By Shawn McFarland
SHADE SHINES WHEN THE MOMENT IS BRIGHTEST
As the clock began to wind down in the second quarter of Springfield College football’s game against Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Pride found themselves trailing 17-0. The offense looked stagnant, and the defense could barely catch its breath in between so many three-and-outs from its offensive counterparts.
Looking for any potential spark to his offense, coach Mike Cerasuolo turned to his backup quarterback, freshman Chad Shade. Springfield saw its offense outgained by WPI 207-73, and a switch behind center from junior Steve Comee to Shade might have been the best option.
All Shade did was orchestrate a 28-point second half to lead the Pride (2-2) to a 28-23 comeback win.
“I was not told pre-game I would be going in, it was an in-game decision,” Shade said. “I was prepared to go in if something were to happen, but it was not planned before the start of the game.”
Springfield’s first points came with 4:58 remaining in the third quarter when the 6-foot-3 Shade broke free from the teeth of the WPI defense for a 50-yard touchdown rush. Shade racked up a team-high 164 yards on the ground.
“The main thing that was big for us was running the ball effectively,” said Shade. “The offensive line did a great job giving us a push up front and everyone else blocked their assignments well which helped us start moving the ball.”
Shade picked up two big passes as well – something rarely seen in Springfield’s triple-option offense. One was a 54-yard bomb to junior halfback Tyler Hyde, which set up a Hunter Belzo rushing touchdown. The other came on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 22-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Nick Valles.
The impressive second half performance earned Shade the titles of Liberty League and ECAC Rookie of the Week.
“It’s a huge honor and that is credited to everyone in this program,” Shade said. “That wouldn’t have happened without the coaches and the other guys on the team. Without all the stops the defense got and holding them to six points in the second half and everyone in the offense executing, none of this would be possible.”
While the decision has yet to be made as to who will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season – Shade, or juniors Steve Comee and Jake Eglintine, the freshman will be ready.
“I am just going to continue to work everyday and get better,” Shade said. “It’s the coach’s decision. Whoever they choose to go with, myself and the rest of the team will support whatever they choose to do to help this program win games.”
KMETZ BECOMING OFFENSIVE STAR IN SOPHOMORE SEASON
In Springfield’s 3-0 win over Babson on Tuesday, Sept. 20, sophomore Hayley Kmetz proved that she is an offensive force to be reckoned with.
She notched a career-high 13 kills against Babson, part of a 29-kill week which ended with Kmetz being named NEWMAC Women’s Volleyball Offensive Athlete of the Week.
“Having a positive and competitive atmosphere has helped me to personally succeed, along with having amazing coaches that give me all of the feedback I need in order to improve my play, and having supportive teammates that push me in practice,” Kmetz said in regards to what’s worked for her on the court early on.
Now in her second season with the Pride, Kmetz has found herself more comfortable in the offense.
“I think that as a sophomore now I am just more prepared and knowledgeable when playing the game,” Kmetz explained. “With each year comes more experience, and more expectations to be better than you were previously. I don’t think there are more or less nerves, just excitement and I think this year is another important year because I know how far this team can go.”
The Pride stand at 13-3 on the season and appear to be in prime position to make yet another NCAA tournament run, but as Kmetz explained, the team isn’t getting to ahead of itself.
“I think that the team is feeling really confident in our play and this season in general. It is definitely a game-by-game approach and making sure that as a team we are focusing on the upcoming match, and not looking too far ahead. We make sure that we focus on one team at a time in order to succeed and reach our ultimate goal.”