Connect with us

Duquesne Football

Duquesne Football Looks To Turn Page, Return To Standard



As he stood on midfield following a Thursday training camp session, Duquesne graduate student defensive back Zeke M. Daure could not help but reflect on 2019, his freshman season with the team.

It was players such as Reid Harrison-Ducros, Jake Dixon, Bill O’Malley and Spencer DeMedal who showed him the way then.

Following an uncharacteristic 4-7 2022 season marred by both injuries and close losses, Daure has tried to step up in an effort to achieve the success this program is accustomed to reaching.

“I think we’re getting back to our roots,” he stated. “We’re getting back to that and the standard they set. I think we lost it a little bit, but we’re getting back to that and what’s expected from us every year.”

That all starts with Saturday’s noon home contest against Edinboro.

Duquesne was selected to tie for third place in the NEC Preseason Poll, earning one first-place vote in the process.

From a player standpoint, junior wide receiver Joey Isabella (12 rec/191 yds/2 TD) and junior defensive lineman A.J. Ackerman (13 solo tackles/2.5 sacks) were selected as members of the NEC Preseason All-Conference Team.

Duquesne Football Coach Jerry Schmitt once again leads the Dukes in this, his 19th season and has been pleased with both the buy in and competitive nature that training camp brought.

“These guys have really worked to build team unity and stick together through all of the challenges that we went through last season,” said Schmitt. “These guys have grown through the offseason and are working as a group really hard and brought the newcomers in to what we do here. It is quite encouraging for me to see the way they got through camp.”

A lot of what Duquesne has done has been built by the team’s brand of football, playing physically, fast and smart, with the third being most important.

The mental aspect has been engrained in this team, understanding that having a short-term memory is important, as is learning from mistakes.

“There’s a lot of that mental aspect,” Schmitt explained. “A lot of teaching, technique, muscle memory and also like to train our brains over and over so we’re not thinking as much during the game. When you do it together and get through the dog days of camp, then you hang out after, eat together and play Xbox, you grow as a team.”

Photo credit Duquesne Athletics

From a quarterbacking perspective, the job belongs to junior Darius Perrantes (7 games/539 yds/6 TDs). Perrantes previously back up Joe Mischler in each of the past two seasons but now the job is his.

Schmitt believes that possessing that familiarity will serve Perrantes well, though it does not hurt that he has felt good all season as he improves on timing with his receivers.

“It’s a big honor,” Perrantes said of the starting job. “I worked hard for this. Obviously, my teammates and coaches put me in the best position every opportunity I get. Everything happens for a reason… not everything goes your way but if you take it a day at a time, you’ll get there.”

Photo credit Duquesne Athletics

In the last few days leading up to the opening kickoff, there are still battles to be had, though Schmitt has told his team that just because someone is standing there on the game’s first play, does not mean the same can be said for future contests.

It is the constant competition that will provide opportunities for many across the roster.

Offensively, Schmitt believes that redshirt sophomore running back JaMario Clements (45 rushes/220 yds/1 TD) is ready to go. Clements has patiently waited during each of the past couple of years but there is a chance that this could be his time, particularly due to clear strides and displaying what he has learned.

Daure echoed that sentiment and believes that another redshirt sophomore running back, Taj Butts, a Missouri transfer has added some needed intensity on the field.

It is very clear that the team’s defensive backfield can be a strength for this team.

Junior defensive back Donovan Stanley is healthy. The Ohioan started five of nine games in 2021 but was limited to just one game a season ago.

Another junior DB Jaelen Carson (six GP/19 tackles) is fully healthy and can be expected to be a force. Daure (two starts/9 gp/2 INTs) is also expected to be a difference maker.

Junior linebacker Shane Stump has competed in 25 games over the course of his Dukes career including 11 seasons and his experience in snap counts could go a long way.

Daure had high marks for junior defensive lineman Kevin Kurzinger. Kurzinger started all 10 games a season ago and his 38 tackles ranked fourth on the team. He also spoke highly of Ackerman and redshirt sophomore defensive back Ayden Garnes.

As a team, all parties feel that the camaraderie is in a far better place and a lot of that came with plenty of individuals working out over the summer and watching film, in addition to some of the transfers coming in and learning the system.

By no means have practices been perfect, but the Dukes have fed off of each other’s energy and held true to Schmitt’s ‘Dukes adjust’ mantra.

“I had to have some hard conversations with some guys, but that’s part of it,” Dauer revealed. “At the end of the day everyone that’s still here is invested in what we want and that’s to win every game we play and the NEC Championship, but first thing’s first, we want to beat Edinboro.”

As Perrantes sees it, the team is plenty motivated but has balanced that motivation with making strides towards being its best version, taking big strides in the process.

“Losses, they come but being able to stay together, and have good team chemistry, even with the coaches, that will take us a long way,” stated the third-year quarterback.

Duquesne’s season-opening game against Edinboro certainly has some bragging rights on the line as head coach Jake Nulph was with the Dukes program in 2018 and defensive coordinator Tony Papley also was on the team’s sideline for six seasons.

Throughout the team’s camp, Duquesne has been a prepared side and as a bunch of Dukes concluded a Thursday practice with sprints, Schmitt believes that this team has plenty to prove, but this has been approached on a daily basis.

“Obviously you don’t like to have a season where you don’t come out on top more times, but we looked at every play and every game trying to get better,” he concluded. “We’re going to carry that stuff into this year.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
Click to comment
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend