SEASON PREVIEW: 2019 Football

SEASON PREVIEW: 2019 Football

CASTLETON, Vt. – The 2019 football season is right around the corner, with the opening kickoff for the Castleton University football program slated for September 7 against Plymouth State at Dave Wolk Stadium.

The Spartans will feature a nine-game schedule this season which includes four home dates. After the season-opener against the Panthers, Castleton goes on the road back-to-back weeks at Fitchburg State and the University of New England. Castleton then returns home to battle for the Sap Bucket Trophy against Norwich on September 28 before the bye week. October 12 marks Homecoming and Family Weekend against Gallaudet, before the Spartans are on the road twice more at Maritime (N.Y.) and Alfred State for Eastern Collegiate Football Conference contests. The home finale is on November 2 against Anna Maria, with the regular season wrapping up at Dean on November 9.

Head coach Tony Volpone, now in his sixth season with the Spartans, added two new coordinators to his staff, bringing on Anthony Marsella from Salve Regina as the defensive coordinator and welcoming back Brian Grady as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.

The Spartans will feature a youthful group on offense, featuring predominantly sophomores and juniors. Multiple positions feature ongoing battles for the starting role, including spots at running back, wide receiver and tight end.

With the graduation of Moses Harris, the Spartans will look for a fresh face to fill his shoes as returning players Simon Davis Jr., Matt Hesford, Lucas Morse and Colin Ellsworth work to earn carries while a handful of incoming freshmen will battle for the spot as well. Davis Jr.'s 13 carries a season ago are the most for any returning player as he averaged more than 5.5 yards per carry in his rookie season. Following last year's top target Ryan Barry's graduation, juniors Anthony Martinez and Jared Brockway return with the most targets, with Martinez hauling in 26 catches for a team-leading 350 yards a season ago. Brockway collected 198 yards through the air during the 2018 season, reeling in 13 passes in total. The tight end position has a pair of sophomores—Evan Keegan and Zachary Licata—battling for the starting role after John Hamme's graduation. Tucker Kreh is also in the mix after appearing in nine contests a season ago. 

Sophomore Jacob McCarthy projects to get the nod as the team's starting quarterback after splitting time with the now-graduated Mitchell Caron a season ago. McCarthy showed flashes of brilliance, passing for 803 yards and three touchdowns, but struggled at times with turnovers as he tossed seven interceptions on the year.

The offensive line returns five players that saw significant action across the board a season ago, anchored on the right side by seniors Joe Saraiva and Sam Deacon. Tucker Gaudette—a First Team All-ECFC selection last year—returns for his sophomore campaign at left tackle while classmates Joe Stimpfel and Grant diBenedetto project to round out the interior of the line. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Castleton brings back seven starters from last year's squad, including First Team All-Conference selection Chris Rice. Rice set a program record for tackles for a loss while tying the single-season sack record in 2018.

Dustin Rock returns opposite Rice on the defensive line, while Nick Fecteau and Matt Hill are likely to split time in the interior of the line.  Gus Semanchik returns to the Spartans after missing a majority of the season to injury last year, joining Lukas Carlson as the team's outside linebackers along with Frank Buchler and Jason Gilsinger. Seth Gewanter and Spencer Kozlak round out the Spartans' experienced front-seven, while Nick Reca, Zak Pollicino, Luc Issa and Ethan Palazzetti should see significant time in the secondary. Issa and Palazzetti both step into starting roles this season following strong showings last year.

Placekicker Andy Kenosh returns for the special teams unit, as does punter Mike Morgan. Castleton will be in search of a new return man for kickoffs following Harris's graduation, however Brockway has experience returning both kickoffs and punts for the Spartans.