Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Leopards' spring opener was non-stop action for everyone

The offensive line didn't need pads to get a good workout on the blocking sled. Thirty-five-yard pushes were brutal!
Day 1 is in the books, and I can tell you one thing: the Lafayette football team must be seriously dedicated to erasing the embarrassment that was the 2015 season, when the Leopards posted their most single-season losses in school history while finishing 1-10 and on a seven-game losing streak.

If they were overpowered by their opponents last fall, they went to work during the winter with the goal of destroying the image of being the tossed around almost at will by more than half of their opponents in a season in which the defense allowed 386 points and the offense scored only 150. Lafayette's 2016 slogan -- EAAT (Effort, Attitude, Accountability, Toughness) -- seems to be more than words on a T-shirt or a poster. 

Here are just a couple of example of the strides the Leopards have made under the watchful eye of Brad Potts, who may have the longest job title on campus -- assistant director of athletics for peak performance-head strength and conditioning coach.

Defensive end Beau Bosch came to Lafayette in 2014 as a 6-5, 215-pound freshman. He looked huge on Tuesday at 6-5, 260 pounds.

Defensive tackle Andrew Chuma was a 6-3, 215-pound rookie last year. He hasn't grown an inch, but he now weighs 260. 

Defensive end Lavell Ramsey, a rising sophomore, was 6-5, 235 a year ago and is now 275.

Monday, March 28, 2016

To whet your appetite, here's a look at Leopards' two-deep for spring

With the first spring practice scheduled for 4:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, March 29) in Fisher Stadium, I thought I'd give you the Lafayette football two-deep chart as I saw it recently. The class listed is as of the fall semester.


1ST TEAM O-LINE-- LT -- Tanner Kern (So., 6-3, 310); LG -- Connor Staudle (Sr., 6-6, 320); C -- Kevin Zataveski (So., 6-4, 300); RG -- Logan Grieser (So., 6-3, 310); RT -- Cam Smith (Jr., 6-5, 310).

2ND TEAM O-LINE -- LT -- Nick Zataveski (Sr., 6-6, 305); LG -- Anders Warfel (Jr., 6-5, 300); C -- Mike Donnelly (Jr., 6-4, 305); RG -- Collin Raysor (Jr., 6-7, 305); RT -- Toussaint Helm (Sr., 6-6, 305).

TE -- 1ST -- Dylan Wadsworth (Jr., 6-3, 240) ... 2ND -- Angus Evans (So., 6-5, 250).

QB -- 1ST -- Drew Reed (Sr., 6-1, 195) ... 2ND -- Blake Searfoss (Sr., 6-2, 210).

TB -- 1ST -- DeSean Brown (Jr., 6-0, 205) ... 2ND -- C.J. Amill (So., 5-9, 190), Tyler West (So., 5-10, 205), Rajhan Meriwether (Jr., 5-11, 210).

FB -- 1ST -- Kyle Mayfield (Sr., 6-1, 225) ... 2ND -- Will Eisler (So., 6-2, 230).

WR (Z) -- 1ST -- Matt Mrazek (Jr., 6-4, 215) ... 2ND -- Joey Chenoweth (So., 5-11, 170), Nick Franzese (Jr., 6-0, 185).

WR (X) -- 1ST -- Tim Vangelas (Sr., 6-2, 200) ... 2ND -- Rocco Palumbo (Jr., 6-3, 190).


1ST TEAM D-LINE -- DE -- Collin Albershardt (Sr.6-2, 255) and Beau Bosch (Jr., 6-5, 260); DT -- Matt Rothrock (Sr., 6-2, 280) and Jarred Fragapane (Jr., 6-3, 255).

2ND TEAM D-LINE -- DE -- Lavel Ramsey (So., 6-5, 275) and Dante Lonardo (So., 6-3, 270); DT -- Andrew Chuma (So., 6-3, 260), Robin Cepeda (Sr., 6-2, 280), Andy Labudev (Sr., 6-3, 270).

MLB -- 1ST -- Michael Root (Jr., 6-1, 230) ... 2ND -- Rob Hinchen (Jr., 6-2, 225).

WLB -- 1ST -- Brandon Bryant (Jr., 5-11, 225) ... 2ND -- Jacob Rose (So., 6-1, 215).

STRK -- 1ST -- Jerry Powe (So., 6-1, 210) ... 2ND -- J.J. Conn (Jr., 6-2, 225).

CB -- 1ST -- Parish Simmons (Jr., 5-11, 180) and Phillip Parham (Jr., 5-10, 180) ... 2ND -- Izaiah Avent (So., 5-11, 185) and Clay Rush (So., 5-11, 185).

S -- 1ST -- Kaizer Butler (So., 6-0, 205) and Draeland James (Sr., 6-2, 205) ... 2ND -- T.J. Jones (Jr., 6-3, 205).


PK & KO -- 1st -- Jacob Bissell (So., 6-1, 175).

