By Alex Valles
Bob Chesney is no stranger to reclamation projects as he enters his first foray into the Football Bowl Subdivision.
For the past five seasons, the first-year Holy Cross coach was at nearby Assumption College in Worcester, about a 20-minute drive away.
He posted a 44-16 record there, winning Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year twice.
Before his arrival, Assumption only posted two winning seasons in the past 17. Chesney posted winning marks in each year for the Greyhounds, going to the playoffs in each of his last three. Assumption managed to win the NE-10 twice over that span.
Before Assumption, Chesney coached Salve Regina, which won just 11 games from 2006-'09. Chesney eclipsed that total quickly with 14 victories in two years. He left Salve with a 23-9 mark after his third, leading the Seahawks an ECAC Bowl championship in 2011 and an NEFC Boyd Division title in 2012.
Chesney must feel right at home at Holy Cross, then. The Crusaders have only posted one winning season in the past six, when they went 6-5 in 2015.
Chesney hopes to put the program back on the map.
Coming off a 4-7 campaign in 2017, the Crusaders were projected to finish fourth in the Patriot League behind Colgate, Lehigh and Fordham. Chesney first needs to solidify the quarterback position with the loss of graduated Peter Pujals, who ended his career second in league history in passing yards (11,695). Pujals signed with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason.
The Crusaders reported to camp last weekend, and return four starters — all seniors — that were named preseason All-Patriot League: linebacker Ryan Brady, wide receiver Blaise Bell, defensive lineman Teddy Capsis and defensive lineman Neil Vorster.
With nine returning starters overall, the Crusaders need to get up to speed fast. They open the season on the road with defending Patriot League co-champion Colgate on September 1.