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RB Jake Perskie, who scored three TDs last year, will back up Stephen Faulk this season. [Will Burhop/DP File Photo]

The 2002 Quakers have something to prove after being ranked fourth in the Ancient Eight preseason media poll. The Quakers finished 8-1 last season, good for second in the Ivies, but questions remain after the team graduated 22 seniors.

Most notable is the loss of the school's all-time rushing and passing leaders tandem of Kris Ryan and Gavin Hoffman. From the nation's top rushing defense last season, the Red and Blue graduated their entire interior line, a starting linebacker and both starting safeties. The ability of the new lineup to gel will dictate the team's success this season.


Gavin Hoffman, who rewrote every major Penn passing record in his three-year career, leaves the offense with two relatively unproven quarterbacks.

Six-foot senior Mike Mitchell has not taken a snap since he backed up Hoffman two seasons ago, but he will be under center when the season kicks off. Mitchell was 15 of 23 for 193 yards as Hoffman's backup in 2000.

The other experienced signal-caller on the roster is sophomore Jack Phillips. Phillips gained experience backing up Hoffman as a true freshman in 2001 and was 5 of 10 with one touchdown in limited duty.

Offensive Line:

The Red and Blue front five will be counted on to protect the new-look backfield. Injuries last season gave the Quakers a chance to develop depth on the line, but the team graduated both starting tackles. Jeff Hatch, a two-year starter at tackle, anchored the line last season and became a third-round draft pick of the New York Giants.

Senior Matt Dukes was a second team All-Ivy center two season ago, but went down for the season after the second game of 2001. He returns as co-captain and starting center this season.

Senior Dylan D'Ascendis and junior Mike Powers were thrust into duty after injuries to Dukes and starting guards Sam Gottesman and Randy Parker. D'Ascendis will return as a starter at guard, and Powers will be counted upon to provide depth on the line.

Juniors Chris Clark, Chris Kupchik and Ben Noll, all of whom are experienced and weigh in at 285 or above, will join the starting line to open the season. Clark will move to the interior of the line at guard, while Kupchik and Noll will replace the departed starting tackles.

Juniors Chris McGrady and Kevin Doyle and sophomore Pat O'Donnell will compete for playing time as reserves.


For the first time since 1999, Penn will open a season without all-time leading rusher Kris Ryan carrying the ball. The graduation of the workhorse back, who accumulated 3,317 yards in his storied career, leaves the Quakers with a running back committee.

All-Ivy defensive back Stephen Faulk will move to offense as the Red and Blue's feature back. Faulk's speed and elusiveness have made him the team's top kick returner the past two seasons, and this season Quaker fans will get a chance to see what Faulk can do with the ball in his hands on offense.

Faulk will be joined in the rotation by two experienced ballcarriers in senior Todd Okolovitch and junior Jake Perskie. Okolovitch had his 2001 season ended prematurely by injuries, but was third on the team with 233 rushing yards in 2000.

Perskie was Ryan's principle understudy last season in Okolovitch's absence, gaining 224 yards and finding paydirt three times.


The Quakers will no longer have first-team All-Ivy fullback Adam Keslosky opening holes for its tailbacks. Junior Michael Kapusta, a 225 pounder who logged one carry and one reception as Keslosky's backup, inherits the starting role.

Sophomores Kevin DeSmedt and Scott Potteiger will compete for the backup blocking back position.

Wide Receivers:

Senior Rob Milanese, part of last season's "Big Three" with Hoffman and Ryan, is now Penn's only grizzled veteran at the skill positions. Milanese, who has logged 2,297 career receiving yards, figures to become the school's all-time leading receiver early this season.

Senior Erik Bolinder, who was out all of last year with an injury, is penciled in to start for the first time in his career opposite Milanese. Juniors Joe Phillips and Jonathan Robinson, who totaled 19 and 11 catches respectively, and six-foot-three sophomore Daniel Castles will round out the passing attack.

Tight Ends:

Senior Matt Michaleski will be one of the five returning starters for the Penn offense. As a junior, he hauled in seven passes for 120 yards and an impressive 17.1 yards per catch average.

