Home Bridgewater College football looks for turnaround 2014

Bridgewater College football looks for turnaround 2014


bridgewater logoFollowing one of the roughest seasons in recent program history, the Bridgewater Eagles football team will need to find quick solutions on the offensive side of the ball and continue to build on a stout defense as the 2014 season approaches.

Head coach Michael Clark and the rest of the Eagles endured the program’s second non-winning season of the 21st century a season ago when Bridgewater finished with a 4-6 overall record and a 1-6 mark in league contests.

This season, Clark will need to quickly find a replacement for two-year starting quarterback Willie Logan before the Eagles opener on Sept. 6 at Gettysburg College. While the majority of the offensive front returns from last year’s squad, Bridgewater will also need to find replacements at the fullback position and the wide receiver spots following the graduation of a number of skill position threats.

Defensively, the Eagles will be without the services of first team all-conference linebacker Andrew Palmer due to graduation but the squad returns eight players to a defensive unit that led the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) with four scores last season.

First and foremost, the top question asked of Clark during preseason will be who the Eagles trigger-man will be when Bridgewater opens the season in early September. Two primary options return from last season, with both players seeing limited playing time and one sophomore rejoins the squad but did not take a snap a year ago. Junior Ross Rushing returns to the Eagles after serving as the primary backup last year to Logan. Rushing completed just six passes in a limited role and was intercepted twice while senior Matt Pisarchik was also limited to just four completions.

Aside from the loss of Logan, the Eagles will also search for replacements on the edges due to the graduation of Cassidy Burns and Shawn Lee, while Clark and his staff will also need to replace fullback Nick Wimer and tight end Anthony Church.

Despite the losses on the offensive side of the ball, one staple in the backfield returns as senior Jacob Wright comes back to the team following an all-conference effort in 2013. Last season, Wright rushed for 743 yards and eight scores as the premiere tailback and was named to the All-ODAC third team for the second straight year.

Along with Wright, sophomore Jeffrey Moore and senior Cliff Woodard return to the mix after turning in solid seasons a year ago at the wide receiver spot. Moore ranked second on the Bridgewater squad last year with 30 receptions and two scores, while Woodard hauled in 14 passes and scored twice.

On the offensive front, the Eagles will need to replace third team All-ODAC performer Kyle Keister and right guard Gage Berryman but the line will be the veteran unit on the offensive side of the ball. Three players return on the front as left guard Corey Campbell, center Sean Douglass and right tackle Daniel Evans come back to help protect a new quarterback.

Two seasons ago, the Eagles started one of their youngest groups on the defensive side of the ball with a number of freshmen littering defensive coordinator Jack Johnson’s umbrella. As the new season approaches, many of those same players who started as freshmen are now juniors, and seniors are also in key spots around the defense as the Eagles look to get back to top form this season.

Along the defensive front, the Eagles will need to replace half of the group due to the loss of tackle George Buskey and end John Brilliant. While half of the defensive front will be new, that is a relative term as the group welcomes back a number of talented players along the depth chart. Kenneth Szabo, Logan Whitaker and Nick Cawthon return after solid seasons last year. Cawthon is the returning statistical leader in the group after posting 36 tackles and one sack en route to earning second team all-conference accolades last year.

While the program will be without the services of Andrew Palmer, who amassed a conference-leading 103 tackles a year ago, senior Alex Collins returns to the squad after picking up third team All-ODAC honors last season. Collins tallied 49 tackles, including five for a loss, last year and is the returning statistical leader among the defensive group.

Bridgewater’s veteran unit on the field features five returning starters in the defensive backfield of Johnson’s 4-2-5 scheme. Explosive senior Darrick Gore returns to the squad after earning first team All-ODAC honors last season. Gore amassed 42 tackles and an interception on the year and accounted for one score with an interception return for a touchdown in the conference opener at Shenandoah.

Senior Sammy Coleman also returns to the defensive umbrella after leading the team last year with two interceptions, including a 95-yard interception return for a score in Bridgewater’s week two victory at Greensboro. Fellow senior Lucas Elliott also returns along with junior Daniel Brent and sophomore Sonny Romine to form the starting lineup for the Eagles as the new season looms.

Special Teams
For the first time in a number of years, the Eagles return a number of talented players in the special teams unit, including one all-region performer.

Last season, junior Chandler DeHaven was one of the bright spots on the Bridgewater team after picking up D3football.com first team All-Region honors. DeHaven was tabbed to the all-region first team after connection on 13 field goals, tying All-American Mike Padgett’s school record set in 1998. DeHaven ranked sixth in the nation in made field goals at the end of the regular season and connected on multiple field goals in five games.

Along with DeHaven, kickoff specialist Nicholas Doyle returns after handling the majority of the kickoffs last year. Return specialists Jordan Hartman and Woodard also return along with snapper Collin Delauter.

Bridgewater will need to replace punter Michael Cook, with junior Tyler Dawson being expected to fill that role.

The Eagles open the 2014 season on Sept. 6 at Gettysburg College before returning home on Sept. 13 for the home opener against Greensboro College. Bridgewater opens the ODAC slate on Oct. 4 against Shenandoah. The first two home games of the season will be played under the lights at the recently renovated Jopson Athletic Complex.



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