FAIRFIELD, CT(August 24, 2011) - In our final installment of Preseason Pass, we take a look at the different pieces that will make up this season's Sacred Heart special teams and talk to head coach Paul Gorham about the preseason battle for the starting quarterback job.
For the first time since the 2007 season, the Sacred Heart Pioneer offense will feature a new man under center this fall. Dale Fink, a four-year starter who broke every SHU passing record and became the all-time leading passer in Northeast Conference history as well, is gone to graduation. Ready to step in and fill those shoes is a pair of sophomores who have been battling since spring practice for the nod.
Neither Luke Wischnowski (West Chester, PA) or Tim Little (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ)has yet to take a snap in the a game during the Pioneer careers but all that will change on Saturday, September 3rd against the Marist Red Foxes. Wischnowski is a 6'2", 200 pound quarterback who played his high school football at Archbishop Carroll High School. Little comes in at 6'4", 200 pounds and was a standout at Egg Harbor Township High School in New Jersey.
The duo split the snaps in last spring's annual Red & White game and put up very similar numbers. Wischnowski finished the day nine-for-21 for 171 yards but was picked off twice. Little completed 14-of-21 for 161 yards and hooked-up with senior tight end Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA)on a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Rossi also had an impressive hook-up with Wischnowski in the game, hauling in a corner route for a 52-yard pick-up.
The Pioneers have three other young quarterbacks on the roster they are hoping to develop in r-freshman Michael Lefflbine (Greenwich, CT) and freshmen Jamie Ross (Deering, ME) and Keith Farkas (Nashua, NH).
Let's start with the kicking game and the Pioneers will benefit from the return of their starting punter and will let a training camp battle for the place kicking duties play out heading into the opener.
R-Junior Robert Shepard (Groton, CT) will handle the punting duties once again in 2011. Shepard punted 42 times last season, averaging 38.7 yards per kick. He had eight punts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line and forced five fair catches in 2010. Shepard ranked fifth last season among Northeast Conference punters. He will also handle the kick-off duties for the Pioneers this season.
At placekicker, the Pioneers have a three-way competition going on between junior Jason Plescow (Miami, FL) and r-freshman Chris Rogers (Cazenovia, NY) and freshman Connor Frizzell (Griswald, CT). The Pioneers utilized graduate student Jesper Fredriksson in a one-year role last fall and he hit 10-of-17 field goals and 29-of-30 on extra points.
Plescow has all the experience of the three vying for the role and has yet to miss a field goal attempt as a Pioneer. He took over the kicking duties midway through his freshman year in 2009 and finished the season a perfect six-of-six, all from under 40-yards. He did finish the year missing on three extra-point attempts, going 13-of-16.
In the return game, SHU has a wealth of experience to draw from. Senior Garry Coles (Southington, CT) had 12 kickoff returns last fall for 242 yards, a 20.2 average per return with a long of 47-yards. For his career, Coles has returned 50 kicks for the Pioneers, averaging 24.3 yards per kick. He owns one return for a score, a 99-yard highlight reel return against Holy Cross to set the school record for the longest kick return.
Sophomore Greg Moore (Newark, NJ), r-freshman Rickey Moore, Jr. (Springfield, MA) and freshmen Sean Bell (Medford Lakes, NJ) and Stephan Thomas (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) will also see time returning kick-offs. Moore had six returns as a freshman and averaged 14.5 yards per return with a long of 36 yards.
The Pioneers wrap-up preseason training camp this week and get ready for their Week 1 match-up with the Marist Red Foxes. Check back next week for the season debut of the Paul Gorham Coach's Show.