Joel Dixxon, Brad Peterson, Cody Paulay-Simmons and Solomon Worthey preview the upcoming season for the Bison.
WASHINGTON – A young and inexperienced Gallaudet University football team took its hits in 2016 as they were forced to learn on the fly. That experience will prove to be invaluable for the Bison this season as Gallaudet returns 42 players from last year and will enter the new season with 76 players donning the buff and blue.
GU's coaching staff hit the ground running this past off-season during the recruiting cycle and mined out some talent in the southeast region of the country as the Bison got faster and stronger in the process. A solid off-season by the players and one of the best fall training camps, in recent memory, has produced a team that has tremendous chemistry and a lot to prove.
Gallaudet finished last year 2-8 and 1-6 in conference play. Two of GU's losses were by three or fewer points and two other setbacks were two-score games. If the Bison can flip those outcomes this season, GU can break even or finish with a winning record. The program continues to build towards returning to its conference championship form of 2013 and will look for this year's recruiting class and returning veterans to help push GU in the right direction in 2017.
With the new season on the horizon here is a breakdown of the 2017 GU football team.
ECFC Record: 1-6
Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.), So., Quarterback
Benton gained a lot of experience and confidence under center for GU last season. He completed 45 of 108 passes for 573 yards and four touchdowns in nine starts. With another year under his belt look for Benton to help the Bison offense take the next step in 2017.
Drew Faulkner (Niceville, Fla.), Jr., Offensive Line
Faulkner along with Brad Peterson are two pillars on the Bison offensive line. The rising junior was an ECFC honorable mention selection last season as Gallaudet's starting center. GU rushed for over 300 yards in back-to-back games last year.
Dylan Mento (Atco, N.J.), Jr., Wide Receiver
Mento was a ECFC honorable mention selection last year after he earned three conference play of the week honors on three different touchdown passes from Benton. He was fifth in the conference for receiving touchdowns (four).
Brad Peterson (Avalon, Pa.), Jr., Offensive Line
Peterson was an anchor on the Bison offensive line last season. His skills landed him on the ECFC Second Team Offense as he helped Gallaudet rush for 1,280 yards on 454 carries and eight touchdowns.
L.J. Watson (Fayetteville, N.C.), Jr., Wide Receiver
Watson is Gallaudet's other deep threat to go with Mento on the outside. He started all 10 games last year and made 14 catches for 255 yards and one touchdown.
Louie Akuffo (Bowie, Md.), Jr., Linebacker
Akuffo moves up from defensive back to linebacker in 2017. He was fourth on the team with 47 tackles last season with 31 solo tackles. Look for Akuffo and Mason Gooch to lead the linebacking crew this season.
Jamie Cumberbatch (Waldorf, Md.), Jr., Defensive Back
Cumberbatch saw action in eight games last season where he made 34 tackles (27 solo), intercepted one pass, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. His experience and size will help GU in the secondary.
Mason Gooch (Mount Sterling, Ky.), So., Linebacker
Gooch had a tremendous freshman season where he was fifth on the team with 44 tackles (23 solo), one sack, one interception and two pass break ups in 10 games (five starts). He enters the season strongers and focused for a breakout season.
Montray Roberts (Dallas, Texas), Sr., Defensive Back
Roberts will help guide the secondary where he was one of GU's top cover guys last season. He led the team with three blocks, passes defended (six) and pass break ups (four). Roberts was second on the team with two interceptions to go with 25 tackles (19 solo). He will aim to leave it all on the field in his senior season.
Solomon Worthey (Edgewater, Md.), Jr., Defensive Line
Worthey is the only returning all-conference player for Gallaudet on defense. The two-time All-ECFC honoree will anchor the Bison on defense in 2017. He was eighth in the conference in sacks (four) and sack yards (28) last season.
Jake Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.), So., Quarterback
Bonheyo returns to the football team after taking a season off last year. The Bison are excited for what Bonheyo could do under center while helping the offense this season. He has the ability to air things out or run the ball himself in GU's new offense.
Darrion Green (DeSoto, Texas), Fr., Slot
Green is a quick and shifty running back that was heavily recruited in his home state of Texas. Green has good hands and will be able to make defenders miss with his speed.
Demontrai Lewis (Trinity, Texas), Jr., Defensive Line
Lewis is a transfer from Kilgore College in Longview, Texas. The 6-foot-3 lineman will wreak havoc on opposing offenses with his 255-pound frame as he runs sideline-to-sideline tracking down running backs or quarterbacks.
"We completed one of our best preseason fall camps since I have been here. Our big recruiting class has meshed well with our returners and our team chemistry is at an all-time high. I am proud of how the team treated the off-season and their dedication in camp. This team has a lot to prove." Chuck Goldstein, Gallaudet University football head coach
Season Opener: at Shenandoah University (Sat., Sept. 2) 7 p.m.
Home Opener: vs. Greensboro College (Sat., Sept. 9) 1 p.m.
Conference Opener: at Mount Ida College (Sat., Sept. 30) Noon
Homecoming/Conference Champs: vs. Husson University (Sat., Oct. 21) 1 p.m.
Senior Day/Last Home Game: vs. Dean College (Sat., Oct. 28) Noon
Gallaudet has a 10-game slate in 2017 with five home games at Hotchkiss Field. The Bison will play three non-conference games to begin the season before a bye week. GU ends the month of September with first conference game of the season on the road at Mount Ida College on Sept. 30. The month of October begins at home against Anna Maria (Oct. 7) before a road trip to Alfred State (Oct. 14) before two straight home games to end the month of October. GU will close out the regular-season on the road in November with two ECFC games.