PHOTOS COURTESY OF LVC
They say getting there is half the fun. Well, if that indeed is the case, then this fall Lebanon Valley College will get a chance to find out how the other half lives.
There are two big, related questions swirling around the Flying Dutchmen football program as we speak.
1. Was last year’s breakthrough season an isolated incident? 2. Or was it just the first in a long line of championship-caliber campaigns?
For the first time in almost five decades, the Flying Dutchmen will begin the 2014 year as defending Middle Atlantic Conference champions. As LVC has begun to discover, there’s definitely a distinct difference from being the hunter and the hunted.
“It’s tougher to stay on top,” said Jim Monos, Lebanon Valley’s head yuppie. “The fact that we did it, there’s now a bulls eye on us. There are ten teams in the Middle Atlantic Conference, and I’ve got to believe that seven or eight of them have a chance to make a run if things fall right. There were times when you had to go undefeated to win the MAC. Last year we had two losses and shared the championship (with Lycoming). I think it’s going to be like that every year. It’s so competitive.
“I think this football team is excited about the goals they have,” continued Monos. “The big thing I’m looking at is how they respond to adversity. With the goal being to win the MAC, you bet we’re on the same page. That and going back to the postseason, and (this time) winning.”
Actually, last season was the Flying Dutchmen’s sixth consecutive successful season under Monos. But after spending most of that time knocking on the door, it was the first time Lebanon Valley broke through.
LVC’s shared conference title was its first since 1969, and it produced its first NCAA tournament appearance in program history. The bowl appearance was the Flying Dutchmen’s fourth in the past five seasons.
“I can’t remember a thing about it (2013),” joked Monos, whose teams have gone a combined 43-21 over the last six years. “But no, looking back on it, it was a heck of a run by a good football team. It was a run ride. It was a really neat experience.
There are other signs that Lebanon Valley is on the verge of something special. The Flying Dutchmen graduated 22 seniors from last year’s squad – just a huge number – but they replaced them with 42 first-year players – on a roster of 105.
Lebanon Valley will also field an even more amazing 24 seniors this season, including captains QB Brian Murphy, Division Three all-American Frank Gaffney, defensive end Joey Scerbo and offensive lineman Tyler Dean.
“Last year we lost 22 seniors, but a number of the guys we have back played last year,” said Monos. “They’re not inexperienced. They played. These guys know what it takes. They’ve been there.
“It’s not easy to win,” added Monos. “But that’s what this team has established – they know how to win.”
Murphy is a poised, seasoned and emotional leader who threw for 1,781 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He will be joined in the Flying Dutchmen’s talented backfield by junior Austin Hartman, who ran for 897 yards and 13 touchdowns, team MVP Brendon Irving and his 834 yards and seven TDs and junior fullback Bobby Conlon.
Receivers Tyler George, an Elco product who hauled in 21 balls for 302 yards and four touchdowns last year, and fellow senior Darryl Sweeper possess the skills to fill big shoes of departed teammates. Dean will anchor the offensive line from his tackle spot and will be joined up front by junior Zach Smith and sophomore Bryant Weller.
“There are areas in all three phases of the game where we need to get better,” said Monos. “Offensively, I didn’t think we ran the ball well on Saturday (in a scrimmage with Dickinson). We’ve got to be more consistent running the ball. Defensively, we need to be better at stopping the run.
“I think we’re really solid up front, offensively and defensively,” Monos added. “The concern is quality of depth. We’re trying to develop our two-deep roster. We’d like to create a situation where there’s not much drop-off when that next guy steps in.”
A 6-2, 215-pound beast out of Pine Grove, a holy terror for opposing quarterbacks and one of the best defensive players in LVC history, Gaffney is as important to the Flying Dutchmen defense as Murphy is to the offense. He, along with Zach Wierman, Alex Beamesderfer and Trevor St. Clair provide LVC with a quartet of experienced linebackers.
Charged with the assignment of occupying opponents for the purpose of keeping them off the LBs are a group of defensive linemen that includes Scerbo, nose tackle Clayton Williard and fellow defensive end Adam Soltys. Lebanon Valley’s defensive backfield will feature strong safety Kevin Antol and cornerbacks Bryan Ek and Fernando Almonte.
“I think we have the makings of a team,” said Monos. “The assimilation of our younger players has gone well. When you have new terminology, new coaches, it’s not an easy road. But our older players make it easier. I think our leadership is good. The fact that we have 24 seniors after graduating 22, that’s a good sign. That means we’re recruiting good student-athletes, who are sticking around to graduate.
“Coming into training camp, our focus was two-fold,” continued Monos. “We thought we had some concerns with quality depth. The second thing was staying healthy. We really tried to pick our spots (for going hard in practice) and the players responded to that.”
“It went great,” said Monos. “I felt really good about where we are as a football team. Our starters played about three series. But we also wanted to see what some of our younger guys could do under game situations.
“You get tired of hitting each other in practice,” Monos continued. “To go up against someone else was important. Preparing this week for F&M is different. I can tell our players are anxious and what we’re looking for. We’ll be ready to go Saturday.”
Saturday’s contest at one-time fierce rival Franklin and Marshall will mark the opener of the 118th season of football for Lebanon Valley College. A week later, the Flying Dutchmen will play their home opener at Arnold Field, against Widener.
“We always go into a season with the goal of winning the MAC championship,” said Monos. “But to do that, there is a sense of urgency early in the schedule. We need to be ready to go. The thing we talked about is a sense of urgency early. The MAC leads you to everything else. We’ve got to win on Saturday, and go from there.”
2014 Lebanon Valley Football Schedule
9/6 at Franklin & Marshall 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: F&M
9/13 Widener 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: LVCtv
9/20 at Stevenson 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: Stevenson
9/27 Delaware Valley 1 p.m.
Coach To Cure MD Game
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: LVCtv
10/4 at King’s 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: King’s
10/11 Misericordia 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: LVCtv
10/25 Wilkes 1 p.m.
Radio: WWSM 1510 AM | Video: LVCtv
11/1 at FDU-Florham 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: FDU-Florham
11/8 at Lycoming 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: Lycoming
11/15 albright 1 p.m.
Radio: WMSS 91.1 FM/WWSM 1510 AM | Video: LVCtv
2014 Middle Atlantic Conference Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1) Lycoming – 77 (5)
2) Delaware Valley – 68 (1)
3) Lebanon Valley – 65 (4)
4) Widener – 58
5) Albright – 48
6) King’s – 40
7) Stevenson – 38
8) Wilkes – 30
9) Misericordia – 19
10) FDU-Florham – 10
9/7 Montclair State W 15-14
9/14 at Widener * L 28-35
9/21 King’s * W 38-17
9/28 FDU-Florham * W 65-21
10/5 at Wilkes * W 17-6
10/12 Lycoming * W 14-7
10/26 at Misericordia * W 31-14
11/2 at Delaware Valley * W 34-31 OT
11/9 Stevenson * W 30-6
11/16 at Albright * L 25-40
11/23 at Wittenberg ^ L 17-59
2014 Lebanon Valley Football Roster
1 Tim Pirrone Fr. QB 5-10 152 Myersville, Md. / Middletown
2 Blake Lutz Fr. FS 6-0 176 Reading, Pa. / Berks Catholic
2 Darryl Sweeper Sr. WR 5-11 177 Reading, Pa. / Muhlenberg
3 Ricky Feggins Jr. CB 5-11 176 Cromwell, Conn. / Cromwell
3 Corey Keen So. WR 6-2 178 Wilkes-Barre, Pa. / James M. Coughlin
4 Cyree Sutton-Ames Fr. TB 5-7 185 Malvern, Pa. / Great Valley
5 Jeremy De La Cruz Fr. WR 5-7 178 Lebanon, Pa. / Lebanon
5 Zach Wierman Sr. CB 6-3 188 Harrisburg, Pa. / Central Dauphin
6 Randol Almonte Fr. CB 5-11 196 Lodi, N.J. / Lodi
6 Jeremy Franck Jr. QB 6-1 177 Ephrata, Pa. / Ephrata
7 Mike Gilger Fr. CB 5-7 161 Shamokin, Pa. / Our Lady of Lourdes
7 Mike Smith Sr. WR 5-8 182 Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central
8 C Frank Gaffney Sr. OLB 6-2 215 Pine Grove, Pa. / Blue Mountain
8 Kyle Zimnik Fr. WR 6-0 186 Milford, Pa. / Delaware Valley
9 Tyler George Sr. WR 6-3 198 Myerstown, Pa. / ELCO
9 Ryan Seagrave Fr. OLB 6-0 160 South Williamsport, Pa. / South Williamsport
12 Nick Cascarino So. FS 6-0 187 Lebanon, Pa. / Cedar Crest
13 Zack Boisvert Sr. CB 6-0 190 York Haven, Pa. / Red Land
13 Nick Costagliola Fr. QB 6-2 184 Lewisburg, Pa. / Lewisburg
14 Kevin O’Connell Sr. WR 6-2 176 Delhi, N.Y. / Delaware Academy & Central
14 Tim Schumacher Fr. SS 5-8 176 Myersville, Md. / Middletown
15 Andrew Deardorff Fr. K 5-9 163 Spring Mills, Pa. / Penns Valley
15 C Brian Murphy Sr. QB 6-1 182 Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Schuylkill Haven
16 Ben Petrie So. CB 5-8 151 Waynesboro, Pa. / Waynesboro
17 Kyle Beissel So. QB 6-2 205 Mohrsville, Pa. / Schuylkill Valley
18 Tyler Cottle Fr. QB 6-3 175 Elizabethtown, Pa. / Elizabethtown
19 Tyler Sterner Fr. QB 6-0 190 Hanover, Pa. / South Western
20 Charlie Galante Jr. FB 5-10 241 Milford, Del. / Milford
22 Jeff Hacker Sr. TB 5-8 171 Glen Rock, Pa. / South Western
22 Brandon McMinn Fr. FS 5-11 179 Hanover, Pa. / South Western
23 Reid Pavlik Jr. SS 5-7 174 Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central
24 Tanner Reed So. CB 5-10 162 New Holland, Pa. / Garden Spot
25 Jon Jones Fr. TB 5-10 189 Plant City, Fla. / Brandon
27 Connor Pierce Jr. FS 5-11 189 Mifflinburg, Pa. / Mifflinburg
28 Ja’von Nelson Fr. CB 5-9 166 Tampa, Fla. / Middleton
29 Kyle Murray So. FS 5-11 181 Sayville, N.Y. / Sayville
30 Spencer Moser Fr. TB 5-7 181 Denver, Pa. / Cocalico
31 Kevin Antol Jr. SS 6-3 214 Stevens, Pa. / Cocalico
32 DJ Johnson Sr. FS 5-11 175 Lititz, Pa. / Warwick
33 Jermaine McQueen So. DE 5-10 213 Philadelphia, Pa. / Milton Hershey
34 Matt Koshinski Jr. FB 5-8 209 Shillington, Pa. / Governor Mifflin
34 Mike Ogunyemi Fr. FS 5-8 173 Owing Mills, Md. / New Town
35 Alex Beamesderfer Sr. OLB 6-0 202 Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central
36 Darian Feick Jr. OLB 5-9 210 Blandon, Pa. / Fleetwood
37 Bryan Ek Sr. CB 5-7 151 New Market, Md. / Linganore
37 Alex Nicolas Fr. FB 5-7 196 Langhorne, Pa. / Neshaminy
38 Dan Thompson So. TE 6-0 233 Central Islip, N.Y / Central Islip
39 Ryan Heim Fr. TB 5-9 156 Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Pine Grove
40 Billy Powanda Jr. FB 5-9 208 Minersville, Pa. / Minersville
41 Evan Lysczek Fr. FB 5-9 198 Reading, Pa. / Exeter
42 Anthony Agosti Fr. TB 5-9 179 Nesquehoning, Pa. / Marian Catholic
43 Mike Mullen Sr. ILB 5-10 205 Howell, N.J. / Freehold Twp
44 Tyler Rhoads Fr. OLB 5-8 174 Bushwood, Md. / Chopticon
45 Bobby Conlon Jr. FB 5-8 229 Eldersburg, Md. / Liberty
46 Dylan Berberick Fr. DE 6-1 207 Greensburg, Pa. / Greensburg-Salem
47 Nick Newton Fr. OLB 6-0 187 Lehighton, Pa. / Lehighton
48 Tyler Laudeman Sr. ILB 6-0 197 Ringtown, Pa. / North Schuylkill
48 Steven Salcedo Fr. WR 5-10 185 York, Pa. / York Suburban
49 Brendon Irving So. TB 5-7 189 Woolwich, N.J. / Kingsway Regional
50 Guy Zimmerman Fr. ILB 6-0 195 Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove
51 C Joey Scerbo Sr. DE 5-11 242 Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin
52 Anthony Sorbin So. OG 5-9 243 Delmont, Pa. / Greensburg-Salem
53 Ryan Kingshill So. OT 6-5 278 Bear, Del. / Red Lion Christian Academy
54 Ryan Vaughn Jr. ILB 5-9 216 Gettysburg, Pa. / Littlestown
56 Adam Soltys Sr. DE 5-10 219 Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Pine Grove
57 John Salcedo Jr. DE 6-4 252 York, Pa. / York Suburban
59 Ryan Dotson Jr. OG 6-1 277 Hanover, Pa. / South Western
60 Cameron Beckman Fr. ILB 5-10 209 Dover, Pa. / Dover
61 Alec Bowers Jr. NT 5-9 286 Montclair, N.J. / Montclair
62 Tyler Good Jr. OG 6-2 258 Ephrata, Pa. / Conestoga Valley
63 Connor Feeney So. OG 6-0 238 Leesport, Pa. / Schuylkill Valley
64 Vince Ingelido Jr. OC 6-2 271 Saint Leonard, Md. / St. Mary’s Ryken
65 Anthony Caruso So. OC 6-1 266 Mifflinburg, Pa. / Mifflinburg
66 Joe Aument So. NT 5-10 249 Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central
67 Zach Smith Jr. OT 6-3 277 Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin
68 Ryan Vogel Fr. OT 6-2 311 Reading, Pa. / Exeter
69 Joseph Myers Jr. OT 5-10 267 Lewes, Del. / Cape Henlopen
71 Andrew Livingston Sr. DE 6-1 219 Camp Hill, Pa. / East Pennsboro
72 Bryant Weller So. OC 6-4 339 James Creek, Pa. / Huntingdon
73 Robert Van Horn So. OC 6-2 267 Ringtown, Pa. / Mahanoy Area
74 John Wentworth Fr. OT 6-3 291 Lititz, Pa. / Lancaster Catholic
75 Trent Mars Jr. OC 6-1 294 Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove
76 C Tyler Dean Sr. OT 6-2 277 Ashland, Pa. / North Schuykill
77 Eric Campbell Sr. NT 6-1 268 New Cumberland, Pa. / Cedar Cliff
78 Clayton Williard Sr. NT 5-11 309 Klingerstown, Pa. / Tri-Valley
79 Connor Smith Jr. OG 6-1 249 Fawn Grove, Pa. / Kennard-Dale
80 Trey Manning So. TE 6-1 223 Middletown, Pa. / Middletown
81 Jordan Spahr Fr. OLB 6-1 205 Strasburg, Pa. / Lampeter-Strasburg
82 Joe Bennett Sr. WR 6-2 186 Teaneck, N.J. / Passaic County Tech
83 Jeff Adams Fr. ILB 6-3 206 Pottstown, Pa. / Pottsgrove
84 Travis Saylor So. WR 6-3 178 Dillsburg, Pa. / Northern York
85 Colt Baxter Fr. WR 5-11 169 Dillsburg, Pa. / Northern York
86 Trevor St. Clair Jr. ILB 6-1 234 Mountville, Pa. / Lancaster Catholic
87 Mike Cecchini Fr. TE 6-1 207 Smithtown, N.Y. / Hauppauge
89 Elijah Johnson So. TE 6-2 260 Hillside, N.J. / Hillside
90 Tahlim Daniels So. OLB 5-10 213 Newark, N.J. / Hillside
91 Seth Miller Sr. TE 5-10 218 Spring Grove, Pa. / Spring Grove
92 Robbie Beidler Fr. TE 6-1 211 Cleona, Pa. / Annville-Cleona
93 Tyler Conlon Fr. DE 6-2 207 Phillipsburg, N.J. / Phillipsburg
94 Dylan Yost So. DE 6-1 228 Mifflinburg, Pa. / Mifflinburg
95 Malik Shivers Fr. ILB 5-11 232 Robesonia, Pa. / Conrad Weiser
96 Tommy Garner Fr. OLB 6-1 201 Lititz, Pa. / Warwick
97 Mark Williams Fr. DE 5-11 227 Lansford, Pa. / Panther Valley
98 Tom Gallagher Fr. ILB 5-11 220 Ashland, Pa. / North Schuylkill
99 Matthew Smoluk Jr. K 6-1 196 Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra