By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG -- The blueprint for success for the Bloomsburg University football team has been in place for the past 20 years under legendary head coach Danny Hale.
Tonight, interim head coach Paul Darragh will make his debut in the annual Maroon and Gold spring football game at 7 p.m. at Danny Hale Field at Redman Stadium.
Darragh, the long-time assistant coach and defensive coordinator, takes over a team that went 10-2 last season and made the NCAA playoffs for the second time in the last three year.
"One thing that has been a common trait of Bloomsburg football has been the ability of our coaches and kids to get everyone to achieve at the highest level and then when you put all of that together with the team, you can get the team to achieve to at a higher level," Darragh said.
Hale compiled a 213-69-1 record in 20 season at Bloomsburg and made it to the 2000 NCAA Div. II title game.
"Coach Hale and I are very similar in that we are both pretty intense competitors," Darragh said. "He's a great man and a great coach. You know that the fire inside of him wants to succeed. I have the same competitive fire."
Last year, the Huskies set a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) single-season rushing record with 3,789 rushing yards.
"We have one of the most prolific rushing attacks," Darragh said. "Our offensive line is almost fully in tact, which is a big part of it. We need to develop at the wide receiver position. As a group, they've been performing very well in spring practice."
Leading the rushing attack is Harlon Hill award finalist Franklyn Quiteh.
The Pocono Mountain West graduate won the Division II rushing titles in both total yards and yards per game last year. He ran for a career-high 2,121 yards and averaged 176.75 yards per game along with a school record 7.4 yards per carry.
Quiteh, a senior, scored 24 touchdowns last season and has rushed for 100 yards or more in 17 straight games.
Six other Huskies, including former Mount Carmel standout Chris Steck, earned All-PSAC East in 2012.
"What a great kid Chris is," Darragh said. "He's a leader on and off the field and we were impressed with his toughness and work ethic in high school. He's been a very consistent player at center."
Steck, a fifth-year senior who is majoring in exercise science, said that this year's team has a lot of heart.
"We have a lot of returning players on offense and we have guys who can step up and fill some spots," he said. "We're hoping for a little better outcome than last year," Steck said.
Bloomsburg's two losses last year were to Shippensburg, including the first-round of the NCAA playoffs.
Steck noted that there's always room for the offensive line to improve.
"It takes a lot to stop our running game," he said. "Franklyn and Eddie (Mateo), you can't teach speed or vision. And its winning the battle at the line of scrimmage to get the guys to the second level."
Mateo topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark last year and along with Quiteh, they became the first tandem in PASC history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
"I'm very excited about the upcoming season," Quiteh, the former all-state running back said. "We didn't set out to break the record, it just happened. We stick to out goals of gaining 300 yards a week rushing. "
First-year starter Tim Kelly threw for 22 touchdowns and 1,793 yards while Glenn Hutton Jr. caught 16 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in 2012.
The question marks come on the defensive side of the ball.
"We have a lot of experience with front four, but we lost some key players at linebacker and that's critical for us," Darragh said. "Larry Webster (6-foot-7 250), is one of the best defensive ends in the county and he led the league in sacks."
Webster has a school single-season record of 13.5 sacks.
"Coach Hale showed us the blueprint on how to win games and we are going to keep that going," Quiteh added.
The Huskies will open season on Saturday, Sept. 7, when they host Stonehill.