BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- The Moravian College Football team looks to improve even more from last year's 5-5 record. With the team returning many key starters, they have also added a solid group of 42 freshmen to the roster, some of who will be fighting for starting positions or seeing playing time at some point during the season.
After his exceptional play last year, junior quarterback Mike Hayes looks to follow up his performance this season. "Mike came in very prepared for camp this season. He looks bigger and stronger this camp, which will help make his throws," commented Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "His football intelligence has also gone up since last season. You can see it through the way he is taking care of the ball and the way that he placing the ball for his receivers." Last season Hayes completed 144 passes for 1,681 yards and ten touchdowns.
Also receiving high praise from Coach Pukszyn are senior offensive linemen Max Neis and Daniel Smith. "These two have been playing since their freshman year, and I feel like they have been around forever. They are both really good players and they help out the younger linemen such as sophomore Mark Dignazio and junior Bradley Straight."
In the backfield, the team will be led by senior halfback Luke Gotzon, junior Chris Negron, and sophomore Eli Redmond. Last season Negron was the workhorse of the running backs,running the ball a total 206 times for 858 yards and nine touchdowns. Redmond also saw a lot of time running the ball in his freshman season tallying up 112 attempts for 727 yards and two scores. Both Negron and Redmond were selected to the Centennial Conference All-Conference Second Team for their individual performances last season. Gotzon also saw time before an injury cut his season short in the opener.
Junior wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio hopes that his impressive performance from last season will carry over into this one. A year ago Scipio caught 41 passes for 513 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Liam Nolan also looks to improve from last season performance after catching 35 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns last fall. Coach Puksyzn said "during camp we have really seen some improvements from our younger receivers such as sophomores Justice Anderson and Aaron Hudson. Both receivers are very quick and explosive and we hope to use this to our advantage this season."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Hounds are returning many key players. On the defensive line seniors Ryan Pysher, Jason Borso, Dan Bracken, Tim McCabe and Chernoh Shaw look to improve upon their play from last season. Pysher and Bracken both contributed 23 tackles off the line in 2014, with a combined five tackles for loss. Junior defensive tackle John Snyder is returning from a season-ending injury and is looking to pick up where he left off. In the six games Snyder played last fall, he tallied up 34 tackles, including three tackles for loss and one and a half sacks.
The Greyhounds will look to leadership in the linebacking core from senior linebacker Brendan Downey. Last season Downey snagged 34 tackles, including three for a loss, two interceptions and one pass breakup. The Hounds will be calling on sophomores Connor Rooney and Dominic Rossetti to step up and fill in. Making the switch from running back to linebacker, junior Edward Delia looks to as make his mark for the Greyhounds.
In the secondary for the Hounds, senior cornerback Jimmy McCarthy looks to keep up his stellar play from last season. McCarthy, who started all ten games last season after switching from wide receiver in preseason camp, racked up 46 tackles, five interceptions seven pass breakups, as well as making the Centennial Conference All-Conference First Team for his play. Playing safety for the Hounds are senior Anthony Orlando and junior Noah Miller, who is moving over from cornerback. Last fall Orlando finished the year with 51 tackles, three for loss, two sacks, one interception and one pass breakup on his way to making the Centennial Conference All-Conference Second Team. Miller added 46 tackles, one interception, and nine pass breakups. One player to watch this season in the secondary is freshman Nick Zambelli, who received praise from Coach Pukszyn during this preseason camp.
The Greyhounds open the season at Kings (Pa.) College on Saturday, September 5 at 6:00 p.m.