Football Looks to Move Up in 2011

Football Looks to Move Up in 2011

Aug. 24, 2011

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's football team started on the way back last season. Although the Corsairs finished with a 3-7 record, they were very competitive against a tough schedule, and laid the foundation for success in the future.

Last season's improvement and the improvement that the Corsairs made last spring has helped them get off to a fast start this fall. "I'm very optimistic, this has been by far our best opening of camp," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Mark Robichaud. "We have experienced players coming back, there's a lot of enthusiasm, people are starting to understand what we expect from them, and it's really been fun."

Junior quarterback Patrick Orlando (Manchester, MA/Essex HS/Saint Anselm) led UMass Dartmouth to their biggest victory in two years in last season's opener, and he paced the Corsairs in passing and total offense.

"Patrick Orlando had a great spring and worked hard over the summer," said Robichaud. "He has been very impressive in camp, and will anchor the offense. (Freshman) Brett Croteau (Rehoboth, MA/Dighton-Rehoboth HS) was an outstanding high school quarterback and will be the backup, and we also have two other very good quarterbacks in (junior wide receiver) Brendan McNeish (Springfield, MA/Bridgton Academy) and (freshman wide receiver) Will McNamara (Stoughton, MA/Stoughton HS).

Orlando and his crew should have a variety of targets to choose from, with UMD's top two receivers returning. "We should be very good at wide receiver, Brendan McNeish is playing very well, (junior) Joe Luiz (New Bedford, MA/Bishop Stang HS) is looking good, and (sophomore) Chris Berganti (Haverhill, MA/Central Catholic HS) is also doing a nice job. We also have some younger players who are looking to make an impact. Will McNamara is fast with very good hands, (freshman) Jon Williams (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS) is turning everyone's head with his speed, and two people who came over from the defensive side of the ball ((junior) Nick Hiou (Peabody, MA/Peabody HS) and (senior) John McNeil (Randolph, MA/Randolph HS/Husson), will also see substantial playing time. We also have (junior) Lonnie Page (Canton, MA/Canton HS/Fisher), who played for us two years ago and is back with us, (freshman) Garrett Correia (Dartmouth, MA) from Dartmouth High School, (sophomore) Mike Quinn from Fall River (Bishop Connolly HS), and (sophomores) Nico Irano (East Boston, MA/Boston Latin HS) and Cameron Gurley (Rutland, MA/Camp LeJeune, NC HS). . Leading rusher Jaron Hargrove (West Roxbury, MA/Concord-Carlisle HS), the New England Football Conference Boyd Division Offensive Rookie of the Year, transferred to Maine, but replacements are ready to go. "Running back is a lot like quarterback, there will be a lot of competition," said Robichaud. "(Junior) Tucker Devine (West Newbury, MA/Andover HS) has the most experience, and (junior) Romario Berneche (Everett, MA/Pope John XXIII HS/Mount Ida HS) is doing a nice job in camp. We have high expectations for (freshman) Mike Janey (Dorchester, MA/Wellesley HS), who we think will make an immediate impact. We've also toyed with Jon Williams at running back, and we have a transfer from Nichols, (sophomore) Darrius Wood (Canton, MA/Canton HS), who will be a power back." Senior co-captain Robert Yarbough (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS), who earned second team All-Boyd Division honors and also stars in track and field, anchors the offensive line. "Robert is arguably one of the best linemen in our conference," said Robichaud. "At the guard spot next to him is (sophomore) Mike Thomas (Everett, MA/Everett HS), who is the strongest player on our team. He has a great attitude and has really done a nice job. Our starting right tackle last year, (sophomore) Justin Chartier (Feeding Hills, MA/Agawam HS/AIC), will move to center, which is a more natural position for him. There will be some good competition for the other spots, with (juniors) Nick Manganello (Attleboro, MA/Attleboro HS), who moved over from the defense, and Anthony Holloway (Boston, MA/Boston Latin Academy), who started eight games for us last year. Some younger players who have been impressive are (freshmen) Nick Costa (North Dighton, MA/Dighton-Rehoboth HS), Joe Bertucci (Quincy, MA/North Quincy HS), Zach Bitzer (Colrain, MA/Northfield Mount Hermon HS) and Eoin Roarty (Boston, MA/Boston Latin HS).

