September 22, 2010

Trying to turn big numbers into wins

More news about: Hanover
Hanover's Daniel Passafiume
Daniel Passafiume had all sorts of individual numbers last season, but the team's number was 3-7.
Hanover athletics photo

For all of the accomplishments Hanover’s Daniel Passafiume has collected over the first two years of his college career, the 6-0, 175-pound junior wide receiver said he would trade them all in for wins and a championship.

Passafiume has developed into one of the top pass catchers in Division III. He’s a two-time Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference pick at wide receiver. He led the conference last year in receptions (114), receiving yards (1,054), touchdowns (14) and all-purpose yards (1,448). He also was an all-conference pick at a kick returner.

In the final game of 2009 against Franklin, he set an all-division NCAA records for catches in a contest with 25.

But Passafiume has done this in relative obscurity because Hanover has been unable to win. The Panthers, once the constant toughest kid on the block in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, has not had a winning season in some time. This year, the Panthers are 1-2 after a loss to Defiance in the HCAC opener.

Hanover will try again this week, playing in-state rival Rose-Hulman at home in the Hall of Fame Game.

“All of that record stuff is good, but I would trade it all in for wins,” Passafiume told D3football.com this week. “I’ll take that ring over all of it.”

Passafiume was a Division I recruit out of St. Xavier in Louisville, but admitted he was burned out on football his senior year and decided to hang up the cleats.

“That first year away I really started to miss it and I wanted to play again,” Passafiume said. “I knew I wasn’t in shape physically to play at Division I because I took the year off. I wanted to play close to home and play right away.”

Passafiume said he was drawn to Hanover because of coach Joe Austin and his offense and thought it was a place he could excel.

Austin said Passafiume has not only been a great player for Hanover and but great leader as well. Passafiume was elected a captain as a sophomore and was a near unanimous selection as a captain this season by his teammates.

“His competitiveness and drive attracts people,” Austin said. “He’s the guy a lot of the kids took up to as a barometer of how things are going and they look up to him. He’s been a very good leader for us.”

This year, of course, Passafiume has been attracting a lot of attention. His 27 catches lead the HCAC, but he has done all of that facing constant double teams. On top of that, Passafiume only played a half against Defiance because of illness.

“He had five catches at halftime,” Austin said. “It’s been tough for us because we’re playing two freshmen on the offensive line, at times three. Teams have been putting a lot of pressure on us, so it’s been that much tougher for us to get him the ball. We’re still developing as a program.”

Passafiume said he sees the double teams as an opportunity for his teammates.

“That’s something we were ready for coming into the season,” Passafiume said. “Teams are going to key on me and that means somebody else is open.  C.J. (Croft, Hanover’s quarteback) is going to make plays with his feet.  When it comes down to it, I’ll still get my catches. All I can do is go out and play my game.”

The biggest challenge for Passafiume and Hanover is getting victories in the win column and challenging for the HCAC crown, something that used to be routine for the Panthers. In the end, Passafiume said that is where he wants to be.

“I want a ring and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it,” Passafiume said. “I don’t care if it means catching two or 27 balls. It doesn’t matter.”

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Clyde Hughes

Clyde Hughes has been writing sports at various times over the past 24 years, covering everything from high school, college and sporting events. A native of football-crazed Texas, Hughes works in Indiana and has written for numerous newspapers and magazines.
2003-04 columnist: John Regenfuss

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