This season is not the breakout one that the St. Francis Red Flash players and coaches had anticipated prior to the 2006 football campaign.

After an opening-season victory over St. Peter’s, the Flash (1-4 overall, 0-1 Northeast Conference) have lost four straight games entering today’s conference contest at Central Connecticut (4-1, 0-1).

St. Francis has lost consecutive home games to La Salle and Robert Morris, and coach Dave Opfar, who is searching for answers to turn the season around, said that a road trip may be the best antidote for the team.

“We have to keep everything in focus right now,” Opfar said. “We’re 0-1 right now, and maybe the best medicine we could probably have is a nice road trip to get away from here. Maybe we’ll pull together on the road.”

The Red Flash fell to Robert Morris 45-13 last week to fall to 0-1 in the NEC. In 2005, the Flash defeated Robert Morris in Pittsburgh and then followed with a 31-28 victory over Central Connecticut at Johnstown High School’s Trojan Stadium.

Those two wins keyed a strong NEC performance for the team, which eventually finished 3-4 in the conference. That led to optimism for the 2006 season, something that has not come to fruition.

The problems can be seen by looking at the offense, which was the team’s strong point the past two years. Senior quarterback Anthony Doria became the NEC’s top career passer last week, but his numbers for the season illustrate the problems he has experienced.

Doria averaged more than 289 passing yards per game last season, but this year he has averaged just 135 yards per game with only three touchdown passes on the season. Last year he threw 21 touchdowns.

Doria has completed 54 of 117 passes for 677 yards this year, with two interceptions.

The offensive struggles led Opfar to speculate after the Robert Morris game about some of the problems with the offense.

“I lost an offensive coordinator; I did not fire one,” Opfar said about Paul Failla. “He did things differently than we’re doing right now. I feel for (offensive coordinator) Kevin Rock right now because he is frustrated because of the success that they had (in the past). It is just tough right now.”

Failla left St. Francis to take a similar job at IUP, but then left the IUP staff over the summer to pursue a career out of coaching. Rock was the St. Francis offensive line coach last year.

Central Connecticut lost its NEC opener to Albany 24-21 two weeks ago.

The Blue Devils are keyed by running back Justise Hairston, a transfer from Rutgers who has recorded 659 yards on 93 carries (7.1 a carry).

Todd Harris leads the Red Flash in rushing with 579 yards on 125 carries (4.6 per carry).

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