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"High Hopes For A Healthy Season"

"High Hopes For A Healthy Season"With a healthy team and a new assistant coach joining him on the sidelines, Tufts Head Football Coach Bill Samko has high hopes for what the Jumbos will be able to accomplish this season.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.02.06] After last year’s injury-plagued season, Tufts Head Football Coach Bill Samko is confident that, with a healthy roster, the Jumbos will be a contender in the New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference (NESCAC) this year. With a 17-0 victory against Hamilton on Sept. 23 and a 21-12 Homecoming win over Bates last Saturday, the Jumbos are off to a strong start.

HomecomingSweep“We struggled last year and had a whole bunch of injury problems, that's for sure,” Samko told the Boston Herald. After injuries sidelined key players, including Adam Arsenault, a junior linebacker who received NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2004, the Jumbos finished 2-6 in 2005.

“[Younger] guys had to play and now they have that experience,” Samko told the Herald, adding that he doesn’t expect this season to be a repeat of last year’s.

The Herald reported that the Jumbos have a strong offense this season, with wide receivers Steve Menty, Brian VonAncken and David Halas and offensive linemen Ryan McGeary, Tim Lind and Brian Schurko leading the way. “Defensive keys,” according to the newspaper, include Arsenault, defensive backs Bryan McDavitt and Brett Holm and defensive end Chris Decembrele.

“We'd like to crawl into the mix if we can stay healthy,” Samko told the Herald.

Samko’s dream of a healthy team has already been threatened twice this season. During the Jumbos first game of the season against Hamilton, Tufts senior safety Bryan McDavitt suffered an injury, The Boston Globe’s North section reported. Freshman Alex Perry was called into action and his debut performance with the team earned him the NESCAC Rookie of the Week honors.

Another injury occurred two weeks before the home opener against Hamilton, when Decembrele—a team captain and last year’s Most Valuable Player—tangled his finger in a teammate’s helmet. During a trip to Somerville Hospital, the defensive end worried that his college football career was over.

“It was pretty ugly, there was a lot of blood, my adrenaline was pumping," he told The Boston Globe. But seven stitches, a brace and a day later, the political science major was back on the field practicing. Samko was both relieved and impressed.

“I thought that he was lost for the year,” Samko told the Globe. “But he missed one practice. He's a real force."

Decembrele, who is also the starting catcher for Tufts’ baseball team, looks forward to the season ahead, which he hopes will be a winning one. “Two and six doesn’t represent who we are,” he told the Globe, referring to last season’s record.

With support from newly hired assistant coach Scott Rynne, Samko hopes to lead the team to a better record.

“We were very fortunate to hire a coach of Scott’s caliber at this point in time,” Samko said. Rynne, a Sudbury, Mass., native with 11 years of college football coaching experience, was most recently the interim head coach at Pomona-Pitzer College in California. “He’ll fit right in and be a valuable addition to our staff,” said Samko.

In the first away game of the season, the Jumbos will travel to Maine to take on Bowdoin on Oct. 7.



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