New Hampshire Football Report

Spring practice delayed

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

Is it spring time yet?
The UNH football team kicks off its spring football season early Thursday morning with a few questions to be addressed – and hopefully answered – in its 15-practice session. The spring workouts conclude with the annual Blue-White Spring Game on May 7 at noon in Cowell Stadium, in the shadows of the new Wildcat Stadium.

The 2016 season begins in just under five months with a game at San Diego State, an FBS school, on Sept. 3.

The Wildcats break in their state-of-the-art home the following Saturday – Sept. 10 – with a game against Holy Cross.

Monday’s snowstorm delayed the start of spring football by a couple of days and forced changes in the early part of the schedule. Weather permitting, the Wildcats will practice Thursday morning beginning at 6:30, Friday starting at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday morning at a time to be determined. Practices are generally scheduled for early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Saturday morning.

The first order of business on the field is coming up with a starting quarterback after a four-year run by Sean Goldrich, who finished up last fall, and Andy Vailas, who closed out his career the season before.

Senior Adam Riese (pictured) and sophomore Trevor Knight are the contenders for the job.

Adam Riese right now is ahead because of playing in games last year, quarterbacking us to wins,” said head coach Sean McDonnell. “He started a couple of games and did some pretty good things. He was the backup quarterback when we left off last year. It will be good competition again, getting back to it, very similar to what happened with Sean Goldrich and Andy Vailas in the way the competition’s going to be. It’s a little bit different than last spring when you knew going into it that Sean Goldrich was going to be your quarterback come heck or high water.”

Redshirt freshman Ivan Niyomugabo, who worked with the scout team as a true freshman last fall, is the third quarterback on the roster. Christian Lupoli, who played at Notre Dame High in West Haven, Conn., is a recruit for next fall and reports in early August.

Another priority is the defensive tackle position with Julian Turner and Rashid Armand lost to graduation.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys, a lot of young faces there,” McDonnell said. “It starts off with Cyrus Boone and Ryan Sosnak, two kids that have had two years in the program at defensive tackle, both going into their redshirt sophomore year. It’s a huge spring for both of them. Both of them are talented, strong kids that played a little bit last year, Boone more than Sosnak. The third one in right now is Odaine Franklyn. Then you have a cast of a couple of freshmen that are in there with Sean Burns and Jack Carroll.”

Other players may get moved around and get a look at defensive tackle as well.


There’s been a bit of shuffling on McDonnell’s coaching staff.

Former standout quarterback Ricky Santos, after three years working as a UNH assistant coach with wide receivers, has moved on to Columbia University, where he will coach the quarterbacks.

Chris Setian, a hardnosed Wildcat running back who was a captain on the 2013 team, has joined the staff and will work with running backs.

Mike Ferzoco, who’s in his ninth year with the team, has moved over from running backs to work with wide receivers.

“It’s a great thing for Ricky,” McDonnell said. “It’s the next step in his development as a football coach. He’s gone from coaching the receivers here and being a guy that’s been in this system to going to Columbia and working for a great coach in Al Bagnoli and helping a program that they’re trying to turn around. The biggest thing for Ricky is he’s going to coach the quarterbacks, a position that he played and a position he would like to coach all the time. Everybody on offense wants to be quarterback coach.”

Santos, who won the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in FCS football, had his No. 2 retired when his career ended. He will be inducted into the UNH Hall of Fame in June.

“We’ll miss him,” McDonnell said. “He did a great job. He understood who we were and understood how we did things. That’s a great thing to have when he’s talking to a player and talking to another coach, to understand the system, understand me, understand the culture, all those things.”

Setian knows his way around the Field House and McDonnell’s way of doing things as well.

“He’s a young guy who’s got to make his mark,” McDonnell said. “Just like Chris Zarkoskie (a former Wildcat offensive lineman and now an assistant coach working with tight ends) here. Just like Ricky Santos here. Another in a fine line of guys who have come out of the program and want to become coaches. He’s got a big upside. Looking forward to having him bring his style of play to the running back position through his style of coaching. He made me a lot better coach than I am.”


Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider

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