F&M football demonstrates strong starting talent this year

By Joseph Yamulla, Contributing Writer ||

The 2014-2015 F&M football team under John Troxell, head coach, is built on leadership, hard work, character, and a confident group of 85 players.

Troxell’s team is coming off a successful season last year and a big win against Delaware Valley College in the ACAC Bowl Game, but the team has no intentions of being complacent with that. This determined group of Diplomats intends on having an even more successful season this year and setting some milestones along the way.

Troxell highlighted a few players that will enjoy the spotlight this season. Jordan Zackery ’15, an All-American kick returner and wide receiver, leads the offense.

In week one, in a big F&M win over Lebanon Valley College, Zackery hit an incredible milestone, reaching 200 career receptions. Zackery has a chance to set the Centennial Conference record for receptions this season.

Troxell also described his backfield as dynamic, being led by four-year starters Scott LaValva ’15 and Lamont Jackson ’15. The offensive line has two All-Conference tackles in Ryan Ignatovig ’16 and Frank Seitz ’15 that should be watched as well.  Wide-receiver Paul McGann ’15 brings a lot experience to the huddle, while quarterback Matt Magarity ’16 steps in under center as the starter. The offense relies on Magarity to make great strides as a player and a leader.

Troxell’s defense heavily depends on tough defensive linemen Jonathan Cox ’16 and AJ Koikoi ’16.  All-Conference Ryan Young ’15 leads the linebackers, while fellow All-Conference players Brian Velasco ’15 and Aaron Fant ’15 are major pillars to the Diplomat secondary.

“We played 20 guys on defense last week with a lot of sophomores and some young guys, so we are relying on the older guys to really be the nucleus of our team,” Troxell said.

This group of Diplomat football players shows that not just anyone can be an F&M athlete.  It does indeed require talent, but also work ethic and character.

“The first thing we look for is people with character,” Troxell said.  “We have an 85-man roster, and the team GPA at the end of the Spring last year was a 3.11, which is pretty good. We’re looking for kids who are not only committed to being college athletes but also being students. If our guys didn’t have this kind of character, we would never be successful. Any successful team is built with chemistry. It has a group of guys who are committed to each other, and the only way you get that is if you have that character piece that we look for here at F&M.”

This disciplined group of F&M football players really focuses on its leadership.

The captains that lead the team include Fant, Velasco, McGann, and Young. Troxell added that these players complement each other very well.

After a strong season last year, this year’s team is confident, focused, and never satisfied.  They know how great success feels and the work that is needed to achieve it.

“Coming off a season like that gives our guys a lot of confidence and sends us into the off-season with high expectations,” Troxell said.

“We play with a lot of young guys, especially sophomores, and they learn a lot from the older guys about hard work and what it does for you,” he continued.

The hard work and confidence that Troxell and his team emphasized have lent an already promising start after defeating Lebanon Valley College in the first week of the season.

The match ups this year will be tough and exciting. Every game that F&M plays is going to be a hard-nosed, hard-hitting contest. Some match ups in particular promise to be filled with drama and intense competition.

The team is looking forward to playing Muhlenberg, Johns Hopkins, Gettysburg, and especially Dickinson in the competition for the Conestoga Wagon. The College currently holds the trophy and has no intention of returning it this season.

In addition, F&M is only two wins shy of reaching 600 wins in the history of the team, a feat accomplished by only three other schools in all of Division III
football.

First-year Joseph Yamulla is a Contributing Writer. His email is jyamulla@fandm.edu

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