GAME #1: Plymouth State University (0-0) at
Saint Anselm College (0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005, 1:00 p.m., Grappone Field, Manchester, N.H.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University's football team will be looking to get the season off to a good start this Saturday as the Panthers visit Saint Anselm College for the 2005 opener for both schools.
The Panthers and Hawks will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Grappone Stadium in Manchester, N.H. in a meeting between two of the four college football teams in the Granite State. The teams enjoyed their first career meeting in last season's opener, with Saint Anselm pulling out the victory at PSU's Currier Field. The Panthers hope to repay the favor this season.
"We're looking forward to the season and playing Saint Anselm in
the opener," said PSU third-year head coach Paul
Castonia (right). "I think this game is great for
college football in New Hampshire and it generates a lot of
interest. We're hoping for a solid performance from our team and
we'll see what happens."
Plymouth State is beginning its 36th season of varsity football, while the Hawks are opening their seventh year since the return of the program in 1999. PSU has fallen on hard times recently but still has the ninth-highest career winning percentage (.640) among all NCAA Division III programs.
The Panthers will play a competitive 10-game independent schedule, the nine opponents from last season and the addition of Becker College. There are five home games and five road contests, with the Currier Field debut set for Saturday, Sept. 10, vs. UMass Dartmouth. Plymouth State will rejoin the New England Football Conference in 2006.
Castonia says he is pleased with the program's progress and improvement. That's why he's optimistic about the 2005 campaign.
"My first year here," says Castonia about the 2003 season, "we were never in any game. Last year we made improvements and we were competitive in many of our games. This year we expect to continue working hard, making progress and improving. We think that will result in winning games."
Castonia has a solid contingent of 37 returning veterans in the fold, and what he hopes is a solid recruiting class. There's a strong group of linebackers to lead the defense, and several key skill players returning to spearhead the offense.
The Panthers will be looking to the defense to hold opponents at bay. The group of linebackers, all of whom have seen ample playing time over the last two years, include seniors John DiPasquale (Wilmington, Mass.), Brett Allen (Seabrook, N.H./Amesbury, Mass.) and Jake Meserve (Dover, N.H.) and juniors Tim Butler (Concord, Mass./Concord-Carlisle) and Matt Whalen (Merrimack, N.H.). Junior Ryan Puck (Fair Haven, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven) should also contribute after moving from defensive back.
"All those guys are experienced and that is where we are the deepest," says Castonia. "We'll rotate a lot of guys in and out of there."
Perhaps PSU's top defender is in the backfield, where junior Dan Fallon (Manchester, N.H./Central) roams. Fallon, the 2003 Freedom Conference Rookie of the Year, has been the team's leading tackler the past two seasons. Senior Pat Quinlan (Saugus, Mass.) anchors the defensive interior, which also includes sophomore Aaron Ellston (Sandown, N.H./Timberlane), junior Jeff Ethier (North Attleboro, Mass./Bishop Feehan) and senior Caleb Hooker (Peterborough, N.H./ConVal).
Castonia says the offense should be improved. "We've run the ball a lot the last two years, but we're returning all of our top receivers, so we should be much more balanced."
There are three returning veterans who can carry the football, junior Dan Fortier (Salem, N.H.) and sophomores Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H.) and Chris Boyd (Franklin, N.H.). All three have shown signs of becoming solid, productive backs, according to Castonia, and will all get carries this fall if they stay healthy.
Junior Tye Seastedt (Danville, N.H./Timberlane) returns as starting quarterback. "He did a lot of good things last year, and he should be better with a year's experience under his belt," says Castonia. Senior Jimi Lampron (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding), who has played well in limited action, is back to challenge for more playing time under center.
The talented group of receivers includes sophomore tight end Adam Long (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South), the ECAC Northeast Rookie of the Year in 2004, sophomore Brad Largy (Litchfield, N.H./Campbell), who led the team in touchdown receptions, and senior four-year veteran Harold Roy (East Boston, Mass./Lynnfield).
Juniors Dana Flanders (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding) and Joe Fellini (Walpole, Mass.) give the Panthers a pair of returning starters on the offensive line to build around, and Castonia admits the other jobs are wide open. The coach feels confident in the group of newcomers, saying "I'll be both surprised and disappointed if we don't have some freshmen challenging for starting positions, especially at defensive back, linebacker and quarterback."
CO-CAPTAINS: The Panthers have four co-captains this season -- senior LB John DiPasquale (Wilmington, Mass.), senior DL Pat Quinlan (Saugus, Mass.), junior DB Dan Fallon (Manchester, N.H./Central), and junior OL Joe Fellini (Walpole, Mass.)
COACHING STAFF: PSU head coach Paul Castonia is in his third season in charge of the Panthers, and he has four assistants back from last season - Lou Desloges (defensive line), Tom Pabst (Offensive Line), Mike McLaughlin (Def. Coordinator/Def. Backs) and Devin Zeman (Linebackers). The new members of the staff include Craig Malone (Receivers), Jason Maloney (Running Backs) and former player Jeremy Roberts (Running Backs).
-- 30 --