The 2010 Hobart football season was a success in many ways. At 5-4, the Statesmen posted another winning record; they came within seven points -the cumulative total of their three conference losses-of capturing another Liberty League title; and brought home a league-high 18 all-conference selections.
On top of that, Hobart paced the conference in 11 different statistical categories:
- Scoring Offense: 31.3 ppg
- Pass Offense: 233.7 yds/g
- Total Offense Per Play: 5.6 yds
- Total Offense Per Game: 378.8 yds
- Total Offense Yards: 3,409
- Punt Return: 11.9 yds/ret
- Pass Efficiency: 125.3
- Red Zone Offense: 80%
- Third Down Conversion: 38.7%
- PAT Kicking: 100%
- Kickoff Coverage: 16.3 yds/ret
The Statesmen opened the season with back-to-back wins over Dickinson and Carnegie Mellon, before slipping back to .500 with consecutive losses, including a 34-14 setback to nationally ranked St. John Fisher.
Hobart bounced back with a wild, shootout win over Union, prevailing 41-35 in double overtime. The Statesmen followed that performance with a pair of high scoring wins at Merchant Marine and at home against WPI.
Unfortunately, the Statesmen dropped their final two contests of the season, losing on a last-minute field goal at Rensselaer and missing on a two-point attempt in the second overtime of the Centennial Cup game, a 35-34 loss to Rochester.
Hobart returns 40 lettermen from the 2010 team, including 15 starters. The high-powered offense welcomes back eight from the starting lineup, including four All-Liberty League picks. The defense will feature seven returning starters, four of whom earned all-conference recognition. Special teams will also have all-star talent returning in the first team return specialist and the second team punter.
Here’s a position-by-position look at the Statesmen:
Hobart has depth, but not a lot of experience on the defensive line. The Statesmen will rotate several players up front and the competition for playing time will make them improve. The unit took a hit with the graduation of starting ends Chris Luber (career: 79 tkls, 5.5 sacks) and James Rayhill (66 tkls, 10 sacks).
Senior Dane Wilcoxen will move to end to help fill that experience void after recording 30 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, at tackle in 2010. Sophomore Tim Murray, who was slowed by injury as a first-year will man the other side of the line.
Senior Kevin Ryan and sophomore Juan Breton, a converted linebacker, as well as first-years Tyre Coleman and Jake Currie will battle for a spot on the two-deep. Ryan has a solid grasp of the defensive schemes, while Breton is coming off a solid first year. Coleman could charge to the head of the line and even crack the starting lineup based on his raw talent and exceptional athleticism.
Junior Nick Auriemma and senior Gianni Contro are expected to start at tackle. Auriemma recorded 40 tackles, including 1.5 sacks in his first season as a starter last year. He’ll be joined by Contro, a newcomer to the starting lineup. He played in every game last season, making six tackles, and made great strides during spring practice.
A pair of sophomores and three first-years will battle for time off the bench. Rookies Raimonn Goddard, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds out of Middletown, N.Y., and Troy Johnson, 5-foot-11, 255 pounds, from South Hadley, Mass., have shown the most promise in the preseason and will see significant time at Dickinson.
This will be the strength of the defense. The graduation of Kyle O’Laughlin-a three-time All-Liberty League pick with 215 career tackles-is a loss that cannot be overstated, but the return of senior Reggie Robinson, junior Andrew Klindera, and sophomore Devin Worthington gives the Statesmen one of the most formidable linebacker units in the Liberty League, if not the entire East Region.
Robinson led the team in tackles (82), interceptions (3), and forced fumbles (2). He logged double digit stops five times, including a career-high 12 tackles in the season finale against Rochester.
The Liberty League Rookie of the Year and a D3football.com All-East first team selection, Worthington led the league and ranked fifth in the nation in tackles for a loss (19.5). He also paced the conference and ranked eighth in the nation in sacks (10). Quick and elusive, Worthington was seemingly everwhere, producing season-highs with 12 tackles against Union and four tackles for a loss, including three sacks, at Carnegie Mellon. He also managed to find his way to the end zone on a 53-yard fumble return against WPI.
With the bright lights shining on O’Laughlin, Robinson, and Worthington in 2010, Klindera quietly put together a solid season, registering 35 tackles (8th on the team).
Klindera and Robinson will man the middle, while Worthington will again wreak havoc from the weak side outside ‘backer spot.
