Old Dominion Football: The Mystery Team of The FCS

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Old Dominion Football: The Mystery Team of The FCS

Some fans of Old Dominion football believe the team will do well this year since it has not lost a game since 1940. Others are doubtful about the team's success this year because it has not won a game since 1939.

At first glace, it seems like those statements contradict one another. However, everything comes into focus when one realizes that the Old Dominion has not fielded a football team since the 1940 version played an abbreviated schedule and scored no points while giving up 121.

It has been so long since the school had a football team that ODU was still called the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary.

The athletic nickname was not the Monarchs—it was the Braves.

Ironically, Old Dominion will still play its games in the same stadium as the school did from 1936 to 1940.

Foreman Field is undergoing a $24.8 million makeover including lights, a new artificial surface, and a parking garage contiguous to the  field. When the renovations are completed, Foreman Field's seating capacity for football will be 19,782.

Billy Wilder is the head coach in charge of reviving this once-dormant program. For 17 years, Wilder held various coaching positions at the University of Maine.

Maine named Billy Wilder offensive coordinator in 2000, and the title of associate head coach was added to his responsibilities in 2001. In Wilder's six years as offensive coordinator, Maine went 43-28 and won two Atlantic 10 championships.

Initially, Old Dominion's players will mainly be made up of freshmen and redshirt freshmen. However, the Monarchs are continually adding new players to the roster.

On June 26, Jason Fuller joined ODU from the University of Virginia. Fuller is a 6'5", 255 pound defensive lineman that will give the Monarchs needed experience on defense.

Also in June, Shantea Green, the half-brother of NFL player Jevon Kearse, joined the Monarchs to play defensive end.

ODU has experienced some hardship before it has even taken the field for its first game. In December of 2008, junior linebacker Osric Robinson died in an automobile accident near his home in Alma, Georgia.

Expect ODU to run the "spread" offense in 2009. The team with mainly lineup in shotgun formation with one running back in the backfield.

The battle for the starting quarterback position appears to be between Thomas DeMarco, a junior college transfer from the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, and Bobby Cooper, a 6'3", 200 pound redshirt freshman from Davidsonville, Maryland.

Whoever is named the starter, he will be handing off to running back Desmond Williams and passing to such targets as Carlos Davis, Alex Arain, and Nick Mayers.

Because of the newness of the team, expect kicker Drew Hareza to be a major factor in ODU's ability to put points on the board.

On defense, the Monarchs will utilize a system similar to that of the Baltimore Ravens. The "50" alignment with have five players on the line and one dropping back into pass coverage.

Along with Jason Fuller and Shantea Green, the Monarchs will receive help on the defensive line from tackles Chad King and Ed McClam. Based on the spring practice, the featured linebackers will be Mateus Porter and John Sparagna.

Since defensive back Ricky Nichols was the first player to commit to ODU, he will have the honor of wearing the No. 1 jersey. A.T. Aoelua, a safety transfer from Monterey Peninsula College will give the secondary an athlete with experience to lean on.

Old Dominion will be immediately eligible for an at-large bid into the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in 2009. The team will play as independent until it joins the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011.

The 11-game schedule will include home games against Virginia Union, Monmouth, Presbyterian, Campbell, Georgetown, and North Carolina. The Monarchs travel to face Jacksonville, Fordham, Savannah State, and VMI.

ODU's first game will be against the Chowan Hawks, a Division II school from Murfreesboro, North Carolina.

For the September 5 home opener, Johnny Brown, a former tailback who is known as the Monarch's best player ever, hopes to run onto Foreman Field during pre-game festivities despite the fact that he is in his '90s now.

Although much should not be expected out of Old Dominion in 2009, any defeat the team may suffer will pale in comparison to the excitement of the return of college football at ODU.

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