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Things can only get better at Parsons Field for the Northeastern Huskies’ 2009 football team after last season. The Huskies had a dismal 2-10 record, finishing 1-7 in the Colonial Athletic Association and last in the CAA North. Both the offensive and defensive teams seemed to be absent from the field last year, only showing up to play in the games against UC Davis and Towson. There were several embarrassing losses: to UMass, UNH, Maine, William and Mary, and especially, Hofstra, where up to 523 yards were allowed to the opposing team. Although Northeastern said goodbye to 13 seniors, several changes and additions have been made to the offense, defense, and personnel that can only help the Huskies at this point.
12 new freshmen were added to the roster, hailing from all over the East Coast; most of the new athletes received either city, regional, or state honors during their high school careers. The freshmen were all leaders on their high school teams and will carry this mentality with them when they put on their Husky jerseys. They will play as defensive linesman, linebackers, offensive lineman, wide receiver, tight end, and quarterback. Coach Rocky Hager and the Huskies will receive additional help from new coaching additions, Corey Hetherman and Frank Forucci.
Hetherman joins Northeastern’s football staff as the fresh-faced, Offensive Linebacker Coach. Before joining the Huskies, he spent three seasons at Springfield College, working as Assistant Coach, Special Teams Coach, and Junior Varsity Defensive Coordinator. In addition, he interned at King’s College, helping the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs. He also helped as the Junior Varsity Offensive Coordinator. Hetherman’s football qualification extends onto the field as a player. He was quarterback at UMass-Lowell and later at Fitchburg State. He may be one of the younger coaches on the staff, but he brings with him tremendous experience.
The Huskies are welcoming Forucci to the staff as Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach. Forucci has nine years of experience as an assistant coach, including five spent as Defensive Coordinator where he had an impressive record while coaching on Fordham’s staff. In 2007, his defense was ranked 13th in the country in tackles for a loss; in 2006, his defense was ranked 11th in the nation. Forucci also served as Defensive Coordinator at Central Connecticut State where his 2005 defense was ranked 10th in the country in sacks and 11th for turnovers. He received his basic framework for understanding college football from working several different positions at UMass from 1999-2003, including Defensive Line Coach and Outside Linebackers Coach. With his previous accolades under his belt, he will surely help strengthen the Huskies’ defense. The football program is also welcoming back several starting players who will be key to the offense and defense.
Alex Dulski will have his first chance to play as quarterback this season and prove himself as a team leader. After watching Anthony Orio the past three years, he had the opportunity to learn what will successfully work on the field. Ron Conway will be returning his senior year as punter and a wide receiver; last season, he punted an average of 40.3 yards, ranking second in NU history for a single-season average. This year, he will only be better and hopefully continue proving himself as an asset while playing as wide receiver. The defense also has several players returning who will be vital playmakers.
Nate Thellen, defensive back, will be a key leader for the Huskies; last year he had 58 tackles and five interceptions during the 2008 season. He was recently named to the 2009 Sports Network Preseason All-America second team. Let’s hope that his success last season will carry over. Phil Higgins, senior inside linebacker, will be a force to be reckoned with. Last season, he had 122 tackles and was the team’s Defensive MVP. In addition, he ranked as the fifth-highest player in NU history for his single-season tackles and tied for 18th in the country for single-season. Woody Romelus will also return as another key senior defensive linesman. After making 11 tackles last season, he and other defensive players alike will be looking for redemption.
While it is doubtful that the Huskies will dominate their division and overcome their fifth place preseason ranking by the CAA in the North, there is still potential for improvement. The 2009 season will definitely be more of a growth and development period for the Huskies. The changes and additions made will strengthen the program, but we may not see the larger effects of this until the following season. For now, we will have to wait until their opening game against Boston College.
Tags: Northeastern University