The top candidates to replace O’Laughlin are sophomore Austin DiMarco and first-year Nolan Toran. DiMarco saw limited time in seven games as a first-year, while Toran is an exceptional talent out of Gateway High School in Pittsburgh.
Free safety John Kelliher‘s graduation leaves a gaping hole in the secondary. His experience, knowledge, and leadership will be difficult to replace. The two-time all-conference honoree logged 90 tackles and four interceptions during his career.
Since winning the 2008 Liberty League Rookie of the Year Award following a seven interception season, teams have avoided throwing in Woodard’s direction. He still managed 40 tackles, seven pass break-ups, an interception and a third consecutive unanimous selection to the All-Liberty League first team in 2010.
Garrett played in six games, starting four, and produced a steady rookie campaign. He continued to make strides during spring practice and preseason camp and is poised for a breakthrough season.
The rest of the depth chart will be short on experience with sophomores Spencer Dunn (1 gm) and Kevin Hearon (7 gms, 12 tkls) and first-year Fajri Jackson competing for playing time. Hearon had two tackles and three pass break-ups in the season finale and enjoyed a productive spring, putting himself in a position for a much greater role in 2011.
The battle to start at free safety is likely to come down to sophomores Jolyon Davis and Chad Dorrance. Both players are long on talent and short on experience. The one who shows his mastery of the defensive schemes and the ability to lead first will get the nod.
Hobart’s offensive line returns six players with experience in the starting lineup, including Liberty League All-Stars senior Kelvin Cruz, junior Art Garvey, and senior Brendan Hatlee. The entire line was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week after paving the way for a 648-yard (243 rush, 405 pass) day without allowing a sack against Union.
Hatlee is a complete blocker and will once again man the right tackle spot. A two-year starter, senior Kyle Sandy returns at right guard. Cruz, who earned all-league accolades in 2009, will man the middle for his third season in the starting lineup. Garvey shined in his first season as a starter at left guard. Senior Anthony Coletta has all the makings of an all-star lineman as well, but will need to stay healthy after missing five games a year ago due to injury.
Senior Jarrid Blades is as versatile as he is talented. Capable of playing all five spots on the line, he’ll be listed behind Cruz at center, but could be used to spell anyone up front.
It’s easy to make the argument that Hobart featured the best group of receivers in the Liberty League last season. The trio of Mike Lazore ’11, senior Garth Muratori, and junior Junior Woodard ranked first, second, and fourth respectively in yards per reception.
No one would blame him if Muratori played with a chip on his shoulder this season. Despite averaging 15.8 yards per catch and scoring a league-high seven receiving touchdowns, he was left off of the first and second All-Liberty League teams, gaining just honorable mention. Muratori begins his final campaign 10th in receiving touchdowns (10), 12th in receiving yards (1,139), and 13th in receptions (76) on Hobart’s career lists.
Woodard made at least three catches in every game last season and earned a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week for his performance against Union. He racked up 182 yards and two touchdowns on just five receptions against the Dutchmen.
Junior Jay Cronze and sophomore Yosh Karbowniczak will round out the two-deep.Cronze is a speedy receiver, who was limited to eight catches for 71 yards in just five games due to injuries, while Karbowniczak was one of the most influential members of the Class of 2014. He recorded just three catches for 43 yards, but was invaluable on special teams.
Also from the Class of 2015 comes the third and final Robinson brother to play for the Statesmen, Troy. While Nolan ’07 and Ryan ’10 made their marks as linebackers, Troy looks to earn reps in spread formations and on special teams this year.
At tight end, senior Greg Clifford didn’t get the ball much last season, but when he did he made the most of it, scoring touchdowns on two of his three receptions. His athleticism is complemented by the heart of a lion.
Classmate Matt Marsh is a solid blocking tight end and could be used in short yardage situations and two tight end sets.
Arguably the top offensive rookie in the Liberty League last season, Steven Webb led the conference in yards per carry at 5.5 (min 3 att/g) and scoring at 10.7 ppg. A difference maker from Day 1, he returned his first collegiate kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to start the second half against Dickinson. Webb scored 14 touchdowns on the ground, one through the air and one on a return to reach the end zone more than any other player in the league. With a year under his belt, he is more comfortable with the offense and the demands of college life, which could translate into more trouble for opposing defenses.
Junior Bobby Dougherty served as a mentor to Webb last season, while gaining 119 yards and a TD on just 32 carries. He will again be called on for maturity and leadership to an otherwise young group.
