As skilled as they get
Veteran backs and receivers to key offensive success for McDaniel
WESTMINSTER, Md. - It is often said that the best offense is a good defense. For McDaniel, the 2009 football season commences next Saturday with nine returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. But the experience doesn't stop there. The Green Terror also returns eight starters on offense, which will look to hold up its end of the deal.
McDaniel has extensive experience throughout the offense. The Green Terror has a pair of seniors who will likely comprise the starting backfield. There will be a pair of seniors at wide receivers. The line will likely have no fewer than four seniors in opening day starting lineup.
Many of the quarterback questions that plagued the team in 2008 have been answered even though the staff has yet to officially name the starter.
"There's no doubt we had problems at the quarterback position last year," 17th-year head coach Tim Keating stated. "Right now I'd say that Tom (Massucci) holds the edge but Zach (Swope) isn't making it easy on him. Zach and Joe (Lapkowicz) are seniors and they know what it takes."
If McDaniel can get any consistency from its offense in 2009, the recent trend of losing seasons could be halted at three.
"There are many reasons we've struggled over the last few years," Keating disclosed. "There's no one piece that can solely be blamed but they have together added up to a disappointing record. Fortunately the team hasn't lost its resolve. We need consistency from everyone - offense, defense, special teams - and we just need to believe in ourselves."
Seniors Eric Zwilsky (Knoxville, Md./Brunswick) and T.J. Develin (Boyertown, Pa./Boyertown Area) will likely comprise the starting backfield.
Zwilsky, a two-time captain, is a three-year starter at running back. In 2008, he appeared in eight games, rushing for 348 yards on 99 carries. He also added four touchdowns to give him 15 career rushing touchdowns. He also added three catches out of the backfield. His junior campaign opened with a career-best 111 yards. His Sept. 6 performance at St. Vincent also included three touchdowns - the second time in his career he found the end zone three times.
Develin also appeared in eight games last season. Develin reeled off a team-best 544 yards on an even 100 carries. As a junior he rushed for no fewer than 74 yards in five of the eight games he played. Among those games was his first 100-yard performance. Increasing his career-high each week for four straight games, Develin capped the stretch with a 12-rush, 118-yard outing against Muhlenberg on Oct. 18. He also rushed for four touchdowns on the year.
Develin is also a threat in the passing game, catching eight passes for 82 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown catch-and-run against Dickinson on Sept. 27.
The Green Terror also have the option to go to more a power running game with Sean Urbany (Crofton, Md./Arundel) and Ray O'Hara (Yardley, Pa.Conwell-Egan Catholic).
O'Hara netted 95 yards on 39 carries last year while Urbany gained 32 yards on seven rushes.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The receiving corps may not be quite as experienced as the backfield but a solid group will help to achieve the balance any offense desires.
Seniors Matt Cahill (Broomall, Pa./Haverford Twp.) and Saum Sami (Fruitland, Md./JM Bennett) will likely get the starting nods at the wideouts and sophomore Woody Butler (Smithsburg, Md./Middletown) is expected to start at tight end but there are others who will provide depth when needed.
Cahill, a two-year captain, led the squad with 295 yards receiving, tying with Sami for the most receptions (22). Starting all 10 games, Cahill also caught a 34-yard touchdown pass in the opener at St. Vincent. His best single-game performance came at Franklin & Marshall on Nov. 1 when he caught four passes for 82-yards that included a season-long 37-yard reception.
Sami made six starts among his 10 appearances, hauling in 22 catches for 256 yards. He had a career day to open the year, catching four passes for 101 yards, including being on the receiving end of a 32-yard touchdown strike. He also had a 5-catch, 62-yard performance against Gettysburg on Nov. 8.
Butler saw limited action on the offensive side of the ball as a freshman but with the loss of Nick Giusti and Matt Bergbauer, Butler will likely be the replacement at tight end. A huge target at 6-8, Butler caught just one pass during his rookie campaign - a five-yard touchdown catch at Catholic on Sept. 20.
Junior Nick Bender (Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Twp.) adds depth and experience to the receivers, catching nine passes for 66 yards last season.
When 2008 opened, no one knew quite what to expect from the quarterback position. Midway through the season, that question still hadn't really been answered. However, the fourth quarter at Ursinus on Oct. 25 began to give some clarity to the quandary that had plagued the coaching staff.
Then-freshman Tom Massucci (Tabernacle, N.J./Seneca) made his first appearance of the season, completing 4 of 7 passes for 41 yards.
A week later at Franklin & Marshall, Massucci didn't make the start but relieved starter Vinny Corona in the second quarter and started the final two games of the year.
In his first significant action, Massucci went 14-for-33 for 144 yards against the Diplomats, turning in the first 100-yard passing game since Joe Lapkowicz (Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Twp.) threw for 199 yards in the opener.
Massucci matched that completion percentage in his first collegiate start against Gettysburg on Nov. 8 but threw for 150 yards.
Massucci finished with a team-best 405 yards passing for the year, completing 40 of 104 attempts with four interceptions and no touchdowns.
It is the performance late in the year from Massucci and another year of experience that will likely gain the sophomore his third collegiate start when the Green Terror's 115th year of football commences.
Lapkowicz and Zach Swope (Jessup, Md./Hammond) could have something else to say about that, though. Both are seniors and are still vying for the starting job.
Swope completed 14 of 31 passes for 101 yards with one touchdown and one interception in 2008. He made a single start, opening the game against Muhlenberg under center.
Lapkowicz, on the power of his 12-for-13 showing in the opener, made two starts. He completed 16 of his 26 attempts for 222 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
For the third straight year, the offensive line returns essentially intact. McDaniel returns four starters, losing only left tackle Joe Bowers to graduation.
Austin Herr (Millersville, Pa./Penn Manor) is slated to once again get the start at center. Patrick Floyd (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) started nine of 10 games at right tackle and looks to once again reprise that role in 2009. Paul Selfinger (Birdsboro, Pa./Daniel Boone) is likely to be next to Floyd once again after starting nine games at right guard.
A combination of Ian Procter (Silver Spring, Md./Blair), Jason Bryan (Earleville, Md./Bohemia Manor) and Tanner Cannavo (Houston, Del./Sussex) will likely be the starters on the left side.