Kickoff Countdown: Coach Russell Gaskamp takes Ravens football in new direction

By Andrew Hoenig ’19

The Franklin Pierce Ravens football team is officially moving ahead into 2019 with their eyes locked on entering their first season in NCAA Division II play.

Russell Gaskamp looks to bring a new energy to Division II Ravens Football (Photo: Andrew Cunningham)

Franklin Pierce hired Russell Gaskamp in December 2018 following the school’s transition year, which saw the Ravens face off against both sprint football teams and NCAA competition. The team’s final season in the Collegiate Sprint Football League was officially 2017, which saw then head coach Rashad Watson lead the squad to a 3-4 finish in the CSFL in his first season. After the transition season in 2018, Watson elected to resign in order to return home to his family, but he thanked the school and Athletics Director Rachel Burleson in his resignation statement.

Now, Gaskamp is tasked with bringing Raven Nation its own official football team right in the backyard of Rindge, New Hampshire.

“This is a beautiful and wonderful part of the United States to live in, and the idea of starting a football program basically from scratch is, I really think, almost every coach’s dream,” said Gaskamp.

As former coach of Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Gaskamp spent seven seasons at the helm of the Aggies and guided them to a 35-38 record, including an appearance in the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship game after a 6-5 campaign in 2018.

“You know, you get to start it and you can’t blame anybody else. It’s all on you and that’s a very cool and unique situation,” Gaskamp said. The new coach is a 1999 graduate of the University of Texas and was an offensive lineman for the Longhorns. He helped pave the way for Heisman trophy winner, Ricky Williams.

Gaskamp touched on his approach to making the Aggies a success during his time at Panhandle State and talked about his plans for the Ravens heading into the 2019 season.

The team loosens up with a morning stretch before workout (Photo: Andrew Hoenig)

“We committed to a three-year plan to start getting things going [at Panhandle]. We knew we weren’t going to be able to fix all the issues year one, but we had guys who bought into it,” Gaskamp said. “This thing does come down to recruiting and the type of kids you bring to campus. Franklin Pierce is a beautiful campus and the people here are warm and welcoming and have been great during that process for us.”

Gaskamp and the team recently released their 25-player recruiting class for the Ravens’ first year in Division II contention.

“The culture that I want to try to establish with our football team is that we are a family and that I am the head of the family. I take that job very seriously and we want our kids to be happy and healthy and to play sports and have a great experience in college,” said Gaskamp. “There’s a lot of those things that I think are going to come together in the next couple years that will make it so that we have an outstanding football program here at Franklin Pierce University.”

The team’s schedule has already been announced and can be found on fpuravens.com along with updates as recruiting continues.

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