First-year Alex Furtado may also figure into the mix. He’s not as explosive or as big as Webb, but he does have a similar running style and could also be a factor on special teams.
At fullback, sophomore Juan O’Farrill will step in for graduated starter Matt Howard. O’Farrill is a versatile athlete and a solid blocker. He got the ball 33 times last season (for 167 yards) and should see an increased load now that he’s a starter.
Classmate John Wolfsberg and first-year Dominique Ellis will be O’Farrill’s primary challengers for playing time. Wolfsberg has a great work ethic and is a punishing north-south runner, while Ellis is coming off a senior season at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., that saw him average 5.6 yards per carry at fullback.
Junior Nick Strang is set to take over at quarterback. He is a very smart player and coachable with a strong arm. His first collegiate start was one of the most memorable performances by a Hobart signal caller in recent memory.
Against Union last year, Strang completed 19 of 29 passes for 405 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 93 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime. His 498 yards of total offense broke the Statesmen game record, his TD passes matched the game mark, and only two Hobart players have throw for more yards in a game. Strangs’ efforts earned him the Liberty League and ECAC North Offensive Player of the Week awards.
Unfortunately, an illness robbed him of the rest of the season.
His chief competition will be classmate Kelly Olney. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he has the physical tools to do the job, but lacks game experience. Olney is a very capable backup who will continue to compete as he gains game experience.
Senior Will Connery and first-years Kyle Bayly, arguably the best quarterback in the Capital District last year, and Patrick Conlan, the son of former NFL All-Pro linebacker Shane Conlan, will provide depth should Strang or Olney falter.
Last season was a banner year for Hobart special teams. The Statesmen were perfect on PATs (35-of-35), the only team in the conference without a miss. Hobart led the league in kickoff coverage, ranked second in opponent punt return average (0.6 yds/ret), returned a kickoff for a touchdown and blocked a punt that was run back for six.
Junior Woodard was the Liberty League’s top punt returner, averaging 9.9 yards per attempt. His efforts earned him a spot on the All-Liberty League first team as a return specialist.
Kick return and punt return are assignments that the Hobart coaches prefer to give to players hungry for a chance to show their stuff. They will continue to take that tact with punt returns, but kick return duties will remain with Dougherty (15 for 289 yds, 19.3 avg in 2010) and Webb (15 for 330, 22.0, TD), unless someone completely surprises the coaches.
Karbowniczak will be called on to punt again in 2011. As a first-year, he dropped at least one punt inside the opposition’s 20 yard line in every game, boomed a season-long 54-yarder against Dickinson, and gave the coaching staff the athleticism they crave in a punter when the situation calls for a little “trickeration.”
The kicking game took a hit during the preseason when three-year starter Conor Callahan elected to focus on his studies. He had made a school record 41 consecutive PATs. That left the Statesmen with only one kicker on the roster, sophomore Reyes Guevara. The native of Huntington, N.Y., was 4-for-4 on PATs and made the only field goal he attempted, a 38-yarder against Rochester. Guevara also handled kickoff duties last year. While not as experienced as Callahan, he possesses a strong leg and looked capable of handling all the kicking responsibilities during the preseason.
The Statesmen open a week earlier than in years past, traveling to Dickinson to kick off the season. It will be the 20th consecutive season that Hobart has faced the Red Devils in its opener.
Following two weeks off, the Statesmen will make the short trip to St. John Fisher, before making its home and Liberty League debut against defending conference champion St. Lawrence.
Hobart returns to the road on Oct. 8, visiting Union for the 95th meeting between the Statesmen and Dutchmen.
Homecoming will be October 22, when the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy makes its first trip to the all new Boswell Field. Hobart hasn’t lost to the Mariners since they joined the Liberty League in 2004.
The Statesmen will put an unblemished 7-0 record on the line on Oct. 29 when they visit WPI and return to Geneva a week later to face Rensselaer, looking to avenge the Engineers’ 2010 victory on a last second field goal.
Hobart closes out the regular season at Rochester in the Centennial Cup game. The two rivals will meet for the 104th time with the series tied 48-48-7.
Due to a late cancelation by a non-conference opponent, Hobart will play an eight-game schedule for the first time since 1978. The situation is temporary though, as Hobart will play 10 games next season with Springfield joining the Liberty League and Geneva and Utica colleges added to the non-conference slate as St. John Fisher goes off the docket.