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Hull returns to face 'Saders.

Lee Hull played four years at Holy Cross and was a member of the Crusaders' undefeated 1987 team, so fantastic Fitton Field memories abound for the former HC wide receiver.

"I had a lot of good times on the hill,'' said Hull, Morgan State's first-year coach who will return to his alma mater Saturday as his team takes on HC in the Crusaders' home opener. "A lot of feelings will come back and it will be a little nostalgic. It will be very, very strange being on the opposite sideline, but once the ball kicks off it's a football game and you coach.''

Hull spent 18 years in Worcester, so his return will be a sort of homecoming. After graduating from Holy Cross and playing in the CFL, Hull, a Vineland, New Jersey, native, served as an assistant at Auburn High, coached at South High and was on Dan Allen's Holy Cross staff from 1998-2002. Hull's wife, Stacey, is from Worcester. The couple has three children, Alexander, Jordan and Laila.

"I'm excited,'' Hull said. "I'm going to have a lot of family and friends and alumni there, but at the end of the day it's just a game and that's how I want our guys to feel about it -- 'it's a game to go out there and play. Don't worry about it being a homecoming for me.' They just need to relax and play.''

Morgan State, which plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, hired the 48-year-old Hull in January. From 2003-07, Hull was at Oregon State, where he coached the running backs then wide receivers. For the last six years, Hull was the wide receivers coach at Maryland.

Morgan State had some very good teams in the 1960s and 1970s when the Bears won six conference titles, including MEAC crowns in 1971 and 1979. The school's recent football history has been less successful. Morgan State, which finished 5-7 last year, hasn't had a winning season since 2009.

The university is hoping Hull can help turn that around.

"Going through the interview process here, you could tell that they want to bring that tradition back,'' Hull said. "There is great support for the football program and you could just feel they were eager to have a winner back.''

The Bears dropped their opener, 31-28, last week at Eastern Michigan, but Hull was encouraged.

"We left a couple plays out there that could have been the differences in the game,'' he said, "but for the first time with new coaches, new systems, I think the guys did a great job of doing exactly what we wanted with the plays and what they were designed to do. It takes time, but they're coming along and I'm excited about their effort.''

Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Holy Cross and Morgan State.

HC coach Tom Gilmore said the Bears will be the biggest team the Crusaders face this year -- Morgan State's starting offensive line averages 332 pounds -- and he is also impressed with their mix of skill on both sides.

Morgan State players will continue to play with heavy hearts after losing one of their own in the preseason.

Freshman defensive lineman Marquese Meadow was hospitalized after becoming disoriented following an Aug. 10 practice and died two weeks later. According to reports, Meadow's death was the result of heat stroke.

The team attended his funeral Tuesday. The Bears have dedicated their season to Meadow and are wearing his initials on the back of their helmets.

"It's been very difficult,'' Hull said. "Marquese was in our lives a very short time, but everyone came to love him. He was a very jovial and upbeat guy. These guys are pretty resilient. They're strong. They know what they're playing for. The loss last Saturday hurt because they put their hearts and souls in to win for Marquese. They're doing a good job of trying to stay focused and trying to stay positive.''

HC's Guild out indefinitely

Holy Cross sophomore running back Gabe Guild, who suffered a concussion late in last week's loss at Albany, is out indefinitely.

"He won't play Saturday,'' Gilmore said. "We don't know anything beyond this week.''

As he carried the ball, Guild's helmet was knocked off and he was taken from Bob Ford Field on a stretcher, but Gilmore said earlier this week he was improving.

"He's doing well under the circumstances,'' Gilmore said. "Obviously at this point we're hoping for a full recovery and he feels good about that happening in the near future. We have to follow a bunch of protocols and I think that's a good thing, and we'll see how that works out.''

Guild fumbled on the play, and the Great Danes returned the loose ball 79 yards for the winning touchdown with 44 seconds left.

Guild, the Crusaders' lead back, carried 23 times for 75 yards and also had a 34-yard reception. Guild was HC's leading rusher in 2013.

"He had a productive night for us and (his absence) will hurt us from a football standpoint,'' Gilmore said, "but our immediate concern then and now is his health. From a football standpoint, other guys on the depth chart are going to have to step up. Not having Gabe in the lineup is certainly a negative.''

Sophomore tailback Brendan Flaherty, who did not make the trip to Albany due to a sprained ankle, is penciled in atop the depth chart with freshman Diquan Walker backing him up.

Local schedule...

Assumption opened its 2014 season Thursday night. The rest of the locals get started tonight. WPI senior running back Zach Grasis of East Brookfield will try to extend his streak of games with 100 rushing yards to five when the Engineers travel to Curry. Worcester State hosts Anna Maria, Fitchburg State is at Becker, and Nichols is at Westfield State. Kickoff for all four games is 7 p.m.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 5, 2014
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