Football Looking to Repeat as Little 3 & NESCAC Champ with 47 Letterwinners, 19 Starters & 29 Seniors Back on the 2014 Squad
Posting their best record in 16 years, ending a 43-year drought on Little Three titles by defeating both Amherst and Williams, and tying for the NESCAC crown with their 7-1 mark in 2013, the football Cardinals are looking to extend their success into 2014 with a senior-ladened squad. Wesleyan returns 47 letterwinners and 19 starters from last season's stellar crew. Twenty-nine of those 47 lettermen are either seniors or grad students.
Team quad-captains Jake Bussani '14 (#1, photo lower right) and Donnie Cimino '15 (#11, photo upper left) were both first-team all-NESCAC a year ago, Bussani for the third time. Cimino was a second-teamer in 2012. Both are preseason All-Americans from their spots in the secondary. Quad-captains Jon Day '15 (#29, photo upper right) and Jay Fabien '15 (#80, photo lower left) are both receivers, Day at tight end and Fabien at wide receiver, and both are all-NESCAC honorees as well, Day in 2013 and Fabien in 2012. In total, Wesleyan had 12 student-athletes grace the all-NESCAC squad as either first team or second team. Eight of them return for 2014.
Others back as first-team picks include running back LaDarius Drew '15, who is on the cusp of becoming the all-time leading rusher in Wesleyan history in three categories. With 2,036 yards on 464 carries and 24 TDs over three seasons, Drew needs just 347 yards to eclipse the school standard set in 1995 by Dave Cottrell, 52 carries to break Jim Lukowski's mark set in 1988 and four TDs to shatter John Pascucci's record established in 1998. Drew was NESCAC Rookie of the Year and a second-team selection in 2011. Joining Bussani and Cimino on the defensive side is Nik Powers '15, a two-time all-NESCAC first-teamer and a preseason All-American at defensive end.
Back as second-teamers are running back Kyle Gibson '15, who has amassed 1,324 yards on 251 carries and seven TDs over the last two seasons; offensive lineman Pat DiMase '15; and Devon Carillo '17, a staple force in the defensive backfield who got his honor as a return specialist. He brought back 15 kickoffs for a average of 25.7 yards and eight punts for a 7.1-yard average.
Also returning to their starting roles are quarterback Jesse Warren '15, who completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards and 15 TDs with just three interceptions in 2013; receiver/punter Josh Hurwitz '15, offensive linemen Blake Cunningham '16 and Taylor Bishop '15; defensive linemen Ibraheem Khadar '15, Mitch Godfrey '15 and Jordan Otis '14; linebackers Gregg Kelley '15 and Alex Daversa-Russo '16; and defensive back Justin Sanchez '17.
Add to the 19 returning starters 31 more letterwinners, 16 additional returnees and 25 newcomers, and the Cardinals have the makings of another NESCAC champion.
Wesleyan will start the 2014 with a bang Sat., Sept. 20, traveling to Middlebury, Vt. to face the Panthers, one of the two teams (along with Amherst) that tied Wesleyan for NESCAC supremacy with a 7-1 record last season. The home season begins Sat., Sept. 27 vs. Hamilton.