The Kenyon Lords football team enters the 2018 season under the helm of seventh-year head coach Chris Monfiletto, who will be returning 12 starters from last season. Many of the team’s major contributors from their 2017 record-breaking passing game are returning. Most notably, quarterback Thomas Merkle ’20 will start behind center again after he threw for 22 touchdowns and 2,922 yards last year.
The backfield will be led by Rob Meagher ’19, who is looking to have a breakout year for the Lords. On the defensive end, the Lords look to come out strong with a unit that is returning eight starters. In particular, the secondary is looking to improve with players like Taaj Davis ’19 leading the young players into the 2018 season. The linebacker core will be led by Michael Picone ’21, who made the switch from defensive-back this season.
This past Saturday, the Lords kicked off their season on McBride Field with an out-of-conference matchup against the Sewanee Tigers. The Sewanee offense came out fast in their first three drives which resulted in three straight field goals. The Lords’ offense struggled to find its rhythm early, and were unable to get a first down on their first three possessions.
It was not until late in the first half when Kenyon found its groove offensively, and Merkle completed 11 passes as well as fourth down conversion to Matt Jolliffe ’20. Ultimately, this resulted in a 33-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Cooper ’20 to get the Lords their first points of the season.
Early in the third quarter, after a catch from Justin Bosch ’21, Merkle would connect with Jolliffe again for the Lord’s first touchdown of the year, bringing the score to 30-10. Unfortunately, the Lords did not score for the rest of the game, while Sewanee would eventually go on to score 13 more points. The game ended as a 43-10 victory for Sewanee.
After a couple days to digest the team’s performance, Ian Robertson ’19 said, “It was not the way we wanted to start, and it was pretty frustrating all around. Now it’s just about putting it in the past and focusing on the conference schedule to make sure that we come out strong.”
Offensively, the Lords’ Merkle led the team with 214 passing yards and one touchdown. Bosch led the team in receiving as he pulled in 11 passes for 91 yards, while Rob Meagher ’19 led the ground game with 64 yards.
On the defensive side, Sam Dickey ’20 led the team with 12 tackles, and Picone registered a team-high 2.5 sacks. Davis also recorded his first career interception for the Lords in the second quarter. Kenyon will return to McBride Field on Sept. 8 to begin North Coast Athletic Conference play against the Oberlin College Yeomen.