Beaver Falls, PA – The 2013 Golden Tornadoes enter the season with their sights set on turning the page and searching through the cupboard for that winning recipe. Head Coach Geno DeMarco walked away from the 2012 campaign with an unfortunate career low of 3 wins. “Five games last year came down to two plays; four of which included the last play” stated DeMarco. “The question is how do you cross the fine line of a winning and losing record? The answer is continuous improvement.” With a large senior class returning and a full herd of underclassmen eager to prove themselves, the Golden Tornadoes enter the gridiron season ready to turn raw talent into tangible results. So what can be expected of this GT squad on the first packed-out Saturday night in September?
For the past two seasons, Geneva’s two-headed quarterbacking monster has caused many sleep deprived nights for PAC defenses. The Rocco Colavecchia and Zach Hayward dynamic duo bring a host of talent and experience into their senior campaigns. Colavecchia contributed a team high 23 touch downs in 2012. Even more impressive, 6 of those touchdowns were receiving and 14 were bone-crushing rushing touchdowns. Colavecchia posted 896 rushing yards for an average of just under 80 yards per game. Not bad for a quarterback. Dropping back in the pocket, Colavecchia went 41-82 and threw for 3 touchdowns while averaging just under 40 yards per game through the air. Rocco capped off his stellar junior season by receiving PAC Second Team honors.
If Rocco is the peanut butter, Hayward is the jelly. With a cannon attached to his shoulder, Hayward had a 60% completion percentage and 16 touchdowns while eclipsing the 2,000 passing yard milestone. Add nearly 350 rushing yards to that resume and the Golden Tornadoes’ quarterbacking tandem topped out Geneva’s rushing statistics with over 1,200 yards combined on the ground. Hayward also received PAC Second Team as well as All-NCCAA Second Team. I think it is safe to say that ‘continuous improvement’ must turn to senior dominance for Rocco and Hayward in 2013.
The quarterback duo will sorely miss the receiving hands of Corey (Sticky Hands) O’Patchen. O’Patchen ended his career with the fourth highest receiving yards and fourth most receiving touchdowns in Geneva’s school history. In an attempt to continue their aerial dominance in 2013, Coach DeMarco will turn his gaze towards a few sophomores for sure-handed offensive plays. Returning sophomore Josh Guiser caught 18 passes for 190 yards and played in every game for the GT’s last fall. In addition, Sheyallen Herd went for 169 yards his freshman year and Lemuel Fuller collected a total of 142 yards in the air. With many players graduating and moving on at the wide receiver position, the playing field is wide open for a stand-out star to emerge.
IN THE BACKFIELD
Dylan Jones returns for his second season with a full year of experience to build upon. The young running back wasted no time climbing towards the top of the team’s rushing statistics. Playing in all 10 games last season, Jones gained 346 yards, averaging 33.4 yards a game while adding a touchdown to his totals. As in the wide receiving core, the backfield looks to continuously improve and begin to take shape as the year begins.
Linebacker Dillon Goodell had a stellar start to his junior season and never looked in the rear view mirror. Returning to campus with two seasons of team leading defensive statistics, Goodell will lead the Golden Tornadoes defense as they look to build off of last year. “In this day and age everyone wants to talk about only the offensive side of the game but a successful team has an equally strong defensive game” says DeMarco. “You can’t just run or pass the ball to win, you need defense. Goodell developed into the defensive presence he is because he kept building on his work year to year” DeMarco explains. “The process we use here is continuous improvement and you can see that through Goodell’s progress.” Goodell ended his junior season with a total of 104 tackles, 65 of which were solo tackles and 8.5 were tackles for a loss.
Unfortunately, Goodell is not joined by many of his defensive mates from last year as key defensive contributors such as Ryan Fronius, Tucker Nuetzel, Scott Erb, Tyler French and Brett Hutira all completed their athletic careers at Geneva. However, as the improvement process continues on all sides of the football, many will have the opportunity to follow Goodell’s footsteps as they claw their way to the top of the depth chart while maintaining a team-first attitude. Geneva hopes that someone like junior linebacker Nick Goforth can improve upon his 50 tackles from last season and assume a leadership role in the middle of the field. “One of our target areas to improve in order for us to cross that fine line of winning and losing is defense. We will continue to find ways to play a lot of people on defense in order to keep improving” says DeMarco.
“This year the coaching staff and I had to target specific areas to improve with the talent we have now and in recruiting” stated DeMarco. “There is no question that one of those target areas was our kicking game.” Bryan Visingardi left some big shoes to fill at the placekicker position. Visingardi finished his senior year with nine field goals and a total of 52 points for the GT’s. Geneva struggled in the punting department as they averaged about 10 yards less per kick as their opponents. “Special teams seems like such a small role in the entirety of the game but when it comes down to it, you can count on your hand the amount of plays that mean the difference between a ‘W’ or an ‘L’. The weight of all three phases of the game measure out to be equally important.” Geno continues, “With that said, we have a great group of young men who are enjoying the learning process and I have no doubts we will get to see the fruit of that kind of attitude during the 2013 season in special teams.”
Geno DeMarco continues to add to his resume as the longest tenured head football coach at Geneva College, entering into his 21st season. Although DeMarco suffered his worst record last season ending at 3-7, he still holds a 128-83 total coaching record for a total winning percentage of 0.606. Geneva College’s Athletic Director, Van Zanic says, “Coach DeMarco is one of the most well-respected coaches in the PAC. He has a passion for football and an even stronger passion for Geneva College and the student-athletes that go through the program. Geno and his staff have worked tirelessly to bring in the largest freshmen class in school history. Geneva College has a storied football tradition that dates back to 1890 and Coach DeMarco has carried the torch for 20 years, which is the longest tenure of any coach before him. With the most coaching victories in Geneva football history, Coach DeMarco will continue to build the Geneva football program each and every year.”
For Geneva, the theme of ‘continuous improvement’ will hopefully translate into a solid 2013 campaign that can propel the program further along in its winning tradition.
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College’s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
In the past four years, on average, 90% of Geneva students are working or in grad school within six months after graduation.