Defensive Outlook

The 1992 Eagle defense has moved away from the traditional “bend but don’t break” philosophy. Our goal is to attack opponents, forcing them to adjust to our aggressive style. With 7 returning starters, the defense should be a strong suit for the Eagles in ’92. Jason Hitchens will return as defensive coordinator. Added to his staff this year will be Kevin Swift (secondary) and John Rodriguez (Defensive Line). Head Coach Jim Hartigan will assist with the secondary, primarily the safeties. The defensive line and secondary seem to be the foundation of the defense. Returning will be seniors Joe Winkelmann (DE), Bert Coutts (DE) and Tom Haupert (DT). Juniors Brad Finneran (Safety) and Brian Finneran (Safety), and seniors Kevin Duffy (DB) and All-CIF player Sean O’Brien (Safety) all return behind the line. Also returning will be senior Tim Sulick moving from outside linebacker to the inside position, and senior Anthony Galasso who saw some time at outside linebacker in 1991. Newcomers expecting to make an immediate impact include: juniors Steve Doan (NG) and Todd Tucker (Safety) and seniors John Zampese (DB), Ryan Cottonaro (LB), Chris Tiernan (LB) and Mike Gillissie (LB). Stepping into a tough Sea View League should prove to be a big challenge for this squad. Look for a swarming defense and creating turnovers in 1992.

The defensive line will be one of the strong points of the Eagle defense and will be anchored by seniors Brent Noonan (6-3, 225) and Joe Winkelmann (6-2, 205). At nose guard is junior Steve Doan (6-1, 250 who has excellent speed and strength. Senior Tom Haupert (6-1, 210) will be seeing plenty of action because he is able to play any of the three line spots. Erik Steenblock (6-0, 190) has shown excellent quickness which could earn him some playing time. Breaking the starters are Joe Hauke (6-3, 200), Thom Dickson (6-1, 220), Robert Craven (6-1, 230) and Frank Brenes (6-1, 210).

The question to be answered here is who is going to step in and replace Ryan Zalta and Manuel Rubiralta. Out of any of the positions on defense, this is an area of concern primarily because of the lack of experience. Tim Sulick (6-0, 190) moves to the inside and should be solid versus the run. Mike Gillissie (6-1, 170) started one game at the position last season and has worked hard in the off-season to regain his spot. Others battling for a job here include seniors Matt Dempsey (5-8, 165), Ben Poorstra (5-6, 170) and Ryan Cottonaro (6-1, 180). Cottonaro seems to be the quickest, clocking a 4.6 40-yard dash time. Moving up this season to the varsity level are juniors Joe McAneny (5-8, 160), Mike DeFries (6-0, 160) Scott McIntosh (5-10, 160) and Denis Herlehy (5-9, 150). Although not extremely experience, the outside linebacker spots are filled with players with varsity playing time. At the strong side senior Bert Coutts (6-3, 205) seems to be the front runner. A very solid player, Coutts saw time at all front 7 positions last season, proving his versatility. Also look for Tony Knaack (6-2, 220) to have immediate impact. Others to watch on the strong side are Jon McGrath (6-0, 175) and Mike Raths (6-1, 180). The weakside outside linebacker position has been a pleasant surprise through the summer. Seniors Chris Tiernan (5-11, 175) and Anthony Galasso (5-11, 170) look to share time at this spot. Each is a solid athlete with varsity playing experience. Others playing here will be John Gottran (5-10, 165) and Derek Yankoff (6-0, 170).

At the heart of every good defense is a strong secondary. This year’s Eagle group will again be strong. The safety position features 3 Division I prospects in senior Sean O’Brien (6-4, 215) and juniors Brad Finneran (6-4, 175) and Brian Finneran (6-4, 180). They will be backed up by first-year varsity players Todd Tucker (5-11, 160) and Tom Norfleet (5-10, 150). At corner the Eagles have a lot of depth led by seniors Kevin Duffy (5-9, 160), John Zampese (5-9, 155), Ryan Zinn (5-7, 155) and Chad Seitz (5-10, 160). Kevin Breen (5-10, 160) will be a valuable nickel coverman for the Eagles playing both safety and corner. Juniors Doug Flour (5-5, 130), Chris Altomare (5-11, 160) and Mario Franqui (5-11, 160) will get experience at the JV level.