Photo by Kate Cherney ‘15 | The Lafayette
No Days Off – Conditioning Prioritized
Seven weeks into last season, the Lafayette football team stood tied atop the Patriot League at 5-2. A championship seemed within grasp for the first time since 2006. But four straight losses later, those aspirations swiftly disappeared; over those four defeats, the defense allowed an abysmal 39.8 points per game.
Fingers were pointed, as is natural after a disappointing end to a once promising season. Questions were asked. What was behind the collapse? What changed from the beginning of the season to the end?
One possible answer is a lack of conditioning and Lafayette has been hammering that point home all preseason long.
“We conditioned hard this camp,” starting quarterback Zach Zweizig ‘15 said. “We are priding ourselves on being the best shape team. Last season, we just didn’t find a way to win when everyone was tired and sore.”
Lafayette went 17 straight days without a day off, a first for training camp.
“We were working our butts off,” Zweizig said. “The coaches did not let up on us at all. That’s when you need to fight through it though.”
Naturally, players suffered the usual training camp bumps and bruises.
“I hope it hurts or we didn’t push hard enough,” head coach Frank Tavani said. Tavani is entering fourteenth season as head coach.
Special Teams Emphasized
Throughout training camp, Tavani devoted the first 45 minutes of each practice for special teams. Doug McFadden was promoted to special teams coordinator and both he and Tavani met with several professional staffs, some from major FBS schools throughout the summer. From that, McFadden has put together a package to be utilized for the upcoming season.
“I’m hoping that equates to strong special teams play,” Tavani said. “More importantly, I think we have those kinds of athletes and their skills to be successful.”
Zweizig Ready To Roll
In his sophomore year of high school, Zweizig served as a backup to the senior starting quarterback. Right before the first game of the season, the senior sprained his MCL, forcing Zweizig into the starting role for the first four weeks of the season. Following the graduation of the senior, Zweizig assumed the starting role for the next two years.
Sounds relatively similar to his situation last year after quarterback Andrew Shoop ‘13 was suspended.
Having that experience has made Zweizig all the more comfortable to start against Sacred Heart on September 7.
“It is definitely a similar experience,” Zweizig said. “Knowing that you’re the guy heading into it though feels a lot better. You work a lot harder. It’s just a whole different mindset knowing that you’re the starting quarterback. I have to be the leader and play well.”
Freshmen To See More Action
This semester, Lafayette is welcoming its first scholarship class and Tavani has made his intentions on their playing status clear.
“We will play freshmen this year, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
Although Tavani admitted that a lack of depth is a part of the decision for freshmen assuming starting roles, he also acknowledged that their talent level is a component as well.
Freshmen Andy Labudev and Robin Cepeda will start on the defensive line. Tavani also said that freshman wide receiver Tim Vangelas has stood out “as one of those freshmen that will certainly be on the bus [to games].”
“We were not able to bring in guys like that before,” Tavani said. “Now, we can.”