September 4, 2007

Football Hosts Chadron State In Home Opener

Sept. 4, 2007

Game Notes - Chadron State
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Game #2

Chadron State (2-0) at Northern Colorado (0-1)

Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007 • 1:05 p.m. MDT

Nottingham Field (8,500) • Greeley, Colorado • Friends & Family Weekend


Series Record: Northern Colorado, 5-2

Last Meeting: Nov. 9 1963, NC 41-0


        Northern Colorado: Scott Downing (Sterling College, 1979)

                Record at Northern Colorado: 1-11 (2nd Year)

                Career Record: 14-15-1 (4th Year)

                Record vs Chadron State: 0-0

        Chadron State: Bill O'Boyle (Western Illinois, 1987)

                Record at Chadron State: 18-7 (3rd Year)

                Career Record: Same

                Record vs Northern Colorado: 0-0


Northern Colorado Radio Network:

        Troy Coverdale, play-by-play

                Chris Ott, color analyst


Short Stop At Home

     Northern Colorado, 0-1 on the year, makes its home opener on Saturday against Division II Chadron State for Friends and Family Weekend. The Bears are home this weekend, then hit the road again for four straight road games before returning to the friendly confines of Nottingham Field again on Oct. 13 for Homecoming.

     The Bears began playing at their current home, Nottingham Field in 1995, and are 9-3 in season openers. All-time, NC is 49-32-4 in home openers since Jackson Field (current home of Bears' soccer) opened in 1926.


Series Record

     This will be the eighth meeting between Northern Colorado and Chadron State. The two teams first met in 1926 and have not played since the 1963 season, a layoff of 44 years. The Bears lead the series 5-2 and are 3-1 in Greeley. Four of the seven match-ups have been shutouts, with two for each team. This will be the first of three games for Chadron State in the state of Colorado this season and the first of six against Colo. schools.


                1926: W, 20-3 • Greeley                                              1942: L, 0-6 • Greeley

                1927: L, 0-28 • Chadron                                               1946: W, 46-8 • Chadron

                1935: W, 12-0 • Greeley                                              1963: W, 41-0 • Greeley

                1936: W, 33-13 • Chadron


The Chadron State Connection

     Chadron State assistant coach Jared Jackson played football for Northern Colorado from 1998-2002 and was on the team two seasons with Bears' recruiting coordinator Keith Grable. With 19 players on the Chadron State roster, there was undoubtedly some that played with current Bear players. Both Jed Herblan and Tim Hiett for the Eagles played with Darren Grenemeyer at Arvada West, while Barton Cron and Shane Dennehy both went to Green Mountain with Bears' tight end Andrew Emmerling and NC's Lamont Bryant and Cassity Young from Chadron played at Overland.


2007 Chadron State Schedule

Aug. 25     at Washburn                                W, 34-24

Sept. 1      WAYNE STATE                          W, 55-14

Sept. 8     at Northern Colorado                1:05 p.m.

Sept. 22    at Colorado School of Mines               Noon

Sept. 29    NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS     1:30 p.m.

Oct. 6       at Western New Mexico                    Noon

Oct. 13      FORT LEWIS                                   Noon

Oct. 20      at Nebraska-Kearney                   7:05 p.m.

Oct. 27      MESA STATE                                 Noon

Nov. 3      at Western State                                Noon

Nov. 10    ADAMS STATE                               Noon


Proud To Wear Pink

     The home opener against Chadron State on Sept. 8 has been designated "Breast Cancer Awareness" day at Nottingham Field. The entire coaching staff will wear pink shirts helping to raise awareness for a disease that affects millions. It is estimated that 178,480 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2007 alone.


All New Conference Call

     For the first time in Big Sky Conference history, the league will sponsor a weekly conference call with the nine head coaches. The call will take place on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon (Mountain) beginning Sept. 5. Northern Colorado head coach Scott Downing will fill the fifth time slot from 10:02 to 10:10.


10:30-10:38                John Zamberlin, Idaho State         11:10-11:18                Jerome Souers, Northern Arizona

10:38-10:46                Bobby Hauck, Montana              11:18-11:26                Paul Wulff, Eastern Washington

10:46-10:54                Ron McBride, Weber State          11:26-11:34                Marshall Sperbeck, Sacramento St.

10:54-11:02                Rob Ash, Montana State              11:34-11:42                Jerry Glanville, Portland State

11:02-11:10                Scott Downing, No. Colorado  11:42-noon (if needed) Commissioner Fullerton


Not Exactly A Walk In The Park

     Hawai'i was the first of eight 2007 opponents that posted winning records in 2006. The Warriors were 11-3 last year and won the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. The Bears also face Division II semifinalist Chadron State  (12-1) and FCS playoff teams Montana (12-2) and Montana State (8-5). Additionally, the Bears will play San Diego (11-1), Northern Arizona (6-4), Cal Poly (7-4) and Portland State (7-4) which posted winning records.


Youth Playing A Part

     On the opening kick-off against Hawai'i, Northern Colorado had six players on the field with no previous collegiate playing experience: redshirt freshman kicker Zak Bigelow, true freshman running back Dan Freismuth, true freshman defensive tackle Amal Gumbs, true freshman defensive back Max Hewitt, junior defensive back (and baseball player) Trey Keene and redshirt freshman linebacker Matt King.


Starting On The Right Foot

     Senior wide receiver Andy Birkel's 121 kickoff return yards against the Warriors on Saturday ranks just outside the school's top 10 list for a single game. In 10th on the chart is 123 yards by Johnny Watkines against North Dakota State in 1984. Birkel also passed the 1,000-yard barrier for career all-purpose yards during the game and now has 1,083 in just 12 games with the Bears.


