Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unsung heroes: Staten, Petrucci, Tipton step up when needed

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || September 22, 2010

They know their roles.

Armond Staten is just a backup linebacker. Mike Petrucci is just a backup linebacker. And Zurlon Tipton, he’s just a “punk freshman.”

“That’s my role this year,” Tipton said. “I’m just out there to get the team a win. Wherever they need me, whenever they tell me to go in, I do what I can to get the job done.”

And it’s going to take whatever these three can give for the Chippewas to get the job done this season. The trio made their presence felt loud and clear in Saturday afternoon’s 52-14 victory against Eastern Michigan.

“The more guys that can play in games like that, the better off your football team is going to be,” said CMU head coach Dan Enos.

Against Hampton, Staten recovered a fumble. Against Temple, Petrucci filled in for an injured Nick Bellore.

And against EMU, Tipton scored in his first game back in over a year, after an injury ended his season last year and a suspension began his season this year.

They ran, they tackled, they scored and unfortunately for head coach Dan Enos, put together a nice little highlight tape of plays to show the rest of Central Michigan’s opponents that if and when the next Chippewas starter gets injured, there is an army of backups ready to step in and perform.

“For any position on your football team, the more guys that can play in games like that, the better off your football team is going to be,” Enos said. “You need to have capable backups, and we’re very fortunate.”
And it didn’t take Enos very long to see just how fortunate the team was.


“It’s my job to stay consistent and ready to back up,” said Petrucci, a junior linebacker that put a defensive exclamation point on Saturday’s win with a 43-yard fumble recovery touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter. “It’s been good to be able to contribute.”

On the play, Petrucci trailed sophomore linebacker Alex Smith on a strong side blitz. After Smith clobbered Eagles quarterback Devontae Payne in the backfield, the ball fell into Petrucci’s hands.

And then, in front of his mom, dad, brother Pat and a couple of his friends, he ran.

“I was just going as fast as I could,” he said. “To be honest, I thought I was going to get run down and caught.”

He didn’t, and the Chippewas defense had their first touchdown of the year.

“We knew that if he was given the opportunity he would step up to the plate,” Enos said. “He’s played very well the past two weeks, is very capable and works very hard.”

One of the first to greet Petrucci on the sidelines was fellow junior linebacker Armond Staten, who recorded a team-high and career-high 13 tackles in CMU’s win Saturday, playing most of the game as he continues to work to secure his spot as starting linebacker.


“I didn’t even know about it until the reporters told me afterword,” he said of the milestone. “I was just doing my job.”

After seeing limited time in his first two years, Staten came into camp with a starting job this fall before injuries derailed him.

“He was up-and-down in the fall and nicked up,” Enos said. “He ended up losing his job but to his credit, Armond didn’t pout or anything. He just kept working. He’s a team guy and a hard worker.”

And as of Tuesday night, he’s listed atop the team’s depth chart at strong side linebacker.

“Compared to when I first got here,” he said, “I’m a completely different person and player.”


Just like Zurlon Tipton.

Tipton, a redshirt freshman from Detroit, was injured on a kickoff return in CMU’s game against Alcorn State last season. He was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, and worked last season to rehab his injured left wrist, which at one time saw a bone popping out of his arm, and another time, had pins screwed into that bone.

“I feel good now,” he said. “Especially coming back to play football. Sitting around wasn’t going to help anything, so I just got in the weight room everyday and got stronger.”

It’s shown. He busted two runs for 10 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, the first of his career, in the fourth quarter.

“It felt real good,” he said of getting back on the field. “When you’re out for a year, you step out there and it feels real good. That touchdown was just a plus.”

Enos, who had to suspend Tipton for a violation of team policy earlier this season, sees the running back getting better each day.

“The sky’s the limit for him potentially,” Enos said. “The more he plays, the more he’ll get better and we think he’ll be a very, very good back by the end of the season.”

So whether it’s Armond Staten, Mike Petrucci, Zurlon Tipton or any of the second-and-third string cast of characters that make up the infrastructure of a college football team, the backups should be ready.

“Like I tell the guys,” Enos said. “You’re going to be given an opportunity at some point and you just want to make sure you continue to prepare yourself, so when you get that opportunity you are successful.”

Until then, these guys know their roles.

No comments: