Lafayette football opens 2019 season Saturday at William & Mary

The+Leopards+play+six+non-conference+games+before+Patriot+League+play+begins+in+October.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Athletic+Communications%29++

The Leopards play six non-conference games before Patriot League play begins in October. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

AJ Traub

The Lafayette football season will officially kick off tomorrow at William & Mary University in Williamsburg, Va. at 6 p.m. 

Head coach John Garrett is 6-16 overall and 5-7 in the Patriot League in his first two seasons at Lafayette, and has brought in 22 freshmen recruits to fill out the team.

“[The first years] need to play…the thing that really invested me was…they really picked up the system, and [they] are gonna contribute on offense, defense, and special teams,” Garrett said.

Junior quarterback Sean O’Malley is listed as the week one starter, with classmate Cole Northrup and freshman Keegan Shoemaker backing him up. O’Malley started every game last season going 185-341 passing with four touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

We have confidence in [these] three guys that have been getting the majority of reps the second half of training camp and our team is confident that anyone we put out there is going to be able to do the job,” Garrett said. 

There has been competition at every position for players to earn starts, according to Garrett.

“This offseason, it’s to really come together as a group… we want to have our assignments perfect,” junior offensive lineman Gavin Barclay said. 

“It’s really just about going into the game, the confidence,” Barclay added. “We always say we gotta care for each other, we gotta care for the game, and if you have that baseline for game and your team… we can do it, we can win.”

Garrett said junior running back JJ Younger stood out in preseason and is ready for an increased role, and that he was also impressed with some of the newly recruited running backs as well.

“It really boils down to how we play, it’s about us,” Garrett said. “We have to make sure we’re sound…with what we do. Allow the system and adjustments to handle what [William & Mary] presents to us.” 

While the team will be without recently graduated defensive backs and Academic All-Americans Andrew Chuma and Trent Crossan, Garrett says it’s junior linebackers Major Jordan and Ryan Dickens’ year to “be the guys” on defense.

Defense had stood out for the Leopards in the past few years, but with 13 recruits being offensive players and a young offensive group under Garrett, the head coach said a breakout season may not be far off.

“We really just concentrate on how we perform and how we execute,” Garrett said. “We believe that our offense is really close…we left a lot of plays on the field…[we need] one little step, one little extra effort.”