Sharing More Than The Middle

Roman SanDoval & Scotty O'Donoghue

By Barrett Holden
Special to

The duo of Scotty O'Donoghue and Roman SanDoval patrol the middle of the Crusader defense, but there is much more to the connection between the two linebackers. Now in their fourth season together, these two provide stability and leadership in the heart of Holy Cross' defense. "Playing linebacker together for four years now, Roman and I are pretty close," explained O'Donoghue. "During practice we are both able to coach each other up to make sure we are prepared to put our team in the best position to win. We value each other's opinion about what we are seeing on the field so we can make adjustments accordingly. We both are accountable to our team and to each other to make sure we are getting done what needs to be done for us to be successful on Saturdays."

O'Donoghue is a fourth-year senior with the Crusaders by way of Sickles High School in Tampa, Fla. While the 1,300 miles separating Tampa from Worcester prevent his parents from being able to see many games in person, they continue to support him and be a major influence in his life. "They have always supported me in my athletic and academic endeavors," said O'Donoghue. "I couldn't thank my parents enough, for driving me to all my practices when I was younger or never missing a single game, whether they were there in person or watching the game over a live feed."

All that support has clearly paid off for O'Donoghue throughout his career. During his freshman and sophomore years, he was a major contributor on special teams, collecting seven tackles in each season in addition to seeing time as a reserve linebacker. As a junior in 2012, O'Donoghue then stepped in to a much more prominent role as one of the rocks of the Crusaders defense. Through the team's first six games he made five starts at inside linebacker and recorded 36 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a blocked punt and two pass breakups. His biggest highlight came in a 13-6 defeat of Bucknell where he led the team with six tackles, broke up a pass, and blocked a punt to set up a Crusader field goal. The effort earned him AT&T Crusader of the Week honors.

Unfortunately O'Donoghue's tremendous season would come to an early end as an injury on the opening kickoff of the Colgate game cost him the remainder of the season. That feeling of losing a promising year to injury is certainly something SanDoval can relate to. In his 2011 junior season SanDoval played in the team's first three games making one start, recording 15 tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss. In his start against Harvard, SanDoval led the team with nine tackles en route to a victory over the Crimson. Unfortunately that would be his last appearance of the season as an injury would sideline him for the remainder of the year. He would receive a medical redshirt for the season, which gave him the ability to play for the Crusaders in both 2012 and 2013.

Upon coming to Holy Cross, SanDoval immediately made his presence known. As a freshman in 2009 he contributed on special teams and as a reserve linebacker, recording six tackles on the season. In his sophomore campaign he saw action in all 11 games (including his first start), finishing the year with 34 tackles and two 11-tackle games (against Massachusetts and Harvard). After missing the majority of the 2011 campaign due to injury, SanDoval returned in 2012 to have his best year with the Crusaders. He served as a team captain and saw action in nine games, starting seven. In those nine games SanDoval recorded 75 tackles which ranked him second on the team, eighth in the Patriot League and 78th in the nation. He also collected three sacks, five tackles for loss and two pass break ups, while leading the team in tackles three times and reaching double digits in tackles four times.

Now in his fifth year, SanDoval still feels the influence his family has had in making him the man he is today. "My family has been my most positive influence," explained SanDoval. "My dad has instilled in me a great work ethic and will to succeed. My mother has always shown me love and support in all of my decisions. And my three older brothers have always supplied me useful guidance." As is the case for O'Donoghue, the long distance from Pennsylvania to Worcester often prevents SanDoval's whole family from seeing games in person, but his parents try to make as many home games as possible and anyone who can't make it is watching on the internet.

As preparation for the 2013 season began SanDoval was able to offer support and personal experience to O'Donoghue with regards to coming back from injury. "I would always offer support to Scotty letting him know that his hard work during rehabilitation, although at times can be slow, will be well worth it when he ran out onto the field for the first time," SanDoval said. O'Donoghue really valued this support. "We kept in contact over the summer to check on each other's progress to make sure we would both be ready for the start of the 2013 season," said O'Donoghue. Both entered 2013 healthy and ready to finish out their careers as Crusaders.

With five regular season games remaining in their careers, O'Donoghue and SanDoval have both reflected on the important things they will carry with them after graduation. O'Donoghue says he will always carry with him the value of hard work that he has learned at Holy Cross. "It is very demanding at Holy Cross to be a student-athlete, but Holy Cross has taught me that nothing worth it is easy, and that the hard work pays off in the end," O'Donoghue explained. As he looks ahead to life after Holy Cross and a potential career in corporate finance, SanDoval will always remember his experiences on Mount St. James. "I have many great memories that I have made with my teammates over the five years I played here," SanDoval said.

There are still more of those memories to be made as O'Donoghue, SanDoval and the rest of the Crusader seniors complete their final season at Holy Cross. O'Donoghue and SanDoval will both continue to be important parts of the Crusader defense, but on their journey to this point they have shared much more than just that.

This story originally appeared in the October 19 edition of the Holy Cross Game Day Program, for the contest between the Crusaders and Colgate. To order a copy of the program, click here.