomore) Garvens Florus (Malden, MA/Pope John XXIII HS) will all be competing for starting jobs. We're also excited about (junior) Jason Allen (Canton, MA/Canton HS), who's been a starter at Nichols. Incoming players who could make an impact include (freshmen) Jeff Sacco (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield HS) and Julio Canizales (Wareham, MA/Wareham HS), as well as (sophomore) Mike Trant (Malden, MA/Pope John XXIII HS), a transfer from Mass Maritime."

The tight end spot is set, with senior captain George Vasiliadis (Worcester, MA/St. Peter-Marian HS) returning as the starter, and (sophomore) Marty Armitage (Ware, MA/Quabbin Regional) backing him up.

For the first time in four years, there will be a new quarterback, as four-year starter Alex Garro graduated. (Senior) Chris Pinheiro (Norton, MA/Norton HS) comes in as our number one quarterback, and he will be backed up by (senior) Dorian Barcus (Hyde Park, MA/Boston Latin Academy). We also have three incoming freshmen, Sean Quinlivan (Rutland, MA/Wachusett Regional HS), Brendan McNeish (Springfield, MA/Bridgton Academy), and Bret Reid (Saugus, MA/Saugus HS)."

Defense will be important, and the Corsairs will be strong in the middle. "The strength of our defense will probably be our line backing corps, led by senior captain John Kelly (Shrewsbury, MA/Shrewsbury HS) and (sophomore) John Cordasco (Rockaway, MJ/Morris Knolls HS). Others who will push for playing time are (sophomores) Edwin Sustache (Westfield, MA/Bridgton Academy) and Shawn Manning (Mansfield, MA/Salisbury School, 2-9-11 in 21 games as a forward for the hockey team last winter). We'll have good competition at inside linebacker with transfer (junior) Mike Fraser (Peabody, MA/Bishop Fenwick HS/Saint Anselm), returner (juniors) Chavan Fagan (Brookline, MA/Brookline HS), and newcomers (junior) Patrick Powers (Mansfield, MA/Mansfield HS), a transfer from Wagner, and freshmen Jack Brown (Milton, MA/Milton HS), the brother of Blake Brown, Kevin Baroni (Andover, MA/Andover HS) and Justin Perry (Wakefield, MA/Wakefield HS).

With only a single returning starter (senior captain Jarrod Wallace, Lynn, MA/Lynn English) among the 21 linemen reporting for pre-season practice, competition will be keen. "Jarrod Wallace will anchor the defensive line," said Robichaud. "Other returners who will contribute are (sophomores) Jamie Brooks (Gloucester, MA/Gloucester HS), Dan Wendt (Boxford, MA/Masconomet HS) and (senior) Jimmy Smith (Roxbury, MA/Boston Latin Academy), and (sophomore) Ben Mittsmen (West Greenwich, RI/West Greenwich HS/Exeter), who came out this spring and did a great job. We have some talented newcomers, including (freshmen) Chuks Aduba (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS), Lenny Dortch (Cambridge, MA/Melrose HS), Greg Porcaro (Melrose, MA/Melrose HS), Nick Manganello (Attleboro, MA/Attleboro HS), Brenton Medeiros (East Providence, RI/Seekonk HS), and Mike Castro (Dedham, MA/Dedham HS/Merrimack).

The secondary will also see a lot of competition. "There will be a lot of new faces, including (junior) James Green (Lynn, MA/Lynn Classical HS), who missed last season, had a great spring, and is back at cornerback," said Robichaud. "We also have (sophomores) Darrien Furr (East Taunton, MA/Taunton HS) and Lonnie Page (Canton, MA/Canton HS), and (senior) Matt Doyle (Rockland, MA/South Shore VO Tech HS), who will be pushing for starting spots at the corner positions. At safety, we have two transfer students in (junior) Eric Pacy (Rowley, MA/Triton Regional HS) from Salve Regina and (sophomore) William Vizcaino (Dorchester, MA/Cathedral HS) from UNH (New Hampshire), as well as returner (sophomores) Luke Poirier (Marshfield, MA/Marshfield HS) and John McNeil (Dorchester, MA/Randolph HS), who was outstanding in high school and did a great job as a freshman at Husson.

Robichaud is hoping that good work on special teams will give UMD an edge. "We're very fortunate to have George Vasiliadis, our All-Conference kicker, returning, and David Menapace will be right on his heels, pushing George," said Robichaud. "George will also be our punter. We're also excited about several people who can return kicks, including James Green, who did a great job two years ago; Darrien Furr, who did the bulk of the returns last year; John McNeil, and Paul Connor, who has great speed. Shawn Manning will be on all of our special teams as well."

The success of this year's squad could be tied to how quickly things come together. "How well we do this year will be determined by how well we, as a coaching staff, can teach our system and familiarize a lot of our new players with it," said Robichaud. "We'll also be trying to incorporate our new players into our current squad. With the talent we have, I am excited. I think that in spite of our youth, we'll have a very good year."