The Merrimack College Athletic Department’s 2017-18 academic year begins on earnest on Wednesday with the football team making its return to campus to officially begin preseason camp on campus.
Nearly 100 different student-athletes from the roster will file into North Andover for the official start of the 2017 campaign; Wednesday’s itinerary includes team meetings, concussion education, strength and conditioning sessions, and the first practice of the preseason under the lights at Martone-Mejail Field later this evening.
Preseason camp spans a stretch of just over three weeks, as the team eyes the season opener on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Bryant University. The team will also join the rest of the athletic department community in assisting with freshmen move-in on the first Friday of September.
Merrimack is opening against Bryant for the second straight season and the third time in the past four years. Dating back to 2013, the Warriors have faced a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent four times, including its memorable victory over Wagner back in 2013.
Fifth-year head coach Dan Curran can look forward to the return of three all-conference selections in junior linebacker Enrique McFarlane (West Hempstead, N.Y.) – an all-conference second team selection – and sophomores Sebastian Lucas (Balitmore, Md.) and Erick Browne (Everett, Mass.), who were both all-rookie team members at wideout and offensive line, respectively.
Merrimack will be one of the deepest teams in the country at wide receiver this season with Lucas, graduate student Justin Mount (Westford, Mass.), redshirt junior Cody Demers (Dracut, Mass.), senior captain Devin O’Reilly (Glastonbury, Conn.) and redshirt sophomore Marquis Spence (Englewood, N.J.), in addition to several others looking to make greater strides this fall while several newcomers look to break into the mold.
Additionally, Merrimack’s offensive line will be anchored by captain Joseph Peduto (Acton, Mass.), junior Hunter Sallila (Fitchburg, Mass.) and Browne, while the battle for starting quarterback will be settled in camp.
On defense, the return of senior Tyree Holmes (Capitol Heights, Md.) on the defensive line should be a major boost after graduating one of Merrimack’s all-time greats in Josh Hill ’17; McFarlane broke onto the scene with a stellar sophomore season that was cut short due to injury, but he was among the NE10’s best at middle linebacker before that happened. The secondary will still have graduate student and captain Brian Carroll(Sudbury, Mass.) leading the way, as well as a blend of returners and newcomers who will look to keep pace with what has been one of the NE10’s top units over the past few seasons.
Merrimack has won at least six games in four out of the last six seasons and will be looking to claim its third NE10 title this fall. The season starts on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, beginning at 3 p.m.--
Mike McMahon has covered Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune since 2006 and he also has been a senior writer at College Hockey News since 2005.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN and you can follow the site @TheMackReports.