Hofstra-Stony Brook: Let the rivalry begin

By Steven Marcus - Newsday

Sept. 28, 2007

Stony Brook, N.Y. - The rivalry that seems forever in the making could take a giant step toward fruition Saturday night when Stony Brook University's football team meets Hofstra at Shuart Stadium.

With SBU in scholarship mode, the time may be at hand for a legitimate showdown. Hofstra, ranked 14th, is 3-0 and SBU, which also received votes in the national poll, is 3-1.

But is SBU rivalry ready? It has lost all 10 previous games to the Pride. ``I would anticipate that hopefully it will take on a rivalry at some point and it might be here at that point right now,'' Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said. ``Stony Brook is 0 and how ever many times they played Hofstra so I'm not so sure it is much of a rivalry. From my perspective we have to treat it as another game because it is a building block. Hofstra is a quality team, a quality program and I would call it an established program. We're getting better. My goal is to go there and hopefully be able to compete and be proud when we walk off the field.'' Stony Brook has a nice offense, with quarterback Josh Dudash throwing for 784 yards and seven touchdowns. Running backs Brandon Mason and Conte Cuttino average 147 yards rushing. Hofstra counters with quarterback Bryan Savage, who has 838 yards and five touchdowns in one less game. Kareem Huggins is averaging 108 yards rushing. Both defenses should come in fired up. Hofstra shut out Rhode Island in the second half last week to come back from a 17-point halftime deficit and Stony Brook thwarted Monmouth's bid for an upset with a key interception and then stopped the visitors on the SBU 17-yard line in the closing seconds.


Stony Brook came close in last year 's game against Hofstra, but the 17-8 score seemed nullified by Hofstra's 2-9 season. However, it was the first official year of scholarships at Stony Brook so the Seawolves were entitled to make some noise. Now it is getting louder. ``In the past they have always been better because of the scholarships,'' Dudash said. ``Last year we gave them a run for the money but ended up making too many mistakes to win the game. We're got more players this year to hopefully help out. A lot of these kids from our school and their school grew up playing against each other in high school ball and all star games... It's almost a do it now, payback type of thing. We have a better team this year, better camaraderie, better coaching, everything across the board. I think it will be a good game.''

Stony Brook's foray into the fully funded world of scholarship football has been daunting. That's the way it works until SBU reached the 63 allowed in the Football Championship Subdivision. Athletic director Jim Fiore said the Seawolves have 42 this season, but about 32 are in uniform right now because of injuries and redshirts. Still, he expects maximum effort against Hofstra and any other program with similar funding.

``I think we are getting closer, bridging the gap in terms of the talent level,'' Fiore said. ``Next year we will be that much closer. [Hofstra] is an opportunity to benchmark where we are against a 63-scholarship program...We have a swagger in our athletic department that we expect to win every game. Our coaching staff expects to win [at Hofstra]. The expectation is that every kid in that program gets off the turnpike, gets changed in the locker room and kicks off expecting to win that game. We are at that point now.''

Fiore yields to no one, saying, ``We're going to play Army in a few years and we're going to expect to win. [Priore] has already met my expectations. They expect to win, they conduct themselves with class. It is a clean program; they are recruiting their tails off. It is just a matter of us finishing puberty. Our bones and muscles are getting stronger. We've never beaten a ranked team, never came close to being ranked.''

Reminded that SBU has received some votes in the last two polls, Fiore said, ``People know something is going on in Suffolk County. They don't know what, but something is going on. Something is happening; we know because we live it. The rest of the world is going to know it soon enough.''

But Fiore believes establishing a competitive series between the schools is essential. ``I want to have a Hofstra rivalry, it is great for Long Island, Hofstra's important to us,'' he said. `` We recruit the same kids from Long Island, New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is good for interest on Long Island. Duke has a Carolina, Harvard a Yale, Penn has Princeton, why not Hofstra-Stony Brook?''

Hofstra probably has more riding on the game in terms of winning as it looks to preserve its national ranking. Coach Dave Cohen said a loss would ``certainly nullify some of the success we had. We really don't know how good we are. In my opinion we've been inconsistent. We've had one consistency, we won three games. If you are talking about physically, I'm still not sure how good we are or aren't. If you are talking about intangibles, chemistry and leadership I'm more than pleased with that. I think outside of our CAA games this is probably our most important game because of the location of both schools. And there is a sense of pride on Long Island that there is going to be bragging rights.''

Sophomore Tyler Santucci has picked off one pass for Stony Brook in 2007.