BY JEFF FALK
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LVC
They’ve done some good things, but not great things.
They’ve made some strides, but not not gotten over the hump.
They’ve developed some pieces, but have not put everything together.
Is this the season that the Lebanon Valley College football program takes the next step under Joe Buehler?
This year is like every year for the Flying Dutchmen in that they have set realistic and unattainable goals for themselves. But it may be that there are some things Lebanon Valley would like to accomplish that aren’t being verbalized.
LVC has gone a combined 9-11 in Buehler’s first two seasons as the Flying Dutchmen’s head coach. Included in that is a 5-5 2017 in which Lebanon Valley went 5-4 and finished fifth in the Middle Atlantic Conference.
This season will mark the 122nd of Lebanon Valley College football.
“You’ve got to keep building,” said Buehler. “There’s some really good signs. The demeanor we’ve had in practice and off the field, can we stay that way on game day? I call that mental toughness. If we can, we have a great chance. I like to say that on game day you either get psyched up or psyched out.
“This school means a lot to me,” continued Buehler. “It’s where I became who I am today. I have a staff, and they’re good coaches, but they’re even better men. That’s the kind of thing that makes it a real honor for me to coach here.”
Last year was not without its positives for LVC. There were inspiring wins over Stevenson and Lycoming, but also disappointing losses to Delaware Valley and rival Albright.
This season, the Flying Dutchmen were picked to finish sixth in the MAC, through a preseason vote of its coaches.
“I thought we had a very competitive team,” said Buehler. “We won games we should win. We hit one of our goals – we wanted Week Ten to matter. But for the first time all season (in a 28-14 loss to Albright that concluded the campaign), we turned the ball over in key times. Our kids went into the off-season not wanting that to happen again. They wanted to work hard.
“I think there is carry-over from last year,” Buehler continued. “The bulk of the football team was there. But at the same time, 2018 is not 2017. They (his players) have established their own identity. It’s a chance for them to set their mark.”
Buehler is currently molding a roster that consists of 124 student-athletes, 27 of whom are seniors. The Flying Dutchmen return eight starters on defense and seven on offense.
“There are areas where we want to try to improve on,” said Buehler. “Everyone’s – coaches, players – trying to do better each day. That attitude can serve you in life well. We want to be the very best football team, very best football program, we can be. I don’t know if you ever reach that level, but it’s worth striving for.
“I like where we are right now,” added Buehler. “But we’re not ready to play F&M (in the season opener) yet. We’ve got some young guys in key positions. This team has done everything we’ve asked them to do. The toughest thing in Division Three is you get about eight-to-ten days with just you and your football team. Then there’s two weeks where there’s distractions. What I try to emphasize is that we need to block out those distractions. We have to make those sacred (practice) hours.”
There’s a lot to like about LVC’s new starting quarterback, Kody Kegarise. The sophomore out of Manheim Central brings plenty to the table, including accuracy, dependability and instincts.
He will be joined in the backfield by senior running back Ryan Fink, senior back Steve Salerno, rising junior Hunter Wilson and fullback Derrec Robinson. When Kegarise drops back, he’ll be looking for senior receiver Gary Wise, athletic junior end Tyeair Diggs and junior tight-end Pat Clark.
“I’m really excited about what he can do with our offense,” said Buehler of Kegarise. “He makes people around him better. Starting as a sophomore, it takes a lot of learning. Kody is really smart, and he worked hard in the off-season. He has some intangibles you can’t teach. This offense will be a little more dynamic than it’s been in the last couple of years.
“I’m pleased that we can go out to practice everyday and I don’t have to tell them (his players) which color socks to wear,” Buehler added. “What I look about this group is that they’re a low-maintenance football team. I’m excited that this team realizes that the coaches can help them get better.”
The offensive line should be a strength for the Little Dutchmen. Junior Scott Dickmyer, senior Scott Werner, senior Cooper Fiadino, junior Jack Heft, senior Evan Shiley and sophomore Dakota Johnson-Ortiz have varying amounts of experience but similar levels of talent.
“We have a lot of good football players,” said Buehler. “I don’t know where we stack up with other teams in our conference. But we’re better today than we were a year ago. We’re better today than we were two years ago. And that can be attributed to character.”
Spearheaded by seniors Austin Maguire and Ryan Johnson, Lebanon Valley returns seven of the eight in its defensive-line rotation. Of that group, seven are seniors and the other two are juniors.
The Flying Dutchmen linebacker corp is led by Tyler Lutz and Alex Trujillo inside and Tyler Hodges on the outside.
“We’ve got to develop depth at a lot of positions,” said Buehler. “Some starters now might not be starters in Weeks Seven or Eight. There’s attrition in football. Guys aren’t going to stay healthy, They’re going to need a break. The corner position is absolutely a concern. They’re talented, but they’re going to make mistakes. They’re guys who haven’t done it on the college level yet.”
Lebanon Valley’s defensive backfield is anchored by Zachary Adams, a senior safety, and Anthony Jenkins, a junior safety. But LVC graduated its top seven corner backs.
“Our first goal is to beat F&M,” said Buehler of the September 1st date in Lancaster. “We didn’t play them very well the last two years. They’re really good. They’re a test right out of the chute. We want to compete for the MAC title. We want to be in the hunt. I also told our guys, ‘Let’s make Week Ten matter.’ After that, everything is icing on cakes.”
2018 Lebanon Valley College Football Roster
|1||Dallas Arner||Sr.||WR||6-0||187||Berwick, Pa. / Berwick|
|2||Manuel Ramos||Jr.||TB||5-9||179||Muncy, Pa. / Muncy|
|3||Tyeair Diggs||Jr.||WR||5-8||165||Hershey, Pa. / Milton Hershey|
|3||Wyett McLeod||Jr.||DE||6-1||232||Fairless Hills, Pa. / Conwell-Egan|
|4||*||Tyler Hodges||Sr.||OLB||6-2||200||Lewisberry, Pa. / Red Land|
|4||Tyler Layton||So.||QB||5-8||190||Avenel, N.J. / Colonia|
|5||Damien Carter||Fr.||WR||5-9||150||Malvern, Pa. / Great Valley|
|5||Tyler Gerhart||So.||OLB||6-3||199||Lititz, Pa. / Warwick|
|6||Josh Gouch||Fr.||QB||5-11||170||Drexel Hill, Pa. / Upper Darby|
|6||Nick Sweitzer||Sr.||OLB||5-10||197||Leesport, Pa. / Schuylkill Valley|
|7||Preston Gehring||So.||CB||5-7||152||Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Schuylkill Haven|
|7||*||Gary Wise||Sr.||WR||6-1||190||Pottstown, Pa. / Pottstown|
|8||Bryant Leschak||Fr.||OLB||5-11||185||Havertown, Pa. / Haverford|
|8||Tyler Melhorn||Sr.||TE||6-3||223||Lititz, Pa. / Warwick|
|9||Adam Domovich||Sr.||WR||6-1||185||Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin|
|9||Tyler Lutz||So.||ILB||5-10||197||Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central|
|12||Jacob Hellman||Fr.||CB||5-11||170||Bel-Air, Md. / C. Milton Wright|
|12||Jared Kramp||Sr.||WR||6-0||185||Lancaster, Pa. / Lancaster Catholic|
|13||Jonah Edmondson||So.||CB||5-6||160||Downingtown, Pa. / Downingtown West|
|13||Josh Holobetz||So.||K||5-11||169||Pottsville, Pa. / Pottsville|
|14||Kody Kegarise||So.||QB||6-0||185||Manheim, Pa. / Manheim Central|
|14||Landon Segara||Fr.||ILB||6-0||215||Cooper City, Fla. / Cooper City|
|15||Brett Cohen||Jr.||QB||5-10||160||Milford, Pa. / Delaware Valley|
|16||Dre Burch||So.||CB||5-7||177||Yardley, Pa. / Pennsbury|
|16||Ryan Connolley||Fr.||QB||5-11||165||Warwick, Md. / Bohemia Manor|
|17||Jacob Bildstien||Fr.||RB||5-8||175||Pottstown, Pa. / Pope John Paul II|
|17||Ryan Seagrave||Sr.||WR||6-1||174||Williamsport, Pa. / South Williamsport|
|18||Shawn King||Fr.||OLB||6-1||190||Fulton, Md. / Wyoming Seminary|
|18||Chris Thompson||So.||TB||5-9||208||New Cumberland, Pa. / Cedar Cliff|
|19||Jake Cromer||Jr.||FS||5-10||170||Dillsburg, Pa. / Northern York|
|19||Cameron Niemeyer||Fr.||WR||5-8||165||Willow Street, Pa. / Lampeter-Strasburg|
|20||Nick Bentz||Jr.||K||6-0||178||Reading, Pa. / Exeter|
|20||Cole Hartert||So.||FS||5-11||176||West Grove, Pa. / Oxford|
|22||David Brown||Fr.||TB||5-6||165||King of Prussia, Pa. / Ren. Acad./Upper Merion|
|22||Tyler Okomba||Jr.||CB||5-10||185||Wheatley Heights, N.Y. / Half Hollow Hills East|
|23||*||Ryan Fink||Sr.||TB||5-9||209||Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Schuylkill Haven|
|23||Grant Gaumer||Fr.||CB||5-9||175||Elizabethtown, Pa. / Elizabethtown|
|24||Chris Cassidy||So.||OLB||6-0||176||West Chester, Pa. / West Chester East|
|24||Hunter Wilson||Jr.||TB||5-11||201||Marysville, Pa. / West Perry|
|25||Jack Branowski||So.||TB||5-8||160||Pittstown, N.J. / Delaware Valley|
|25||Alec Soltys||Sr.||ILB||5-11||198||Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Pine Grove|
|27||Logan Grauer||Fr.||CB||5-7||135||Mohrsville, Pa. / Schuylkill Valley|
|27||Zeke Wassell||So.||WR||6-1||172||Tamaqua, Pa. / Tamaqua|
|28||*||Zachary Adams||Sr.||FS||6-0||195||Selinsgrove, Pa. / Selinsgrove|
|28||Mason Seiler||Fr.||TB||5-7||185||Emerald, Pa. / Northern Lehigh|
|29||*||Anthony Jenkins||Jr.||FS||5-10||184||Temple, Pa. / Muhlenberg|
|29||Evann Jones||Fr.||TB||5-10||198||Mountville, Pa. / Penn Manor|
|30||Pablo Aviles-Bernal||Fr.||ILB||5-10||210||Kennett Square, Pa. / Unionville|
|30||Keegan Corwell||So.||TB||6-0||218||Windsor, Pa. / Eastern York|
|31||Eamon Blythe||Jr.||FB||5-5||209||Harrisburg, Pa. / Central Dauphin|
|31||Nic Nugent||Fr.||6-1||190||Enola, Pa. / East Pennsboro|
|32||David Butler||Fr.||TB||5-7||187||Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Mechanicsburg|
|32||Brad Shear||Fr.||ILB||6-1||215||Creencastle, Pa. / Greencastle-Antrim|
|33||Bryan Mowery||Fr.||OLB||6-0||185||Hatboro, Pa. / Upper Moreland|
|33||Derrec Robinson||Sr.||FB||5-9||238||Schuylkill Haven, Pa. / Blue Mountain|
|34||Teddy Denver||Sr.||FB||5-9||210||Allentown, Pa. / Salisbury|
|34||Logan Pursley||Fr.||ILB||5-11||185||Penns Creek, Pa. / Midd-West/East Juniata|
|35||Noah Allegreta||So.||FS||5-7||175||Shenandoah, Pa. / Shenandoah|
|35||Ian Murhon||Fr.||TB||6-0||195||New Philadelphia, Pa. / Pottsville|
|36||C.J. Steinhilber||Jr.||FB||5-10||209||Ashland, Pa. / North Schuylkill|
|37||Nolan Benke||So.||CB||5-10||172||Oxford, Pa. / Oxford|
|37||Hunter Nash||Fr.||FB||6-0||215||Denver, Pa. / Cocalico|
|38||Brandon Brubaker||Fr.||OLB||6-1||210||Reinholds, Pa. / Cocalico|
|38||Zion Titus||Fr.||FB||5-7||225||Clarksburg, Md. / Quince Orchard|
|39||Bret Hertzog||Sr.||FS||5-11||194||Glenville, Pa. / South Western|
|40||Ryan Bradley||So.||DE||6-2||218||Pippersville, Pa. / Central Bucks West|
|41||Sam Coibion||Fr.||SS||6-0||185||Taneytown, Md. / Francis Scott Key|
|42||Andrew Zeigler||So.||FS||6-0||192||Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Mechanicsburg|
|43||Steve Salerno||Sr.||TB||5-9||222||Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. / Hasbrouck Heights|
|44||Dillon Estes||Fr.||ILB||6-0||210||West Grove, Pa. / Avon Grove|
|45||Travis Fischer||So.||OLB||5-9||185||East Earl, Pa. / Garden Spot|
|45||Ryan Kilgarriff||Fr.||CB||5-11||165||Richboro, Pa. / Council Rock|
|46||George Limberiou||So.||ILB||5-9||225||Reading, Pa. / Schuylkill Valley|
|47||Chris Torres||So.||ILB||5-8||204||Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Mechanicsburg|
|48||Alex Trujillo||Gr.||ILB||5-10||220||Naples, Fla. / Golden Gate|
|49||Alex Lawrence||Fr.||–||New Braunfels, Texas / Warwick|
|50||Joe Kelly||So.||DT||6-0||240||Lancaster, Pa. / Manheim Twp|
|51||Adam Wagaman||Sr.||DE||6-3||245||Lititz, Pa. / Warwick|
|52||Cooper Fiadino||Sr.||OG||5-9||252||Egg Harbor Twp., N.J. / Egg Harbor Township|
|53||Jacob Harder||Sr.||TE||6-2||230||Fabius, N.Y. / Fabius-Pompey|
|53||Ben Siegfried||Fr.||DE||6-3||220||Wilmington, Del. / Conrad School of Science|
|56||Dylan Freschi||So.||DE||6-2||196||Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. / Hasbrouck Heights|
|57||Jordan Bishop||Fr.||DE||6-2||195||Snow Hill, Md. / Snow Hill|
|57||Scott Werner||Sr.||OG||6-1||265||Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove|
|58||Rodney Gowans||Fr.||DE||6-0||240||Willow Grove, Pa. / Upper Moreland|
|58||Collin Krakowski||Fr.||OG||6-2||235||Kulpmont, Pa. / Mount Carmel|
|59||Daymond Zweizig||So.||DE||6-1||235||Reading, Pa. / Oley Valley|
|60||Alex Gulitus||Fr.||OT||6-2||260||Plains, Pa. / James M. Coughlin|
|61||Harrison Rees||Fr.||OG||6-1||279||Sunbury, Pa. / Lourdes/Mt. Carmel|
|62||Dakota Johnson-Ortiz||So.||OG||5-10||255||Lititz, Pa. / Warwick|
|63||Salvatore Lombardino||Fr.||OG||5-11||230||Manville, N.J. / Manville|
|64||Jack Heft||Jr.||OT||6-2||317||Spring City, Pa. / Owen J. Roberts|
|65||Scotty Dickmyer||Jr.||OC||5-10||301||Glenville, Pa. / South Western|
|66||Nick Redmon||Jr.||OG||5-9||207||Nazareth, Pa. / Nazareth|
|67||Jared Tweed||Fr.||OG||5-10||260||Oxford, Pa. / Oxford Area|
|68||Nick Napadano||Fr.||OG||5-10||250||Levittown, Pa. / Neshaminy|
|69||Connor McMurrough||Fr.||OT||6-2||225||Oxford, Pa. / Oxford Area|
|70||Malyk Tucker||Fr.||DT||5-9||245||West Chester, Pa. / West Chester East|
|71||Lee Amarose||Sr.||OT||6-2||283||Atlas, Pa. / Mount Carmel|
|72||Blake Mills||Fr.||OG||5-11||230||Greencastle, Pa. / Greencastle-Antrim|
|73||Dominic Alunni||Fr.||OT||6-6||330||Forty Fort, Pa. / Wyoming Valley West|
|74||George Thompson||So.||OT||6-5||330||Jonestown, Pa. / Northern Lebanon|
|75||Brett Mars||Sr.||DT||5-11||270||Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove|
|76||Walker Klinger||Fr.||OG||6-1||235||Newport, Pa. / Newport|
|77||Josh Skotek||Jr.||DT||5-8||235||McAdoo, Pa. / Marion Catholic|
|78||Noah Barton||Fr.||OT||6-1||300||New Windsor, Md. / Francis Scott Key|
|79||Evan Shiley||Sr.||OT||6-3||303||Camp Hill, Pa. / Cedar Cliff|
|80||Dylan Baxter||So.||WR||6-1||163||Dillsburg, Pa. / Northern York|
|81||Victor Morcelo||Jr.||TE||5-11||226||Reading, Pa. / Berks Catholic|
|82||Josh DeVance||Fr.||WR||6-3||180||Randallstown, Md. / Central Maryland Christian|
|83||Tyler Baez||Fr.||TE||6-1||195||Summit Hill, Pa. / Panther Valley|
|84||Andrew Olson||So.||WR||6-1||185||Lebanon, Pa. / Lebanon Christian Academy|
|85||Kam Green||Fr.||TE||6-1||220||Mount Holly, N.J. / Burlington County Institute of Technology|
|89||Patrick Clark||Jr.||TE||6-3||236||Kennett Square, Pa. / Unionville|
|90||Grant Stanton||Fr.||DE||6-4||225||New Windsor, Md. / Francis Scott Key|
|91||Tom Miller||So.||ILB||6-0||195||Carlisle, Pa. / Big Spring|
|92||Ryan Johnson||Sr.||DT||6-1||265||Bath, Pa. / Bethlehem Catholic|
|94||Trent Donlan||Sr.||DT||5-10||255||Elysburg, Pa. / Southern Columbia|
|95||Caleb Oestrike||So.||DE||5-10||203||Glen Rock, Pa. / Susquehannock|
|96||Harrison Guy||Fr.||DE||5-9||157||Boothwyn, Pa. / Chichester|
|97||Jacob Whitfield||Sr.||DT||6-0||291||York, Pa. / William Penn|
|98||Austin Maguire||Sr.||DE||6-2||255||Lititz, Pa. / Warwick|
|99||Hunter McGuire||Jr.||DE||6-1||227||Duncannon, Pa. / Susquenita|
2018 MAC Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Delaware Valley – 98 (8)
2. Stevenson – 88 (2)
3. Widener – 79 (1)
4. Albright – 73
5. Lycoming – 64
6. Lebanon Valley – 59
7. King’s – 48
8. FDU-Florham – 30
9. Wilkes – 29
10. Misericordia – 25
11. Alvernia – 12