On Nov. 16 of last year, Lords football vacated Deeds Field in Granville, Ohio following a bitter 42-7 defeat at the hands of archrival Denison University, marking the somber end to a 4-6 (4-5 NCAC) 2013 season. After emerging from an offseason rife with strenuous weight training and conditioning sessions, the Lords are now primed to take the field next Saturday for their opener against Marietta College at McBride Field.
“Our strength numbers went up and our physical weight numbers have gone up,” said Head Coach Chris Monfiletto, who is entering his third year at the helm. “That’s something that we track pretty carefully, just to make sure everybody’s healthy more than anything else. We’re in a lot better shape than we have been in the last two or three years, which is great.”
After losing a graduating class of 19 men, players with less game experience will need to step up to fill spots on the depth chart.
“It’s more challenges, not really from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint,” Monfiletto said. “They have to be as prepared as possible to play at a higher level of maturity than they actually have.”
In addition to the 19 seniors from last year’s roster, the Lords will be without receiver Jibri McLean ’17 and defensive lineman and co-captain Garrison Anderson ’15 due to injuries. Fortunately, starting quarterback and co-captain Jake Bates ’15 is again at full health after battling a broken thumb all of last season. Bates brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the field, according to Monfiletto.
“[Bates] has a full understanding of what we’re doing offensively,” Monfiletto said. “He coaches the other quarterbacks, and he knows what the running backs are doing and he coaches the running backs, and he coaches the O-line because he knows what the O-line is doing. His ability to learn all that stuff has been really, really impressive.”
Monfiletto sees the intelligence of his student-athletes as another competitive edge. “We’ve changed a lot about what we’ve done from an offensive and a defensive standpoint and our guys are really smart and they’ve learned it,” he said. “I think that’s what our strength is. We’re a different school from anybody in our league, anybody in our conference that we play against.”