While Mike Beamish may have graced the gridiron at Franklin Field last Saturday, Penn sprint football will have to adjust to life without its former star and captain this season.
Beamish participated for the fifth time in the program’s annual Alumni Game last weekend, but not as a member of the Quakers’ current team. Instead, he played for his first time as an alumnus himself.
The former running back and punter, who graduated from Penn last May, has left a giant hole in the Red and Blue’s offense, on special teams and in the locker room. Beamish finished third all-time in Penn history in rushing yards, accumulating 2,494 yards on the ground over his four years with the Quakers, helping guide the team to a 13-13 record over that span.
He was also awarded first team All-CSFL honors as a running back in all four seasons under coach Bill Wagner.
While it will be nearly impossible to replace the production that Beamish provided, the team has begun to assemble a young core to do just that.
“We’re very fortunate to be getting two outstanding high school football players to come to Penn,” Wagner said of freshman running backs Max Jones and Jake Klaus.
Wagner plans to use the duo as his primary weapon in the Quakers’ running game this season, and will supplement them with junior Rob Diorio, who plays both running back and safety for Penn.
Despite their inexperience at the collegiate level, Wagner believes that Jones and Klaus are ready to make an impact immediately.
“They can really play,” he said. “Both of them have outstanding speed, and we needed to find two running backs to replace Beamish. I think these kids will be able to do that.”
But the rookies certainly have their work cut out for them in replacing a Penn sprint football legend.
“I’m not really focused on that,” said Klaus of the pressure to fill Beamish’s shoes. “I’m just trying to come to practice and do everything I can to get better every day.”
“I think if it were just me or just Jake, it would be tougher,” Jones added. “But there’s less pressure since we’re doing this together.”
Beamish’s graduation also created a vacancy on special teams, as the Clarks Summit, Pa., native was also named second team All-CSFL three of his four years as Penn’s punter. Following Beamish’s departure, Wagner plans to have senior linebacker Derek Shnider and junior quarterback Mike McCurdy — whom Wagner calls a “hidden gem of multi-talents” — share punting duties.
“McCurdy can really punt the ball,” Wagner said.
The lack of Beamish’s presence, however, has been perhaps felt most in the locker room. The running back served as the Quakers’ captain during his junior and senior seasons, providing steady leadership both on and off the field.
However, Wagner believes this is a void that the team will manage to fill as well this fall.
“I think we have strong leadership on this team,” he noted.
Such leadership has come primarily from the squad’s captains — McCurdy, Diorio, junior defensive lineman Pat Boyle, senior linebacker Stu Hegelson and senior wide receiver Brendan Dale. This quintet already has plenty of experience guiding the Red and Blue, as it was the captains’ responsibility to direct the team’s practices during the spring offseason.
“They could run the practice right now,” Wagner said. “They’re that good.”
So while they may still be in the process of transitioning out of the Mike Beamish era, the Quakers appears well-equipped to fill all aspects of the void he created.
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