The Merrimack College football team will kick off a new era when the returning members of last year’s squad hit the turf to kick off the spring season this Saturday.
The Warriors will conduct 13 practices over the course of the next month as they begin their first preparations for their inaugural season as members of the Northeast Conference as a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) member. Those practices will culminate with the annual Navy-Gold Spring Game at Duane Stadium on Saturday, April 27. Kickoff time will be announced at a later date.
The Warriors finished the 2018 season with a .500 record for the 14th time in program history. Merrimack nearly ran the table from October onward, winning four of the final five games of the season, with its lone loss coming by a single point. The Warriors won five wins in the NE10 and finished with a winning record in league play for the 12th time in school history, as well. They managed all that despite battling countless injuries on the defensive side of the ball, as well as a front-loaded schedule that had them play three of the league’s – and region’s – top three teams all in the first month of the year on their way to a fifth-place finish in the league standings.
Merrimack will bring back plenty of starters on both sides of the ball; on offense, rising sophomore quarterback Christian Carter headlines the group after an eye-popping freshman campaign that saw him earn the NE10 Rookie of the Year accolade. He joins four of last year’s five starting offensive linemen — including a 2018 captain and all-conference second-team pick in left tackle Erick Browne, as well as all-conference wide receivers in rising redshirt senior Marquis Spence (all-league third team) and rising sophomore Johnny Rosario (all-rookie team). Together, the unit finished 2018 producing 244.9 passing yards and 377.1 total yards per game, ranking second and fourth in the league in both categories, respectively. Merrimack was also a top-four team in the NE10 in red zone scoring, converting over 80 percent of its tries. The Warriors eclipsed 100 yards rushing in all but one game, as well as 350 yards of total offense in five of those matches, including two games with 450-plus yards. Merrimack averaged nearly 20 first downs/game (4th/NE10) and converted on more than 44 percent of its third downs, the second-best conversion clip in the league.
The defense will also feature three all-league selections from last year and the return of a few players who missed most or all of the 2018 campaign due to injury but were due to have a major impact. Redshirt junior Michael Mercuri was an all-league third team honoree at middle linebacker and one of the best all-around players in a Merrimack uniform a year ago and will be joined by fellow all-conference honorees in rising redshirt sophomore Jovan Grant and rising junior Caleb Holden, who were all-league second and third team selections, respectively, in the defensive backfield. Rising redshirt junior Jake Ragusa has played in nearly every game over the past two years at one of the linebacker spots, while the return of defensive backs Darion McKenzie, Enrique McFarlane and Anthony Witherstone will make a defense that boasted the second-best turnover margin in the league thanks to 17 takeaways (4th/NE10), as well as the NE10’s fourth-best red zone defense that much more formidable.
Noteworthy position changes include the return of redshirt sophomore Rodney Samson, an all-league rookie team selection at running back in 2017, who will move to the strike linebacker position, as well as another all-rookie team honoree from a year ago in rising sophomore Tyler Roberts, who will switch to tight end/h-back for the spring.
Merrimack’s full 2019 season schedule will be unveiled prior to the Spring Game, and season ticket and parking information will also be available at that time.
2019 Merrimack College Spring Football Schedule
All practices to be held at Duane Stadium
March 23 – 8 a.m.
March 25 – 6 a.m.
March 27 – 6 a.m.
March 30 – 7:30 a.m.
April 1 – 6 a.m.
April 3 – 6 a.m.
April 6 – 8 a.m.
April 8 – 6 a.m.
April 10 – 6 a.m.
April 13 – 7:30 a.m.
April 15 – 6 a.m.
April 17 – 6 a.m.
April 24 – 8 a.m.
Spring Game: Saturday, April 27 – TBD