Joey Guagenti started the season with an ankle injury and didn’t see any action until the Dayton Flyers’ fourth game against Drake. He finally got a chance to start last weekend and recorded nine tackles and an interception in a 24-7 victory at Marist.
“I feel like I did my job well,” said Guagenti, a redshirt freshman defensive back from Columbus and Olentangy Orange High School. “Hopefully, things continue to trend upwards for me.”
The Flyers hope for the same for the team as a whole. Dayton (4-2, 2-1) bounced back from a 31-0 shutout loss at Butler with its first victory on the road since it beat Robert Morris 22-0 in the season opener.
Dayton has played four road games and two home games at this point in the season but gets the next two games at Welcome Stadium, starting with a 1 p.m. game Saturday against Stetson (3-2, 1-1).
Dayton leads the series against Stetson 4-1 and won 41-13 last season in DeLand, Fla.
“It’s going to be really nice to be in front of our home crowd,” Guagenti said. “But Stetson’s a really good team. They’ve got a really talented offense from what I’ve seen so far. We’re going to have our hands full with them, but I can’t wait to go out there and compete and see how we stack up.”
Dayton will honor its 1987 team, which was NCAA Division III runner-up, at the annual Alumni Game. The Varsity D Club will host a tailgate party before the game for all alumni of the program.
“A very important part of our program is the connection to the past,” coach Rick Chamberlin said, “because those people, whether it’s coaches or players, they’re the ones who laid the foundation for the success, the culture, the traditions here at Dayton. Whenever we have an alum stop by and watch practice, we have them speak to the team. We call them our old dogs. We say, ‘We have an old dog here today,’ and they’ll come in for a few minutes to talk to the team about what it meant to them to be a Flyer here.”
The new dogs remain in contention in the Pioneer Football League with five games to play. Dayton is in a group of five teams with one loss. Davidson (5-2, 3-1), Butler (4-2, 2-1), San Diego (3-3, 2-1) and Valparaiso (3-3, 2-1) are the others. St. Thomas (5-1, 3-0) sits alone in first place.
Dayton won its first game with Shane Hamm as the starter at Marist. He replaced Dante Casciola, who suffered a broken thumb a week earlier in Dayton’s first shutout loss since 1976. Hamm completed 11 of 19 passes for 105 yards.
“It was just another day in the office,” Hamm said. “We always say it’s the next-man-up mentality. I knew I was always one play away from getting in. Each week I prepared as if I was going to be the starter even though I knew most times I wasn’t going to get on the field. When my time came like it did last week, I was ready for it.”
Hamm, a redshirt freshman from North Jackson, Ohio, had a 50-3 record as a four-year starter at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron. He led his high school team to three state championships. But it was different making his first college start.
“College football, there’s obviously nothing like it,” he said. “You can play as many high school games as you want. But taking the next step to college football really makes it different.”
Hamm said he got the jitters out in his first start and will make more decisive decisions this week. Chamberlin expects the same.
“It was a typical first start,” Chamberlin said. “There were moments you were very happy about how he was playing. Then there were moments you see he has to learn to be a little more consistent, but he has skills.”
Stetson at Dayton, 1 p.m., 1290, 95.7
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