Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lycoming Football Coach Optimistic at 1st Kickoff Luncheon

Lyoming Head Football Coach Mike Clark
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Lycoming College head football coach Mike Clark previewed the 2013 football team during the first Lycoming College Kickoff Luncheon, which was held at the Ross Club, 201 W. 4th St., on Wednesday, July 31, at 12 p.m. Clark was joined by Assistant Athletic Director and Sports Information Director Joe Guistina, assistant coach Pat Taylor and senior LB Tyler Denike, Sr.

Coach Clark spoke about how Lycoming Football has positioned itself for the MAC Championship year in and year out. "It is not an easy thing to do as the last two year indicate. One year we were seven points away and the other five points away. So we have come up a little bit short each of the last two year," Mike told the Lycoming fans. He praised retired coach Frank Girardi, Robb Curry and his coaches for putting Lycoming's program on the map. We won the championship in 2008 and everyone thought the next one would be just around the corner, but that has not happened. "The only saving grace is that Coach Girardi only won 13 Championships in 36 years, so one every three year is not bad," Clark quipped. Coach Clark is starting his 6th as head coach of Lycoming.

Mike Clark explainng a point about expectations
Of the fan expectations, Mike, his coaching staff and the player would not have it any other way. The pressure of producing each year is grinding for sure but Lycoming is in a position they want to be in. Everyone knows that the expectations at Lycoming are higher than 8-2 Clark stated. "As we end up in November of this year, hopefully, we will be one of the 32 teams that compete for the National Championship. We will find out," Clark said.

Clark continued explaining how consistency in the coaching staff is an important part of the team's strength. He said they did lose one coach from last season, but picked up his replacement. He commented about all his coaches like Steve Wiser, Steve Radocaj, Mike Webber, Scott Brisson, Pat Taylor and others. "We have people on our staff who can relay a very consistent message. If you look at any great organizations who have been successful, you have to have great people and they have a consistent message that enable them to be successful," Mike explained. "All of that allows you to retain great players and helps them to move toward graduation which is what you want."

"We teach the players that this is really there football team and they have a responsibility and they have to hold each other accountable. The players are with each other so much more. They study together, they are in the dinning hall together and they are in the locker room together. From a leadership position we have ask our kids to take on the responsibility and they have bought into it. I give them a ton of credit for driving our football team," Mike explained.

Lycoming graduated 23 seniors last year and eight of those players were all conference players. Two all conference offensive lineman, a running back and a wide receiver. Two all conference secondary and two defensive lineman. And Lycoming has all conference defensive players returning in Kabongo Bukasa, Dwight Hentz and Tyler Denike, Sr., from South Boardman, Michigan. "We feel that we are strong in the middle of the defense and we like the talent we have to fill in other positions," Coach Clark stated.

Lycoming will need to get some experience on defense to get where they were last year. They were 4th in the nation on total defense in terms of yardage and third the year before. That is a really high standard. The Warriors will need some talented guys to step up and play outstanding defense and if they do, Clark feels they will be in every ballgame. Over the last two years, Lycoming was within 15 points of being 19-1, so they are in every football game.

On offense, Lycoming will have to replace three offensive lineman, but Jr. QB Tyler Jenny is a talented and smart leader of the offensive. He will have to improve this critical year in his career at the helm to give the Warriors a shot at a great season. Tyler is very talented, but no one stands still in this game. You either improve or slip and the Warriors are looking for him to get even better handling the team. As football fans know, if you are good at the quarterback position, you have a chance to be very, very good an offense. Tyler can be that person, but Mike Clark stated, "He will be coached harder this year as a junior than he probably was a year ago. And you know what? I believe Tyler Jenny will really respond to that. He is a good leader and a good player..."

Lycoming has a good wide receiver group coming back and Craig Needhammer should pick up the slack at running back due to the graduation of Parker Showers as he will get more carries in 2013. Lycoming's kicking game is solid, but not spectacular Clark commented. The Warriors have the best punter in the league. Zack Czap can and has stuck the ball inside the 10 yard line on many occasions last year and the kicking was adequate last year. From my perspective, Czap is much better kicking off grass so the new home turf might have affected his confidence. Maybe finding the key to kicking off turf this year will improve his accuracy. Nine out of 10 MAC schools have turf. DelVal is the only one with grass as far as I know. Clark believes that Zack can get back to where he was in 2011, and all conference kicker. "If so, we will be really hard to beat," Mike explained.

Brockport State, the opening non-conference game of the season will be a real challenge for the Warrior. Last year they came into Williamsport and "really beat us up and took our lunch money," Clark said. "I wish that were not the case, but they did and part of that was probably our (coaching) fault. We thought they would be big and not very fast but they were very physical and negated our speed."

Clark ended with an overview of the MAC Conference. He likes Lycoming's chances on being there at season's end and praised the kids he has on this team. "Anyone from the community and the alumni of this college should be proud (of them), Mike concluded.