In 1999, Williams Football won the first-ever NESCAC Football Championship and the 2000 squad has no intention of looking back. Dick Farley, entering his 14th season as Williams’ Head Coach, returns the core of a 1999 team that hopes to overcome the devastating loss of QB Sean Keenan – the first Eph ever to be invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
Coach Farley, however, was disappointed with the team’s first, and only, scrimmage, a win over Bowdoin. “Hopefully, we’ll get better as the season goes on, but we’re moderately disappointed with the mistakes we made against Bowdoin. We were inconsistent, we fumbled, and we should have scored a few more times than we did. Fortunately, our mistakes are correctable.”
The team is, however, feels it will be able to overcome the loss of Keenan. “Last year’s senior class was strong on both sides of the ball, but the kids that will be replacing them had the tools and confidence to start last year,” said co-captain Louis Moll ’01. Moll, along with co-captain Daniel DiCenzo ’01, will look to lead the team to another championship season.
The offense, anchored by seniors Fred Storz, who already holds Williams’ career rushing record, and Matt Student, who holds Williams’ record for yards receiving in a season, is more than capable of continuing the dominance that saw it average more than 28 points per game last season.
“A quarterback like Sean comes to a small school like this very infrequently,” said Student. “We don’t need our quarterback to be Sean. As long as whoever our QB is keeps that in mind, we’ll do fine.”
Heading into the first game of the season, however, Coach Farley is still unsure of who the starter quarterback will be: “[Marshall] Creighton has the inside track, but we’ll be playing a couple of kids. Nobody has really jumped forward yet.”
“We’re hoping the QB is one of 11 players,” Farley continued. “It’s unrealistic to expect him to carry us. Sean tried that a couple of times last year, and that’s probably when he played his worst football.”
Fortunately, the offense surrounding the quarterback is rather experienced. Barring injury, Storz will likely be the first Eph to break the 2000-yard mark for career rushing and the second to score 200 career points. A First Team All-NESCAC selection last fall, Storz will have to pick up most of the slack left by Keenan’s departure.
“I think you can expect us to be much more run oriented this year,” explained Student.
“Freddy Storz is more than capable of carrying this offense on his back.” Storz will be running behind full back Ken Ojukwu and an offensive line that remains capable despite losing two excellent linemen in Wyeth Lynch and Miles Baltrusaitis.
Senior wide receivers Student and Collin Vataha as well as tight end Sean Collins will anchor the passing game. Student, who averaged over 20 yards per catch last year and tied the team mark for TD catches in a season with seven, has had some nagging injuries, but should be ready for the season. Vataha has struggled with injuries for much of his career, but has performed well when healthy. Vataha had 149 yards receiving last year in only three games. Collins, entering his second season as the team’s starter, has provided the team with excellent blocking and a passing threat over the middle.
Moll and DiCenzo lead a defense that was remarkably stingy – allowing merely 9.9 points per game. The stellar unit, however, took a devastating hit in the off-season losing six starters from last year’s unit.
Senior Chris Ripley is the only starter returning to the defensive line and will have to step up his game to compensate for the inexperience of his fellow linemen.
“We’re going to play a lot of people on the line. We were hoping that [Ian] Wilkofsky would play, but he’s been injured and hasn’t had one practice yet. So we have six to eight guys we’re going to try there.”
Heading into the season, the strength of the defense appears to lie with its linebackers. Moll had 52 tackles last year including three sacks. He’s been a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball and has no doubt that the team will be able to overcome the loss of key players: “we go into every year with the goal of going 8-0.”
Moll will be joined at linebacker by senior Devareaux Brown, who missed most of last season with an injury and junior James Kingsley who had 41 tackles last year, four interceptions and one fumble recovery.
The team’s secondary looks to be strong with the return of DiCenzo, senior Alexi Evriviades, as well as Scott Farley, who transferred from Villanova University. Johnny Kelly and Ben Sands will compete for the final spot in what appears to be an excellent secondary.
“Our defensive backfield is extremely athletic and as a whole our defensive speed will undoubtedly put points on the board,” said Moll.
The team will start the season off against Colby on Saturday. “Playing a team that has been moderate in the past for our home opener should allow our team to build confidence and, hopefully, give our offense the opportunity to come in sync,” continued Moll.
“I like being home for the first two ballgames,” said Coach Farley. “With our team’s inexperience we’ll have time to see everyone play more before we decide who the 50 guys are who travel to the away games.”
Coming off last year’s NESCAC Championship, the expectations from the team’s fans will be high, but Student feels that the team’s expectations are just as high: “The Class of 2001 has lost only twice in our careers at Williams. We’d like to keep it that way.”