The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Football team prepares to improve in Troxell’s second year

Head football coach John Troxell addresses the team after the spring Maroon and White scrimmage. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The football team is always the first to arrive on campus, starting preseason camp in early summer. The Leopards’ first game will be at Sacred Heart (SHU) tomorrow at 6 p.m., and their second at Duke on Sept. 9. These tough away games will be followed by a series of three home games including Community/Youth Day against Columbia on Sept. 16, Family Weekend against Monmouth on Sept. 23 and the Homecoming game against Bucknell on Sept. 30.

As always, Lafayette will close the regular season against Lehigh on Nov. 18 for the 159th meeting of the Rivalry, looking to win for the second year in a row. The Leopards will play a total of 11 games in the regular season, with six of them counting towards Patriot League play. 

The Leopards were 4-7 last year and 3-3 in Patriot League conference play. They struggled with offensive injuries but finished with a respectable season, highlighted by standout defense. This will be the second season for head coach John Troxell, who helped the team to a third-place finish in the Patriot League last year.

This year’s team is healthy overall, coming into the fall with few injuries. Senior Marco Olivas, starting middle linebacker and multiple-season All-Patriot League player, noted that the 2023 preseason camp went fairly well.

It’s always a grind no matter what and can take its toll on the body,” Olivas said. “Despite all that, the team ended it pretty healthy and dialed in on the things that needed to improve. It was great to see how much the offense has improved since last season.”

“[Preseason] gave me some time to really focus on my individual weaknesses and I’m feeling pretty good about how I’ve addressed them this past month,” he added.

Olivas is a graduating fifth-year senior, so this season has bittersweet undertones for him and the many other senior fall sport athletes.

“I’m just looking forward to giving it one last go in a Lafayette jersey, [and am] excited to see the guys put it all out there and have fun doing it. If we do that and execute what we’re being coached, we’ll win a lot of games,” Olivas said.

The Leopards’ first opponent, SHU, went 5-6 last season as a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC). Last year’s game, also the season opener, was a tight defensive game with no points scored in the first three quarters for either team.

Lafayette won 6-0 after stopping SHU three straight times from the one-yard line in the final seconds. The game will be a good test for Lafayette’s improved offense and a chance for the defense to excel. 

The men’s football team has brought in a large first-year class, with over 30 new athletes. Part of this fresh wave of talent, first-year defensive lineman Michael Vaugh said he’s “unsure how the season will go, but things look very positive.”

“Last year was a dogfight with Sacred Heart and we’re expecting this Saturday to be the same,” Olivas said. “The main thing we have to do as a defense is box up their run game and make them one-dimensional. They’re a good team that we can’t underestimate. That being said, if we execute the way we’re supposed to and play hard, there’s not a doubt in my mind that we come home 1-0 Saturday night.”

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