WASHINGTON – The goal over the years for the Gallaudet University football program was to win the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) and last season the Bison accomplished just that. GU celebrated its first ECFC title and made the program's first NCAA tournament appearance as the Bison posted a 9-2 overall record and a 6-1 conference mark during a historic season that received national media recognition.
Even though it got fulfilled last year, the goal remains the same heading into 2014. GU is not throwing out the word defending champions as a new season brings a new team searching for its own identity and not resting on its laurels.
"The program philosophy hasn't changed over the year," said Gallaudet head coach Chuck Goldstein, now in his fifth year at the helm. "Last year was amazing but we have a new team focused on this season. We are looking forward to taking things one day at a time."
Here is a breakdown of the 2014 Gallaudet Bison football team.
Gallaudet knows a thing or two about holding onto the ball and grinding out offensive series with its triple option attack. The Bison ran the option to perfection last year as it led the entire country (all NCAA divisions) in time of possession as GU averaged over 35 minutes per game. Gallaudet finished fourth in Division III in rushing with a 313 yards per game average. Junior fullback BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) ran for 1,227 yards on 237 carries in 11 games, as he became GU's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1987.
"We know what we are going to get with BJ. When his number is called he is going to give us what we need to be successful," said Goldstein.
Flores will not need to shoulder all of the rushing responsibilities as the Bison have several options in the backfield. Junior Braxton Baker (Webb City, Mo.) along with sophomore John Anderson (Clarksville, Tenn.). Baker ran the ball 47 times for 240 yards and six touchdowns and caught four passes for 93 yards. A new face running the ball will be sophomore David Jones (Washington, D.C.), who has big play ability when he touches the ball.
Blocking in front of these talented runners is a very talented and veteran led offensive line. Four out of the five linemen are returning starters led by junior captains Todd Collins (East Islip, N.Y.) and Leo Parnell (Boston, Mass.). Collins is an all-conference second team offensive tackle who lines up next to Parnell, senior center Shawn Madden (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore Lucas Newton (Rockingham, N.C.) and Sean Fenton (Chicago, Ill.).
"This is the most experienced group returning on offense. Two of our six team captains are on the offensive line and that shows the character of the guys leading this offense," said Goldstein.
Under center will be junior quarterback Quentin Williams (Chesapeake, Va.), who started two games and saw action in eight games last year. Williams rushed for 222 yards on 66 carries and found the end zone four times. He is only a few years removed from his 2011 ECFC Rookie of the Year season before he got injured. Back and healthier then ever give Goldstein and the coaching staff confidence in Williams' abilities this season.
"Quentin is a confident quarterback that understands the system and he can manage the offensive philosophy and perform well under pressure. Plus, he has big game experience under center for us," said Goldstein.
Freshman Joell Dixon (Clinton, Md.) will be talented pass catcher for the Bison on offense. The quick wide receiver has great hands and an explosive first step.
"Joell is one of the best route runners I have coached. He understands the game," said Goldstein. "He is a huge asset to our offense and a good blocker."
Gallaudet will need to fill some holes on defense especially on the defensive line and in the secondary. The Bison have some new faces up front but a familiar one is All-ECFC defensive end Tyler Snider (Thornville, Ohio), who led the team with 6.5 sacks for a loss of 47 yards. Snider will need to lead and teach a young group of lineman in sophomore Kelvin Nhan (Bakersfield, Calif.), sophomore Devante Walters (Rockdale, Ga.) and freshman Robbie Owens (Waldorf, Md.).
The strength of Gallaudet's defense will be its linebackers led by preseason All-American Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.), senior co-captains Gregg McConville (Frederick, Md.) and Nico Santiago (Moorestown, N.J.) and sophomore Jacy Pedersen (Fremont, Calif.). McConville led the Bison with 94 tackles last season with 13 tackles for a loss of 40 yards and three sacks. Alleyne was second on the team with 91 tackles, eight tackles for a loss of 32 yards, three sacks and one interception.
Two-year senior captain AJ McCrea (Kennesaw, Ga.) was named to the All-ECFC second team defense last year and will cover opponent's No. 1 receiver. Sophomore Carneilus Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) moves back from linebacker to safety to help set the defense for the Bison. Smith was fourth on the team with 48 tackles last year to go with 4.5 sacks and one interception.
GU will have a new kicker in 2014 as senior Eric Setzer (Middletown, Md.) steps in to take over all kicking and punting duties. Setzer is familiar with GU athletics as he was the starting goalie for the Gallaudet's men's soccer program in 2011, '12. Setzer replaces Chase Magsig, who made 5-of-8 field goal attempts and 32-of-36 point after attempts last season. Setzer has good leg strength and is fairly accurate.
McCrea and Dixon have the inside the track on the punt returning duties. The other returning duties will be done by committee.
Gallaudet kicks off the season with a home opener at Hotchkiss Field against Shenandoah University on Saturday, Sep. 6, under the lights at 7 p.m. This will mark the second time the two teams have met since the 2001 season. The Bison will play the season's first away game as they go on the road against University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Sep. 20 at noon.
Gallaudet then starts its seven-game ECFC schedule as the Bison travel to Anna Maria College on Oct. 4 for a noon kickoff. GU returns home on Oct. 11 to host Becker College at noon. The Bison are back on the road as they travel to Husson University on Oct. 18 for a game beginning at 1 p.m. The Bison will wrap up October with homecoming, set to be held on Oct. 25 at 1 p.m., as the Bison host Mount Ida College from Massachusetts.
Gallaudet will start November on the road against Norwich University on Nov. 1 at noon. Gallaudet finishes the regular season with two home games against Castleton State College on Nov. 8 at noon and will wrap up the regular season on Nov. 15 against State University of New York Maritime College at noon. Maritime was the lone team to defeat the Bison last year in the regular season, a 7-6 loss on the road.
"We have a competitive schedule once again. We feel like we are playing some quality opponents," said Goldstein. "The conference continues to grow, teams have continued to improve and have become very competitive."
The program has steadily improved and built a solid foundation over the previous seasons. Gallaudet hopes to find a new identity for this year's team and if things click the Bison should be a contender in the ECFC and step closer to completing their yearly goal.
"Overall we want to continue to build off the success we have established over the years," said Goldstein. "We want to continue to develop young players and prepare them to contribute on game day and gain valuable experience."
2014 Gallaudet University Football