ALFRED, N.Y. - The 2018 Alfred State football program led by first year head coach Scott Linn will look to build a foundation of success as they enter year two of play in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. The 2018 roster features the largest group of returning student-athletes during the NCAA era.
47 of the nearly 100 players that returned to campus for preseason have worn the Pioneer jersey in the past. 25 have played primarily on the defensive side and 22 on the offensive side.
Key Offensive Returners:
- Kiegan Brown (Cortland) returns after a stellar freshmen campaign which saw him garner ECFC Rookie of the Year honors. He rushed for 680 yards and eight scores on 151 carries. Brown will run in front of fullback Trevor Carson (Bronx/Harry Truman).
- Dashown Wilson (Bronx/DeWitt Clinton) returns to the offensive side of the ball after playing in defensive backfield last year. He is competing with a trio of quarterbacks for the starting job. Last season he recorded 27 tackles and picked off three passes after seeing limited time at QB during his freshmen season.
- Jalen Long (Rochester/Bishop Kearney) led the Pioneers with 344 yards receiving last year and caught five touchdowns. Ricky Hagins (Rochester/Eastridge) who caught 12 passes in 2016 will also be looked to be an offensive playmaker.
- Sam VanValkenburg (Sherman) and Devon Clark (Gowanda) return to the offensive line and will be asked to help increase the offensive production from last year.
Key Defensive Returners:
- 1st team All-ECFC selection John Lauretti (Seaford) enters his senior campaign with 191 tackles and 12 sacks for his career. Last season he recorded 87 tackles and eight sacks.
- Brandon Davis (Lansing) will be key to the linebacker core. He had 56 tackles in 2017 after recording 99 tackles in 2016. Justin Reid-Espinal (Beacon) and Owen Davis (Lansing) will be counted on as well. Reid-Espinal had 47 tackles last year while Davis had 40.
- Austin Parker (Port Byron) and Mike Zimmerman (Canandaigua) return to the defensive backfield. Parker was 2nd on the team last year with 60 tackles and an interception while Zimmerman had 38 tackles and four pass break-ups.
- Joe Gibson (Hornell) will also be a factor on the defensive line. He appeared in all 10 games as a freshmen and recorded 28 tackles on the year.
Key Special Teams Returners:
- Parker and Zimmerman were key in special teams last year. Parker had over 350 yards in the return game while Zimmerman did all the punting duties last year averaging 36.4 yards per punt.
Key Newcomers & Returners Looking to Make More of an Impact:
- Erie CC transfer offensive linemen Zac Clendenin (Belmont/Cuba Rushford) and Jevon Jeremy (Hanover, MD/Dunbar) will be asked to be key players on the offense along with running back Ronnie Clark (Philadelph/Indian River).
- Defensive back Josh Smith (Fredericksburg, VA) and defensive linemen Charlie Love (Upatoi, GA) will be asked to be contributors on the defensive side of the ball.
- Ryan Shipherd (Randolph), who backed up Zack Goodwin last year, will take over the kicking duties.
Linn has built a coaching staff that blends some new faces with some familiar faces. Linn will serve as the offensive coordinator and will be joined by veteran Pioneer coaches Dave Mears (tight ends) and Scott Seeley (running backs) along with new coaches Zach Handy (offensive line) and Alex Peebles (wide receivers). Brent Barnes is the program's new defensive coordinator and will work with veterns Larry Peacock (Linebackers) and Barry Young (cornerbacks) along with newcomer Jalon Avent (defensive line).
The Pioneers schedule features four non-conference games to start followed by the six game ECFC schedule. The blue & gold open up the season with their first even match-up vs. UMass Dartmouth followed with contests at Hartwick, a home game vs. University of Rochester, and a trip to Nichols College. ECFC play begins with a trip to Dean College followed by Homecoming 2018 at Pioneer Stadium vs. Maritime. The Pioneers host Husson, travel to Galaudet, host Anna Maria on senior day, and wrap up the season at Castelton. Alfred State was ranked 6th in the ECFC preseason coaches poll.
Preseason camp has been competitive and heading into the first game week of the 2018 season the Pioneers have been putting the beginning pieces of the foundation for success in 2018.