Marist Football Season Preview: Offense
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - The Marist football team has lost several key contributors from last season's record-setting offensive side of the ball. However, the Red Foxes have a considerable amount of depth, particularly at the skill positions, which should prove beneficial this season.
Chuckie Looney, the program’s single-season and all-time leader in completions, attempts, passing yards and passing touchdowns, has departed. No quarterback currently on the roster has ever started a collegiate game, but several have experience in the program and will vie for the starting role.
Junior Ed Achziger served as the team’s third quarterback last year. Achziger, along with fellow junior Caylin Moore, each appeared in two games last year. Sophomore Anthony Francis did not appear in any games, but will also be in the mix for playing time. Three freshmen – LaVell McCullers, Brad Westmark and Michael White – will compete for time as well.
Fifth-year senior Atiq Lucas, who will be one of six captains on this year’s team, is coming off a strong 2013 season which saw him earn Second Team All-Pioneer Football League honors. Lucas ran for 798 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns last season, and has gained over 1,100 yards on the ground in his career.
Senior Emmanuel Onakoya has averaged 4.9 and 5.3 yards per carry the last two seasons, and will once again be in the mix for carries. This is a deep position for the Red Foxes, with junior Garrett Clay, sophomore Marcellus Calhoun, sophomore Leon Cummings and senior Jared Lynch all vying for playing time.
Although Marist will miss the services of Bartley Leneghan, who led the Red Foxes in receiving yards (833) and caught eight touchdown passes, lots of talented returners figure to give this position plenty of depth.
Fifth-year senior Armani Martin, who will be a captain this season, set the program’s single-season record with 12 touchdown receptions last season. Marist returns its leading pass-catcher from last year in senior Matt Tralli (50 receptions). His brother, senior Joe Tralli, is in line for an expanded role after catching 29 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. Senior Joshua Royce, who has shown good potential, is making a comeback from a knee injury which sidelined him for the 2013 season.
Marist lost its top two players at this position from last year in David Diomede and Albert Wright. Junior Derek Gardner and senior Pete Tollis each saw action in two games last season. Seniors Louis Cotrone and Chris Myrick, as well as sophomore Jonathan Boozer have converted from fullback. Zach Passerelle is making a different type of conversion after serving as the primary catcher of the Marist baseball team the past two seasons.
This unit will be undergoing transition, as four-fifths of last year’s starters have departed, including All-PFL performers in Phede Celestin (three-time first team selection at right tackle), Peter Evans (first team, left tackle) and Rocco Manfre (second team, left guard) as well as three-year starter Brandon Castelbuono (right guard).
The lone returning starter is Mike Mangino, who has been the team’s primary center the last two years. Fifth-year senior Jack Meussner will be a captain this season, and will be an asset due to his versatility and experience. Senior Kyle Bakker has seen a good deal of action at right tackle the past couple of seasons. Junior Jon Higgins converted from the defensive line during spring ball. He will be in the mix for playing time at tackle, along with junior Dan Rice. Senior Sean Foley, who saw action in three games last year, will compete at guard.
Sophomore Mike Maccarone, who handled kickoff, placekicking and punting duties at different points last season, is the only returner who saw playing time last year. Sophomore Brett Blank will also compete for paying time, as will freshmen Joseph Giglio and Ryan Spaulding. The Red Foxes also brought in a pair of freshman long snappers in Christopher Apicella and Nicholas Mecca. A variety of players will be batting for the kickoff and punt return jobs.
Please see the attached video for Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Nate Fields being mic'd up at practice. Fields is in his second season in this role, was the team's wide receiver for the four previous years, and was a student assistant for three seasons.