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The higher one scales the mountain, the smaller, the more difficult and the more deliberate the steps become.

This season should provide us with a pretty good indication as to how high the Lebanon Valley College football program has ascended.

We are currently living in an unprecedented time of prosperity, when it comes to the Flying Dutchmen and their football. Over the past five seasons, LVC has gone a combined 35-18, one of the most successful eras in the century-long history of the program.

But the thing about prosperity is that the more one samples, the more – and sometimes less – satisfying it becomes. The insatiable Flying Dutchmen want more – and more.

“Is there a level of frustration? Sure,” said Lebanon Valley Head coach Jim Monos. “We’ve taken one step, but not the next. We feel like we win games we’re supposed to. But I don’t think you can ever change the goal of the program, and that’s winning the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference). We want to keep that as the goal.

“We were pleased with our fifth straight winning season, but we felt like there was more there last year,” Monos continued. “We had Widener on the ropes with a couple of minutes left. But then after the Widener loss, we weren’t the same football team.”

rp_primary_preview-widenerLast season was very indicative of the last few for Lebanon Valley, which went 6-4 overall and 5-4 in the circuit. The Flying Dutchmen took  care of business when they needed to, but couldn’t get over the hump against the upper echelon squads in the league.

For the Flying Dutchmen, who were picked to finish fifth by the coaches in the MAC’s preseason poll, to take that next step, they are going to have to discover or invent ways to beat the Wideners, the Delaware Valleys, the Lycomings and the Albrights of the world. When they’ve faltered in the past against those clubs, Lebanon Valley hasn’t been as physical as its opponents and hasn’t made as many big plays.

“We’ve taken steps,” said Monos. “We’re as strong a football team as we’ve ever been. We can match up with every team in the league physically. We have talent. That’s something we’ve improved on with our recruiting.

“It’s (LVC’s break through) not going to be a game we win decisively,” Monos added. “It’s going to be a game we win by making more plays. We’ve got to make plays to break down that barrier. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Certainly the fact that Lebanon Valley will start seniors in 17 of its 22 positions bodes well for its success in 2013. The Flying Dutchmen may be as deep, as talented and as experienced as they’ve ever been.

rp_primary_josh_borreliJunior quarterback Brian Murphy saw some snaps last season as part of a time-share with graduated Leo Kyte. Fullback Evan Fink was one of the most prolific scorers in the conference last season, and the tailback’s job is Brendan Kain’s to lose.

The Flying Dutchmen are also blessed with two big-play receivers in Joey Miller and Jake Ziegler. Tight-ends Nate Myers, an Annville-Cleona product, and Nate Luckenbill will be asked to block first and catch passes second.

“No, being one game better than we were last year isn’t good enough,” said Monos. “The goal is to win the MAC championship and go to the postseason. That will be the goal as long as I’m the head coach of this football program. With some big games early, there’s a sense of urgency that we need to be good right of way.

“I love the attitude and the work ethic so far,” continued Monos. “There is chemistry within, and then when you add the talent, I think this team has the potential to do some special things. And there’s good senior leadership. With those factors combined, we’ve put ourselves in position to have success.”

Lebanon Valley features four seniors and a sophomore – Tyler Dean, Brendan Kozub, Aaron Cummins, Chris Taggert and Zack  Smith – up front, but only Dean and Kozub were starters a year ago.

rp_primary_football_rain“What we’re trying to develop is depth,” said Monos. “We know that injuries are a part of the game, and that remains a concern. We’ve had some surprises with our freshmen, but not to the point that they’re ready to start. We’ve picked up a couple of transfers, and they’re kids who are expected to play right of way.”

“I’ve mentioned that (being pleased with the recent success) to our coaching staff,” Monos continued. “What we’ve been able to do is outstanding. Yes, we are proud of that. But in this competitive business, there is only one prize – the top prize. We feel like we’re improving and we’re doing those things we need to change.”

