Owls prepare for this year’s Football season
Aaron Johnson – Sports Editor
The 2014 season was a difficult one for the Southern Connecticut State University football team. In Tom Godek’s first season as head coach, the Owls struggled with injuries and consistency towards a 2-9 record. But going into his second season, Godek said there is plenty he has learned to make this year different.
“It’s been an excellent camp,” he said. “The players have worked extremely hard. The coaches have done a great job in preparing them for each practice.”
The roster for the Owls took a drastic turn, adding 42 new players between freshmen and transfer students. But also, Southern will bring back several players that were lost for the 2014 season including running back John Moscatel and safety Mike Dunkley.
“I told coach Godek,” Dunkley said. “I looked him in his eye and I told him, ‘coach, I’ll be back next year.’ He said, ‘well, you’re graduating. What if you get a full-time job?’ I said, ‘no coach, I’m coming back.’ I did exactly what I said I was going to do.”
Dunkley, a fifth year senior, was lost last season when he torn his ACL on the final play of the spring season. His experience in the secondary along with Moscatel running the football will be key for the Owls.
“We’re happy for them both,” Godek said. “Everyone wants to take their eligibility to the four years. Mike has worked extremely hard. He’s graduated already and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. John is an all-conference back in 2013 and we want to use him some multiple positions in our offense.”
Moscatel has been out with nagging injuries and he did not see any game action last season after being named a preseason All-American. But he said that he is ready to get back.
“The first time I get back on the field will be an incredible feeling,” Moscatel said. “It will certainly be a catharsis, as i have put my whole being into getting back to playing football. I love this game, it is my true passion, and all I want is to help our team win out this year.”
Godek said with the senior leadership on the team this season that the Owls will be able to stay with any team in the Northeast-10.
“We want to put a competitive, proud product on the field,” he said. “And all know that anything can happen in this game. And we’re taking it one game at a time as a part of the master plan to turn the program back to where it was just a few years ago.”
Entering into this season, one of the biggest hurdles for Southern will be replacing the leadership and experience lost last season on the defensive line that saw three seniors depart, including Carlif Taylor – who is currently in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys.
“Our senior class is a little bit of an eclectic group,” Godek said. “There are true seniors and there are some fifth year guys that were redshirt or medical redshirt. Those are some of the players that have had to step up in a larger role. But there is a lot of second year players that have played last year and now they are a part of the whole core.”
As a veteran player, Moscatel said that he knows what it means to a leader for the team.
“Being an older guy definitely leaves you in a position where younger teammates look up to you,” he said. “I just try my best to lead by example with my actions on and off the field. We have a lot of leadership from all different ages and grades though, which is a good thing.”
Dunkley said that despite being out for an entire season, he will try to play within himself during this season and especially in the Southern opener against Gannon University.
“I’m going to be calm,” he said. “I’m going to be excited and I’m just going to be ready to fly around. It’s going to real good.”
Southern will look to improve on a defense that allowed 252 points last season and an offense that struggled to move the ball at times against opposing teams.
Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai