Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lebanon Valley Football - Dutchman Opens 2016 Campaign at Franklin & Marshall

Inage courtesy of Lebanon Valley Athletics
Five Things
Lebanon Valley is coming off a 5-5 season in which the Flying Dutchmen dropped three games by one-score or less. After serving as offensive coordinator for 12 years, Joe Buehler '89 makes his head-coaching debut against F&M, taking over for the program's all-time winningest coach in Jim Monos. Senior running back Brendon Irving will look to become the first LVC player to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons in 2016. The F&M rivalry is one of the oldest in LVC football history, with the first contest between the two schools taking place in 1899. At 24 miles away, F&M is LVC's closest geographical rival in Division III football.

Series History
This is the 36th meeting after the mid-state rivals met in 2014 for the first time since 1982. F&M leads 27-8-1. The last time LVC earned a road win over the Dips came in 1971, when the Dutchmen edged out a 22-20 victory. At 24 miles, F&M is geographically LVC's closest rival in NCAA Division III football, compared to 36 miles for Albright and 44 miles to Dickinson. It is one of the oldest rivalries in LVC football, dating back to the first meeting in 1899, a 28-0 Diplomat win in Lancaster.

Last Year
Franklin & Marshall's defense held off a last second Lebanon Valley comeback attempt to earn a season-opening victory. The Diplomats held LVC inside their own 10-yard line in the final minute to secure a thrilling 42-37 win under the lights at Arnold Field on Thursday night, Sept. 3. After pushing across the apparent go-ahead score with less than a minute left to play,Brendon Irving's touchdown run was called back on a holding penalty. Four plays later, Tyler Cottle's fade pass to the back corner of the end zone was broken up by an F&M defender and the Dips took over on downs with 22 seconds left to play. Irving rushed for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 19 carries, while Jeremy De La Cruz made nine catches for 134 yards and a score. Quarterback Tyler Cottle was 22-36 with 266 yards passing, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. Kevin Antol and Trevor St. Clair each made 11 tackles and Bryan Ekcame away with a pick for LVC. Taalib Gerald racked up 152 yards and a touchdown on the ground for F&M, while quarterback Matt Magarity completed 15 passes for 212 yards and four scores. Luke Foukas led the Diplomat defense with nine stops.

Yo, Joe!
Joe Buehler '89 enters his first season as Lebanon Valley head coach in the fall of 2016 after 12 years as the program's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Buehler took the reins from longtime head coach Jim Monos after playing and coaching for LVC's all-time winningest coach. Buehler coached in the high school ranks for 15 seasons, most recently as an assistant at Cedar Cliff in 2003. Buehler was also the head coach at nearby Palmyra from 1996-2002. In addition, he has served as an assistant at Milton Hershey, Lebanon, and Palmyra high schools. Buehler was an outstanding football player at LVC, where he was a four-year letterwinner and a Second Team All-MAC selection as an offensive lineman.

Team Captains
LVC will have three first-time team captains in 2016 in seniorsTravis Saylor and Bryant Weller and junior Tom Gallagher. The trio was elected by their teammates after the 2015 campaign.

Look Who's Back
Lebanon Valley returns 39 lettermen this fall, including 16 starters. Nearly the entire starting offense is back for the 2016 campaign, led by dual-threat quarterback Tim Pirrone, all-conference running back Brendon Irving, and the team's top wide receiver in 2015, Travis Saylor. All-MAC Honorable Mention center Bryant Weller will again anchor the offensive line, while left tackle Ryan Kingshill is coming off a junior campaign that saw him start all 10 games. LVC will have to reload on defense as all three starters on the defensive line in 2015 have graduated, as have three of the four members of last year's secondary. However, junior linebackers Tom Gallagher and Tommy Garnerreturn to wreak havoc on opposing offenses as the pair racked up 99 tackles and 16 tackles for loss between them last fall. All-region punter Spencer Moser will continue his dual-role duty. In addition to his special teams' prowess, the junior is also the squad's most experienced cornerback. Kicker Marcus Brownjoins Moser as one of LVC's top returners on special teams. The sophomore was twice named the MAC's Special Teams Player of the Week during his rookie campaign and finished the season 9-13 on field goals with his longest conversion coming from 38 yards out. Michael Gaval emerged as the team's top kick returner last fall and was named to the MAC Weekly Honor Roll after a strong outing at Delaware Valley last Halloween.

Meet the Dutchmen
More than 110 Lebanon Valley student-athletes head into the 2016 season donning the blue and white for LVC football. Here they are in their own words...

Brotherly Love
Two sets of brothers will suit up for Lebanon Valley this fall. Senior defensive back Ben Petrie is joined by his brother, freshman wide receiver Matt Petrie. Same goes for sophomore running back Steve Salerno, who is reunited with his brother, freshman offensive lineman Scott Salerno.

Lebanon Valley junior Brendon Irving put together one of the most impressive seasons by a running back in program history as a sophomore before following it up with another outstanding campaign last fall. In 2014, he was named a USA College Football All-America Honorable Mention and ranked second in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) with 1,255 yards on the ground. A All-East pick, he scored nine touchdowns and ended the season with five straight 100-plus yard performances. With his 1,027 rushing yards a year ago, Irving joined former tailback Ben Guiles as the only LVC players to rack up 1,000 yards on the ground in consecutive seasons. He rushed for a career-high 190 yards in a 37-7 win at Misericordia, was named the MAC's Offensive Player of the Week following LVC's 56-14 Homecoming victory over FDU-Florham, and earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year. If Irving becomes the first player in program history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark three seasons in a row, he'll also overtake Guiles as LVC's all-time leading rusher.

2015 MAC Honors
The Dutchmen saw nine players earn MAC All-Conference honors a year ago and three award winners return this season. Running back Brendon Irving was a first-team all-conference selection, punter Spencer Moser was named to the all-conference second-team, and center Bryant Weller earned an all-conference honorable mention nod.

Dutchmen Pegged Sixth
Lebanon Valley was picked sixth in the annual MAC preseason football coaches' poll. The Flying Dutchmen earned 43 points from the league's coaches. Delaware Valley edged out the defending MAC champs from Albright to earn the poll's top spot with 75 points and four first-place votes. The Lions received more first place votes than any other team with six and totaled 74 points. Stevenson ranked third with 68 points, Widener was fourth with 56 points, and Lycoming rounded out the top five with 50 total points.

Key Dates
In addition to this weekend's season opener, there are a number of dates of note on Lebanon Valley's schedule this fall. The annual Coach to Cure MD game takes place on Oct. 1 when Delaware Valley comes to town, while LVC's Homecoming contest will be held the next weekend when the Dutchmen play host to Widener on Oct. 8. The team's matchup with Misericordia on Oct. 29 will also serve as the program's Pink Game, and Senior Day ceremonies will take place prior to the regular-season finale against longtime rival Albright on Nov. 12.

Centennial-MAC Bowl Series Continues
There's a chance that Saturday's opener between LVC and F&M could be the first of two meetings between the teams this season. Following a successful introduction in 2015, the MAC and Centennial Conference have announced the return of the Centennial-MAC Bowl Series for the 2016 postseason. The bowl games will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19 at locations to be determined following the final weekend of the regular season. The bowl games will pit the top two teams from each conference that are not selected to the NCAA Division III Championship against each other. The top team from each conference that is not selected to the NCAA Championship will host the second best team from the opposing conference not moving on to NCAAs in one game of the series.

Noting LVC's Offense
Lebanon Valley returns six starters from an offense that posted 29.4 points per game a year ago. LVC's bread and butter was the ground game as the Dutchmen offensive line opened holes that allowed backs to rush for more than 2,200 yards in 2015, including Brendon Irving's output of 1,027 yards and five touchdowns. Jon Jones racked up 517 yards and five scores on the ground and Ryan Fink added six touchdowns as a freshman. That tailback trio returns, as do two of last season's starting offensive linemen in Bryant Weller and Ryan Kingshill. Tim Pirronewill again hold things down under center after throwing for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with his 188 yards and four scores on the ground. Leading wideout Travis Saylor is back after making 28 grabs for 422 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. Wide receivers Michael Gaval and Kyle Zimnik will look to build off promising seasons last fall, and Trey Manning will take over at tight end this year. Evan Lysczek will step in for graduated first-team all-conference fullback Bobby Conlon, while Logan Stover,Anthony Sorbin, and Bob Van Horn look poised to continue the rich tradition of offensive linemen at LVC.

Noting LVC's Defense
The Dutchmen defense will have to hit the ground running this year, as a number of players will look to fill the void of eight graduated starters from 2015. Inside linebacker Tom Gallagher is the team's top-returning tackler after ranking third in stops as a sophomore. He made 52 tackles, including six for loss, had three sacks, and pulled down one interception in 2015. Outside linebacker Tommy Garner gives LVC a strong 1-2 punch at the second level as he's coming off a 47-tackle season. Garner led the team in tackles for loss with 10 last fall, broke up four passes, and forced a pair of fumbles during his sophomore campaign.Spencer Moser leads a revamped secondary after making 25 tackles, intercepting one pass, and breaking up three more a year ago. Kyle Murray saw valuable minutes at safety in 2015, as didBlake Lutz. Both players will have expanded roles in the back end this season. Nick Tucker will take over the cornerback spot opposite Moser, while Tim Schumacher and Jordan Spahr will join Gallagher and Garner as starting linebackers in 2016. Austin Maguire and Jermaine McQueen will provide the pressure off the edge for the defensive line and Jacob Whitfield will try to clog up the middle at nose tackle this fall.

Noting LVC's Special Teams
Special teams should prove to be a strength of the LVC program in 2016, as All-East Region punter Spencer Moser should continue to pin opponents inside their own red zone, two-time 2015 MAC Special Teams Player of the WeekMarcus Brown will bring consistency to the kicking game, and freshman Nick Bentz will bring showcase his powerful leg on kickoffs. Michael Gaval, the team's top returner last fall, is back to return kicks. He will be joined by freshman speedster Tyeair Diggs. Tim Schumacher and freshman Brendan Yetter will handle punt-return duties and Tyler Cottle will take over the role of holder on field goal and extra-point attempts. Robbie Beidler will again feed Moser as the team's long snapper on punts and Bryant Weller will anchor the field goal and point-after tries as the unit's long snapper.

Scouting F&M
Franklin & Marshall returns 16 starters from a team that finished 6-4 a year ago. Running back Taalib Gerald rushed for 152 yards against the Dutchmen in 2015 and he'll man the backfield for the Diplomats again this fall. Wideouts Andrew DeStefano and Bobby Keyes each racked up more than 500 yards receiving during their junior campaigns and they bring valuable experience to the team's receiving corps. Three returners on the offensive line should help ease the transition for first-year starting quarterback Tanner Erisman. Vincent Moffett, and All-Centennial Conference Second-Team selection in 2015, will anchor the secondary with fellow safety Brendan Daly, while last year's sack-leader Jon Naji is the most dangerous player on the defensive line. The Dips also return longtime-starting specialists in punter Cody Hubbs and kicker Billy Zwicharowski.

Who's Next?
LVC returns to the friendly confines of Arnold Field for the team's home opener on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10. The Dutchmen open MAC play against Wilkes at 1 p.m.

Lebanon Valley (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Franklin & Marshall (0-0, 0-0 Centennial)
Saturday, Sept. 3 / 1 p.m. / Sponaugle-Williamson Field / The 36th Meeting

LVC Media Notes/Two-Deep

Live Video: F&M
Live Stats: F&M
Radio: Flying Dutchmen Radio Network
(WMSS 91.1 FM / WWSM 1510 AM)
Radio Webcast:

Online Video
The game will be streamed live and for free, courtesy of F&M athletics at

On the Radio
The game will be broadcast on the Flying Dutchmen Radio Network on WMSS 91.1 FM in Middletown and WWSM 1510 AM in Lebanon County. John Wilsbach and Brian Keyser are back this season to call the action. The game will be streamed live and for free on the TuneIn app, as well as at and on

Weather Forecast
(Forecast) It looks to be an ideal early-September afternoon for the season opener as the temperature at kickoff is projected to be in the mid-70s. Don't forget the sunscreen as skies will be clear and bright with next to no chance of rain.

Going to the Game
(Directions) The game will be held at F&M's Sponaugle-Williamson Field in Lancaster, Pa.

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