September 10, 2012

Salve success: Blood, sweat and coal

More news about: Salve Regina | SUNY-Maritime
Bob Chesney
Salve Regina and coach Bob Chesney, right, hope to hold an NEFC trophy rather than an ECAC one this November.
Salve Regina athletics photo

English was a second language in the household where Salve Regina football coach Bob Chesney grew up. Football was the first.

The son of coach Bob Chesney Sr., young Bob can't recall when he was not around football. He remembers being about 6 years old, going to the field for his first practice and his father giving him an indoctrination into the numbers for each of the holes in the alignment.

"That was kind of the start of it," Chesney said.

They are still together. Bob Sr. is on his son's staff and the football life is better than ever. Salve is 2-0, boasting wins over quality opponents Union and Montclair State. The 16-7 victory over Montclair on Saturday was the home opener and excitement is building in Newport, R.I.

But it all began in the small Pennsylvania town of Kulpmont as the son of a high school coach and teacher who later worked on numerous small college staffs. And it was exactly the kind of Pennsylvania town you hear about, getting its pulse from coal and football.

"The town was founded on coal mining. It was a lot of blue-collar people with a great work ethic," Chesney said. "They supported one another and their teams. The whole town shuts down on Friday night for the football game. It was a neat thing to be part of. I remember getting out of school early to go to the pep rallies."

Football still ties the family together today. Not only is Bob Sr. on the staff but so is Bob Jr.'s brother Nick.

Bob's father and mother still live in Pennsylvania but they get an apartment in Newport for the football season.

"I don't know how it pays off financially for them on what we're paying him," Chesney said.

Oh, but the benefits are great. Football season means the grandparents can see more of Bob and Andrea's 2-year-old daughter Lyla.

Not surprisingly, Chesney has a few players from Pennsylvania on his roster. One of them is Christian Clark, who kicked a field goal on opening week that provided the difference in the 17-14 win over Union.

"He had friends who had vacationed in Newport and liked it," Bob said.

Another Pennsylvanian, Maxwell Shubert, had an enormous contribution in the victory over Montclair with five tackles, two interceptions and a blocked field goal.

There's plenty of competition in Newport when it comes to attracting fans.

"Most D3 schools are in places where not much else is going on. Here, we're in a place where a lot is going on," Chesney said. "And there was 10 years here without much success."

But the success is coming. Last year the Seahawks were 8-3 including an ECAC Bowl win over Worcester State. And now the 2-0 start has people thinking big.

"We had to put extra bleachers in the end zone for the ECAC Bowl. People want to follow a winner," Chesney said.

The victories over Union and Montclair State is the result of what the Chesneys had in mind when they took over the program three years ago.

"It's what we wanted to do when we came here," he said. "We wanted to get our name out there and we knew we couldn't do it just by playing teams in our region."

The Seahawks have been very community oriented. The program received a volunteer award last year for its work with a foster care program and last season the players helped clean up after a hurricane.

Bob frequently takes his daughter to the games of the Newport Gulls, a team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

"It certainly has a family feel to it," he said of the community.

The same can be said for the Salve Regina football office.

Privateers start strong

SUNY-Maritime got out of the gate with a win and it took a spirited rally down the stretch.

"They never gave up. We scored on our last two possessions and in between we had a goal-line stand," Maritime coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes said.

He feels the clutch play came from 21 seniors who have had plenty of success with the program. Notably, linebacker Keith Barnes had 16 solo tackles and Pat Lasher had 11 stops, also at linebacker.

The game was played in a stirring atmosphere with the blimp from the U.S. Open visible during the game.

"Our atmosphere for night games is great," Kendrick-Holmes said. "The two bridges, the Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower and the skyline. We had cannons going off and a lot of people in attendance."

It was the third consecutive Chowder Bowl win for the Privateers.

ECFC building

The Eastern Collegiate Football Conference continued its strong play outside the league, following up the first week's 4-1 record by going 5-3 this time with Anna Maria, Gallaudet, SUNY-Maritime, Mount Ida and Norwich notching the wins.

"I'm not surprised," Kendrick-Holmes said. "I've been saying that we are getting better. We have got senior players and staff working together. We are building our resume and we are all pulling for each other."

Gulls set record

One ECFC team not faring well was Castleton as Endicott set a program record for points in a 66-14 victory.

Gulls quarterback Drew Frenette, a sophomore who won a four-way battle in camp, threw for 204 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. On the other side of the ball, the Gulls had five interceptions.

"Drew won the position at the end, not until the scrimmage with Worcester State," Endicott coach J.B. Wells said.

