Thursday, August 07, 2008

Football Media Day Recap

The Centennial Conference held its annual Football Media Day on September 6 at The Hershey Lodge. The preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors was released and Muhlenberg, the defending CC champion, is the prohibitive favorite.

Nick Bertollo of the Gettysburg Times says that the Bullet gridders are ready to roll. Junior QB Matt Flynn - one of just two Centennial passers to surpass the 3,000-yard mark after his first two seasons - says the team can replace 2007 CC Offensive Player of the Year Tom Sturges. “There’s a lot of things you can do with a spread offense,” Flynn said. “We can run the ball, throw the ball, we have our slots – slots are like running backs who can run routes, so we can have them in the backfield or spread out as receivers – we have a lot of things we can do. We’ll be able to make up the slack.” And senior DE Josh Jerrold has his sights set high as well. “The primary goal for the whole team is winning the Centennial Conference,” Jerrold said. “And that’s the top priority for our defense too – to be the best defense in the Centennial Conference.”

McDaniel head coach Tim Keating tells Josh Land of the Carroll County Times that the bar has been raised in the Conference. “When we had those great years, we kind of set the bar pretty high and maybe that became my own worst enemy in that regard,” Keating said. “But when the bar was set high, our opponents pursued the bar. We slipped a little bit. That’s the past. I’m optimistic about the future. I want to move forward.”

Chuck Curley of the Hanover Evening Sun trumpeted the major themes of the day. 1) The Centennial Conference, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is a great football league populated by fine coaches and even finer players. 2) Health and depth will play key roles to every team's success. 3) And, certainly not least, the preseason poll of head coaches and sports information directors makes for good entertainment - and little else." Keating told him, "In the recent past since we were good, we haven't played like a team," he said. "We've been playing like individuals. This young group that we have, they really seem to enjoy each other's company." That was echoed by defensive back Aaron Slaughter. He said the team has gathered in groups near their hometowns for workouts. When necessary, they've been in contact with other teammates by e-mails and text messages to motivate each other. "Definitely. We've got to get some people back for the losses we got last year," Slaughter said.

Juniata head coach Darrell Alt is hoping to change his team's position in the 2008 standings - and for Media Day 2009. You see, the coaches are invited to the podium to speak in reverse order of the previous year's standings. "Obviously, I'd like to be going later at this event," said Alt. And after praising the Centennial Conference as a league with outstanding top-to-bottom strength, one in which every team could expect a battle every Saturday, he threw down a challenge -- mostly to himself and his own team. "I think you've underestimated our ability to improve," Alt said.

There's a lot of optimism in Lancaster, as Franklin & Marshall looks to build on a three-game winning streak that ended the 2007 season. “The strides we have made as a program are still fragile,” cautions head coach John Troxell. “Our total roster is still a bit smaller than we would ideally have it, and we aren’t deep in terms of experience at several positions. We are poised to make a serious run at the Centennial Conference. Health will be a factor, but it is more a matter of maintaining that attitude that we saw over the final three games.”

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