Injured player leaves season in limbo
Newly appointed starting quarterback junior Michael Lahey will miss the entire Chapman football season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in practice Aug.20.
Lahey was running upfield during a routine practice when he planted his right foot and fell to the ground without any members of the defensive scout team touching him.
“I didn’t think it would actually be a torn ACL so I was devastated,” Lahey said. “I felt like I was letting down the team.”
The Panthers have gone 4-5 the past three seasons and planned on team captain Lahey, who threw for 101 yards and rushed for 234 as the backup last season, to lead the team to a winning record in 2012. The Panthers will need to rely on a talented receiving corps and an experienced defense to compensate for Lahey’s absence.
Lahey was the heir apparent to the starting job left by Bret Visciglia after serving as his backup for two years. Junior quarterback Max Brewer quit the team earlier in the offseason, leaving the job up to one of five incoming quarterbacks, three freshmen and two transfers.
The coaches said the position is open, but senior wide receiver Kali’i Kunitomo, who led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, thinks sophomore transfer from Hastings College in Nebraska, Kean Stancil will win the job.
“He’s like a mirror image of Lahey so we don’t have to change the whole offense, we can still run our game plan with nothing really changing,” he said.
Robin Harris, who transferred from Division I program New Mexico State, will join Kunitomo as the other starting receiver. Sophomore Spencer Jordan and freshman Sean Myers have also impressed in training camp. Myers caught for 445 yards and four touchdowns as a senior at Fountain Valley High School.
Senior running back Chad Milburn returns after rushing for 555 yards and five touchdowns last season. Lahey’s injury doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in duties for Milburn.
“The coaches will know to get the ball in the hands of any playmaker whether it’s rushing the football or high percentage passes to receivers,” Lahey said.
Senior middle linebacker and three year starter Kellen Matsuno thinks there is more pressure on the defense with Lahey out.
“We need to try to keep opposing teams to under 10 points a game, and if we do that it won’t really matter how much the offense scores,” he said.
The defense returns nine of 11 starters that ranked third in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) in total defense last season.
The season kicks off with a game against University of Puget Sound, Sept. 8 at 7p.m. at Wilson Field.