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Chartiers Valley grad Kuntz ready to tackle Duquesne's opposition

| Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted/Dave DeNoma
Christian Kuntz looks to tackle Dayton quarterback Will Bardo during Duquesne's 17-7 win over the Flyers on Sep. 8, 2012, at the Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field.
Submitted/ Dave DeNoma
Christian Kuntz finished his freshman season at Duquesne with 38 tackles.

In his first game with the Duquesne football team, Christian Kuntz was part of a play he still has trouble finding the words to explain.

The Dukes were leading Old Dominion on the road, 13-10, in the second quarter when Kuntz intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown.

“It leaves me speechless,” the Chartiers Valley grad said. “I definitely didn't expect that to happen. I don't think anyone did.”

The Monarchs rallied in the second half for a 57-23 win, but Kuntz added 12 tackles to lead all players in addition to his big play.

Kuntz finished his freshman season with 38 tackles — ranking him 10th on the Dukes' roster — while recording two tackles for losses and forcing two fumbles.

But his first season at Duquesne had its struggles.

It took a handful of practices before he got his playing legs under him after a yearlong hiatus from competition. As a senior at Chartiers Valley, he ruptured his spleen during a preseason practice and missed the entire 2011 season.

“It was awkward at first,” Kuntz said. “I felt a little out of it. It was weird putting pads on and getting my steps down. After a week or so, it started to come back.”

Kuntz turned out to be a good fit for the Dukes' 3-4 defensive scheme. He saw time at the middle and outside linebacker spots last year in a defense that uses linebackers to pressure the quarterback.

“It is almost like the Steelers defense,” Kuntz said. “Our linemen eat up all the blocks. We rely on them to be able to make a play. It is a really fun defense.”

With better knowledge of the playbook and a feel for the speed of the college game, Kuntz said he is focused on improving even more in his sophomore season.

“You always want to improve,” Kuntz said. “I had 38 tackles last year, but I should have had a lot more. I want to use that as motivation to get better.”

The Dukes finished 5-6 last season with a 3-5 mark in Northeast Conference action. Duquesne lost five of its final six games by a touchdown or less — a stat Kuntz and the Duquesne defense don't want to see repeated in 2013.

“I want to help the team do well,” Kuntz said. “I want to help us win a conference championship. We return a lot of talent and have a great recruiting class coming in. We are missing a few guys from last year, so there are some tough shoes to fill. But this season should be really good.

“We are really excited to get the season started.”

Duquesne gets its season underway Aug. 31 with a home game against Albany.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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