Football Ready for 2009 Opener
STATESBORO, Ga. - The wait is nearly over for the Georgia Southern Football team as the Eagles prepare for their 2009 season-opener on Saturday (Sept. 5) against Albany (N.Y.). Kickoff at Paulson Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Saturday's game is also Faculty/Staff Day. Current GSU faculty and staff members can purchase one regular price ticket ($25) and by showing their ID can receive one ticket for free. In order to take advantage of the special promotion, faculty and staff members must purchase their tickets in advance of game day at the Georgia Southern Ticket Office, located in the Cowart Building on Lanier Drive. Ticket office hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. All promotional tickets must be purchased by 12 noon on Friday, September 4. For additional ticket information fans can call 800-GSU-WINS or (912) 478-9467.
Every Georgia Southern Football game can be heard on the 19 station Georgia Southern Radio Network (Eagle 102.9 FM the flagship station) and on the internet at www.GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com. Chris Blair (play-by-play), Terry Harvin (color analyst) and Ryan Chambers (sidelines) will call the action. The pregame show begins two hours prior to kickoff.
As part of the national initiative by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)/NCAA RESPECT weekend, both teams will meet during pregame for a handshake to promote sportsmanship.
Overall, the Eagles (6-5 in 2008) are looking to end a four-game losing streak at Paulson Stadium. With a win Saturday, GS would kick off the 25th anniversary celebration of Paulson by recording the program's 150th win at the stadium. Head coach Chris Hatcher enters his third year in charge of the program (13-9) and 10th overall as a head coach (89-21).
The Eagles were ranked 20th nationally by Lindy's and Sporting News preseason publications while receiving a number 24 ranking in Athlon. GS also came in 27th in the Sports Network preseason poll and 28th in a vote by the FCS Coaches.
Once again Georgia Southern will face one of the toughest schedules in the country as all but one opponent (Chattanooga) made an appearance in a preseason poll. Appalachian State (1st), Wofford (10th), Elon (11th), South Dakota State (22nd), Furman (36th), Albany (40th), Samford (46th), Western Carolina (60th) and The Citadel (66th) were listed in the initial Sports Network ranking. North Carolina is also another 'Top 25' opponent as the Tar Heels were 20th in the preseason USA Today poll and 21st according to the Associated Press.
Three of the seven starters returning on offense include seniors on the offensive line: tackle Cole Fountain, guard Jonathan Loving and center Trey Dunmon. Fountain was voted preseason Second Team All-SoCon. Sophomore quarterback Lee Chapple closed out the 2008 campaign setting program passing records of 39 completions and 56 attempts. He threw for a season-high 323 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Furman.
Kicker Adrian Mora not only was voted preseason First Team All-SoCon but also garnered Honorable Mention preseason All-America accolades by College Sporting News. Punter Charlie Edwards returns, one of seven Eagles last year to be named to the SoCon All-Freshman team. He averaged 40 yards per punt, the seventh-best single season average in program history.
Sophomore Dion DuBose was also a preseason Second Team All-SoCon selection. He returns at middle linebacker, and to close out his freshman campaign he recorded season-highs of 10 tackles and two sacks at Furman. He and Chapple were named SoCon Defensive and Offensive Player of the Week, respectively. Senior defensive backs Darrell Pasco and Ronnie Wiggins join DuBose as three of the six starters returning on defense. Wiggins led the defense with three interceptions last year while Pasco ranked among the SoCon leaders in kickoff return average (22.6) and pass break-ups (8).
After starting the 2008 campaign 1-3, Albany won its final eight games to finish 9-3 and an undefeated record in the Northeast Conference. The Great Danes closed out the year with a 28-0 blanking of Jacksonville in the Gridiron Classic (NEC champion vs. the Pioneer League champion). Both the offense and defense return seven starters, 44 returning letterwinners in all, and is picked to win the NEC again.
All-America running back David McCarty, already listed to the 2009 Walter Payton Award watch list, shattered Albany records last year with 1,852 rushing yards and 2,208 all-purpose yards. McCarty enters his senior year looking to add to his program records in rushing (3,353) and all-purpose yards (3,979). In the Gridiron Classic, he rushed for a program record 271 yards and scored four touchdowns. Senior quarterback Vinny Esposito ranks second all-time throwing for 3,744 yards, tied for second with 25 passing TDs and fourth in total offense (4,028). He turned in the second-highest season total when he threw for 1,934 yards in 2008 with 13 touchdowns, completing 60.3 percent of his passes. Tim Bush joins McCarty on the preseason All-NEC list at wide receiver. He broke the season receptions record last year hauling in 67 passes for 794 yards and five touchdowns.
Kevin Richards (Two-time Second Team All-NEC selection) returns at center to anchor the offensive line. Dave Casale intercepted seven passes last year and finished with 74 tackles. Justin Brancaccio, another preseason NEC pick, led the Great Danes with 91 tackles, including four TFL from his linebacker position. Eddie Delaney was a Second Team All-NEC pick last year as a freshman defensive end. He broke up six passes and recorded 37 tackles.
- Category: Football
- Published on Wednesday, 02 September 2009 19:44