Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lycoming Football Meets Susquehanna University Opening the 2017 Season

10th Year Head Coach Mike Clark (A www.LycomngFootball.com File Photo)
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - For the fourth straight year, the Lycoming College football team will open its 2017 season against traditional rival Susquehanna University when it heads to Amos Alonzo Stagg Field for the Stagg Hat Trophy game on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 1 p.m.

The Warriors return four offensive starters, six defensive starters and five specialists from a team that finished 3-7 overall and 2-8 in the MAC in 2016. The team was predicted to finish sixth in the conference.

The River Hawks finished the 2016 season at 6-4 and was 6-3 in conference play with two of the three losses coming by seven points or fewer.

Nick Costello makes great catch against Franklin and Marshall earlier in August.A www.LycomingFootball.com Photo
Warrior Notes
• Lycoming is 4-5 in regular-season openers under head coach Mike Clark.

• Lycoming's junior class of five receivers - Nick Costello, Kyle Slivka-Fralin, Mike Mulvihill, John Kim and Brock Zollicoffer - accounted for 1,350 of the team's 1,858 receiving yards in 2016.

• Costello is 79 yards shy of becoming the 23rd player in school history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a career.

• Senior Mike Ward led Division III with five fumble recoveries in 2016.

• Eleven of the 17 Warriors that posted at least 20 tackles in 2016 are back on the roster.

• Senior Adin Hines is a half-tackle from reaching 10 tackles for loss in his career.

• Senior Caleb Robbins needs three more tackles to reach 75 in his career.

• The Warriors recovered three Susquehanna fumbles in their 27-24 win over the River Hawks in 2016.

Junior receivers
In 2016, 72 percent of the team's 1,858 receiving yards were accounted for by then-sophomore receivers. The group, headed by 6-5 receiver Nick Costello, features all sorts of different threats. Costello and Mike Mulvihill provide large targets that like contact and Kyle Slivka-Fralin, John Kim and Brock Zollicoffer offer explosive speed and quick hands for possession receptions.

#23 Senior safety Mike Ward (A www.LycomingFootball.com Photo)
Senior safety Mike Ward was a part of a turnover in each of the first six games in 2016, establishing a new scool-record. He posted a first-quarter fumble recovery against Susquehanna that led to a Lycoming touchdown. Against King's, he dove for a first-quarter interception that led to another touchdown. He added a fourth-quarter fumble recovery against Albright and he forced a fumble in the first quarter against Misericordia. Ward followed that two fumble recoveries and an interception against Widener. To extend the streak, he picked up another fumble recovery in the second quarter against FDU-Florham. Ward was the first Warrior defensive back to recover five fumbles in a season.

The Bell tolls
Junior Connor Bell regained the starting position as Lycoming's punter during week eight of the 2016 season and made the most of the opportunity. In three games, he averaged 37.2 yards per boot, more than four yards better than his freshman campaign. Bell's punting helped the team lead the MAC and finish 17th in Division III with a net punting average of 36.54 yards per punt.

Spreading the wealth
A school-record 17 players were credited with at least 20 tackles in 2016 and 11 of those players return this year. Lycoming returns four defensive backs, four linebackers and three linemen that reached the mark. Senior Mike Ward led the team with 73 tackles, while sophomore Korahn Williams (38), senior Caleb Robbins (37), sophomore Zach Kovach (34), junior Joe Pinzka (33), senior Adin Hines (33), junior Sam Romanofsky (30), junior Nick Kovalick (28), senior Johnathan Zedar (27), senior Malik Thomas (26) and senior Mike Palmer (25) also ended at least 20 plays.

Fall on it
The Warriors fell on three fumbles during the Stagg Hat Trophy win over Susquehanna. It was the most for the team since picking up three fumbles in a 31-7 win over Widener on Oct. 16, 2010. Mike Ward picked up the first one on the third play of the game at the Lycoming 44-yard line, which led to a 56-yard touchdown drive. In the second quarter, Adin Hines forced a fumble that Dan Heinrichs picked up. Later in the quarter, A.J. McAleer forced the ball out of Susquehanna's quarterbacks hands and Sam Romanofskyfell on it, leading to another touchdown drive.

Ward a Campbell Trophy semifinalist
Senior defensive back Mike Ward was announced as a candidate for the National Football Foundation's National Scholar-Athlete Awards, making him one of the semifinalists for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy. Ward has posted 175 career tackles, leading the team in each of the last two years, while adding 23 passes defended, seven interceptions and six fumble recoveries. In the classroom, Ward has earned Dean's List honors once and he is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society. He has also volunteered for Favors Forward with the football team in each of the last three years.

