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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Haven's Rossomando talks scheduling

WEST HAVEN — When a school starts a football program from scratch, you can expect it to take its share of lumps. It’s supposed to take years to become competitive.
Apparently, Peter Rossomando doesn’t prescribe to the practice of patience. His University of New Haven football team shared the Northeast-10 Conference title last season, just the second since the school reinstated a program eliminated due to budget concerns several years earlier.
On the heels of an 8-2 season and a share of the NE-10 title, New Haven will play its annual spring game on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Ralph DellaCamera Stadium. There is no charge for admission.

The Chargers appeared headed for the NCAA Division II playoffs last year and the outright conference title but lost a stunner at Saint Anselm 35-26 on the final week of the season. The loss ended their hopes of a payoff berth.
“It was bitter for a about a week,” Rossomando said. “But then the guys looked back at it and we realized what we had accomplished.”
Rossomando said he figured it would take at least three years for his team to challenge for a conference title. They were one year ahead of schedule.
“I thought when they were all juniors that it could happen,” he said. “We had some things go our way last year. We could have easily been 5-5 but we were 8-2 because of the work we put it into it.
“I cautioned the kids that they were going to have to work even harder this year. I told them they couldn’t become complacent. They all know all these players are coming back, but I told them, ‘You’re not going to be better just because you’re a year older’.
“We really hammered them this offseason and they’ve responded. I’m really happy how practice has gone and we’re going to have to be ready this year. Everyone’s going to be gunning for us.”
See UNH, D3
While there are 21 starters returning, Rossomando said that several incumbents are getting pushed for playing time in the spring.
“The biggest thing we have to develop is depth,” Rossomando said. “That’s what killed us down the stretch last year. We didn’t have the depth and we paid for it.”
Rossomando also tried to increase his team’s strength of schedule to help qualify for the postseason. It wasn’t easy.
“No one wants to play us,” he said. “We’ll play anyone. We called everyone in the (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) and no one called us back. We called Indiana-Pa. We called Edinboro. They never called us back.”
The Chargers did schedule an interesting and challenging game against William & Mary, but because they are a Football Championship Subdivision program, it won’t count for Division II playoff considerations.
“That will show that we’ll play anyone,” Rossomando said. “The PSAC doesn’t want to play home-and-homes. You just have to go to their place.”
Rossomando said he was fortunate to get a late game against West Chester, a PSAC shool, after it had an opening because of a scheduling conflict. That became the Chargers’ season opener, giving them 11 games this season.
“That’s a great game because we know they’ll have wins,” Rossomando said. “The two non-conference teams we played last year had a total of two wins.”
Rossomando is rightfully concerned about boosting the schedule to earn a berth in the Division II playoffs. Last year no team from the NE-10 reached the playoffs.
Rossomando said the biggest battles for spots in the preseason are coming on the interior. With Raheem Stanley, a dominant 315-pound defensive linemen back from suspension, the Chargers hope that part of the team will become their strength.
There are also interesting battles developing at safety. Rossomando feels the team needs to bulk up its depth at linebacker behind Bridgeport’s Charlie Hatchett.
And even quarterback Ryan Osiecki has a bit of competition from impressive sophomore Ronnie Nelson. Osiecki is a senior from Seymour who threw for 1,861 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. Nelson was 7-for-7 passing last season with two touchdowns.

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