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Sprint football takes on Navy Friday night. Penn: 4 Todd Busler Navy: Credit: Alex Ball

Last season, the sprint football team engineered the top offense in its league, saw two different players shatter program records and capped off the season with a 91-13 thrashing, for lack of a better word, of Princeton.

As hard as it may be to believe, the Quakers may actually be positioned for an even more historic run in 2010 ­— one that includes a shot at the league title.

For anyone even vaguely familiar with the Collegiate Sprint Football League, it should come as no surprise that the road to the title will go through Navy. The Midshipmen have not lost a single game since the 2006 season and are poised to win their 35th CSFL title.

“The whole league is kind of chasing after Navy right now,” Penn head coach Bill Wagner said. “To beat Navy, you certainly need to have a good schedule, a lot of depth and you’ve gotta be healthy,” Wagner noted, also stressing the need to “control the football” and “have a very, very strong kicking game.”

And while that may seem a tall order most years, the Quakers find themselves in a prime position.

“We feel like we’re going to be restocked and better than we were last year, and we feel like they’re a step back from last year,” said junior quarterback Todd Busler. “This is going to be the best shot we have to beat them … It’s a do-or-die game for us.”

Aiding Penn is a depth of talent on the current roster. The squad returns 13 players who received all-CSFL honors last year, including Busler. He passed for a program-best 1,682 yards and broke the single-game program record for passing yards (429, vs. Army).

Penn also returns senior running back Mike Bagnoli, the league’s top rusher in ‘09, and sophomore wideout Whit Shaw, who set the Penn record for most receiving yards in a season (886).

With other teams now keying on the likes of Shaw and Bagnoli, both Busler and Wagner believe other players will step up, including senior wideout Dave Hupsher and freshman receiver Fred Ordonez.

“I think the attack will be more balanced,” Wagner said. Instead of emphasizing personal statistics, he’s looking at total production.

Wagner believes that the most room for improvement is on the defensive side. But there too, Penn looks to have its bases covered.

Penn hired and welcomed back defensive coordinator John Amendt, who coached alongside Wagner for 11 seasons, during which the team won three titles. After spending six seasons at Widener, Amendt’s return has reinvigorated the Quakers’ defense.

“Our defense is a little more complicated this year, a little more aggressive, more blitzing,” senior captain Zak Klinvex said.

Further propelling Penn is what Wagner calls a “favorable” schedule. Penn will first travel to Princeton and then host the CSFL’s newest member, Post University, at Franklin Field. That opening slate essentially translates to two tune-up games.

Then, Penn will get a crack at Navy on October 2. Because of the matchup’s early placement in the schedule, the Quakers will figure to be healthy, as opposed to last season when an injury-plagued squad lost to Navy 37-11 in the penultimate game of the year.

No matter how healthy or well-rested Penn is for Navy, the contest will likely come down to a dogfight.

“They’re a different breed of kid,” Klinvex said. “They’re just monsters.”

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