BY JEFF FALK
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LVC
It can be a rallying cry. A season’s mission statement. The verbalization of a common goal.
But here’s the thing with catchy team mottos: the snappier the slogan, the more difficult they are to live up to.
The Lebanon Valley College’s motto for the 2015 campaign is: ‘Buy in and sell out’. Pretty cool, huh?
It suggests that the Flying Dutchmen have each others’ backs, they’re emotionally vested, that they will win or lose together. There’s really only one thing that speaks louder than those fancy words.
“I think our players who have returned know the importance of playing well early,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Jim Monos. “We just want to get better each day. Our motto for this year is ‘buy in and sell out’. It’s easier said than done, but they’re living it. I feel like our chemistry is coming together.
“You know my goal, and the team’s goal, is to win the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference),” continued Monos. “Before we do we’ve got to buy in and sell out as a team. We’re not as concerned with who we’re playing as we are with playing at the highest level we can.”
All of this motivational rhetoric originates from a 2014 campaign in which Lebanon Valley College under-achieved, thanks in part to an 0-5 start. The Flying Dutchmen’s 3-7 final record ended a string of six consecutive winning seasons, and one of the most successful periods in the school’s 116 years of playing the sport.
“It was disappointing,” said Monos, who’s now in his 23rd season of guiding the program. “I felt like early on we did not play to the level we were capable of. After we started 0-5 we got to 3-5, and then lost two close football games at the end of the season. But as I look back on it, the kids never quit and we were playing our best at the end of the season. We lost five games by a touchdown or less, and didn’t win any. If you win some of those, you’re on your way.
“We evaluated the team going into this season, by position,” Monos added. “We knew the areas where we needed to improve. We want each individual to become a better football player, and I think our staff takes a lot of pride in doing that.”
There is plenty to like about Lebanon Valley’s prospects for 2015. The Flying Dutchmen’s overall number of 117 players is a program-record, and about 45 of those are represented by a talented freshman class.
For various reasons, Lebanon Valley also returns five fifth-year seniors – Bryan Ek, Clayton Williard, Andrew Livingston, Darain Feick and Trevor St. Clair. St. Clair and Ek have also been designated captains, along with seniors Kevin Antol, Bobby Conlon and Zach Smith.
“I think this group has the potential to be a very good football team,” said Monos. “Because of last year, I think we’ll fly under the radar, which is fine by me. Our players are excited about that.
“Because of the guys we have returning on defense, I’m feeling good about that unit,” continued Monos. “I think we shored up some things. I think our offensive line is a strength. I think we’re going to run the ball pretty well. With what we do offensively, that’s important. And I like the chemistry of our football team. They battle in practice and then walk off the field together.”
Supporting those returning fifth-year seniors on defense will be a group that includes Reid Pavlik, Ricky Feggins, Tyler Conlon, Jermaine McQueen, Guy Zimmerman and Spencer Moser. Moser will double as the punter and Palmyra product Matt Smoluk will handle the place-kicking chores.
“There are five guys who were gone and came back,” said Monos. “I feel like we shored up the defense real quick. Right now, we’re looking at eight of our 11 on defense being seniors, and we’ve got quality depth. Not only do we have a good first unit, we have quality guys behind them.”
Tailback Brendon Irving is an all-conference performer and heads a running corp that also features Jon Jones, Ryan Heim and fullbacks B. Conlon, Feick, Matt Koshinski and Annville-Cleona product Adam Bennett. Jeremy Franck is a senior quarterback being pushed for playing time by sophomores Tim Pirrone and Tyler Cottle.
Jeremy DeLaCruz, a sophomore out of Lebanon High, and Travis Saylor will handle the bulk of the receiving chores. The tight-ends are Elijah Johnson, Trey Manning and Mike Cecchini.
The Flying Dutchmen offensive line is big, strong and tough. Smith, Tyler Good, Ryan Dotson and Bryant Weller are all returners and they’ll be joined in the starting lineup by Ryan Kingshill.
“Our first unit is solid,” said Monos of his offensive linemen. “But depth is lacking. We’ve got numbers there, but they’re very young. The kids are going to have to step up. The freshman class has the potential to be the best group we ever recruited. As I watch them, it stands true.
“Offensively we’ve got to throw the football better than we have,” Monos continued. “The quarterbacks and receivers need more work. In the kicking game, I feel we need to be more consistent. The other thing I don’t know, I’m not sure how good we are on defense.”
Lebanon Valley College will open its season Thursday, September 3rd at 7 p.m. at Arnold Field, against Franklin and Marshall, in the first night home game on campus in program history.
“We’re saying last year was a great game with F&M,” said Monos. “It was a tough spot. To be here, at home, playing under the lights, on the earliest date any college football team can play, we’re all excited to kick off the season. Momentum is going to be important for us. We’ve got to find a way to win it. I truly believe in the league, that anybody can beat anybody, which makes every game important. We’ve got our share of challenges this season.
“You’re going to enjoy watching this team play,” concluded Monos. “I’m looking forward to coaching it. I know it’s Division Three football, but it’s good football. There’s two things you’ve got to remember about these young men: They love the game and they want to win. As a coach, you couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
|5||Jeremy De La Cruz||So.||WR||5-7||178|
|73||Robert Van Horn||Jr.||OC||6-2||267|
|86||C||Trevor St. Clair||5th||ILB||6-1||234|
|9/3/2015||Franklin & Marshall College||Annville, Pa.||7 p.m.|
|9/12/2015||*||Misericordia University||Dallas, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|9/19/2015||*||Stevenson University||Annville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|9/25/2015||*||Widener University||Chester, Pa.||7 p.m.|
|10/3/2015||*||Lycoming College||Annville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|10/10/2015||*||FDU-Florham||Annville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|10/24/2015||*||Wilkes University||Edwardsville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|10/31/2015||*||Delaware Valley University||Doylestown, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|11/7/2015||*||King’s College||Annville, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|11/14/2015||*||Albright College||Reading, Pa.||1 p.m.|
2015 MAC Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Widener – 81 (9)
2. Delaware Valley – 67
3. Lycoming – 62
4. Albright – 58
5. Stevenson – 56
6. Lebanon Valley – 39
7. King’s – 32
8. Wilkes – 29
9. Misericordia – 16
10. FDU-Florham – 10