By Andrew Scarpaci
Head LIU Post football coach Bryan Collins has high expectations for the 2018 fall football season, with an experienced team full of a starting roster of mostly seniors. There is a plethora of leadership on and off the field by all these seniors, who will look to end their college careers on a high note.
Collins’ goal for his players is the same every year, having a “first-class reputation,” meaning good grades and the way everyone on his roster carries and presents themselves on and off the field.
His on-field expectations this year include being conference champs, which he sees as very possible this season, then to be NCAA regional champs, which would definitely be a high honor, and lastly to be national champs, which would be an extreme accomplishment for this football team.
Leading the pack this year is a core of senior captains. Starting the list is wide receiver Michael Richardson, who last year as a junior broke the all-time Pioneer single-season touchdown record. Coach Collins strongly believes he can break that record again this year. On the offensive line is left tackle Chris Coles.
The running back is second-year starter Malik Pierre. On the defensive side, Patrick Williams leads the way as middle linebacker.
Other starters who will be making an impact this year are defensive end Kevin Petite and linebacker Connor Farrell.
Their secondary has two sophomore starters at cornerback, Nazir Streater and Jamel Johnson. Other starting receivers to Michael Richardson are Amir Crenshaw and Deon Mash.
One big hole the team will have to fill is the defensive tackle position.
Collins and team will look to find the best suitable replacement for Anthony Denunzio, who graduated in spring 2018.
The top options now are lineman Anthony Lavio and Able Joseph. The long snapper position is also up for grabs; this will most likely be taken by outside linebacker, senior Jake Carlock.
Linebacker coach/special teams coordinator Jim Gibbons is also positive about this year’s team. He sees big things out of their transfer quarterback from Rutgers University, who will be at the head of their passing game this year. He believes they have a strong special teams, as they put great effort into it.
This is led by returning kicker Senior John Pavacic. He sees special teams as important as most of these players only start on special teams to rest the players on offense and defense.
He, like Coach Collins, hopes to be conference champs, go to the NCAA playoffs, and win the regional championship, as they have made the final 8 a few times in the past.
Coach Gibbons sees a strong line-backing core with two returning seniors and two recruited juniors from Dean College.
While Gibbons sees talent in all his players, Pioneer football rarely starts freshmen; it is all about earning your spot.
This is the case for many underclassmen who will be taken “under the ropes” by this year’s abundance of seniors.
It will be an interesting rebuild for next year, as almost all the starting positions will have to be refilled. Gibbons sees most of these positions taken by this year’s sophomore and junior class, as he sees a setup two years from now for this season’s freshman class.
Gibbons is also optimistic that a few players on the roster could get a look by NFL teams.
This year’s team will have a lot to prove. The coaches believe that if any roster can do it, it would be this team full of veteran talent, who have all been working with each other for years under the leadership of Coach Collins and his staff.
This article was originally published in the summer edition of the Pioneer, the award-winning student newspaper of LIU Post, www.liupostpioneersummer.com, and is republished here by Blank Slate Media with the permission of the Pioneer.