X Factors
Under head coach Mike Clark, the Warriors have shown several indicators that they will win. Since 2008, the Warriors are:
- 51-6 when tied or leading at halftime
- 49-5 when tied or leading in third quarter
- 35-7 when committing fewer turnovers
- 22-3 when rushing for 200 yards or more
Senior quarterback Collin Wrightwww.LycomingFootball.com Photo

Oh Canada

Lycoming College's football team embarked on its first international trip in May when it visited Montreal for three days, capping the trip with a 24-20 win over Vanier College. Senior quarterback Collin Wright loaded up a perfect spiral to hit junior Nick Costello on the run for a 50-yard touchdown pass with less than nine minutes left to score the decisive points.

Costello finished the game with three receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Warriors, who won the first game in program history played outside the United States. Wright finished 5-of-8 for 125 yards and two scores.

Vanier, a CEGEP in Quebec which is intended for postgraduate students aged 17-19, was held to just 49 plays for 208 yards, and just 78 yards total in the second half. Playing Canadian football rules, complete with a 12th man and on a field 12 yards wider, the Warriors averaged 5.3 yards per game, as it racked up 324 yards on 61 plays.

Two All-MACers return
The Warriors return two players that earned All-MAC honors during the 2016 season in junior offensive lineman Brad Stubbs and senior defensive back Mike Ward. Stubbs was a second-team selection and Ward an honorable mention pick.

Stubbs, the team's center, started all 10 games on the line. He helped the team average 333.2 yards of total offense, 147.4 rushing yards and 185.8 yards of passing yardage per game.

Ward led the team defensively, as the ballhawk is still the national leader in fumble recoveries with five. He also forced two fumbles and picked off two passes. For good measure, Ward also led the team with 73 tackles, 2.5 for loss and he added two pass breakups.

Staff additions
Lycoming's football staff will benefit from the addition of offensive line coach Sami Caygoz, assistant quarterbacks coach Pat Carey, linebackers coach Brian Kilbane, wide receivers coach Lumoi Muttu and the return of defensive line coach Steve Radocaj.

A former All-Centennial Conference offensive lineman at Franklin & Marshall, Caygoz worked at Valparaiso University as a tight ends and fullbacks coach in 2016. A former professional quarterback in Germany, Carey was a star quarterback for Bloomsburg in 2010-11. Kilbane worked with the Dickinson's outside linebackers and assisted with all aspects of recruiting in 2016. Prior to Dickinson, he worked for two years at King's (Pa.) as the director of football operations, video coordinator and outside linebackers coach. After earning his master's degree while helping the East Stroudsburg football team, Muttu is also a former assistant at Loyalsock Township High School. Radocaj is beginning a third tenure with the Lycoming staff, as he will once again work primarily with the defensive line. A legendary area coach, Radocaj coached what the Sun-Gazette named the decade's best area prep football team in the 2001 Williamsport squad.

Warriors sixth in preseason poll
The Lycoming College football team was predicted to finish sixth in the Middle Atlantic Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll. Delaware Valley was picked to win the MAC, scooping up five first-place votes and earning 75 points, while defending champion Stevenson and Albright each had 72 points. Widener (55) and King's (47) also finished ahead of Lycoming, which racked up 38 points. Lebanon Valley (33), Wilkes (27), FDU-Florham (19) and Misericordia (12) round out the poll.

Hines an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar
Senior defensive lineman Adin Hines repeated as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar by the periodical Diverse Issues in Higher Education, earning fourth team football honors in the award's 2016 edition. Hines has earned three letters with the football team, developing into one of the team's best defensive lineman. As a junior, he stepped into the starting lineup, finishing the year with 33 tackles and a team-best eight tackles for loss. Hines is a two-time member of the MAC Academic Honor Roll as an accounting major. He plans on returning to Lycoming's football team while finishing his degree requirements in 2017.

Academics first
A record group of 26 Lycoming College football student-athletes earned a slot on the 2016 MAC Fall Academic Honor Roll. The honored athletes were: Keith Batkowski, Cody Botts, Blake Bowman, Logan Chetaitis, Sam Dressler, Todd Frick, Dan Heinrichs, Adin Hines, Bailey Hughes, Zach Kovach, Dominic Loffredo, Austin Mital, Kirby Moist, Keeghan Morrison, Joe Oquendo, Joe Pinzka, Josh Purnell, Tom Reilly, Caleb Robbins, Sam Romanofsky, Josh Sawka, Jake Silverman, Tyler Smith, Chris Stewart, Andrew Traxler and Erik Wagner.

Frank Girardi a part of College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016
Photo courtesy of the Girardi Family
Girardi a part of College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016
Over the course of 36 years, former Lycoming College coach Frank Girardi cobbled together one of the finest resumes in the history of college football. He was recognized for that resume in December 2016, when he was officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame at the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner.

He won 257 games, which still ranks 16th all-time in NCAA history. He helped Lycoming win 13 Middle Atlantic Conference titles and make 11 appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He led the Warriors to the national title game in 1990 and 1997 and the semifinals in 1996.