For the last eight or nine seasons, Dayton Flyers football coach Rick Chamberlin has watched the spring game from the press box, providing commentary on WHIO Radio with the voice of the Flyers, Larry Hansgen, doing the play by play.
“I was up in the box for 27 years as a coordinator,” Chamberlin said. “I loved it up there. That first year as a head coach, when I was on the sideline, I was going crazy.”
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Chamberlain will be on the sideline again at Welcome Stadium in the fall for his 12th season as Dayton head coach, but he’ll enjoy the bird’s-eye view from the press box at 1 p.m. Sunday for the annual spring game.
The spring game will be broadcast on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO. Hansgen will provide play by play, and Chamberlin will join Hansgen in the booth for commentary.
This will be the 15th and final practice of the spring season, which began March 22. Admission is free. The first 100 fans receive free ice cream. The Flyers return 13 starters from a team that finished 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the Pioneer Football League.
One of the key returners is quarterback Jack Cook, who started the last 10 games last season as a freshman after senior Alex Jeske suffered a season-ending injury and threw 20 touchdown passes with only two interceptions.
“Jack Cook has just picked up right where he left off,” Chamberlin said. “He really has. He set the bar pretty high doing what he did as a freshman starter for us. It’s the idea of him feeling more comfortable. In the spring, you always try some new things offensively defensively that you pick up, to see if it fits into your system. Our offense has been doing that with Jack here. I really feel he has a great grasp of the offense. He’s a playmaker.”
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Cook handed off to the school’s all-time leading rusher, Tucker Yinger, last season, and finding Yinger’s replacement has been one goal this spring. Chamberlin mentioned three names competing for playing time at that position.
“I feel we’re in good hands with Sean Prophit,” Chamberlin said. “He played as a freshman before his leg injuries. This is the best Sean’s run in two years. In spring football, you’re always hesitant with a guy who’s had some knee injuries, but it hasn’t fazed him at all. He’s running well. Richie Warfield plays a lot for us. Jake Chisolm, who was our return man last year, he’s talented, too. It may not be that one stud, but we’ve got a collection of guys who can play.”
Dayton will not play the spring game with typical red and white teams. Instead, it will be offense versus defense. That’s because four offensive linemen remained sidelined after undergoing offseason surgeries: Ryan Culhane; Nick Bart; Jacob Brunson; and Michael Niese. All should be ready for the season, Chamberlin said.
Special guests: Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted will serve as an honorary coach at spring game. Husted was an All-American cornerback and kick returner for Dayton in 1989 when the Flyers won the Division III national championship, beating Union College (N.Y.) 17-7 in the final in Phenix City, Ala. His former teammate Dan Sharley, who was Dayton's starting quarterback as a junior in 1989, will also serve as an honorary coach.
Players honored: Twelve Dayton football players were named to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's Hampshire Honor Society: Lucas Edwards; Ben Gauthier; Wes Hegemann; Shane Lefever; David Leisring; Andrew Lynn; Christopher Papalia; Matthew Rightnour; Isaac Sexton; Dante Stefanini; Adam Stull; Matt Tunnacliffe; and Yinger.
2019 Dayton football schedule
Sept. 7, Indiana State, Terre Haute, Ind. 1 p.m.
Sept. 14, Robert Morris, Pittsburgh, Pa., TBA
Sept. 21, Duquesne, HOME, 1 p.m.
Oct. 5, Jacksonville*, HOME 1 p.m.
Oct. 12, Valparaiso*, Valparaiso, Ind. 2 p.m.
Oct. 19, Stetson*, Deland, Fla., 1 p.m.
Oct. 26, San Diego*, HOME, 1 p.m.
Nov. 2, Morehead State*, Morehead, Ky., 1 p.m.
Nov. 9, Marist*, HOME, 1 p.m.
Nov. 16, Drake*, Des Moines, Iowa, TBA
Nov. 23, Butler*, HOME, 1 p.m.
*Pioneer Football League games