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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Friday, August 31, 2012

UNH football season preview

Five storylines

TOO BIG TO FAIL?: The Chargers are the talk of the Northeast-10. New Haven won the conference last season and enters this season ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll. Starting senior quarterback Ryan Osiecki won Offensive Player of the Year in the conference last season and just about everyone is back from last season’s team. All signs point to another successful season for the Bolts. Can they live up to the hype?
AIR CHARGERS: Last season New Haven’s offense outscored opponents 523-307. The Chargers averaged 40.2 points per game last season and scored 69 touchdowns as well. Osiecki, who passed for UNH single season records of 3,336 yards and 36 touchdowns, is back and has senior receivers Josh Smart, Demetrius Washington-Ellison and Jason Thompson. The Chargers could have the most potent passing attack in the Northeast.
POW POW D END: During training camp coach Pete Rossomando said senior defensive end Tom Herd has a legit shot at winning NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year this season. The coach has a good point. Herd looked good in camp, he was active and was able to use his athleticism to get in the backfield consistently. Last season Herd collected 68 tackles, 36 solo and a team-high 12 sacks. Herd also recovered three fumbles.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Center may not be the most glorified position in football. However, if a team has strong play at center it is noticeable. The Chargers welcome in Zach Guy at the center spot. All signs in camp pointed to Guy being ready and able to control the line of scrimmage and keep Osiecki protected in the pocket.
LAST MAN STANDING: For the first time in the NE-10’s history, there will be a conference championship game. The Big Game will involve the top two teams in the conference and take place at the higher seed’s stadium. The game will be the week preceding the start of the NCAA Division II tournament on Saturday, Nov. 10. Also, the third place team will play host to the sixth place squad, the fourth place team will host the seventh place team and the fifth place team will play the eighth place team. The ninth place team will not play on Championship Saturday.

Five players to watch

Sr. quarterback Ryan Osiecki: He’s got a new number but, should still have the same game. Last season he passed for 3,336 yards and 36 touchdowns, both single-season school records.
Jr. running back Mike DeCaro: The shifty, athletic running back will no doubt have another strong season. Last season he compiled 806 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 244 yards. He’s versatile and tough to bring down. He is also a threat returning kicks.
Sr. wide receiver Jason Thompson: If there was a “man, that guy is really having fun out there,” Award in the NE-10, Thompson would get it. The senior always seems loose on the field and if you were as fast as he was, you would be smiling too. Last season he caught 43 passes, a team-high 14 touchdowns and amassed 1,046 yards receiving. All smiles straight to pay dirt.
Sr. defensive end Tom Herd: The senior D end led the team in sacks last season with 12, had 58 tackles and showed up to camp looking like he could line up at tight end and catch a couple passes. The senior has a motor that doesn’t stop and will give opposing offensive lines fits. How do you block him?
Sr. safety Bernard Risco: The senior made the USA College Football Division II All-American Second Team with Thompson and should have another strong year. Last season he was third on the team in tackles with 79.

Five games to watch

Sept. 1 vs. Merrimack, 1 p.m.: Last season this game went down to the wire as the Chargers came out victorious 44-35 in front of 1,134 at Merrimack College.
Oct. 18 at Stonehill, 8 p.m.: Last season New Haven crushed Stonehill 52-23 in front of 2,750 at DellaCamera. So why is this a game to watch in 2012? Because it is going to be on TV, and that makes it cool. Unfortunately it is a road game but, it will be live and in color on the CBS Sports Network.
Oct. 27 vs. So. Connecticut: No need to elaborate on why this is an important game. Last season New Haven won 59-38 in front of 4,204 at SCSU.
Nov. 3 at AIC: AIC should be much improved from last season. Speaking of which, the Chargers defeated AIC 34-20 in front of 2,375 in one of their closest games of the season.
Nov. 10 at/vs. ???: Will the Chargers clinch a spot in the inaugural NE-10 Championship Game? Will New Haven play in any of the other NE-10 games on Championship Saturday? Stay tuned.
— @NHRHenryC

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