The Wait is Over; Charger Football Ready to Kickoff 2009 Season!

Charger Athletics

WEST HAVEN, Conn. – After a five year absence, the University of New Haven football team returns to the gridiron in 2009 as a member of the Northeast-10 Conference. The Chargers have spent the entire 2008 and 2009 calendar years to recruit over 80 student-athletes that make up the 2009 roster. One student-athlete returns from the ’03 squad, another recently celebrated his 43rd birthday and 19 student-athletes hail from the state of Connecticut.

Leading the way for the Chargers will be a core of student-athletes that reported last fall to begin the process of rebuilding the program. Nearly 15 coaches have helped to recruit and guide the student-athletes through the development process. The 2009 roster boasts 43 freshmen, 35 sophomores and seven upperclassmen.

Under first-year head coach Peter Rossomando, the Chargers will feature multiple different offensive and defensive schemes. On the offensive side, UNH will often showcase one tailback and three-or-more receivers. On the defensive side, the Chargers will display multiple three-man fronts. While captains will not be selected for the 2009 season, two Connecticut natives will find themselves in leadership rolls as the season unfolds. Seymour High School graduate, Ryan Osieski will lead the team as the starting quarterback, while Weaver High School graduate and the 2007 Hartford Courant Defensive Player of the Year, Reheem Stanley will anchor the UNH defense at nose guard.

Osieski leads a talented pack of quarterbacks in the 2009 season. With experience at the University of Louisville as a walk-on freshman last fall, Osieski earned the starting quarterback position after strenuous spring and offseason workouts. Battling for the backup position is a trio of Brice DeRosa, Bernard Risco and Ronnie Nelson.

Leading the way in the backfield will be second-year running back, Mike DeCaro. A 2008 graduate of Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla., DeCaro will often be the only back in the Chargers’ single-back formations. Others in the backfield will be a pair of sophomores, Andrew Nass and Victor Jones, and two highly touted freshmen, Brian Alston and Scott Lowery. Nass graduated from Hasbrouck Heights High School in New Jersey in 2008 and spent last season at Iona College, while Jones is a second-year player from Patterson, New Jersey. Alston rushed for over 2,000 yard in high school in Robbinsville, N.J. and Lowery was selected to the Bergen County All-Star Team at Paramus Catholic High School (N.J.).

The Chargers wide receiver corps will be anchored by a solid core of second year players, Chris Ruffin and Sharieff Hall, who were both part of the Chargers spring roster. Hall played the 2008 season at Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., while Ruffin played his prep ball in New York with the Harlem Hellfighters and led the state in receptions in 2007. The third part of the wide receiving trio will be sophomore Demetrius Washington-Ellison who played at the University of Maine last season. The transfer was a 2007 All-State performer at Rahway High School in New Jersey. Adding to the receiving corps depth is another second-year player in Kareem Cutler. An All-State honoree, Cutler played at Charlestown High School (Mass.). One of the Chargers’ great stories this season is senior wide receiver Devin Robinson, who will add senior leadership to the team. Robinson played for the Chargers in 2003 and returns this season to complete his final year of eligibility. A variety of freshman, including Josh Smart, will add strength to the position as they develop throughout the season.

The offensive line will be spearheaded by sophomore left guard David Stedman and sophomore center John Irwin. Stedman helped lead the Hasbrouck Heights Aviators to the New Jersey State Championship during his high school career. Irwin, who started with the Chargers last fall, attended Burlington Township High School in New Jersey. Completing the left side of the line will be the third sophomore, Lance Chapman. Chapman was a three-year letter winner at South Glenns Falls High School in New York. After starting two seasons at Stonehill College, junior transfer Branden Naraine adds experience at the right tackle position for UNH. The right guard position will most likely be filled by either Zach Conklin or Robert Pysz, who may share playing time throughout the season. Conklin, a freshman from Otisville, N.Y., was an All-State selection in high school, while Pysz, a transfer from Iona College, helped guide Seymour High School to the 2007 Connecticut State Championship. Also vying for playing time on the offensive line will be freshmen James Malloy, Sami Caygoz, Greg Waters, Ryan Mousley and Thierry Andris.

The battle for the Chargers’ tight end position is a tight one. Four players will all see significant playing time at the position, including second year players Kameel Lashley, Jake Stark, Zachary Vonder Linden and Brandon Ruberti. Prior to UNH, Lashley played at Brighton High School and earned a place in the Shriners All-Star game, while Ruberti earned All-Conference and All-Area honors at Daniel Hand High School. A converted linebacker, Vonder Linden was an All-County selection at Vernon Township High School in New Jersey. Stark earned All-Sussex County honors at Kittatinny Regional High School in Newton, New Jersey two years ago.