The Corsairs have more experience returning on the defensive side of the ball, with three of their four co-captains. "We have a lot of experience in the secondary, with (junior) captain Darrien Furr (East Taunton, MA/Taunton HS) returning as a two-year starter and (senior) James Green (Lynn, MA/Lynn Classical HS) returning as a three-year starter," said Robichaud. "At the safety positions, we have (senior co-captain) Ross O'Toole (Weymouth, MA/Weymouth HS) and (sophomore) Joe Teixera (Seekonk, MA/Seekonk HS), who started last year. (Defensive coordinator) Steve Faniel's job is easier with those four back there." O'Boyle led UMass Dartmouth with 81 tackles last year, while Furr had three interceptions.

"We also have pretty good depth, with (sophomores) Wayne Bolz (Billerica, MA/Billerica HS) and Phil Vieira (Portsmouth, RI/Portsmouth HS/CCRI), and a pair of newcomers to the program, (freshman) Jeff Tagger (Brockton, MA/Catholic Memorial HS/Taft/Clark), and (junior) Mike Perry (East Taunton, MA/Taunton HS)," said Robichaud. "At safety, we have (sophomore) William Bizcaino (Dorchester, MA/Cathedral HS/New Hampshire), who is returning to the program, along with transfer (junior) Bryant Joseph (Parsippany, NJ/Parsippany HS/Bloomsburg)."

Senior co-captain John Cordasco (Rockaway, NJ/Morris Knolls HS), who was second with 80 tackles last year and also picked off three passes, will be a four-year starter when he graduates. "John Cordasco is among the best linebackers in our conference," said Robichaud. "We also have senior Edwin Sustache (Westfield, MA/Holyoke/Bridgton Academy), and the best group of incoming linebackers we've had in my five years here, with (freshman) Nils Swenson (Ipswich, MA/Ipswich HS), (sophomore) Joseph Martin (Spencer, MA/David Prouty HS), (sophomore) Nick Ryan (East Wareham, MA/Wareham HS), a transfer from Bridgewater State, and (freshman) John Armstrong (Hanover, MA/Hanover HS). (Sophomore) Art Azatyants (Brookline, MA/Brookline HS) has come in and will also see action."

The defensive line should be solid. "(Junior) Jake Walsh (Foxboro, MA/Foxboro HS) really came into his own last year, and I'm very excited to have him back in the lineup," said Robichaud. "We moved (sophomore) Jordan McDonald (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS), who was probably our most athletic player, from linebacker to defensive line. Inside, we have (sophomore) Dante Davis (Brookline, MA/Brookline HS), a big strong young man who is doing well, and (sophomore) Mike Rodriguez (Framingham, MA/Framingham HS), who we're hoping will do a nice job at the defensive end spot. (Junior) B.J. Cardello (Everett, MA/Pope John XXIII HS) is another experienced player, and we also have some promising newcomers in (freshmen) Mike Bird (Hopedale, MA/Hopedale HS) and Angel Pantoja (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS) and (juniors) James Neal (Holliston, MA/Holliston HS) and Brandon Azevedo (Lakeville, MA/Apponequet HS).

The special teams have a chance to be special. Junior Edgar Osols (Summit, NJ/Summit HS), one of the top kickers in the NEFC, returns "Edgar gets better and stronger each year," said Robichaud. "He worked with a specialized kicking coach the entire summer, and has improved his hang time and his distance on his kickoffs. He has also worked on punting. We also have Chris Berganti, who was our punter last year, and Art Azatyants, who has done a nice job in camp."

There is also depth among the return corps. "We have Wayne Bolz, who is smooth and confident in getting under the ball and catching it," said Robichaud. "We also have people with great speed, including Jon Williams, Romario Berneche and possibly Will McNamara."

As usual, the schedule is challenging. "We open with Mount Ida, coming off a very good season, and it doesn't get any easier," said Robichaud. "Bridgewater State and Maine Maritime are very good programs on the Bogen side, and then we have Plymouth State, who we haven't been able to beat since I've been here. Endicott is a very tough team, Salve improved last year, and Curry is another team we're looking to beat. We're hoping to have the best team since I've been here."