2010 Dayton Football Captains -- Joe Ries, Tyler Friedrich & Steve Valentino
Head coach Rick Chamberlin is eager to take the field for his third season at the helm of the Dayton Flyers. Chamberlin heads a team that returns 84 letterwinners, including 15 returning starters, 10 of which can be found on the offensive side of the ball. Included in that list are all five offensive linemen, three wide receivers, Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Year Steve Valentino at quarterback and Football Championship Subdivision Second Team All-American James Vercammen.
Last season UD finished with a share of its 10th PFL title after going 9-2 on the year. The Flyers came just short of playing in their second Gridiron Classic due to a tie-breaker scenario that advanced Butler. The preseason favorite to capture their 11th PFL title, the Flyers are hungry to continue to their winning ways in 2010.
This year’s Flyers will be lead by captains Tyler Friedrich, Joe Ries and Steve Valentino.
Valentino is no stranger to this responsibility, as he was voted to the same role in 2009. He enters the year on the Walter Payton Award Watch List after a dominant campaign running the Flyer’s offense. Valentino, a Solon, Ohio native, is a two-time First Team All PFL performer. The ironic thing is both selections aren’t at the same position. He earned his first selection after an impressive 626 yard, four touchdown season at wide receiver in 2008. However in 2009, early injuries plagued the Flyers and forced Valentino to step under center and play quarterback after the first game of the year. With minimal collegiate experience at the position, Valentino played marvelously, showing the athleticism and intangibles of a seasoned vet. He led the PFL in total offensive yards (281.6 ypg.) and completed 59.4% (170 of 286) of his passes.
This will be Friedrich and Ries’ first year as captains, after being mainstays for the Flyers on the field over the last two years. The Dublin Jerome graduate, Friedrich, has played in 23 games, 15 of which were starts. He was a First Team All-PFL choice last year and enters 2010 as the starting left guard. Ries is a two-time First Team All-PFL selection and has made 23 straights starts for the Flyers at linebacker. He finished 2009 with 70 tackles, which was second-best on the team, and with a team-high three interceptions. He is one of three defensive starters back this year and was named to Phil Steele’s 2010 Preseason All-PFL First Team.
The trio of captains will be expected to guide a talented team that returns all five First Team All-PFL performers from 2009, as well as second team choice, wide receiver Justin Watkins, and center Justin Griffis, an honorable mention pick. Hybrid safety/linebacker James Vercammen and Brandon Wingeier are among Ries, Friedrich, and Valentino as first team returners.
Vercammen headlined a stout Dayton defense that finished the 2009 campaign as the PFL’s best. His 134 total tackles set a new PFL single-season record, were 25 more than anyone else in the PFL, and placed him third-best in the nation on the FCS level. He enters the year on the Buchanan Award Watch List and as a First Team Preseason All American.
Wingeier is coming off a year that many student-athletes can only dream of. Not only did the Newark, Ohio native, lead the team in sacks with 6.5 and finish second-best in tackles for loss (11.5), most impressively, he earned his second consecutive spot on the ESPN The Magazine First-Team All-American squad.
There will be two questions that need to be answered coming into the season: can the offensive pick up where it left off from last year, and can the defensive reload and continue its dominance? With so much experience back on offense, the first question should be much easier to answer than the second. The defense will be tested the most.
On the defensive line the Flyers are headlined by Wingeier, but the other three positions will be filled by players who have a total of two career starts. They will call on talented letterwinners Mike Morante and Zach Weber (who has both starts) inside, and senior Devon Langhorst at end to fill the voids on the defensive front.
Dayton will also have to replace five of the back seven, as only starters Ries and Vercammen return from the 2009 campaign. Senior Ross Fumagalli will step in at linebacker, replacing his brother Drew. Seniors A.J Kaltenbach and Eric Robbe will slide in at safety. Redshirt freshman Kyle Sebetic and redshirt sophomore Matt Pfleger are expected to take over at cornerback.
On special teams, UD returns all four pieces of last year’s core. Kickers Nick Glavin and Nate Miller are back, along with long snapper Tyler Schutz and holders Steve Valentino and Justin Watkins. Glavin and Miller combined to go 10-for-19 in field goals and 30-for-32 in PAT’s. Miller punted 41 times for a 39.2 yard average, with 15 punts inside the 20.
With such a talented team, it is easy to understand why the Flyers have high expectation for 2010.