Aug. 13, 2009
DAYTON, Ohio - University of Dayton head coach Rick Chamberlin and his staff will welcome 108 players back to campus Friday, August 14 as the Flyers prepare for the 2009 football season. Chamberlin is back for his second season with a team that returns 12 starters (four offense, seven defense, one specialist). That's two more than he had last year when he guided UD to a 9-3 record and played for the Pioneer Football League title on the final game of the season.
The Flyers will be led by captains Drew Fumagalli, Sean Heenan and Steve Valentino. Fumagalli is a redshirt senior linebacker from Naperville, Ill. He played in only nine games due to injury, but still had 21 solo tackles and 36 total tackles with a sack and three tackles in the backfield.
Heenan, a redshirt senior defensive tackle from St. Joseph, Mich., is Ohio College Football's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year among FCS Subdivision teams in the state of Ohio. He was Second Team All-PFL after finishing second on the team in sacks (7.0) and tackles in the backfield (12.5). He was also selected a Second Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in 2008.
Valentino is a senior wide receiver/quarterback/kick returner from Solon, Ohio. He was First Team All-PFL after catching 50 passes (2nd on the team) for 626 yards (1st) and four TD's (1st). He was in the top five in the PFL in receiving yards per game, punt return average, kickoff return average and all-purpose yards per game.
Dayton will be sporting a new look this season, with new uniforms and helmet design. The helmets are still red, but with "Dayton" in logo script on the side in three-inch high letters, replacing the former "Flyers" in logo script two inches high. The uniforms will be unveiled at the Team Picture Day on Sunday, August 23.
Chamberlin has announced a new charity initiative for the upcoming season. In 2009, UD will conduct "Touchdowns for Tots" benefitting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program. For every touchdown scored by the Flyers, National City, now a part of PNC Bank will donate $50 to Toys for Tots. In addition, the home football game against San Diego will be "Military Appreciation Day" and fans will be encouraged to bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
The Flyers are continuing "Tuesday Night Lights," the free program where pee wee football teams take the field for a practice with the University of Dayton football team, for the third straight year. For eight Tuesdays in September and October, teams that sign up in advance will get a pre-practice talk from Flyer head coach Rick Chamberlin, take the field to warm up with the UD football team, and then observe practice until their evening is over at 8:15 p.m.
Dayton will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 12 at home against Urbana. Game time will be 1:00 p.m. ET. The Flyers PFL opener will be Saturday, Oct. 3 at Morehead State. Other Pioneer Football League teams visiting Welcome Stadium in 2009 are Davidson (Oct. 17), San Diego (Oct. 31), Butler (Nov. 7) and the PFL's newest member, Marist (Nov. 14).
The 1989 NCAA Division III national championship team will be inducted as a unit into the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame at the Davidson game.
The champions of the Pioneer Football League and the Northeast Conference will meet on Dec. 5 in the fourth annual "Gridiron Classic" bowl game. The game will be hosted by the PFL champion.
After reporting, attending meetings, getting their equipment and undergoing physicals Friday, the team will undergo fitness tests Saturday morning. First practice for the 2009 Flyers will be Saturday afternoon, August 15, at 2:30 p.m. Practices will be conducted at Welcome Stadium and the Jerry Von Mohr practice field adjacent to Welcome Stadium.
The Flyers will hold their first preseason scrimmage Saturday, August 22 at 7:00 p.m. ET as part of the University's New Student Orientation Program. This is the first time the football team has been included in the orientation program in 43 years.
Tickets Now On Sale...
Season tickets are only $60 for adults. Single game tickets are $10.00 for adults. In addition, children eighth grade and younger who sign up for the Future Flyer Kids Club will receive free tickets to all UD football games. Call 229-4433 for info on group rates.
Good News Worth Repeating...
The Flyers enter the season with the second-best best winning percentage (.788, 78-21) in FCS football since 2000 AND have produced the most football Academic All-Americans (17) at any level of competition in the same time frame.
The PFL Coaches Have Spoken...
The UD football team has been predicted to place second (tied with defending champ Jacksonville) in the annual PFL coaches' poll. For the fourth consecutive season, the Pioneer Football League's coaches have tabbed San Diego as the preseason favorite, but only voted them five of 10 possible first-place votes. The league's coaches also expect a competitive conference race as only six points separate the Toreros from Dayton and Jacksonville. Dayton picked up three first place votes and Jacksonville received the other two first place votes. Following Jacksonville were Morehead State (51) and Butler (42) to round out the league's top five. Drake (40) was picked to finish sixth followed by Davidson (37), league newcomer Marist (32), Valparaiso (20) and Campbell (nine).
All-PFL Performers Return...
Dayton returns three 2008 First Team All-PFL performers - DT Kalen Hemmelgarn, LB Joe Ries and WR Steve Valentino - and one second teamer - DT Sean Heenan from a year ago. The return of Heenan, Hemmelgarn and Ries in the heart of the defense bodes well for the team that was second in FCS football in rushing defense last year, averaging 60.7 yards a game.
It's Not Like We Haven't Been In This Situation Before...
None of the players listed as a healthy quarterback on the Flyer football roster - sophomore Jared Philliips, redshirt freshman Timmy Fogarty, and true freshmen Paul Fackler, Corey Lisowski and Zachary Splain - have thrown a pass in a college game. (It should be noted that wide receiver Steve Valentino has thrown 20 passes filling at QB the last two seasons.) This is not new territory for Flyer offensive coordinator Dave Whilding. In the 1990's, three different quarterbacks took over the starting role with less than 12 career passes to their credit. The results? Steve Keller had 11 career passes when he took control of the Flyer offense in 1991. All he did was lead the Flyers to the Division III championship game, become Division III's passing leader and set three career records. In 1995, Brian Kadel, had 12 career passes entering his senior year. He led NCAA Division I-AA in passing efficiency. In 1996, Kevin Johns had 11 passes in his career before starting. He led the Flyers to a perfect 11-0 record, set four records and was named the Football Gazette NCAA Division I-AA Non-Scholarship Offensive Player of the Year. And in 2004, Brandon Staley took over without ever throwing a varsity pass, and he rolled to the fourth-best (now eighth-best) single-season total offense number (1,961 yards) in UD history. Going into preseason camp, Fogarty is the favorite to land the starting nod.
The Good Hands People...
Although none of the candidates to start at quarterback this season for the Flyers have thrown a pass in a college game, there's plenty of experience at the other end of the transaction. UD returns four of its top five receivers from last season, and a record-setting wideout from two years ago. Redshirt senior JMichael Jonard caught a then-school-record 64 passes (for 756 yards and six touchdowns) in 2007. He was not enrolled in school during the 2008 season, and in his absence, redshirt sophomore Justin Millio pulled in 66 passes for 526 yards and three TD's. Also back are Steve Valentino (2nd on team, 50 catches for 626 yards, 4 TD's), Nick Collins (3rd, 33 for 482, 3 TD's) and Justin Watkins (5th, 16 for 286, 3 TD's).
Bad News Bared...
Two prominent players from spring ball do not appear on the preseason depth chart this fall. Cornerback Joe Castaneda transferred, and quarterback Jeff Pechan suffered an on-the-job accident earlier in the summer that resulted in a torn labrum in his right (throwing shoulder).