|2003 Season Preview|
After a 4-6 record in 2002, Head Coach Tom Mulholland looks to regain the national prominence of Catholic University football. He and his coaching staff will have to replace graduating seniors that filled important roles on offense and on defense.
With question marks at quarterback and at running back, the Cardinals need to fill holes in those two vital positions. First-year player Mark Rolfs is contending for the starting play-caller role, along with freshman Brian Dair. Junior Matt Grace returns in the backfield at fullback, where he started all 10 games. The big shoe to fill will be at running back. Junior Ed Smith appeared in eight games, mostly on special teams and looks to fill in at the starting spot.
The experience of the offensive line will be very beneficial to the success in 2003 as three of the five starters return. Seniors Mike Crimmins, Matt Sengsourinh, and Brian Haran anchor the front while Dolan Jablonski and junior John Fales look to fill in the gaps. At 6-5, senior Jason Weber returns at tight end, where his size will allow him to be an effective run-blocker as well as a prime target in the passing attack. Last season, Weber caught 11 passes for 152 yards. Junior Kevin McNulty, who had six receptions for 86 yards and a score, will add some experience as well.
Last season, the play of junior WR Nick Bublavi was recognized as he was named a Don Hansen All American Third Team selection after being fifth in the country in receiving yards (120.6 ypg) and leading the ODAC in scoring (8.4 ppg). Bublavi led the team in receptions (62) and yards (1,206) including two three-touchdown performances against Washington & Lee and Emory & Henry. He'll be joined by the Pat Truxillo who returns to the Cardinals after leading CUA in receiving yards (619) and touchdowns (7) as a sophomore in 2001.
On defense, the secondary stands as the most experienced, returning three starters in senior Justin Kelly, and juniors Jamil Audi and Ryan Parrish. Kelly led the squad with five interceptions and was third on the team in tackles with 55 while adding nine tackles for losses and two sacks. Parrish added 37 stops with a fumble recovery. Junior Sean Heenan started three games for Audi, finishing with 32 tackles and an interception. Juniors Dave Vernacchio and John Pizio will compete for playing time.
With two of the three linebacker spots vacated to graduation, junior Bobby Stutz returns after posting 42 tackles, nine for losses with two sacks and an interception. Senior John Blattner and junior Dave Beety also saw significant playing time last year. Juniors Shawn Maguire and Brendan Nugent should see action on the field.
Graduation also hit the defensive line as Catholic will look to replace three starters. Senior Jeff McMahon returns as seniors Dan Zane, Greg Mann, and Brendan Foley look to work into a starting spot. Sophomore Gary Kuchera and Aaron Dada, a transfer from Division I-AA Lehigh, also hopes to add into the mix.
Sophomore punter Pete Welsh returns as he averaged 32.1 yards a kick as 12 punts were inside the 20. Kicker Chris Waechter handles the kicking duties. The sophomore was 2-of-6 on field goals a year ago and 21-of-30 on extra points.