Tony DeMeo

DeMeo has high hopes for UC improvement

DeMeo has high hopes for UC improvement

By Michael Polak
Charleston Gazette
August 2, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four years into his stay at the University of Charleston, football coach Tony DeMeo can be pretty proud of his accomplishments.

When practice starts next Aug. 8, DeMeo will be leading a team that has gone 16-7 in league play since it became eligible for a West Virginia Conference title in 2005.

After reviving the program in 2003 after a 47-year absence, UC hired DeMeo in 2005, and he’s lead the team to a 21-12 mark in three seasons.

“I’ve had a good staff,” DeMeo said. “Two great coordinators and a very supportive community behind the team.”

UC was projected to finish third in the conference last week by sportswriters, behind four-time defending champion Shepherd, which has won 30 of its last 31 league games, and West Liberty. Shepherd and West Liberty were the only conference schools to defeat UC last year.

DeMeo feels this year’s UC team might be his best yet.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t tell you how many wins we are going to have,” DeMeo said. “But I think this year we’re going to have the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

DeMeo, the 2005 WVC coach of the year, has helped turn UC around with a spread option offensive attack.

“The Jimmys and the Joes are more important than the X’s and O’s,” DeMeo said. “The student-athletes are what’s made this program successful.”

Quarterback DeRante Hunter passed for 1,170 yards, ran for 896 with and had a hand in 18 touchdowns in 2007.

“DeRante is going to get better, no doubt,” DeMeo said. “There’s no substitute for an experienced soldier. He’s only scratched the surface of his capabilities.”

UC also returns wideout Terrence Spencer, who lead the team with 30 catches in 2007, averaging 18.1 yards and scoring six touchdowns.

“Spencer is probably one of the best wideouts in the conference,” DeMeo said.

UC’s defense will be anchored by several experienced starters. In 2006, the team started eight freshmen, all of whom have developed into three-year starters.

“We played eight freshmen on defense in 2006, my hair was black before that,” DeMeo joked. “But you know the old saying: Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That happened with those guys.”  

 Along with building successful teams on the field, DeMeo has committed himself to keeping his team sound academically.

“We haven’t taken any shortcuts,” DeMeo said. “The average GPA for our recruiting class this year was a 3.2 with an ACT average of 22. We want to prove to everybody we can do it the right way.”

Charleston Gazette