He Could Be Famous

     Former Northern Colorado football player Jason Clementi (1990-94) had both athletic and musical talent while playing for the Bears and he has capitalized on the latter of the two after finishing his degree. Clementi is now lead singer of the country band "The Lucky Bucks" which opened the other night for both Garry Allan and Dierks Bentley.


That's A Lot Of People

     At Saturday's game, there was a reported attendance of 40,252 at Hawai'i. That's more than the total number of people who saw the Bears in action in all five road games last season, as the total attendance of last year's road contests was recorded as 39,207.


New Look Bears

     Of the 51 student-athletes who saw action in the game at Hawai'i, 22 of them were playing in their first game for the Bears, while seven of the 24 starters were making their first start for Northern Colorado in the contest.


The Cristian Crusades

     Junior linebacker Cristian Sarmento notched the 100th tackle of his career at the University of Hawai'i and now has 107 in 23 games with the Bears. He and senior defensive back D.J. Craft tied for the team honors with eight tackles in the opening game of the season.


In Tandem

     Both senior quarterback Dominic Breazeale and junior Mike Vlahogeorge saw action in each of the four quarters of the opening contest. Breazeale started the game and completed nine of 16 passes with one interception for 62 yards and a 76.30 passing efficiency, while Vlahogeorge was nine for 13 for 70 yards and a 114.46 passing efficiency. The duo combined to throw for 132 yards (18-for-29) and a 93.41 efficiency. The 18 passes went to eight different receivers with the favorite target being senior Andy Birkel, who caught six. Both Ryan Chesla and Cory Fauver each caught three, while Clint Wright grabbed two.


Ahoy, Captain

     In a vote by the players, Northern Colorado named three defensive players and one offensive player as their captains for 2007. Senior defensive back Aaron Henderson, junior linebacker Joe Kenney and senior nose guard Vinny Pallone represent the defense, while senior center Jake Gable represents the offense.


Trying For Two

     Junior defensive back Trey Keene is a rarity among Division I student-athletes in that he is playing two sports for the Bears. Keene is also a member of the NC baseball team, where last season he played in 32 of the team's 51 games hitting .202.


Not Probable

     Senior defensive back Aaron Henderson looks like he will not return to the field for action in his senior season. Henderson underwent surgery on his knee and will likely miss the entire season.


Colorado's Team

     There are 90 players on the 2007 roster and 70 of them attended high school in Colorado. California and Oklahoma both have four players representing those states for the next most on the roster. There are also two players each hailing from Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.


Chart Climbing

     Senior punter Rafael Mendoza enters the season ranked sixth on the school's career records list with an average of 39.4 yards per kick... Aaron Henderson is just out of the top 10 in several career categories, including punt return yards (24 ret, 245 yards), kickoff return yards (24, 437) and pass interceptions (eight)... Andy Birkel is currently tied for 12th in school history with 10 receiving touchdowns... Vinny Pallone has played and started in all 22 games of his career, the only senior to play and start in every game of his career (with multiple seasons at Northern Colorado).


Now Eligible

     The Northern Colorado football team is now eligible to compete in postseason play in 2007 after successfully making the transition to Division I. This year marks the first year the Bears are also eligible to win the Big Sky Conference Championship, though the Bears are looking to start with the first win over a Big Sky opponent.


Fountain Of Youth

     The Northern Colorado roster, which consists of 90 players, has 63 players that are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores on it. There are 11 seniors on the roster, eight of which have been with the team throughout their entire careers.


True Freshmen:          25

Redshirt Freshmen:     19

Sophomores:             19

Juniors:                     16

Seniors:                    11


Hitting The Books

     Senior defensive back Aaron Henderson has already received his undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado and is spending his fifth year with the Bears as a graduate student. Henderson received his degree in psychology and was awarded the Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Trophy Award, given for academic excellence among young African-American males.


All In The Family

     The Bears sport two pair of brothers currently on the roster in Matt (Fr-LB) and Mike (Jr-QB) Vlahogeorge, and Justin (So-RB) and Korey (So-DB) Askew but there are several other members of the team who had brothers on previous year's teams. Senior linebacker Asa Matthew's brother Adam played for the Bears from 1999-2003, while senior nose guard Vinny Pallone's brother Dominic played for the Bears from 1996-00.


New Coaches

     During the off season, head coach Scott Downing added five new coaches to his staff. Dan Daniel, Dennis Darnell, Pete Darnell, Jordan Fenner and Kendrick Shaver all joined the Bears as coaches, while Justin Jantz was added to the team as the director of football operations.

     Daniel will serve as a defensive assistant coach. He most recently spent time as the defensive coordinator of the Hamburg Sea Devils, which won the World Bowl over Frankfurt in the NFL Europe Championship.

     Dennis Darnell was named the team's offensive coordinator and brings over 20 years of coaching experience to the table, including head coaching stints at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma and Missouri Western State and Republic High School and Sullivan High School, both in Missouri.

     Pete Darnell will handle the quarterback coaching duties for the Bears. He joins the staff from Tarleton State, where he coached the wide receivers for six months.

     Fenner is in charge of the wide receivers and spent last season at Southern Oregon University, where he worked primarily with the tight ends and special teams.

     Shaver will be responsible for the secondary after handling the same duties last year at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He also was the recruiting coordinator and monitored the academics at Northeastern.