Lafayette football wrapped up its first step in the process of repeating as Patriot League champions.
Per NCAA rules, 15 practices are allowed each spring. Lafayette finished its last practice on Thursday; the spring session included two full scrimmages that consisted of 30 and 62 plays respectively.
“Fifteen practices is not a lot, but it’s a great foundation for us,” head coach Frank Tavani said. “Now we head into the offseason lifting immediately. And before you know it, we’ll be here for the summer session.”
Incoming freshmen report to training camp on Wednesday, August 6 while upperclassmen report the next day. Official practices then kick off on the eighth.
Last Saturday marked the annual Maroon-White spring game, or at least an altered version of it as there was no scoring. It was the first chance for Leopard fans to see the defense under new defensive coordinator Art Link.
“I really like the way [the defense] progressed from the very beginning,” Tavani said. “The defense was getting accustomed to hearing a new voice running the show. The idea is to get better each day and I felt that they did that.”
Saturday was also the annual awards banquet and each team member received a Patriot League championship ring.
Tavani mentioned several players among others he believes are primed for major leaps as the regular season opener against Sacred Heart on September 6 waits in the distance.
Justin Adams: Adams played in nine games last fall and caught 27 passes for 342 yards and one touchdown. His work ethic though, is one key Tavani mentioned to his continued improvement.
“Justin Adams is such a steady hard working guy,” Tavani said. “He had a very good spring and made big plays in the scrimmages.”
“Everyone is asking, ‘Who is going to replace Mark Ross?’ Tavani said. “Well, no one is going to replace Mark Ross.”
Adams, along with fellow receivers Demetrius Dixon ‘15, Mike Duncan ‘15 and Tim Vangelas ‘16, will provide weapons for star quarterback Drew Reed ‘17.
“I really want to take on this role of being the lead guy. I take that as a challenge,” Adams said. “I have had some good game experience the last couple of years and I’m trying to take it to the next level.”
Steve Mercado: Mercado is a rising junior who played in all 12 games last fall and recorded 34 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
This offseason has been focused on improving his explosiveness and strength.
Mercado mentioned his immediate connection with new defensive assistant Mike Saint Germain, who is a former Leopard offensive lineman on three Patriot League championship teams. Mercado said he feels that he has “learned so much already from coach Saint Germain.”
“On the field, it comes down to the little things,” Mercado said. “The first step, the second step, [where] my hands are… all of that.”
“My plan is to now hit the weight room hard and keep getting my numbers up.”
Lafayette Football Dates to Note:
August 6: Incoming freshmen report
August 7: Upperclassmen report
August 8: Official practices begin
September 6: Season opener at Sacred Heart
September 13: Home opener against Robert Morris