By Connor Smith
The College’s football team is hoping it hasn’t lost any momentum from a late 2015 season surge.
The football team’s season mirrored an underdog’s tale of redemption. The Lions sunk to unimaginable lows, which included a loss against a Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham squad that hadn’t won a game since its 2013 opener against the Lions.
The College staggered to a 0-5 record, which cast a shadow on its homecoming matchup with Montclair State University. Those faithful to the football team were rewarded with a 23-20 win that included a defensive stop with seconds on the clock.
With renewed confidence, the Lions converted their lone win into a four-game winning streak, all against conference opponents.
With a 4-4 record in conference play (4-5 overall), the Lions salvaged what could have been a disastrous season. Still, they banded together and finished fifth in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
The Lions struggled in quarters one through three, as they were outscored by opponents 162-82. In the fourth quarter, however, they scored 60 to their opponents’ 39. If they can improve their early-game, the Lions could be poised for a winning season.
Most of the team’s offense came in the air, which included 76 of its 137 first downs and 11 of its 20 touchdowns on offense. That should continue in 2016, as both passers, senior Michael Marchesanoare and junior Trevor Osler, are back for the upcoming season.
This year, the Lions must once again overcome low expectations. The NJAC preseason rankings have them pegged as eighth in a conference of 10 teams. Although these rankings are subjective, the Lions have room for improvement. A class of 28 incoming freshmen could be what coach Wayne Dickens needs to pull ahead.
The Lions will begin their season on the road against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday, Sept. 3. They must wait until Saturday, Sept. 24, for their home opener against Christopher Newport University. Homecoming will take place on Saturday, Oct. 29, against William Paterson University.
With last season’s momentum, a fresh slate and a mixture of seasoned vets and young talent, the Lions have a chance to overcome the odds for a second straight season.