P -- 1ST -- Ryan Forrester (Sr., 6-1, 185) ... 2ND -- Bissell.

KR -- 1ST -- C.J. Amill and Joey Chenoweth.

PR -- 1ST -- Tim Vangelas ... 2ND -- Joey Chenoweth.

LSNP & SSNP -- 1ST -- Michael Shiffert (Jr., 6-0, 240).

HOLD -- 1ST -- Blake Searfoss.

Notes: Bold face print means the player started at least six games in 2015 ... Butler started four in 2015, and James started 6 in 2013, 8 in 2014 and 1 in 2015 ... Nick Zataveski will not be practicing in spring because he is taking a medical red-shirt this year and will return for preseason camp.

The update weights are somewhat interesting because some of them are significant -- Andrew Chuma, for example, was listed at 215 but who is now 260. Bigger jerseys had to be purchased to fit him, Coach Tavani told me. And DE Dante Lonardo, the Bethlehem Catholic grad who missed all of last season with a torn ACL but never stopped training, is now 270 
and should impress. You can look for my spring preview on the Leopards in Tuesday's Morning Call.

Trivia: Did you know that Lafayette punter Ryan Forrester made three tackles last season and that kickoff man Jacob Bissell made one?  


Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring ball at Villanova kicks off the season

The Ides of March is upon us. Can football be far behind?

Nope. In fact, Andy Talley and his Villanova Wildcats open spring camp Tuesday, March 15. So, I figured I'd take advantage of the day to take a look at the non-conference opponents on Lafayette's 2016 schedule.

This is hardly in-depth stuff, but it's food for thought for Leopards' fans, who are looking for better results in 2016 than they saw in that disastrous 1-10 of 2015.

The four non-conference foes for the Leopards had a combined 2015 record of 16-29 -- Central Connecticut State was 4-7.  Delaware was 4-7, Villanova was 6-5 and Army West Point was 2-10.

LAFAYETTE AT CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE, 6 P.M., SEPT. 2-- CCSU lost its final game of the year to Wagner 28-7, while Lafayette's only win came against the Seahawks. That's about all we can say about this game. Except maybe that Lehigh narrowly won over the Blue Devils in the season opener and whipped the Leopards in the finale. CCSU has one local player on the roster, Easton grad Xavier Jenkins, and he was a starting wide receiver last year but had only 11 receptions. Leopards must break a losing streak right here.

DELAWARE AT LAFAYETTE. 6 P.M. SEPT. 10 -- The Blue Hens don't start spring drills until April 7, and while they announced only eight freshmen recruits and one transfer on National Letter of Intent Day, Coach Dave Brock said, "I think we will be an exceptional football team -- a playoff football team -- this coming season."  UD's transfer, 250-pound linebacker Troy Reeder, started 11 games at Penn State last year and comes with three years of eligibility. The Hens lost only 12 seniors, only five of whom were scholarship players, and return 26 players with starting experience , 16 on offense. Leopards never should have let this game slip away last year.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Is it too early to start thinking about the 2017 recruits?

Wasting a little time tonight while moving the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time, so I decided to take a look at the junior highlight film for RB Devin Darrington.  You gotta love it! Then you check out his Twitter account and find this photograph.

He looks pretty good in the Bourger Varsity Football House. Then I noticed he has indicated an offer from another crimson-wearing team (Harvard) as well as Yale and Holy Cross. And I'm convinced more will be coming.

I couldn't help but think about another running back who recently got away from the Leopards and wound up at Fordham, where he is wreaking havoc on Lafayette. Chase Edmonds ran for 234 yards and two touchdowns last fall in Fisher Stadium. Ouch. And in 2014, he ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Now, I have no clue where Darrington's going to end up next February, but that No. 34 probably has another old former tailback, Leopards' Coach Frank Tavani, licking his chops.

Let the games begin!


Saturday, March 5, 2016

No pads, no scrimmages no problem for the Leopards this spring

March 5, 2016 -- 24 days to the start of the 2016 season:

If spring football means watching teammates bash heads against each other while trying to impress the coaching staff, you might as well not bother to come to Fisher Stadium to watch Lafayette practices starting on Tuesday, March 29.

"I told the equipment guys they could ship the shoulder pads out for reconditioning; they're not even coming off the shelf," Coach Frank Tavani told me the other day when we discussed a revolutionary new approach to the spring camp, which will run to April 28.

That's right, instead of ending on a Saturday, as it traditionally has, camp winds up on a Thursday. The schedule calls for five weeks of Tuesday and Thursday practices at 4:30 p.m., four Saturdays at 9 a.m. and one Sunday (April 10) at 4 p.m.

"Skills, drills and thrills," was Tavani's description when we talked about it on National Signing Day. The Leopards will practice in helmets and shells. There will be no spring game on Saturday, April 23. "It's just practice #13," Tavani said. "Practice #14 and #15 are after that one."