Frenette had plenty of help. Mike Wheeler rushed for 154 yards and Cameron Lett had three TD catches.

"I see Castleton as a kindred spirit," Wells said of the fourth-year Spartans. "There where we were a few years ago when we were a start-up program. Nobody would schedule us because we were a start-up program. I always said if I had a chance to help a new program that I would. Next year we are going to Castleton and then we'll see where it goes from there."

Lancers: Young and 2-0

Worcester State has only two seniors on each side of the ball but the Lancers are off to a 2-0 start after a 28-21 victory over neighborhood rival WPI.

Brien Cullen likes the way his team fought back after trailing 14-0.

One of the seniors is also new to starting. Quarterback Cory Spencer has been the backup the last couple of years.

"He has done a good job of getting the ball to our playmakers," Cullen said.

The Lancers got 114 yards rushing and a touchdown from Kemani Keman and a 90-yard kickoff return for a score by Graham Asum. It was his fourth career return to the end zone.

And, again, a special atmosphere as you might expect when teams from the same city are meeting.

"It was a great atmosphere," Cullen said. "We were sold out, the cable TV station for central Mass. was here and a past WPI team was honored."

It's great to be 2-0, but Cullen knows that a dogfight looms in the New England Football Conference, in both the Boyd and Bogan divisions.

"I think there are three teams on each side of the league who could win it," he said.

Bridgewater State rolling

You know Cullen is including Bridgewater State among his six teams who could win a title. The Bears followed up their big win over Springfeld with a 31-6 pasting of UMass-Dartmouth.

Stars on each side of the ball were Matt Green and Paul Melicharek. Green had five receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Melicharek had 11 tackles, including nine solo stops, while getting a sack and forcing a fumble.

Worth the wait for Bison

Gallaudet had never beaten D.C. rival Catholic. The series had stood 23-0-2 for Catholic until Gallaudet trimmed them 47-27 on Saturday. Todd Bonheyo threw two scoring passes and ran for two touchdowns. Tony Tatum and Shleby Bean keyed the defense.

Off Gallaudet's impressive performance in a 15-0 loss to Otterbein and this latest result, the ECFC becomes intriguing with the Bison having to be in the conversation with championship hopefuls like Norwich and SUNY-Maritime.

And Anna Maria has its own ECFC hopes after fashioning a 34-14 win over Maine Maritime, the first for new head coach Vincent Sinagra.

Anna Maria has now won three of its last four games going back to last season.

Santino Simone rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another score. Just as impressive on the other side of the ball was Jordan Koehler with 16 tackles and a forced fumble.

Mount Ida is 2-0 after a 22-12 win over Plymouth in which Scott Drosendahl was extremely efficient through the air: 11-of-13 for 155 yards and a touchdown.. He also ran for a score. 

Coast Guard fell just short in the Secretaries' Cup, 43-37 to Merchant Marine, but CG quarterback Jon Resch was impressive, completing 26 of 49 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns while never being picked off.

Framingham State rebounded from its loss to Endicott by thrashing Nichols 34-6 behind Melikke Val Alstyne's 222 rushing yards with two touchdowns. Quarterback Matthew Mangano added 171 yards and two scores on the ground.

Cadets march on

Norwich continued to live up to its preseason billing. The coaches selected the Cadets to repeat as  champions of the ECFC and they stretched their mark to 2-0 by winning on the road against St. Lawrence, 20-7.

The Cadets like to live on the ground and they had a great 1-2 punch there from Derrick Pitts with 117 yards and Danny Triplett with 86 yards and a touchdown.

Western New England, Norwich's victim the previous week, bounced back by winning its third straight Presidents' Cup against area rival Westfield State, 35-10. Alex Miller led WNE with three interceptions and John Krafick led the offense with two TD passes among his 230 yards.

Christian Lopez ran for a score, threw for another, helping Fitchburg State past Curry, 17-7.

The big games

Endicott goes to Bridgewater State in a battle of 2-0 teams with some high hopes. The other one to watch is Worcester State's visit to Western New England where the Lancers will have to be at their best to keep their record perfect.

And SUNY-Maritime has another rivalry game against the guys just across the water. The Maritime-Merchant Marine game is always eneveloped in a great atmosphere and is very important to the players, coaches and alumni. Perhaps the alumni, especially, as these are folks who often work side by side.

"They should have tremendous momentum from that win over Coast Guard," Kendrick-Holmes said.

Big games abound. It must be tough to be a NESCAC school and have to practice, watch and read about football. Sept. 22 is too far away.

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