Graphic by Aaron Levenson ‘15 | The Lafayette
Last weekend, Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani sat down to watch the Sacred Heart-Marist game on a live stream. Assistants joined him in scouting Sacred Heart for tomorrow’s season opener. But just minutes into the game, the weather cut the stream, leaving the Lafayette coaching staff with nothing but a blank screen.
Tavani put it this way: “[Sacred Heart] hasn’t seen us and we basically haven’t seen them.”
As the saying goes, the show must go on. And fully prepared or not, on it will go, starting tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Fisher Stadium. Lafayette is fresh off a 5-6 record a season ago, its third straight losing season. Will this be the year the losing ends?
“We want to reassert ourselves in this league and this is the year to do it,” defensive end James Coscia ‘15 said. Easier said than done, but in Tuesday’s media luncheon Tavani spoke confidently about his team.
“I have a good, positive feel about this team as a whole,” Tavani said. “I thought it was a particularly tough camp by design. We’ll see how we handle things when things aren’t going well. When things start getting tough, that’s when you learn about your football team and I’m looking forward to finding that out.”
Questions remain on several fronts, including the offensive and defensive lines and the running attack.
Regarding the offensive line, Tavani said, “It’s a mature group – a group that three of the five are all benching over 400 pounds. These are guys that can do damage in the run game. It’s no secret that I want to run the football, I still think it’s an important part of the game.”
The biggest supporter of the offensive line will be junior running back Ross Scheuerman, a two-time All-Patriot League second team selection. In 2012, Scheuerman carried the ball 146 times for 701 yards and two touchdowns.
“Playing harder and finishing our blocks is what it comes down to,” left tackle Luke Chiarolanzio ‘15 said. “I think it’s something we’re going to prove this year and [tomorrow].”
If Lafayette can run the ball successfully and keep the offense on the field, Tavani likes his team’s chances.
“Shortening the game and putting your defense on the field for the least amount of plays is the way to win,” Tavani said.
Returning in the passing attack is All-Patriot League selection Mark Ross ‘14, who caught 75 passes for 1,030 yards and 10 touchdowns. His presence will help new starting quarterback Zach Zweizig ‘15 adjust quickly.
Defensively, the defensive line is the most unproven group and will feature freshmen Andy Labudev and Robin Cepeda. The linebacking corps and secondary are loaded with experience. In 2012, the defense ranked 86th in the nation in rushing defense, an area that will need improvement.
Whatever the case may be on the field, Tavani is determined to control everything he can off the field.
“Those [players] that aren’t on the train are going to get booted off real quick,” Tavani said. “There is more of a focus. There’s only one rule this year and that’s the no nonsense rule and I’m in charge of it.”