Football hopes for better season

By Matthew Shaffer
Signal Contributor

After a 3-7 record during the 2018 season, the Lions will look to bounce back in 2019. 

This year’s roster will look drastically different, since the team will be without eight seniors who graduated this past spring. 

According to head coach Casey Goff, replacing leadership and experience after players graduate is always a challenge that annually plagues any team.

“Players like Max Busca (’19), the team’s leading tackler in 2018, will be hard to replace, as goes for losing any senior,” he said.

Goff will enter his third year at the helm of this young roster, and is hopeful to lead the Lions to a playoff appearance in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. Acknowledging last year’s issues on defense, such as allowing 31 points per game, he started by hiring a new face at defensive coordinator with Edwyn Edwards. 

Edwards had an impressive track record at King’s College, where his defense held its opponents to under 10 points three times in 2018 and compiled a 5-5 record. 

With a new defensive coordinator and the return of some senior defensive players, it could revamp the team’s secondary. Senior defensive back Sam Jackson, who was injured for the majority of last season, has proven to be a game changer. Jackson had four interceptions during his sophomore year in addition to being one of the team’s leading tacklers. 

On the offensive end, sophomore Dave Jachera — an NJAC Offensive Rookie of the Year — and junior Andrew Donoghue will be at the quarterback position. The two players were bright spots for the team last season, keeping their opponents on edge with Jachera’s running ability and Donoghue’s strong arm. 

Donoghue moves through a hole in the line as he runs for a down (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk).

Returning for their senior year as wide receivers are top targets Vinny Gukin and Jack Clevenger, who will be joined by multiple incoming freshmen. 

A main focus this offseason was not only to bulk up as a whole, but specifically focus on the offensive line. Goff mentioned that many of the team’s players honed in on nutrition and weightlifting to bulk up during the offseason, and look visibly prepared to face the tougher teams slated for 2019, such as Wesley College and Montclair State University. 

According to Goff, it’s a consensus among the coaches that the team is “turning the corner in terms of a winning mentality, physical preparedness and overall numbers going into the 2019 year.” 

The Lions will kick off their season on Sept. 7 at Muhlenberg College, followed by their home opener against SUNY College at Cortland on Sept. 14.

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