Anchoring the defensive line at nose guard this season will be sophomore Reheem Stanley. Stanley was not only the Courant Defensive Player of the Year, but also a two-time All-Conference selection at Weaver High School. A freshman and sophomore duo, Angelo Cupo and Ahmet Basci will start at the defensive end positions. Cupo, from Coral Springs, Fla., prepped at North Broward and earned Second Team All-Sun Sentinal honors. Basci has helped lead the Chargers since last fall and came to UNH after completing three All-League seasons at Fair Lawn High School in New Jersey. Forty-three year old sophomore, Wayne Parks will back up Stanley at the nose guard position. Parks, also a firefighter in Fairfield County, joined the team last year and has helped play a leadership role on the defensive side of the ball. Chidoziem Ezemma and Alex Quinn will also vie for playing time at the defensive end positions.

Leading a group of second-year players at the inside linebacker positions will be Cody Wallace out of New Milford, Connecticut. Wallace was an All-State and a two-time All-Conference selection and has been one of the team leaders since last fall. The second inside linebacker position is highly contested between Akaki Ramishvili, Joshua Turner and Moses White who will all be competing for quality playing time.

The outside linebacker position is one of the deepest positions on the team, if one exists. Robert Hill, Brian LaSure and Rich Long will all be seeing significant playing time at the two positions. Hill, a sophomore, spent last season at Dean Junior College. LaSure will be a junior, after transferring from Southern Connecticut State in the offseason. LaSure saw action in nine games during his tenure with the Owls. Long is another one-year transfer from Iona College. Richard Roberts and Tom Herd will also be vital parts to the outside linebacker corps, competing for playing time and adding depth. Roberts played at Woodland Regional High School in Prospect, Conn., while Herd was an All-Sussex County Interscholastic League selection at Sparta High School (N.J.).

The Chargers’ secondary will feature two second-year players at the corner positions and a group of five competing for playing time at the two safety positions. Desmond Anderson and Jon Jackson will be the Chargers starting cornerbacks. Anderson, a transfer from Becker College, played in nine games last season. Jackson was a team captain for the two-time state champions of Bunnell High School in Stratford, Conn. Josh Smith and Ronnie Driesse-Darden are two outstanding freshmen that will also be pushing for playing time on the corners. Spearheading the strong safety position this season will be second-year player Mike Gomes, of Brockton High School in Massachusetts. Anthony Fils, Lenroy Neysmith, David McKinnie and Tyler Parker will all compete for playing time at the free safety position this season.

Special Teams
Taking a majority of the kicking and punting responsibilities this season will be freshman Michael Herrera. Herrera, from Tamarac, Fla. was a two-time All-Broward County selection at J.P. Taravella High School. Splitting some of the place kicking duties, with Herrera, will be junior Stephen Ward from Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Maryland.

With outstanding breakaway speed and ability to see the field, wide receiver Sharieff Hall will be returning kicks for the Chargers this season. Also returning kickoffs will be quarterback Bernard Risco.

Long snapping duties will be the responsibility of sophomore defensive back Mike Gomes and freshman offensive lineman Greg Waters.

Projected to finish ninth in the Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Poll, the Charger football program looks to improve from their preseason positioning with wins over a variety of new and old opponents. The team officially returns to the field on Saturday, September 5, 2009 when they travel to Lincoln University (Pa.). The Lions, like the Chargers, took a 47-year hiatus before the program returned a season ago and went 1-9. Six days later the Chargers open their NE-10 schedule when they travel to Worcester, Mass. to take on Assumption College.

The Chargers home opener is in week three, when they host Bentley University at the new DellaCamera Stadium. Homecoming will return to the West Haven campus in week four when UNH hosts Stonehill College on Saturday, September 26. On October 2 at 7 p.m. the Chargers renew their cross-town rivalry with NE-10 preseason favorites, Southern Connecticut State University at Jess Dow Field, with conference records on the line for the first time in the rivalry. NE-10 preseason No. 2 American International College travels to DellaCamera Stadium the following week and New Haven takes a road trip to Merrimack College on October 17.

Pace University, St. Anselm College and a non-conference game with Ohio Dominican round out the Chargers’ final three Saturdays.