The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 24, 2013

College football: Local products look to keep Bloomsburg University in right direction

Daily Item

---- — By Todd Hummel

For The Daily Item

BLOOMSBURG -- The more things change the more they stay the same is one of the oldest clichés in the book.

However clichés are clichés for a reason.

With retirement of long-time coach Danny Hale -- who left with a 173-56-1 record after 20 seasons -- Bloomsburg University will maintain its status quo at least for this season.

Long-time assistant coach Paul Darragh, the Huskies' defensive coordinator for the last 18 years, takes over on an interim basis for the 2013 season.

With most of the coaching staff staying the same, the players see very little change around the Huskies.

"Coach Darragh has been around coach Hale so long everything is almost the same," Senior offensive linemen Chris Steck said. "Not much has changed. The seniors have been pushing guys to stay focused and work hard."

Steck a senior guard from Mount Carmel is among a group of offensive players back for the Huskies from last year's 10-2 squad.

Steck has a bevy of running backs to block for including Harlon Hill finalist Franklyn Quiteh, who rushed for 2,121 and 24 touchdowns last season.

"We've all been playing together so long especially on the line," Steck said. "We don't even have to make (line) calls all the time. We just know what the other guy will do by feel."

With backup tailback Eddie Mateo (1,092 yards, 6 touchdowns) not returning to the team, redshirt freshman Tyrelle Thomas is vying for the spot. Thomas is the Southern Columbia standout, who tore his ACL before his senior season.

Another local product is another unsung hero of the running game, fullback Matt Wenrich. The Selinsgrove High grad touched the ball just five times last season, but, Wenrich earns his rewards in other ways.

"It's great to block for these guys," Wenrich said. "When you get a block to get these guys (into the secondary), they are off to the races. It's a great feeling."

Now for the Huskies it's about erasing the disappointing endings to the last two seasons. Bloomsburg started 2011 at 7-0, but lost back-to-back games late in the season to miss the NCAA Division II playoffs.

That was followed by a 2012 season that saw the Huskies undefeated again until a trip to Shippensburg and a 49-42 loss ended their hopes of a home playoff game. Forced to travel to Shippensburg once again in the first round of the division to playoffs Bloomsburg fell behind big early ending their season with a 58-20 defeat.

"We obviously want to improve on last season," Steck said. "We can only focus on one game at a time but Shippensburg of course is in the back of our heads."

Wenrich echoed those sentiments.

"Halloween night is circled on our calendars," Wenrich said. "We can't look ahead though we have to stay focused."

The Huskies and Red Raiders are scheduled for an 8 p.m. kickoff at Redman Stadium on Thursday October, 31st. The game is set to be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Two other local players will be vying for playing time this year for the Huskies. Milton High graduate Domair Anderson is a redshirt freshman fullback. Former Shikellamy quarterback and safety Garrett Pope has made a position switch for the Huskies. He's moved to linebacker. Pope made three special teams tackles a year ago.