Fellow senior Brian Adams was used mostly in a blocking capacity last season, but made his opportunities count, recording a touchdown in two receptions.

Defensive Line:

The graduation of Penn's interior line core, Ed and John Galan and Steve Moroney, leaves the nation's top rushing defense with several question marks. The Galan brothers were both named first-team All-Ivy, and John Galan terrorized opposing quarterbacks with seven sacks.

Senior Ryan Strahlendorff notched two sacks last season and is the most experienced interior candidate. He will inherit the nose guard position.

Senior Kyle Chaffin contributed every way possible last season, blocking two kicks, recovering a fumble and collecting half of a sack. Senior Freddy Morowitz is the other returning interior lineman with 2001 experience and will join Chaffin as a starting tackle.

Senior defensive end Chris Pennington had an outstanding 7.5 sack season last year, good for second in the Ivies. His standout first-team All-Ivy campaign included 37 tackles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a safety.

Andrew Altman, a senior, logged time in every game last season and had eight tackles and a sack in 2001. He will provide experience opposite Pennington. Sophomores Robert Fallon and Ric San Doval, who saw time at linebacker last season, will also see time at end.


The linebacker position will be counted upon as the backbone of the Quakers' fearsome run defense. The graduation of co-captain Dan Morris will not prevent the unit from again being one of the best in the Ivies.

Senior Travis Belden, twice Penn's defensive Most Valuable Player, recorded 42 tackles and two sacks last year. Senior Steve Lhotak, who backed up Morris last season, will step into a starting role. He led the team with 47 tackles, recorded 4.5 sacks and earned second team All-Ivy recognition.

Junior Chris Dougherty and sophomore Luke Hadden each recorded one tackle in relief of the starters last season and will provide depth.


The Red and Blue secondary has been in a state of flux this offseason with the graduation of starting safeties D.L. Bouldrick and Kunle Williams, and with the move of Faulk from corner to running back.

The only returning starter in the secondary is Fred Plaza, who has amassed 90 tackles and four interceptions in his three seasons. The senior also doubles as a kick returner.

The emergence of sophomore Duvol Thompson last year will allow the team to shift Faulk to offense. Thompson showed a nose for the ball as a freshman, intercepting two passes for the team lead.

Junior Patrick McManus, who picked off a pass last season, and sophomore Dondi Darby, a former running back, will compete for time at corner. Junior Rudy Brown, the team's Defensive Rookie of the Year, is in the mix at corner but had concussion problems in the preseason.

Six-foot-one, 210 pound senior Vince Alexander, a former linebacker, earned All-Ivy recognition as the team's nickel back last season. This year he is the team's most experienced safety and will be heavily relied upon to build on his 30 tackle, 3.5 sack, 1 interception performance.

Junior Kevin Stefanski intercepted a pass and made two stops in the 2001 season opener before going down with a season-ending injury. He was the Quakers' Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000.

Sophomores Seth Fisher and Brian Arguello have worked their way onto the depth chart at safety this season. Arguello appeared as a place kicker last season.

Special Teams:

The graduation of Penn's all-time punting leader Ryan Lazzeri leaves Penn without a returning punter for the first time in three seasons. Sophomore Josh Appell, who did not make an appearance in 2001, is the favorite to punt in 2002.

Three kickers shared the placekicking duties in 2001 as the Quakers searched for a replacement for Penn's all-time scoring leader, Jason Feinberg. Senior Roman Galas attempted five of Penn's twelve field goals last season, connecting on one. Galas was also 20 of 21 on extra points and booted 13 touchbacks as the Red and Blue kickoff specialist.

Also in the 2001 mix were junior Peter Veldman and sophomore Arguello. Veldman was successful on 2 of 3 field goals and made all five of his PATs, while Arguello made one field goal and was perfect on nine PATs.

Faulk, whose speed will be an asset on offense this season, also returns as Penn's primary kick returner. The Quakers' Special Teams Award winner has racked up 812 kickoff return yards in the past two seasons and will line up with former cornerback partner Plaza on kickoffs.

Wide receiver Phillips returned punts in each of his first two seasons for the Red and Blue and will be counted on in that capacity again this year. His 7.7 yards per return average last season was third best in the Ancient Eight.

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