CASTLETON, Vt. – After exploding onto the scene in just their second season of existence, the Castleton State College football team is hoping to continue its progress toward playing in the postseason. Last year the Spartans finished tied for second place in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) posting an impressive 5-4, 5-2 mark. Among the 11 coaches on Head Coach Marc Klatt’s staff, six are new faces and two of the returners will be in new positions, including Klatt who was elevated to head coach after spending the first two seasons as defensive coordinator. Klatt maintains his defensive coordinator status and welcomes Jason Challeen as the new offensive coordinator, while Steve Wolf remains intact as the special teams coordinator. In a recent interview with the Rutland Herald Klatt lauded the skills of his new offensive staff “Jason Challeen, John Barber, Bo McDougall and Brad Becque are as good of offensive guys as there are in the ECFC,” Klatt said.
Perhaps taken for granted by many a season ago, Castleton will not be sneaking up on anyone this year and will look to its depth and experience as a strength. The Spartans return 61 letter-winners from last season, including 18 starters.
Castleton’s offense begins with junior quarterback, and 2010 ECFC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Shane Borzowski (Rensselaer, N.Y.). In addition to his conference honors, Brozowski became the first player in Castleton’s brief history to earn a spot on DII/DIII All-New England Team selected by the New England Football Writers. Brozowski wrote, and re-wrote the Castleton and ECFC Passing Record books, ranking second in the nation in total passing yards (3,043) and third in passing yards per game (338.1). His 28 total touchdowns (16 throwing, 12 rushing) led the ECFC and ranked him 13th in the country in total points accounted for per game (18.67). Already this season, Brozowski has been named to a pair of preseason All-American lists, earning honorable mention to the 2011 Consensus Draft Services (CDS) Division III Preseason All-American Team, as well as the Beyond Sports Network 2011 Preseason All-American Second Team. Ernie Bragg (Williston, Vt.) and Greg Vreeland (Becket, Mass.) provide depth as capable backups to Brozowski.
The offense may start with Brozowski, but it certainly does not end there as Castleton returns nine starters including all but one offensive lineman. “The offensive line will certainly be a strength this season.” Klatt said. Anchoring the offensive line at left tackle will be senior captain, and 2010 ECFC All-Conference First-Teamer Phil Hall (East Montpelier, Vt.). Alongside Hall will be Tom Manley (Londonderry, N.H.) and Chris Kiernan (Rutland, Vt.) both of whom garnered All-ECFC Honorable Mention a season ago. Ron Daigle (Granville, N.Y.) also returns to the line, while 6-foot-6-inch freshman Russ Koss (Wall, N.J.) appears to have the early edge in camp for the final spot.
Also returning for the Spartans is the entire starting backfield in junior Tyler Carpenter (Fort Edward, N.Y.) and sophomore Mick Wong (Hartford, Vt.). Carpenter, an All-ECFC Second Teamer a season ago is Castleton’s all-time leading rusher, with a combination of power and speed that makes him very difficult to game-plan against. While just 5-foot-6-inches in height, Wong is anything but easy to take down. Last season as a freshman he was featured prominently in the Spartan run and passing game, shedding tacklers and turning would-be losses into large gains. Twice Wong broke runs for 50 yards last season, setting new Castleton marks.
A host of wide receivers also return to aid the Castleton aerial attack, including Brandon Boyle (Springfield, Vt.), Mike Patterson (Jackson, N.J.) and Zach Howe (Bellows Falls, Vt.). As freshmen Boyle and Patterson both garnered weekly honors from the conference, and Howe has showed great promise throughout camp in his second season. Expected to contribute to the receivers immediately this season is freshman Kevin Alberque (Ridgefield Park, N.J.), who has been impressive during camp and has quickly picked up the offensive system. Castleton is also deep at the tight end position, led by All-ECFC Second-Teamer, Adam Farmer (South Burlington, Vt.) who has posted 40 receptions in two seasons for over 500 yards.
Much like the offense, Castleton’s main strength on defense appears to be experience and depth. The Spartans return nine starters, including linebackers Dustin Young (Dunnellon, Fla.), Josh Osborne (Island Heights, N.J.), Ethan Macura (Granville, N.Y.) and Chris Mooney (Hazlet, N.J.). Young is the undisputed leader of the group, posting a Castleton-record 77 tackles in each of his first two seasons and earning ECFC Honorable Mention. Macura also earned honorable mention last season and Mooney returns from injury looking to continue his torrid pace from a season ago. In just three games Mooney was involved in 29 tackles, leading the ECFC in tackles per game before going down for the season. Marco Ferraro (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) will provide an instant boost after missing the entire season last year, and the Spartans are hoping for an impact from first-year player Todd Carr (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) as well.
Cameron Laundry (Hartford, Vt.) returns to lead the Spartan defensive line in his third season. Through 16 games Laundry has posted five-and-a-half sacks along with 58 tackles, providing speed and power off the defensive edge.
The Spartan secondary will once again be led by Brandon Bergeron (Hartford, Vt.) and Cody TanCreti (Hartland, Vt.). Bergeron set a Castleton record with 51 unassisted tackles last season, earning the team’s defensive player of the year award. TanCreti, the 2009 recipient of the same award has earned All-ECFC Honorable Mention in each of his first two seasons.
The Special Teams
Kicker Luis Robitaille (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) returns to lead the Castleton kicking game after posting two all-conference seasons thus far. Robitaille has connected on 59-of-62 point after tries, and has booted seven field goals in two seasons, including a Castleton-record 42-yarder in 2009. Looking to push Robitaille will be incoming freshmen Stew Quinn (Newton, N.J.) and Chris Swahn (Rutland, Vt.). Both have showed promise early on in both kicking and punting, and will add yet more depth among the ranks. Vince Barber (Stillwater, N.Y.) will handle much of the return duties after averaging 18 yards per kick return and 5.8 yards per punt return last season.
Castleton opens its season on the road with a pair of non-conference contests against Plymouth State and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Castleton fell to Plymouth State 16-14 last season, and has yet to play RPI in its brief history. The game versus the Engineers will be the first Spartan night game, scheduled for Saturday, September 17 at 6 p.m. Other highlights of the schedule include the home opener on September 24 versus ECFC foe, Anna Maria. The game is part of homecoming/alumni weekend at Castleton with a 1 p.m. kick-off. October 8 the Spartans welcome Norwich for an ECFC showdown with the “Old Sap Bucket Trophy” on the line in the third annual “Battle for the Bucket.”