WASHINGTON – The Gallaudet University football program will lean on its character, the best coach Chuck Goldstein has seen by a Bison squad in his tenure, to set the tone in 2019. GU will utilize a small roster to its fullest potential as the overall quality of each student-athlete ranks high in recent memory.
Last season, Gallaudet posted a 3-5 record and 3-3 mark in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play. The Bison lost their first game by five points and went 2-1 at Hotchkiss Field.
Gallaudet returns seven starters on offense and four on defense this season.
The Bison receive a boost with the return of senior quarterback Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.), who led GU to an early 2-2 record to start last season before he went down with an injury. Sophomore Cassmeir Hutchinson (Chesapeake, Va.) along with junior RJ Randle (McCalla, Ala.) will provide a 1-2 punch in GU's running game. Upfront the Bison offensive line will be anchored by senior Reid Kelly (De Soto, Kan.) and juniors Daniel Tanielu (Federal Way, Wash.) and Cress Fisher (Boyertown, Pa.). Two of the three are former all-conference players and the trio could land on one of this year's All-ECFC teams. On the outside look for sophomore wide receiver Eric Gregory (Metairie, La.) has speed to burn after he had a breakout track and field season last spring.
On defense, two injured defensive leaders return in junior Mason Gooch (Mount Sterling, Ky.) and senior Kenneth Peters (Indianapolis, Ind.). The duo went down within the first two games of the 2018 season but are healthy and back ready to lead Gallaudet's defense in 2019. Senior defensive tackle Everett Polzin (Frederick, Md.) is a returning all-conference defender after he played on both side of the ball last season. Junior safety Dalton Taylor (Austin, Texas) saw action in every game last year and finished with 20 tackles (14 solo) and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
Gallaudet will break in a new kicker and punter this season while the return game will be done by committee.
With the new season on the horizon here is a breakdown of the 2019 GU football team.
ECFC Record: 3-3
Highlights: Eight All-ECFC honors, one All-Academic selection
Timel Benton (Columbia, S.C.), Sr., Quarterback
Benton led GU to an early 2-2 record to start the 2018 season before he went down with an injury. In the four games played he completed 18 of 37 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns and ran the ball 39 times for 229 yards and three scores. Now back healthy and under the center the veteran signal-caller aims for a complete senior year.
Cress Fisher (Boyertown, Pa.), Jr., Offensive Line
Fisher was one of the reasons why Gallaudet led the ECFC in rushing yards per game (233.1) last season and second in rushing yards (1,865), rushing attempts (385), yards per rush (4.8) and rushing first downs (85). Fisher along with Kelly and Tanielu provide invaluable experience and leadership on the frontline for the buff and blue.
Eric Gregory (Metairie, La.), So., Wide Receiver
Gregory, who was stuck behind several upperclassmen last season, has emerged as one of GU's top targets for 2019. Last season he saw action in eight games and made one grab for 28 yards. Gregory, who is also a standout track and field sprinter, will rely on his speed to create separation from defenders in the secondary this year.
Cassmeir Hutchinson (Chesapeake, Va.), So., Running Back
Hutchinson had a breakout freshman campaign as he started all eight games and ran for 645 yards as he led the conference with 9.8 yards per rush. He landed on the all-conference second team offense. He ran for a career-high 151 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown against Anna Maria.
Reid Kelly (De Soto, Kan.), Sr., Offensive Line
Kelly one of the top offensive linemen for GU last season where it ran for over 300 yards three times including back-to-back games against Anna Maria and Castleton. Kelly is no stranger to the all-conference team as he was a 2017 honorable mention.
RJ Randle (McCalla, Ala.), Jr., Fullback
Randle was Gallaudet's lone representative on the 2018 All-ECFC First Team Offense as he finished sixth in the conference in yards per rush (4.5) and eighth in rushing yards (351) in seven games.
Daniel Tanielu (Federal Way, Wash.), Jr., Offensive Line
Tanielu was a standout offensive linemen for the Bison last season as he earned All-ECFC Second Team Offense accolades. He started in six games and helped the Bison rushing offense (233.1 yards per game) finish 33rd in the country.
Mason Gooch (Mount Sterling, Ky.), Jr., Linebacker
Gooch entered 2018 with high expectations after he landed on the all-conference second team his sophomore year. He only lasted two games last season before his season ended with an injury. Gooch, who is now healthy, should bounce back and have a big season for the Bison defense.
Kenneth Peters (Indianapolis, Ind.), Sr., Defensive Line
Peters was sidelined by injury last season as he only suited up in two games. Now back healthy he hopes to make a huge impact in his senior season.
Everett Polzin (Frederick, Md.), Sr., Defensive Tackle
Polzin is GU's only returning all-conference defender from last season. The versatile lineman, who started the season on the offensive side of the ball, finished with 19 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss of 23 yards and one sack for a loss of 10 yards in eight games.
Dalton Taylor (Austin, Texas), Jr. Safety
Taylor played in eight games last season and finished with 20 tackles (14 solo) and recorded 2.5 tackles for a loss of seven yards.
Jack Gray (Atherton, Calif.), Jr., Kicker/Safety
Gray returns to the Bison in 2019 after a year off. He had a stellar rookie campaign in 2017 when he recorded 32 tackles (20 solo) in nine games and picked off four throws and returned those interceptions 157 yards.
Rollo Chester (Macon, Ga.), Jr., Long Snapper
Chester saw action in seven games last season and is an unheralded member of GU's special teams as the long snapper. His experience at this position is invaluable as Gallaudet breaks in a new kicker and punter.
Jason Waters (Evans, Ga.), Fr., Offensive Line
Waters will step right into the fray on the Gallaudet offensive line this season as the 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman is real strong and has a quick burst off the ball, can open up holes and get up the field.
Zachary Wade (Evans, Ga.), Fr., Defensive Line
Wade is a shifty defensive end that stands at 6-foot-0 and is quick off the snap and can dodge lineman and get to the quarterback or ball carrier in a hurry.
"We may be a small team but the quality and character of this team has never been better since I've been here. We are really excited to get this season underway. If we can remain healthy, throughout the season, we will have the opportunity to be competitive," Chuck Goldstein, Gallaudet University football head coach
Season/Home Opener: vs. Alvernia (Fri., Sept. 6, 7 p.m.)
Conference Opener: at Castleton (Sat., Oct. 12, Noon)
Homecoming/Senior Day: vs. Dean (Sat., Oct. 26, 1 p.m.)
Gallaudet has an eight-game slate in 2019 with four home games at Hotchkiss Field. The Bison will play three non-conference games in September, highlighted by the season and home opener against Alvernia University under the lights at Hotchkiss Field on Friday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. The month of October begins with the team's first conference game as GU travels to Vermont to face Castleton University (Oct. 12) before returning home for back-to-back home games against Alfred State College (Oct. 19) and Dean College (Oct. 26) on Homecoming and Senior Day. GU closes out the season on the road in November with trips to SUNY Maritime (Nov. 2) and Anna Maria College (Nov. 9).
BISON HOME GAMES
Sept. 6 vs. Alvernia, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 vs. Greensboro, 1 p.m.
Oct. 19 vs. Alfred St., Noon
Oct. 26 vs. Dean, 1 p.m. (Homecoming/Senior Day)