UNH Football: Wildcats look to turn a new leaf this Thursday night



Josiah Silver

Spencer Marks, Sports Editor

Durham, N.H. – It is officially game week for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats, and all the unanswered questions posed this offseason will finally be answered this Thursday night at Wildcat Stadium. 

There is no arguing that this off-season was different than the past nearly quarter century, as new Head Coach Rick Santos guided the football players of UNH through this transition. Santos, a former record-setting quarterback for the ‘Cats, worked under the reigns of previous long-time Head Coach Sean McDonnell as the team’s quarterback coach. McDonnell announced his retirement following the completion of last season after 23 seasons atop the helm for the Wildcats.

Coming into this season players already have a good understanding of Santos’s play calling which should lead to an advantage for the win-hungry team despite having a new coach. Following the 2022 Blue-White spring game, Red-Shirt first-year wide receiver Joey Corcoran, a confident wideout from across the border in Montreal, reiterated the team has “probably the most confidence in the [Colonial Athletic Association] right now.”

A confident team, however, is only as optimistic as its leader, and this season the Wildcats get back their eager starting quarterback sophomore Max Brosmer. After a season-ending injury last year, Brosmer has worked tirelessly to get back to full strength. The optimism is all confirmed by head coach Santos who praised the offense’s commander.

“He’s one of our hardest workers, one of our best leaders. I think he’s eager for it, and he’s hungry. If anybody can come back from that long hiatus, it’s him.”

Luckily for Brosmer, he is surrounded by weapons and an offensive line that will help him advance down the gridiron. 

“It’s [the team’s offense] awesome,” said Brosmer, “We’re rolling right now, it’s a new look and a new feel and I am very excited to showcase it on Thursday.”

Junior running back Dylan Laube is a prime example of a quarterback’s best friend. Last season, Laube led the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) in all-purpose yards with 147.4 yards a game averaging a whopping 6.3 yards a carry. Brosmer spoke on the importance of the teams star running back. 

“When you have Dylan Laube in the back field and you throw him a check down or hand him the ball off and he can take something from being eaten up to a 20 yard gain, that is huge for the offense.”

There should be no reason to see that production slow down this season, given the sheer experience of the ‘Cats offensive line. Junior center Osho Omoyeni and graduate student left tackle Patrick Flynn bring just that to the table for this offense. 

The offense is also joined by star junior wide receivers Sean Coyne and Bryan Espanet, along with six-foot-four sophomore tight end, Kyle Lepkowski. All of them are poised for big seasons with Brosmer back to passing the ball. 

On the other side of the ball stands what many call the strength of this Wildcat team. Highlighted by sophomore defensive end Josiah Silver, the ‘Cats defense is what stands out to head coach Santos. 

Since Silver stepped foot on UNH’s field, his impact has been unimaginable. He recorded 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss, along with six forced fumbles. On top of that, Silver racked up several awards, including Associated Press FCS All-America Second Team, All-America Third Team by both Stats Perform and Phil Steele, CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year, All-CAA First Team, All-New England Team, a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award (national freshman of the year). If that is not enough to sell you on the star player, he tied for second place in forced fumbles, fifth place in sacks, and seventh place in tackles for loss in national rankings.

Head coach Santos expressed that he has no concerns about any decline in production from Silver.

“We haven’t seen anything that would indicate [Silver] is going to have a sophomore slump,” said Santos. “He’s played really well all spring, he’s been a great leader for us, he’s shows up every day, he’s consistent, and a great worker. So, he’s an unbelievable young man, and we expect big things from him” 

Silver is just the surface of this defense as he is joined by other top-quality players, including senior tackle Niko Kvietkus, who, despite missing the final three games last season, led the team in quarterback hurries (4). The Wildcats will be happy to have him back this Thursday night. 

UNH fans should look out for Sophomore Noah Stansbury making his debut at corner-back after switching over from safety this past off-season. Stansbury led the team in interceptions last season with three. While Senior Safety Pop Bush had just one less, his experience on the field will contribute to the pure confidence of the defense. 

It will also be hard to miss the hard-hitting linebacker core of junior Bryce Shaw and sophomore Oleh Manzyk who unfortunately has been ruled out for week one due to a, “herniated disc and a couple stress fractures and his back is something they were trying to figure out if he was gonna need surgery or not,” head coach Santos said, “But we would look to get him integrated in the next few weeks if his injury allows him to do so.” 

The new-found CAA Monmouth University Hawks will travel to Wildcat Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff in front of a crowd full of fired-up Wildcat fans. For those who cannot make it to the game, it can be live streamed on Flo Football and broadcast on radio stations: 610 AM, 96.7 FM, and 930 AM.