Senior end Zach Halpin and senior inside linebacker Andrew Burkholder lead an LVC defense that was stout against both the run and pass last season. Halpin will be joined in the trenches by Kevin Smith and junior Joey Scerbo, while Burkholder will line up next to Kyle Wenger, a graduate of Elco, David Kennedy and Drew Murphy.

rp_primary_zach_halpin_2“The thing to remember is that there’s a difference between Divison Three football, and Division One and Division Two football, with academic stipulations and academic eligibility,” said Monos. “There are no minimum academic standards. We’re in a league that takes kids who wouldn’t be accepted at our school. And they’re good football players.

“If we have a young man who’s in the lower half of his class (in high school) and who’s marginal for us, we can’t take him,” Monos added. “He’s not going to make it. And are they playing at other schools? Yes.”

The Flying Dutchmen’s competent defensive secondary will consist of Ryan Melley and Zach Wierman at the corners, Bryan Kasper at free safety and Josh Borreli at strong safety. Sean Fakete will handle the place-kicking chores and Jake Ziegler will do the punting.

“In Division Three in general, the playing field is not level because there are no stipulations on academic standards, and financial aid isn’t the same,” said Monos. “We know what we have. We have a great school and we have put together a really good football program. I feel privileged to be the head coach. Each year we welcome the opportunity of a new season. I really think this football team is going to be fun to watch.”


LVC Football Pre-Season

 Two-Deep Depth Chart


QB      15       Brian Murphy           Jr.

          6        Jeremy Franck           So.

TB      5        Brendan Kain           Sr.

          25       Matt Richmond           So.

FB      39       Evan Fink *               Sr.

          40       Billy Powanda             So.

WR     18       Jake Zeigler*            Sr.

          20       Darryl Sweeper           Jr.

WR     1        Joey Miller *             Sr.

          87       Tyler George              Jr.

TE      41       Nate Myers *             Sr.

AND  85       Nate Luckenbill        Sr.

LT      76       Tyler Dean *             Sr.

          62       Tyler Good                 So.

LG      68       Brendan Kozub *      Sr.

          79       Connor Smith             So.

C        60       Aaron Cummins       Sr.

          66       Bryant Weller             Fr.

RG      67       Zack Smith               So.

          65       Dylan Smith               Sr.

RT      58       Chris Taggart           Sr.

          73       Nate Valdez               Sr.


DE      95       Zach Halpin *           Sr.

          57       John Salcedo             So.

NT      98       Kevin Smith *           Sr.

          78       Clayton Williard          Jr.

DE      51       Joey Scerbo *           Jr.

          53       Kyle Pfirman              Jr.

OLB    2        Kyle Wenger             Sr.

          35       Alex Beamesderfer      Jr.

ILB     9        David Kennedy         Sr.

48       Tyler Laudeman          Jr.

ILB     96       Andrew Burkholder *           Sr.

86       Trevor St. Clair           So.

OLB    4        Drew Murphy            Sr.

8        Frank Gaffney            Jr.

CB      47       Ryan Melley *           Sr.

37       Bryan Ek                   Jr.

FS      14       Bryan Kasper *         Sr.

32       DJ Johnson               Jr.

SS      36       Josh Borreli             Sr.

3        Ricky Feggins            So.

CB      19       Zach Wierman          Jr.

27       Mike Pugh                 Jr.


K        12       Sean Fakete *            Sr.

99       Matthew Smoluk         So.

P        18       Jake Zeigler *           Sr.

KR      25       Matt Richmond *       So.

          37       Bryan Ek *                Jr.

PR      25       Matt Richmond *       So.

          37       Bryan Ek *                Jr.

H        18       Jake Zeigler *           Sr.

LS      85       Nate Luckenbill *      Sr.


* – returning starter


Middle Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Lycoming – 76 (4)
2. Widener – 68 (2)
3. Delaware Valley – 67 (1)
4. Albright – 65 (3)
5. Lebanon Valley – 48
6. Wilkes – 38
7. Stevenson – 36
8. Fairleigh Dickinson-Florham – 20
9. King’s – 20
10. Misericordia – 1

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