Sunday, February 19, 2017

Southern Lehigh's Rudolph Signs with Statesmen

The Hobart College Statesmen defense looks to have been bolstered by the commitment of Southern Lehigh HS SR DE/T Zach Rudolph.

Rudolph hails from Center Valley, PA near Allentown. He played in a 3x4 system for the Spartans, showing versatility as a DE/T who could line up on either side of the ball, bull rush and penetrate blocks to get sacks or TFL. He looks particularly good at stopping the run, but obviously will need to adjust his technique to Hobart's 4x4 scheme and to facing the larger OLs he'll go up against at the collegiate level. Standing 6'1" and weighing 235 lbs., Zach has good size and his film shows a quick first step off the ball.

Zach's highlight reel can be seen here.


Rudolph helped the Spartans earn a 9-3 overall record in 2016 and earned recognition such as 2nd Team All-State Class 5-A, 1st Team All-Area, 1st and 2nd Team All-League as a OL and DE/DT, respectively.

Please join me in welcoming Zach to the Hobart Football Family!

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Statesmen's 2017 Schedule (Unofficially?) Released (and it looks pretty good)

If you go to HWSAthletics.com you'll see the 2017 Hobart College Football schedule is up. It features nine games and byes in Week 2 and 9 given the LL is down to six teams due to exodus of WPI, Springfield and the USMMA to the NEWMAC.

Although some local Upstate NY teams like Saint John Fisher, Utica and Buffalo State may have open dates in Week 2, it remains to be seen whether or not the Statesmen will be willing and able to get a 10th game scheduled. This could be because of short and/or long term scheduling commitments, home vs. away scheduling, etc. among other matters. Another potential opponent could be Western Connecticut, who has gone up against Union College the last couple of years. The Colonels also supposedly have an open date in Week 2 as well.

If Hobart can't find or decides against scheduling a 10th game, the Statesmen will play a nine game regular season schedule for the first time since 2013. The 2017 slate has a lot of familiar names on it, but it also includes a pair of programs that are new to the Statesmen and /or haven't faced Hobart in a couple of decades. What else is noticeable is how travel friendly the 2017 schedule is for the Statesmen. Hobart would effectively open their schedule with three home games over the first four weeks of the season. That's significant to me because the Statesmen are 15-2, regular season and playoffs, the last three seasons at the "Boz".

Week 1 has the Statesmen hosting Brockport in a rematch of last season's thrilling 41-35 shootout before a possible bye in Week 2. Week 3 has former Hobart DC Coach Scott Yoder '00 returning to Geneva for a 7 PM kickoff with his Shenandoah University Hornets. Coach Yoder has done a nice job in bringing SU back to being a competitive program, finishing 2016 with a 6-4 overall record in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). I expect this to be HWS' Homecoming and Family Weekend's "main event."

Speaking of old friends and alumni, Week 4 sees Coach Kevin DeWall '01's return home to the Finger Lakes region with his Endicott College Gulls squad. Week 5 is a short road trip to newly minted LL conference member Ithaca College (who named Dan Swanstrom of Penn, formerly of Johns Hopkins, as their new HC this offseason), then Week 6 is back at home to take on RPI. Those pesky Engineers are riding a two-game winning streak against Hobart, and have a 3-3 record against the Statesmen since 2011, winning the last two in a row.

Week 7 sees the return of Hartwick College to the schedule. The Statesmen are 4-2 all time against the Hawks with the last match-up dating all the way back to 1997, a game Hobart lost, 31-30. If you haven't noticed, all the box score information is available on these "classic" games, dating back to as far back as the archives have kept them (all have scores and results, but not every game has a BX). This 31-30 win by the Hawks was revenge for a 42-27 loss to the Statesmen in 1996. That game actually made it on ESPN's Sportscenter that year, due to a fluky TD a Hartwick receiver caught after the ball ricocheted off of SR DB and Co-Captain Tony Aguilar '97's helmet.

Week 8 is a road trip to long-time LL rival Union College. As stated earlier, Week 9 is currently slated as a second bye week before Hobart hosts Saint Lawrence in Week 10 for Senior Day. Week 11 is against Centennial Cup and LL rival, the University of Rochester.

With five home games and only four away games, none of which that are longer than a three hour drive (the Union game is the longest distance at 176 miles), Hobart has drawn a very favorable slate for 2017 in my opinion. Certainly there are a lot of factors to consider, but I have no doubt the Statesmen will be the LL favorite this fall, not just because of who they're returning, but this schedule as well.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Biggest Needs for Hobart Going into 2017 - Part III

So we've covered the Statesmen's offensive and defensive needs, but last and definitely not least, comes special teams. This was an unit that had some exceptional stats and performances in certain games and areas in 2016, but there were also struggles and needs for improvement in others.

In the kicking game Sean Kirshe's '17 graduation means Hobart will either need JR PK Will McCool and/or JR P Rio Schmidt to expand their current roles, or the coaching staff will need to bring in some new talent (which they apparently have based on the expected enrollment of Ridgewood HS SR PK Wylie Sherman as noted on 2/2/17 and Worcester Academy's SR PK Kyle Hackett as noted at the end of this post). Kirshe averaged 53 yards on kickoffs (KOs) last season, handling all but one of the 62 KOs of 2016. Schmidt had one kickoff for 54 yards against Saint Lawrence which was a good showing, but a very small sample size. The preseason will tell us if KOs is a job he takes on fulltime or an as needed basis.

Speaking of Schmidt, he earned 1st Team All-LL and Co-STPOY awards for his excellent work in 2016. Schmidt averaged 40.9 YPP on the season as a whole with a long of 68 yards. He hit 32 of his 48 punts either for touchbacks, fair catches or inside the opponent's 20 yard line which was a huge help to the Statesmen defense.

Another offseason focus will be to find a replacement for Sean Cunningham '17 who did an outstanding job handling punt returns for Hobart last season and over his Statesman career. Overall Cunningham returned 63 punts for 478 yards with a long of 59 that ended up as a TD against Endicott in 2015. In 2016 he handled all but two punts for Hobart, gaining 180 yards on 18 returns. One of Hobart's punt "returns" was a block that Marcus Jemison '17 returned for a 25 yard TD against WPI. FY WR Jake Catalioto returned the one other punt last season against Springfield for eight yards.

Kickoff returns were primarily handled by a number of new Statesmen players such as FY WR Isaiah Hill (19-339 or a 17.89 YPR average), FY RB Brian Haeffner (10-163 or a 16.3 YPR) and FY RB Coron Bromfield (3-53 yards or 17.67 YPR). I imagine additional incoming FY players from the Class of 2021 will get opportunities here as well. Hobart finished last in the LL on KORs so that should be an area of focus to improve upon in 2017. The Statesmen were better on KO coverage (albeit a breakdown in the RPI game was a huge momentum shifter), allowing an average of 16-17 YPR on kickoffs, given 10 went for touchbacks, two went out of bounds and the other 50 kicks netted 851 total return yards.

Probably the biggest area of improvement the Statesmen need to focus on in the offseason and in 2017 is doing a better job of converting FG and PAT attempts. Kirshe and McCool only converted three of seven FG attempts (one blocked) combined last season. Kirshe converted more extra points overall going 26-32, but McCool was more accurate making 13-14. Kirshe ended his career tied for first in Hobart history with the most PATs made (123) and first in PAT attempts (142). He's ranked fifth all-time with 13 FGs made and tied for ninth with 162 total points in his Statesmen career.

Worcester's Hackett Coming to Hobart

Speaking of kickers, the Worcester Telegram reports that Worcester Academy SR PK Kyle Hackett plans to attend Hobart College this fall. Hackett is from Charlton, MA, near Sturbridge, and he plans to study economics at Hobart.

Worcester Academy hasn't sent a football student athlete to Hobart in some time, but the Hilltoppers have sent players to rival schools such as Union and SLU, notably SO RB Rod Payne (who attended as PG) who gained 897 total yards and scored four TDs in 2016 for the Saints.

In the Telegram piece Hackett said he was looking forward to playing football for Hobart and said that "Worcester Academy has been great, athletically and academically. My coaches, teachers and teammates have been very supportive, and I use that as motivation to be the best that I can be, on and off the field."

Kyle looks like he could be the understudy to JR PK Rio Schmidt as a punter based on this highlight reel, but he will probably be also looked at for other duties such as kickoffs, FGs and/or PATs.

His SR YR highlights can be seen here.


Please join me in welcoming Kyle to the Hobart Football Family!

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Biggest Needs for Hobart in 2017 - Part II

How about that Super Bowl?!? With such a great display by Tom Brady and the Patriots offense it makes sense to talk about the "O" in this post.

The Statesmen offense set a number of school records and had two players individually ranked in the Top 10 nationally given the high-flying "Air Show" of JR QB Shane Sweeney and 1st team D3football.com All-American JR WR Brandon Shed. A big reason for that success was strong pass blocking by the OL and the fact Sweeney had a multitude weapons at his disposal including WRs like Sean Cunningham '17 and Jack Pfohl '17 as well as JR TE Zach Withers and SO TE Matt Woods.

While the departure of two WRs with the talent of Cunningham and Pfohl is hard to replace, fortunately the Statesmen have a lot of depth with players like SO WR Joe Barrocas, SO WR Jake Henzes, FY WR Isaiah Hill and several other potential candidates waiting in the wings.

With JR RB Joe Letizia and SO RB Ty Barfield likely returning, the Statesmen should be able to improve upon the running game in 2017. While OC Jon Drach has moved away from the Power-I formations of seasons past, when a FB is needed, JR FB Dylan Quay should add depth and experience to this role he shared last season with Sean Bright '17.

Needless to say, Hobart's main needs on offense will be fairly limited. The biggest loss to graduation in my opinion was that of Nick Testani '17 who was the starting center for the Statesmen for the past couple of seasons and who was the only Statesmen OL to earn 1st team All-LL recognition. JR OL Liam Murphy backed up Testani during the year and could be poised to take over in 2017.

Otherwise Sweeney and the Hobart offense will benefit from experienced starters returning at basically all the other OL positions. Certainly Justin DiJiulio '17 will be missed, but when he suffered a knee injury early in the 2016 season he was ably replaced at RT by JR OL Stephen VanHoesen who also started at RG. Patrick O'Connell III '17 was a leader on the sidelines and locker room, but injuries made it so SO OL Jack Koch and JR OL Alex Helm had to fill in for him in 2016. The positive from this unfortunate turn of events is they gained valuable experience at guard. SO OL John Deveney started at LT all season and earned 2nd team All-LL honors.

Based on this depth and experience, Hobart's offense should be primed for another big season in 2017.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Recruiting Update

Happy Ground Hog Day (unless of course you're sick of the winter and didn't care for Punxsutawney Phil's forecast this morning)!

While major college football programs were all over the media as part of "National Signing Day", many, many more student athletes and their families made just as, if not more significant, commitments to their future college and university future's, but with much less pomp and circumstance.

While D3FB and school commitments aren't binding per se', declarations by students at this stage of the admissions process usually indicates an early acceptance by the college and the student athlete's indication the school they plan to attend in the fall is their first and only choice.

With this in mind, it appears as though the first couple of new recruits to the Hobart College Football team's FY class are in from the state of NJ.

Based on an article in NJ.com, the Statesmen can look forward to a couple of strong recruits in the form of Rumson-Fair Haven HS SR WR Tyler Pierson and Ridgewood HS SR WR/DB/PK (and lacrosse star) Wylie Sherman.

Pierson literally towered over his competition in HS, standing 6' 5" and shows good skills in getting separation off the snap and being tough to bring down in the open the field given his size and long stride. He certainly can and did win "jump ball" passes given his height.

His highlight reel can be seen here. Pierson helped the Bulldogs to a 10-3 overall record in 2016 and an appearance in the NJ State Semi-Finals. Pierson also plays basketball for RFH.

Sherman will initially compete to earn playing time as a PK. He earned 3rd team All-State honors in football at Ridgewood as a special teams / utility player. Sherman averaged 53 yards on KOs (an area the Statesmen need to find a replacement due to the graduation of Sean Kirshe '17), while also going 39-43 on PATs and 6-8 on FGs (with a long of 42 yards).

Sherman's kicking stats are impressive, but it should be noted he added seven INTs to go with 29 tackles his SR season as a CB while helping the Maroons to an undefeated 12-0 season. Wylie's highlights as a WR/CB can be viewed here. He certainly would have no trouble making an open-field tackle as part of KO coverage based on the tape.

Sherman will follow players like Sean Cunningham '17 and others in participating in both football and lacrosse at Hobart. For the latter he will likely play attack, as he has excelled there for Ridgewood and earned several awards and recognition for his ability to score goals.


