Gallaudet could turn ECFC upside down

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Todd Bonheyo has been running Gallaudet's option offense with a great deal of success as a freshman.
Gallaudet athletics photo

Chuck Goldstein was new on the Gallaudet staff and when they were playing Hiram. He was upset with the way things were going on the field and went all Bobby Knight, throwing a chair at halftime. Only one kid turned around.

"I said, 'this is not going to work,' " Goldstein said.

Now, Goldstein is the head coach at the school regarded as the world leader in education and career development for deaf and hard of hearing students.

The Bison are playing in a league that has been turned upside down the last two weeks. Defending champion Norwich and SUNY-Maritime were the favorites to win the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference before the season began. Both are 0-1. Martime got beat by Castleton State two weeks ago and this past week Mount Ida stunned Norwich 36-32.

"It might be a year where three or four teams can win a championship," Castleton coach Marc Klatt said.

At least. You can't cross Norwich and Maritime off the list of contenders off the one loss. Certainly, Ida and Castleton are in the picture and people are impressed with the athleticism of a Becker team that is 1-0 in the ECFC after whipping Husson 34-7 on Saturday.

The team that might not be on the radar of the ECFC fandom is Gallaudet. That is only because the Bison play on the southern tip of the league, far away from the rest of their league brethren located throughout the Northeast. But you can be certain the coaches are well aware of the team that sits in Washington, D.C.

How could they not be? They opened by playing Otterbein tough, losing 15-0. Otterbein, in the highly respected Ohio Athletic Conference, is now 4-0. Then, Gallaudet reeled off three straight victories by big margins. They beat Catholic and Apprentice and then Saturday defeated Anna Maria 52-24 to get the ECFC campaign off to a 1-0 start.

Gallaudet's average road trip in the league is eight hours. This week's is much longer. The Bison will leave Thursday night, sleep on the bus and then pull into Bangor, Maine where the opponent will be Husson University.

"We just approach it as a business trip," Goldstein said.

They will ride into Bangor with this three-game winning streak and a plenty of playmakers.

Two of them are brothers Todd and Ryan Bonheyo. They played at Maryland School for the Deaf where their father Andy Bonheyo is the head coach and one of the most successful high school head coaches in the country.

Todd and Ryan, like their parents, are deaf. There is only one player on the roster who has normal hearing and he is in a program to be an interpreter.

Todd is the quarterback in the triple option attack. He ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another 109 yards and two scores against Anna Maria.

Amazingly, he came to Gallaudet with the thought of playing only basketball.

But Quentin Williams was going to be redshirted due to an injury and Todd came out to compete for the quarterback spot.

"He won the starting role by week two and hasn't looked back since," Goldstein said. "He is getting better every week. He has a calm presence. The sky is the limit for him."

There is a lot of sky. Eligibility wise he is a freshman.

Ryan is a rarity in that he received a full scholarship to an FCS program. He was playing at Towson on the defensive side of the ball.

"Towson has a good deaf program. It just wasn't the best fit for him. He wanted to play on offense," Goldstein said. "He was a 1,000-yard back in high school."

And then there's Tom Pangia. Talk about first impressions. Pangia's high school coach sent the Gallaudet coaches a video of him and as soon as they watched it they got in the car and drove to New Jersey to meet with him.

"He is a typical D3 player. He is very good and just undersized," Goldstein said of his linebacker. "He is the heart and soul of our defense."

Tony Tatum has contributed all over the field, including turning in the D3football.com Play of the Week earlier in September.
Gallaudet athletics photo

Pangia has been a first-team All-ECFC selection each year. He also has had the Hammer Award the staff gives out for the biggest hit in his locker for three consecutive weeks.

"He's just that kid," Goldstein said.

Tony Tatum is the kind of corner you hardly find at this level at 6-3, 210 pounds and who runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds.

His athleticism also has him playing some wide receiver and contributing on special teams.

If that sounds to you like a player who could play on Sundays, you might be right.

"The Eagles have come around, the Kansas City Chiefs call every week and the Jaguars are interested," Goldstein said. "Someone is going to invite him to camp."

Jaris Alleyne is another mainstay of the defense at linebacker.

"He kind of fell into our lap. He is another I-AA type of kid," Goldstein said.

Goldstein knows SUNY Maritime's Keith Barnes is a special linebacker and there are plenty who feel he might be the Cadillac of linebackers in the ECFC. But Goldstein believes strongly that when it comes to a linebacker tandem he has the best in Pangia and Alleyne.

Recruiting at Gallaudet, as you can imagine, is a different game. The deaf schools are a pipeline.

"We know them and they know us," Goldstein said.

The other players they have to go find and the scope of their recruiting is national. They might fly to any region of the country to see a player or, as in Pangia's case, hop in the car and drive to Jersey.

Usually if a talented player is deaf there will be a feel-good story written about him and between Google and the school's admissions department, there aren't many talented deaf players who do not get their attention.

One they were not aware of was Castleton State's Brandon Boyle who caught a school record 17 passes in a game a couple of weeks ago. Boyle is hard of hearing.

"We didn't even know about him. We missed a good one there, but I don't know that he would have been happy in our offense," Goldstein said.

The D.C. area is exploding today with sports success. The Nationals and Orioles have become the Major League Baseball stories of the season and Robert Griffin III is all the rage with the Redskins. The Bison are hardly part of the excitement in the Beltway. Only 512 people saw the ECFC opener at home against Anna Maria.

