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Football's success is built on this senior class

Joe Amick

Issue date: 11/20/09 Section: Sports
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When Greg Debeljak was 40, it was a very good year.

Not so much on the field for Case's head football coach -- his team was 3-7 in 2005.

But off the field, Debeljak and his assistant coaches assembled the current senior class, the group of players who've changed the football program here from the kind that viewed 5-5 as a surprisingly good season to the kind that expects 10-0.

"The success we've had is because of this class and their desire to get it done," said Debeljak.

Right away, he knew the Class of 2010 could be a special one.

"But the trick is, a lot of times kids come here with the intention of football being important, but with the academic load and social pressures, football becomes less important," said Debeljak. "A lot of people bring in talent, but unless there's commitment behind the talent, you're not going to go very far."

"We're all a really close group," senior running back Corey Checkan said. "Even when we're together outside of football, we're talking about football 75 percent of the time."

Most of the players in this senior class came from winning programs and expected to do the same in college.

Another key to their success is that they've played together for such a long time. Many in the current group of seniors were starters as freshmen.

Here's a look at some of the key players in the Class of 2010:

Dan Whalen (QB): Whalen is the best-known player on the team and was a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy last year, Division III's equivalent of the Heisman. His numbers tell you why: 9,390 career passing yards, 178.64 passer rating this season (fifth in Division III), 3010 passing yards this season (seventh in Division III).

Whalen is mobile, has a strong arm and is capable of some jaw-dropping plays. But the on-the-field flash is grounded on an off-the-field grind. According to Debeljak, no one spends more time in the weight room or studying video than Whalen.

Bobby Bott (DB): Bott is the complete package: smart, fast, tall and technically skilled. Bott was the UAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. He was also an American Football Coaches Association All-American last year.
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In This Issue


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  • Class inspires students to start CSEC
  • CWRU's Eco-Party
  • Eyewitness: Editor-in-chief for a day
  • Have you heard about Grupo de Capoeira?
  • Spectrum's sixth annual Drag Ball takes place Saturday