Vailas, Wildcats get going today against Chippewas
DURHAM — Junior quarterback Andy Vailas of Bedford, the former standout at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, is excited and ready to lead the University of New Hampshire football team into its season opener in Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich., this afternoon.
Game time against Central Michigan of the Mid-American Conference, which plays a step up from UNH in the Football Bowl Subdivision, is 3 p.m. (ESPN3).
“Since I first stepped on the field here as a freshman, this is what I’ve wanted to do the entire time,” Vailas said. “Now that it’s here, I’m ecstatic. I just want to go out there and make sure I get the ball to our playmakers and do what I’m supposed to do.”
Vailas started half of UNH’s 12 games a year ago and Sean Goldrich, now a sophomore started the other half.
Goldrich won the job at the beginning of last season and led the team to a win over Holy Cross. He got hurt on the second play of the game the next week at Minnesota and Vailas came on in relief. The two shared the job the rest of the season.
Head coach Sean McDonnell and offensive coordinator Ryan Carty informed the two quarterbacks that Vailas had earned the starting job a week ago.
Goldrich will play at least a series in today’s game, as Vailas did against Holy Cross last year. The competition is far from over, Vailas said.
“It’s always a competition,” Vailas said. “Everyone is competing every day here and even though I was chosen the starter for Game 1, I’ve still got to do what I’m supposed to do and Goldy’s got to do what he’s supposed to do and it can always change.”
Now, though, it’s Vailas’ job and he’ll try to get the ball to junior running back Nico Steriti and junior wide receiver R.J. Harris and the rest.
“We’ve got some very powerful weapons,” Vailas said. “It’s going to be good. We’ll try to get the ball in a lot of people’s hands.”
On the other side, the Wildcats need to slow down a big, strong team that wants to run the ball.
The Chippewas lost their opener, 59-9, last week at Michigan and also lost a couple of their key players in quarterback Cody Kater (broken collarbone) and running back Zurlon Tipton (broken ankle) to injury in the game.
A couple of sophomores, Alex Nivnak at quarterback and Saylor Lavallii at running back, will take their place.
No matter who is in, McDonnell is concerned about Central Michigan’s size and physicality. The Chippewa starters on the offensive line are listed at 305, 306, 305, 300 and 306 pounds.
Sean Ryan, a senior out of Londonderry, was pegged as UNH’s starting left guard but hurt his knee earlier in the week and is out. Redshirt freshman Tad McNeely is expected to start in that spot.
Running backs Jimmy Owens, a junior, and Dalton Crossan, a redshirt freshman, are also sidelined. So are senior defensive back Chris Houston and junior defensive end Tre Williams.
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St. Anselm College and Plymouth State University open their seasons with home games today.
The Hawks, who went 2-9 last year, take on Bowie State at Grappone Stadium at 1. Bowie finished 5-5 in 2012.
Plymouth State, 2-8 last season, plays Castleton State at Currier Field, also at 1. Castleton went 6-4 and beat the Panthers 35-7 last year.