By Matt Noonan
The dog days of summer are officially over for Bentley University’s football team, as the Falcons will kick-off their 2012 campaign tomorrow evening under the lights against Pace University.
“It’s time to strap it up and get busy,” exclaimed head coach Thom Boerman.
The Falcons exploded out of the gates last season, winning three of their first four contests before the injury bug stung Steve Hopkins, Blaine Hopwood and Anthony “AC” Carter. The three various players, according to Boerman, battled through their individual injuries, while the team cruised to a 6-4 finish.
“Toward the tail end of the season, we had some injuries that caught up with us a little bit,” explained Boerman.
Yet, with 2011 in their rearview mirror, Boerman and his crew have officially turned the page to this season, and seem very excited, as well as optimistic about the upcoming year.
The Falcons will feature five fifth year seniors, which include running back Bobby Tarr, who led all rushers with 860 yard on 136 carries last season.
All-Northeast-10 Conference tackle Nick Halloran, who is also a fifth year senior, returns to the offensive line and will be responsible for protecting the team’s new signal caller, Danny Guadagnoli.
“[Danny’s] been here for a couple years and played behind Bryant Johnson,” said Boerman.
“He had a lot of pedigree as a high school player and a prep school player, but he sat, learned, watched and we changed the offense when I took over as the head coach to go to more with the spread [offense] and Danny is really suited for the spread offense because he runs really well,” added Boerman. “He’s got a good short, accurate arm, and understands the offense.”
Guadagnoli will certainly be asked to target various receivers through the air, but as Boerman noted earlier this week, he expects his offense to also lean on running backs Tarr, Lorenzo Warren, Emmitt Smith and Tyler Coppola.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons will counter with senior John Aminti, who according to his head coach is one of the best linemen in the NE-10.
“He’s very consistent, strong, quick, and he’s improved every year,” stated Boerman.
Aminti will most likely line up next to Matt Campo and Andrew Sklar on Friday, as well as throughout the course of the season.
At linebacker, Bentley will rely on Blaine Hopwood, who according to Boerman, has had a tremendous camp and is eager to record his first tackle of the season.
Finally, the Falcons secondary should be solid once again, especially with fifth year safeties Don and Steve Hopkins leading the unit.
“I think defensively we’re pretty good,” said Boerman. “I think Scott Boyle, the defensive coordinator and Rusty McKinney,the linebackers coach, have spent a lot of time developing this unit. The thing with a complicated defense is the amount of mistakes that can occur, but I think this camp, I have been pleased that they really minimized those mistakes, so it’s not about effort because they give me a huge effort, and they’re a talented group of kids. They’re a tough bunch of kids and they’ve minimized their mistakes, so I have a lot of high expectations for our defensive unit this year.”
As for their first contest against Pace, Boerman believes his squad should not rely on their experience last year, which featured a battle against the Setters in a foot of snow or the game two years ago that was highlight by a last minute comeback.
“Everyone seems to think that Pace, [a squad] that’s had their struggles over the last few years is going to continue, I don’t buy it. I think we’re going to have our hands full,” said Boerman.
“We’re going to have to play hard, they’re going to be here to play hard and they worry me because they’re a team that could come in here and really give us trouble,” added Boerman. “We’re going to have to coach our rear ends off so that we can give them every bit of a contest that we can.”