Home Football Preview: Merrimack hosts Virginia Lynchburg in FCS opener

Preview: Merrimack hosts Virginia Lynchburg in FCS opener

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In what expects to be one of the most noteworthy moments of the fall for the Merrimack College Athletics Department, the Merrimack College football program begins its NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) era tomorrow afternoon when the Warriors host Virginia University of Lynchburg on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Duane Stadium. The contest marks the program’s inaugural game as a Division I program.

Ticket Prices
Reserved Tickets
: $15 ($13 for Youth)
General Admission: $10 ($7 for Youth (12), Senior & Military)
Merrimack Students w/ valid Mack CardFREE!

NOTE: Tickets may be purchased online, by phone (978-837-5324) or on game day at either ticket entrance. Pricing for online purchases does not include processing fees.

Positional Preview:
Quarterbacks

  • Sophomore Christian Carter returns to the lineup after a Rookie of the Year campaign as a freshman
  • He threw for 1,681 yards in those seven starts, finding the end zone for 16 touchdowns and throwing just three interceptions with a 57 percent completion rate in 2018. He added over 500 yards rushing last season, as well
  • Graduate student Cam Hayes will also be in the mix. Hayes threw for 755 yards last season in three starts (4 games) with six touchdowns and four interceptions with a 61 percent completion rate.

Running Backs

  • Merrimack employs four options in its backfield in 2019
  • Redshirt-sophomore Jamari Venter started all 10 games last season and rushed for nearly 500 yards over 113 carries. He added one touchdown
  • Sophomores Matt Brehon and Malachi McFadden are also in the mix. Brehon added a pair of touchdowns for rushing for nearly 4.0 yards per carry; McFadden will be employed all across the field this season, and impressed in the return game on year ago

Wide Receivers

  • Wide receiver is another area where Merrimack displays depth and versatility. Redshirt-senior Marquis Spence and sophomores Johnny Rosarioand Anthony Norcia slot in as impact players
  • Spence was an all-conference player on year ago with 49 catches, 634 yards and six scores. Rosario put together an all-rookie season with 31 catches and five TD. Rosario adds height to the group, standing at 6-foot-4
  • Norcia expects to play inside, coming off a 15-catch year as a true freshman

Offensive Line

  • Merrimack brings in an experienced front-five to play in front of Carter. Fifth-year left tackle Erick Browne and redshirt-junior Sam Cooper lead the group; Browne has been a mainstay in Merrimack’s lineup for three years while Cooper arrived at the program as a transfer from Maine
  • In the middle, junior Miles Cobb returns as Merrimack’s center, while junior Clay LeGault moves outside to right tackle
  • Junior Steve Liakos has the inside track at taking over at right guard

Defensive Line

  • On the other side of the ball, Merrimack will have new faces along its defensive line
  • Graduate student Gabe Dansereau is back from an injury that caused him to miss the 2018 year. He started every game for the Warriors in 2017
  • Other candidates to see playing time include senior Jack Lambert, sophomore Corey Hagerman and redshirt-sophomore Troy Shallow. Hagerman and Shallow combined for nearly 60 tackles and four sacks last year
  • Freshman Nicholas Lenon also expects to impact the front-four in his debut year

Linebackers

  • Redshirt-junior Michael Mercuri commands the defense; last season he was an all-league third team selection at the middle linebacker position. He ranked sixth in the Northeast-10 Conference in tackles per game (8.1) and tied for sixth with 10.5 tackles for loss
  • Redshirt-senior Enrique McFarlane and redshirt-junior Jake Ragusa flank Mercuri. McFarlane was an all-league performer back in 2016, while Ragusa was an all-rookie selection in 2017

Secondary

  • The secondary features two redshirt-juniors, one junior and one redshirt-sophomore who are in the mix for playing time
  • Junior Caleb Holden was a ball-hawk in 2018, totaling four interceptions and seven pass breakups
  • Redshirt-junior Maverick Gamble has totaled 33 tackles over the last two years. Class Cam Tillman was a hard-hitting safety for the Warriors in 2018, setting a career high in solo tackles (37) and tying his personal best in total stops (53).
  • Darion McKenzie is back in the mix after missing last season due to injury

Special Teams

  • Graduate student Corey Resendes will serve as both Merrimack’s kicker and punter; last season he converted a career-high nine field goals and a career-best 26 extra points
  • In the return game, Spence, McKenzie and sophomore Rodney Samson will be in the mix as playmakers on special teams

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