By: Dan Durkin – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers football team will look to improve to 6-0 for the first time in 10 years and remain alone in first place in the Pioneer Football League when they travel to Valparaiso on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3.com and heard on WHIO Radio.
The Flyers, though, will be without senior running back Connor Kacsor. Kacsor tore the ACL in his left knee last week at practice and will be out for the season. It will effectively end his Dayton career.
He will conclude his career as Dayton’s all-time leading rusher with 3,543 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Head coach Rick Chamberlin talked about how tough it was finding out that Kacsor would be out for the rest of the season.
“It was very emotional Thursday night [before last week’s game against San Diego], with the young man [Kacsor] and the injury, but the players though bounced back very well,” Chamberlin said. “Of course there was a disappointment right when it happened.”
But the team quickly showed its resiliency in practice the next day.
“The next day on Friday, everybody was into it. They knew what we had to do, and we had to move on and play one of our best games, with or without Connor,” Chamberlin said.
Kacsor knows even though he might not be able to play, he can try and help his team in other ways.
“I can be another coach on the sidelines, I can talk to the young guys and tell them what they can do and be helpful to them,” Kacsor said. “It’s something I really need to do, and it’s something I’m looking forward to doing.”
“I’m looking forward to being out there helping those younger guys and helping this team grow, because we are 5-0 and it’s a great feeling,” he continued. “I don’t want anyone to be down now because I’m out but to continue to keep on going and continue on this historic season we are having.”
It was tough for Kascor to watch the Flyers’ 13-12 win over San Diego from the sidelines last Saturday, but he is confident that this team can continue on the path it’s currently on and he hopes to help in any way he can. Kacsor is confident this injury will not end his football-playing days, as he will look to pursue a career professionally next year.
In light of the injury, there were several players that stepped up offensively last week to fill the void left by Kacsor. Chamberlin pointed out some guys who stepped up offensively for the Flyers.
“Well, you have those three running backs, Jack Adams, Jared Ruffing and Tucker Yinger, who all played a significant role on Saturday and who will continue play a significant role,” Chamberlin said.
Ruffing started last week’s game, as he had served as Kacsor’s backup since the start of the season. Yinger caught the Flyers’ only touchdown of the game last week, a 55-yard pass from redshirt first-year quarterback Alex Jeske, and Adams led the team with 25 yards rushing against San Diego.
Chamberlin also sees those three running backs getting better and better as the season goes on.
One of the other players that will look to expand their role is senior wide receiver Cory Stuart. Stuart knows that the offense as a whole will need to step up.
“We’re very close to putting it all together and putting a lot of points up on the board, so it’s just a matter of guys stepping up and were confident we have plenty of guys capable of doing that,” Stuart said.
The Flyers will also look to continue to lean on their very stout defense, which has led this year’s team.
The Flyers will take on a struggling Valparaiso team, which only has one win on the season, but Chamberlin and the players know it is always difficult to go on the road and win games.