LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall starts its 132nd season of football on Saturday when the Diplomats travel to Lebanon Valley for the 2019 season opener. The Diplomats return 32 letter winners and 16 starters from last year's team that made the seventh postseason appearance in the last 10 years and earned the most wins across a two-year span in program history with 18. F&M ended its year with an 8-3 record and won its second-straight Centennial-MAC Bowl and the 2019 team has a chance to be the first team since 1937 to sweep the rivalry games against Dickinson and Gettysburg all four seasons
Below is a positional break down of the F&M roster.
Replacing three-year starter Tanner Erisman will be a challenge for the Diplomats this season. Junior Garrett Perschy will take over the starting spot, with senior Jack Donaghy, and sophomore Mark Himmelsbach along with junior Michael Apostolopulos are looking to see time as well.
All three starters from last season return in the backfield this year. It will be a position by committee with Joe Hartley-Vittoria (186a-800yds | 8 TDS), Keshon Farmer (106a-591yds | 10 TDS) and Eric Harris (30a-107yd) sharing the load.
The Diplomats return a wealth of experience at wideout. Kevin Lammers (24 r-270 yds | 4 TDS) and junior Tim Walter (45r-546 yds | 2 TDS) leads the group, while Brendan Dearing and Mack Focht will see a lot more snaps this season. Seniors Walt Wynkoop and Austin Bates will add depth to the position as will sophomore Nate Calderone.
It all starts up front and the Diplomats have the most experienced offensive line in the Conference. Brian Denoncour returns at left tackle, Phillip Weiser will hold down the left guard spot, Tim Fink will start at right tackle, and Mike Ioannides at right guard. Denoncour was named an All-CC First Teamer last season and Weiser garnered Honorable Mention after the pair helped anchor a line that paved the way for 1,618 yards on the ground and helped lead to five 100-yard individual rushing performances.
Key Returner: Jake Barr (Jr.)
Frank McGlinchey and Dominic Bertone will anchor the two end positions with Jackson Hale and junior Jake Perloski rotating into the spot. Kevin Gault returns inside and is joined by sophomore Peyton Snopek. They will be backed up by sophomores, James Gilmartin and Matthew Dempsey along with first-year Brian Lafty.
All-CC First Teamer Seb Silva-Muniz returns at linebacker after he ended last year with 60 tackles, including five for a loss. Matt Hamby takes over the outside spot, while sophomore Calvin Krippner gets the nod at inside linebacker. Sophomore Luke Strauss will add depth at the outside position, while sophomore Peter Orio first-year Kevonte Beard look to see time in the middle.
F&M lost both cornerbacks to graduation and will look to a handful of players to fill those two spots. Sophomore Isaiah Chery and senior K.J. Boston will get the opening-day start with sophomore Colin Lavigne and Mario Lambiase poised to come in off the bench.
Key Returner: Marlen Fenstermacher (Sr.)
Marlen Fenstermacher returns at safety after finishing last season with 50 tackles and two interceptions. Junior Nick Leone will start at the other safety spot, with a pair of sophomores, Thomas Downs and Dan DiBeneditto, backing them up.
Kevin Lammers will resume punt return and kick return duties this season after concluding last year by being named to the All-CC First Team, ranking first in the Conference and 27th in the nation with an 11.6 punt return average. For the year, Lammers returned a total of 16 punts for 186 yards. Brendan Dearing will join Lammers as the other kick return specialist.
Senior Drew Tomlinson and first-year Jack Rodenberger will split kicking duties, while junior Garrett Perschy will handle punts. Alec Grant will handle both long and short snapping duties this season.
The Road Ahead
The 2019 season begins on the road against Lebanon Valley, before F&M returns for its home and Centennial opener the following weekend, Saturday, Sept. 14th to battle Juniata at Shadek. The Diplomats will celebrate Homecoming and Family Weekend when Dickinson heads to Lancaster on Saturday, Oct. 26th.
The regular season draws to a close on Saturday, Nov. 16th when F&M hosts Gettysburg for the annual Lincoln Trophy game at 1:00 p.m.
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