Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 Lycoming football season preview - The unsung heroes of any team

Photo by John Green
Offensive Line
Four starters return to the offensive line in 2017, giving the Warriors one of the most experienced lines in the MAC, while seven other returners give the team plenty of depth up front.

Senior Brad Stubbs (Grampian, Pa./Curwensville) leads the group of linemen, as the two-time All-MAC center’s explosiveness and physical power makes him one of the best returning players in the conference.

Junior Cody Botts (Millmont, Pa./Mifflinburg) also returns after starting all 10 games at left tackle in 2017, as he also earned a spot on the Google Cloud Academic All-District Team. Sophomore Ethan Newton (Middletown, Pa./Middletown Area) and senior Dan Sipps (Philadelphia, Pa./Father Judge) also started throughout the 2017 season in the two guard slots.

Sophomores Jacob Estevez (Bayonne, N.J./Bayonne) and Bayly Williams (Waymart, Pa./Western Wayne) and junior Josh Purnell (Allentown, Pa./Emmaus) are competing for the final starting tackle slot, while several others give the line depth inside – junior Owen Covert (Wellsboro, Pa./Wellsboro) at center, juniors Nate Lash (Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield) and Shahad Palmer (Philadelphia, Pa./Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus) and sophomores Quentin Frangelli (Prospect Park, Pa./Interboro) and Ronny Flick (Bath, Pa./Northampton) at the guard slots.

Who Returns: Cody Botts, Jr., Millmont, Pa./Mifflinburg Area; Owen Covert, Jr., Wellsboro, Pa./Wellsboro; Jacob Estevez, So., Bayonne, N.J./Bayonne; Ronny Flick, So., Bath, Pa./Northampton Area; Quentin Frangelli, So., Prospect Park, Pa./Interboro; Nate Lash, Jr., Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield Area; Ethan Newton, So., Middletown, Pa./Middletown Area; Shahad Palmer, Jr., Philadelphia, Pa./Mastery Charter Shoemaker Campus; Josh Purnell, Jr., Allentown, Pa./Emmaus; Dan Sipps, Sr., Philadelphia, Pa./Father Judge; Brad Stubbs, Sr., Grampian, Pa./Curwensville Area; Bayly Williams, So., Waymart, Pa./Western Wayne.

Newcomers: Bradley Beaver, Fr., Hughesville, Pa./Hughesville; Kevin Carpenter, Fr., Sparta, N.J./Sparta; Nick Facey, Fr., Saunderstown, R.I./North Kingstown; Tyler Gallagher, Fr., Gettysburg, Pa./Gettysburg Area; Dan Shoup, Fr., West Chester, Pa./Bayard Rustin.

Coach’s Take: “Having four legitimate pieces back is great and then there a few other guys who have played some. Our ability to be good up front is going to be centered around Brad Stubbs. He is our best offensive lineman. He is probably the most physically dominant lineman that we’ve had here. Cody made a huge jump from freshman to sophomore year, really worked to improve his weight and strength. Both Dan and Ethan had solid years being full-time players. At tackle, we’ll have a battle between Jacob Estevez and Josh Purnell on the right side, who are both taller, more athletic tackle types. Inside, the next piece has to come from Shahad Palmer, who has worked hard to slim down, and Nate Lash, who moved over from the defensive line. Owen Covert is a guy that will be in the mix. We like our depth, having only graduated one senior.”

Special Teams
The kicking unit is possibly the most experienced for the Warriors, as senior Connor Bell (Mickleton, N.J./Kingsway Regional) is set for his fourth year as the team’s punter and school-record breaker junior Jamie Fisher (Folsom, Pa./Ridley) is set for his second as a kicker.

Bell may have finished seventh in the MAC in punting average as a junior, averaging 36.1 yards per punt, but he downed 19 of his 57 punts inside the 20 and 22 were fair caught. The Warriors consistently changed field position with his kicks, as the team finished second in the league with a net punting average of 34.55 yards per boot.

Fisher also gives the team a strong-legged kickoff and field goal specialist, as he tied the school record with 13 field goals in 18 attempts in his first year as a starter in 2017. Fisher hit three 40-yard attempts, canned the first seven attempts of the season and hit all 27 of his extra-point opportunities. The Honorable Mention All-MAC selection was just as good on kickoffs, as 19 of his 51 kickoffs went for touchbacks. The Warriors led the MAC, allowing just 16.94 yards on kick return defense.

Part of the success of the team’s special teams will rely on the team’s long-snappers and holders, all of whom are returning. Pierce and Mulvihill split the long-snapping duties and Oquendo has been the team’s holder the past three seasons.

While Lycoming’s special teams’ defense has been one of the stingiest in the league, Lycoming has been just as good offensively, with Boyd and Kim helping the team finish second in the MAC in kickoff returns, averaging 20.41 yards per kick. The team also finished second in the MAC in punt returns, averaging 10.58 yards per kick.

Who Returns: Connor Bell, Sr., Mickleton, N.J./Kingsway Regional; Jamie Fisher, Jr., Folsom, Pa./Ridley; Andrew Traxler, Sr., Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County.

Coach’s Take: “Tim Landis is a really good football coach and he is especially bright in special teams. He was a Division I special teams coordinator, so that has been his show. The numbers in the kick game really keep us in games. I think Jamie had an unbelievable year. He did miss a couple field goals late, but one or two of those had to do with snapping issues. He was perfect on extra points and led the league in touchbacks. There’s something about when you score and then kick the ball through the endzone, it eliminates the threat of a big play. Connor was pretty solid. We feel pretty good, all things considered. Connor, last year, was a guy who downed 19 punts inside the 20. He maximizes all his ability. Andrew is a great kid and very committed. If we need him to step up, I think he is more than capable.”