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Moravian College Football Team Guns for Championship Season

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Moravian College Football Team

Moravian College Football Team

Kyle Conroy

Kyle Conroy

Moravian College Football Team

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You might forgive fans for looking at the Moravian College football team this year and not seeing a championship season in its future.

After all, the Greyhounds are coming off an iffy 5-5 season last year and graduated out nearly a dozen of its starters. And not just starters but future Hall of Famers. Among them, all-time leaders in passing yards (Mike Hayes), rushing (Chris Negron), and receptions (Jalen Snyder-Scipio). With their teammates, this tour de force may round out one of Moravian football’s best classes of athletes ever.

Still, you shouldn’t count out the Hounds for 2017.

Why?

“Hard work and leadership,” says senior receiver and captain Aaron Hudson, who returns after a second-team, all-Centennial Conference season in which he led the Hounds in receiving yards and touchdowns.

The hard work started early, says Hudson, with training camp beginning on August 10 and going until the 26th, making it one of the longest camps in team history.

A new Division III rule that eliminated double practices also made meetings much longer — and more important. “Adapting to meetings is a very difficult thing to do, especially for these freshman used to high school ball who haven’t yet experienced them,” says Hudson. “You must stay focused and learn off the field to be able to compete on the field.”

The Hounds put in overtime elsewhere, as well, with 2 1/2 hours of practice every day, plus individual, team, and special teams meetings. On average, the players met for nearly four hours every day, watching films and learning the new offensive and defensive schemes.

By day sixteen of camp, the long hours and early mornings took their toll, admits Hudson. “It was extremely difficult, but come Saturday afternoons all those meetings and practices help us win.”

On the field, Hudson will have a new quarterback throwing to him. Competing for that position are senior Kordell Theadford and transfer Doug Erney, who comes to Moravian after a year at East Stroudsburg University. Both quarterbacks are highly mobile and can outrun any defense that doesn’t respect their ability to run the ball.

Returning to running back is junior Eli Redmond, who split time his first two seasons behind the aforementioned Negron. Hudson and Kyle Ferryman will be playing the slot receiver position, with a bunch of new young faces fighting for playing time on the outsides. Aaron Brown is also returning to tight end for his senior year. New and promising prospects here include freshmen Nick Petros and Ricky Tate. Juniors Alex and James Pierce are back, too.

Having lost only one offensive lineman, the Hounds look ready to mature, with returning sophomores Jason Barish and Brett Poling.

The offense is definitely facing a big change with the departure of Tim McGorry, the offensive coordinator who took a wide receiver job at Lehigh University. But the Hounds are in the capable hands of John Harrison, a former quarterback at Franklin & Marshall who set Centennial Conference records for touchdown passes.

The new offense might lack the firepower it had under Hayes but still looks very dangerous, with speedsters and deep threats that can score on almost any play. Their challenge is to get the system down before conference play, but coming back to camp earlier than ever has helped transform the offense into a unit that promises to make for scary watching on Saturday afternoons.

The defense will need to help this young offense get the ball back as much as possible. Nick Tone, Jorden Stout, and Connor Rooney are all returning to the defensive line. With senior Vinny Caporrino, they make up a solid group of veterans.

The Hounds will surely miss the presence of John Snyder, another senior who was a four-year starter and first-team, all-conference defensive lineman last season. The Hounds also lost Ed Delia, another first-team, all-conference linebacker who led the Hounds in tackles. But returning junior Steve Ewald and sophomore Joe Milano look more than capable of filling those big cleats.

The secondary will see many new faces on the field joining junior captain Nick Zambelli. Justice Anderson moves over to corner, after starting at receiver for the last two seasons. Sophomore Tim Valentine will be on the opposite side of the field. Freshman Jackson Buskirk will fill the other safety position next to Zambelli. The young and inexperienced secondary will have to lean on the leadership and knowledge of Zambelli to make sure the defense is running on all cylinders.

The 2017/18 Hounds are young team but one with enough upperclass leadership to make this season a memorable one. Don’t believe me? Just step inside the locker room. You won’t find a single coach or player who doesn’t believe Moravian College won’t be playing championship ball this year.

Kyle Conroy, ‘18, is a defensive back for the Moravian Greyhounds.

NOTE: The Greyhounds lost their season opener to King’s College, 30 -27. They begin Centennial Conference play this Saturday, September 9, with a home game against McDaniel College. Kickoff is set for 1:05 pm.

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