By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Penn Quakers are on a tremendous roll.
In 2012 they won the Ivy League title, going 6-1 in the Ancient 8. That was their third outright Ivy title in four seasons and hopes are high that they are in position here in 2013 to try and make it four out of five.
“So far we are on schedule,” head coach Al Bagnoli tells KYW Newsradio about training camp. “We are blessed to have some experience in a lot of the key positions. So we’ve been able to really run the type of offense we want, the type of defense that we want. But so far, so good, nothing catastrophic has happened to us. So we are right on schedule.”
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Under center the Quakers are led by a special talent in quarterback Billy Ragone. He has thrown for 28 touchdowns and rushed for another 19 in his time on campus and he was named honorable mention All-Ivy last season. But the Quakers also have depth at the position.
“We have two fifth-year quarterbacks which is unheard of in our league,” Bagnoli says. “Obviously, they are not going to be overwhelmed by giving them too much, too early. And I think that’s great. The kid’s have great confidence in Billy and Ryan Becker, who is his back-up, and I think that allows us to run the offense in a timely matter and I think we’ve done that. We’ve implemented almost our entire offense in the first eight practices.”
Bagnoli also has a lot of weapons surrounding Ragone.
“We have kids that have touched the ball in the backfield with (senior Brandon) Colavita coming back for a fifth year and Spencer Kulcsar,” Bagnoli says. “We have three starters from last year on the offensive line, we have all the tight ends back from last year, we have all the receivers back from last year. So we’re pretty experienced. If we can keep those guys healthy, we’ll be a pretty good offense.”
The Quakers defense looks to be a unit that will be quite stingy in 2013.
“We’ve got some young kids up front, they’re very talented but they are young,” Bagnoli says. “We’re more experienced at the linebacker with (junior Dan) Davis and (senior David) Park coming back who had terrific years. We’re experienced at outside linebacker and I think we have a pretty good secondary that is really experienced now.”
The Quakers have kicker Connor Loftus back. The junior was 7-10 on field goals last season. A special teams question is punter, where Penn will have to fill the void left by the graduation of two-time All-Ivy selection Scott Lopano.
The Quakers are enjoying a great run of success, but Bagnoli says it is critical they don’t take anything for granted.
“Complacency is something that you are always battling when you are successful,” Bagnoli says. “Entitlement is something that you are always battling when you are successful. The good news is we have enough fifth-year kids, so we have enough senior leadership that hopefully that’s not going to be as big an issue as if we were just a young team trying to duplicate what we did last year. So I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m also aware that it is continually an issue, coaches have got to fight it, the kids have got to fight it. And it’s just human nature, so we really have to go out of our way to make sure that we are aware of it.”
Penn will open the 2013 season on Saturday, September 21st, at Franklin Field against Lafayette.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.