Please join me in welcoming both of these student athletes to the Hobart Football family.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Biggest Needs for Hobart Going into 2017 - Part I

The offseason is a slow time of year, football wise. Although the Super Bowl and NFL Draft keeps pro and major college football fans busy for the next couple of months, there's really not much, if any, news on the D3FB front until late August.

With that in mind the next couple of posts will be on areas I think the Statesmen need to shore up on heading into the 2017 season. Kickoff against Brockport is still many months away, but the Hobart coaching staff (and the returning players themselves) haven't stopped working.

Looking ahead, what seems to be the biggest need for the Statesmen in my opinion is replacing a pair of long-time starters at OLB. Marcus Jemison and Michael Harper '17 had excellent careers as the strong and weak side OLBs of the Hobart 4x4 defense. Matt Cragg '17 also had a long and successful career as the Statesmen's last line of defense at FS.

Replacing these players will be a key aspect of this fall's preseason camp. According to the playoff depth chart and stats it would appear that SO LB Kai Brandford and JR LB Will Hoffer could be the leading candidates. Brandford appeared in 10 games making 13 total tackles with two QB hits. Hoffer tallied 12 stops on the season, playing in 10 games. FY LB Josh Walker was listed on the playoff two deep but didn't add any tackles in varsity games but likely gained valuable experience in the three JV games played against Alfred, St. John Fisher and Utica.

Another possibility at OLB could be JR CB Tommy D'Antonio who filled in when Jemison went down with an shoulder injury. While it's possible based on what we saw in 2016, I'd think DC Kory David would prefer to keep D'Antonio in the secondary along with JR CB Daryl Scales. If D'Antonio moves to OLB, SO CB Ryan Conschafter could be a potential replacement, as he saw action in six games, making eight tackles. SO DB Sam Wheeler (nine tackles in 10 games) should be in the mix as well.

SO DB CJ Boleware is listed as a CB but it appears he backed up Cragg at FS for most, if not all, of last season according to the depth charts. Boleware appeared in eight games and contributed seven tackles on the season. His season high of three stops came against the Mariners.

Otherwise the only other FS's on the roster are FY FS Jack O'Shea and FY FS Jayson Prince. Prince made three tackles over the course of the final three games, but I'm assuming those probably came on special teams.

While the production of James Hedger '17 will need to be replaced, 2016 saw players such as JR DE Brandon Ball, SO DT Sean Moore and SO DE/DT AJ McFarlane emerge as significant contributors complimenting long-time starters like JR DT Zackary Robak (who in theory could be back in 2017 if he uses his redshirt option) and should give this unit a good deal of experience and depth coming back in 2017.

The only other possibility that we can't really know at the moment is whether or not there's someone in the Class of 2021 that'll come into camp and earn a starting job. We saw that last year when FY LB Jedh Downey earned one of the open starting inside LB roles and had an excellent rookie campaign, tallying 86 total tackles (finishing second overall on the team), including a team high 53 solo stops. Downey added seven TFLs and one sack good for a combined -31 yards.

While I thought that performance would earn Downey the Liberty League ROTY award, that honor went (not surprisingly) to an offensive player - WPI's FY RB Sean McAllen who rushed for 701 yards and five TDs for the Engineers last season.

As previously "reported" here, WPI, USMMA and Springfield have left the LL to join the NEWMAC - a long standing New England conference, but one that is now adding football. Although Ithaca College joining the LL helps, Hobart and the LL remains in some future playoff jeopardy without a seventh member of the conference.

The good news is we know the Statesmen have secured three non-conference games to ensure that there's at least nine total games on the 2017 schedule. Hobart fans have enjoyed 10 game regular seasons for a while now, the last time the Statesmen had a nine game regular season came back in 2013.

I'll have more on the offense and special teams' needs in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Hobart Football Highlight Video is Online

Happy New Year!

I hope 2017 is off to a great start for everyone.

If you're a student athlete who's applied to attend Hobart, good luck! I know Early Decision I Admission notices were available as of 12/15/16 and the second round of admission decisions will be ready by 1/15/17.

If you haven't applied early, regular admission deadline is 2/1/17.

While I'm looking forward to seeing who ends up in the Class of 2021, let's look back on the action and highlights from the 2016 season:


https://vimeo.com/197196778

I hope you enjoy the video and I'll post news (and any analysis) as I find it out.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!