With a new coach and some key veterans, the College’s football team is looking to bounce back from a tough 2016 season.
Last season, the Lions went 2-8 and were outscored 291-100 in their 10 games. The Lions did end the year on a positive note, winning two of the last three games, which included a 42-28 win over William Paterson University during Homecoming.
This year the Lions will play six games at home and are projected to be 10th in the NJAC, even though they beat two of the teams last year that are projected to be ranked above them — William Paterson and Southern Virginia University.
The Lions also have a good number of veterans coming back to play on both sides of the ball. On defense All-Conference honorable mention senior defensive end Shane Kelly is returning along with linebackers Troy Domenick and Kevin Hennelly. Other returning veterans are juniors Max Busca and Jesse Streb. Kelly will also be joined on the defensive line with sophomore defensive lineman Erik Graham.
The offense has seniors at key positions like quarterback Trevor Osler, tight end Chase Vena and wide receiver Gabriel Rios. Vena and Rios will be primary targets while the rushing attack will be lead by senior running backs Chad Scott and Khani Glover.
Casey Goff, a 14-year veteran coach for college football, is the Lions’ new head coach. Last year, he led Defiance College to a 5-5 record. He joined the College in late July.
As head coach he hopes to turn the Lions’ fortunes around and get back to our winning traditions. “The first steps are to get the team on our page and secure the 2017 staff,” Goff told The Signal. “I’m eager to reach out to everyone and let them know about me and my expectations and obviously answer any questions they have to make this process as seamless as possible. I’m also eager to get rolling with (assistant coach Rocky Hager) and make sure that we do everything in our power to prep this team to win ball games this fall.”
The NJAC is skeptical of the Lion’s ability to turn things around this season, but with last season behind them and under a new regime, the Lions can look to the future with cautious optimism. With a stacked schedule with three ranked teams early on, the Lions need to keep games close to stay competitive.
The season kicks off on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at home for the Lions. Then they travel to ranked Frostburg State University on Sept. 9. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start. The Lions’ homecoming game will be on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. at home and their Senior Day is Nov. 11 at noon, also at home.
The playoffs may be a challenge for the Lions, but a change of regime may be the refresher that the football team needs.