It was a season of high hopes that didn’t turn out that way for the Dayton Flyers in 2017. For only the second time in the last four decades the Dayton Flyers football team suffered through a losing season (5-6).
“It’s an eager group,” senior defensive end Nick Surges said. “We’ve had a lot of fun these last couple of weeks and it started back in January with the end of the season and a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouth. Everything we’ve done is keeping that eagerness inside of us and drive to come out here and hit somebody else.”
That chance to hit somebody else comes Saturday at noon when the Flyers kick off the 2018 season at home against Robert Morris.
Flyers coach Rick Chamberlin returns 17 starters from last season, but he said there are concerns at some key positions on the field.
“The opener is always a question mark,” Chamberlin said. “You’re not sure what this team is like until you play somebody.”
Chamberlin insists that this year’s opener is even tougher since Robert Morris comes in with a new head coach, a new offense and a new defense.
Robert Morris got a rare win in the series last season. The Colonials beat the Flyers 13-10 in Coraopolis, Pa., one of only two RMU wins last season.
There is nothing new about the guy running the Dayton offense. Alex Jeske returns for his fourth season as the Flyers starting quarterback.
“It feels like he’s been here forever,” starting tackle Ben Gauthier said. “We’ve got playmakers across the board and I think Alex will distribute it to them and I think we can put some points up this year.”
Chamberlin said the other side of the ball is the big question mark coming out of summer camp — an inexperienced defense will have to grow up quickly.
“How are our new defensive guys going to respond at key positions like corner and linebacker,” the coach said. “We’ve got some veterans like Nick Surges, David Leisring, and Tim Simon, but there are some new faces out there we have to see how they respond in a game.”
If there is a positive about a losing season it’s the returning players carrying a chip on their shoulders coming into this season, but Chamberlin wants his guys thinking about the future a lot more than the past.
“Last year is last year,” Chamberlin said. “I don’t care if we were under .500 or if we were undefeated, that’s done. This is a brand new year and a brand new team that has to show it’s identity and make it’s mark this season.
Robert Morris at Dayton, 1 p.m., AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO