Football kicks off inaugural season for Coach Troxell tomorrow

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The Leopards have five returning starters on offense and nine on defense this season. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards).

The Lafayette football team, under new coach John Troxell ’94, will kick off its season tomorrow against the Sacred Heart University Pioneers. With a completely revamped offensive and defensive coaching staff, the Maroon and White will look to improve upon its 3-8 record in 2021.

“Expectations are always high, you always want to win,” Troxell said. “I think getting the kids to play with relentless effort in addition to their excitement and enthusiasm is important. When people see athletes at their highest level, it’s exciting to watch.”

With new schemes on both sides of the ball led by offensive coordinator TJ DiMuzio and defensive coordinator Mike Saint-Germain ’05, the Leopards aim to immediately turn around their team which has only finished above .500 once in the last 5 years.

“It’s really been fun watching everything come together. On the offensive staff, all five guys have coordinating experience which brings a lot of cool ideas. I think from where we were to where we are, you are going to see a lot more of a college-style offense that creates a lot of excitement.” Troxell said. “Defensively, we have a great nucleus of guys with new terminology. Any time you want to build a championship team you start on that side of the ball, because if you can play good defense, you are in every game.”

While the Leopards lost a lot of talent after the class of 2022 graduated, they are also bringing back five starters on offense and nine on defense. Two of those starters include senior captains Marco Olivas and Malik Hamm.

Olivas was named to the All-Patriot League team last season after finishing third in tackles in the league. Hamm, who is a two-time captain, is now a four-time All Patriot League selection and one-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year.

“[Olivas] and [Hamm], first of all, are great leaders and are great people,” Troxell said. “Having these guys as part of our senior leadership team will really help us on both sides of the ball.”

Olivas and Hamm will be supplemented by a range of experience on both sides of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Ah-Shaun Davis returns after tearing up defensive secondaries within his first weeks on campus, and other offensive weapons include senior running back Jaden Sutton and senior wide receivers Joe Gillette and Julius Young.

On defense, fifth years linebacker Billy Shaeffer and defensive lineman Ian Grayson return to join senior defensive back Daron Gilbert and junior linebacker Preston Forney to form one of the strongest defenses in the Patriot League.

The Leopards will face a tough test tomorrow as they take on Sacred Heart, a team that finished with a 6-1 conference record which was best within the Northeast Conference.

“I think there are a lot of different emotions right now. Some excitement, some anxiety, but the number one priority is to make sure all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted,” Troxell said. “It’s obviously the first time we are going through it as a staff and the first time we are going through it with the players. We are just trying to put the kids in the best position to win.”

The Leopards will face the Pioneers at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow in Fisher Stadium.