But when Gallaudet hits the road, the team is the object of plenty of attention,. This week the Bison will have plenty of people from Maine coming to see them.

"There is a huge deaf community in Maine. There will be a group of about 200 people and there will be a tailgate for them," Goldstein said. "If Gallaudet is in town, the deaf community will be there. We represent the deaf."

People who really count are at the Bison home games, Goldstein said. "Our president, provost and dean of students are all on the sidelines. Our athletic director gives us great support and likes where Gallaudet football is heading."

And Goldstein throws a lot of credit toward his staff. There are many areas where he is not involved in the game planning, preferring to let his coaches coach in their area of expertise.

"If I am a good head coach it is because I have hired a great staff," he said.

Thursday night the Bison will board the bus for the longest road trip of the year that will take them up I-95 to Bangor. They will hope to get a win over the Eagles and push their league mark to 2-0, keeping themselves in good position in what looks to be a wild ECFC race where the winner gets a spot in the Division III playoff field.

"It's competitive. You don't know what is going to happen each week. It is going to go right down to the wire. I'm sure of that," Goldstein said.

Mount Ida muddles ECFC picture

Down to the wire. And it looks like Mount Ida could be one of those at the wire after the big win over Norwich.

Scott Drosendahl threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mustangs to the win.

"The big thing with Scotty is that he is tough, mentally tough but also physically tough," Mount Ida coach Mike Landers said.

And Landers concurs with Goldstein about the fight to the finish in the ECFC.

"Every game is going to be an alley fight," Landers said.

The first three weeks the league's coaches were all pulling fot one another against nonleague competition. And the ECFC carved out a very good record, particularly against the rival New Engalnd Football Conference, going 7-3.

"We were all together then and it was nice to be a part of it. Now, we're all fighting each other," Landers said.

In an alley. Week to week.

Don't count out Becker

Don't forget about Becker in this ECFC chase. The Hawks won their league opener with Robert Baker throwing for a school record 491 yards and four touchdowns.

And speaking of records, Pat Meggers set a couple of school marks for Coast Guard in the Bears' 59-0 pasting of Fitchburg State in the NEFC. Meggers had 211 receiving yards and his 98-yard touchdown reception also put him in the program's record book.

But the biggest splash in the NEFC continues to be made by Salve Regina. The Seahawks went to 5-0 and logged their 11th straight victory, 43-0 over Western New England. Steven Wilken threw three TD passes.


Framingham State was down by 14 points in the fourth quarter and roared back to nip Mass. Maritime 35-28. Matthew Silva was back at quarterback after being shelved by an injury and threw for 289 yards and two scores and Melikke Van Alstyne provided the complement on the ground, rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns.

MIT also had to rally. They trailed by 13 points at halftime and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to edge UMass-Dartmouth 28-27. Peter Williams threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Samuel Inman with 2:32 left to give MIT the win. It was one of three times in the game Williams and Inman hooked up for a touchdown pass.

Trinity was down 13-3 in the fourth quarterback and came back to beat Williams 17-13 on two touchdown passes from Ryan Burgess to A.J. Jones. The Bantams had a wide edge in rushing yardage, 261-39, with Evan Bunker supplyong 165 of those yards.

Wesleyan's Gibson: Workhorse and thoroughbred

Wesleyan sophomore Kyle Gibson will never forget his first start. Neither will Hamilton. Gibson was given the ball 35 times and rushed for 244 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter as the Cardinals defeated Hamilton 34-13 to go 2-0 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

Wesleyan, Middlebury, Trinity and Wesleyan are the 2-0 teams in the NESCAC.

Middlebury did it by defeating Colby on the road 42-13. It was the second straight week the Panthers scored 42 points and the second week in a row that saw McCallum Foote fire five touchdown passes.

Amherst stayed perfect by clipping Bowdoin 22-10 as Max Lippe completed 18 of 22 passes. He ran for two scores and threw for another. Ryan Silva did the job overland for the Lord Jeffs with143 yards and Wade McNamara had eight catches, one for a touchdown.

Spencer lances MMA

Worcester State's Corey Spencer had another big day through the air. He led the Lancers to their 47-34 victory over Maine Maritime by throwing four touchdown passes and running for another score. Worcester State coach Brien Cullen has compared Casey Hippert to the NFL's Aaron Hernandez in describing the type of player he is. He looked the part, catching six passes for 123 yards and a couple of touchdowns as the Lancers went to 4-1.

Endicott beat Curry in the NEFC 33-28 and Plymouth State topped Nichols 20-14 in overtime when Dustin Matthews scored from a yard out.

The big games

No question about the big game in the NESCAC. Amherst and Middlebury put 2-0 records on the line in Middlebury. Can the Jeffs slow down Foote who already has 10 TD passes this year?

The ECFC? I think we have already established that every game is big in this league with Rozellean type parity. The question is: Which alley will have the best fight?

It might be in Northfield where the Norwich Cadets host Castleton State College in the battle for the Maple Sap Bucket. The Bucket is important when it is the only thing on the line. Saturday at Sabine Field there will be so much more. Norwich is 0-1 and all of a sudden facing a critical game. Castleton comes to own 1-0 in the league with quarterback Shane Brozowski, the newly minted New England Division III record holder for career passing yardage.

In the NEFC, Worcester State and Framingham State sit atop the Bogan Division at 2-0 and will look to keep pace with another. Framingham should have the easier time against Fitchburg State. Worcester State hosts Mass. Maritime. 

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter. He has been D3football.com's Around the Northeast columnist since 2007.

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