(Stats Perform) – Offensive coordinators across the Patriot League can marvel at the top-notch defensive players returning this season.
They stretch from the last three league defensive players of the year in linebackers Jacob Dobbs (2021) of Holy Cross and Ryan Greenhagen (2020) of Fordham and Lafayette defensive end Malik Hamm (2019) to linebackers James Conway of Fordham and Marco Olivas of Lafayette – those two ranked No. 2 and 7, respectively, in the FCS in tackles per game last season – to Holy Cross safety John Smith, the subdivision’s active leader in interceptions.
One group of players who may not flinch over it are the Patriot League quarterbacks. They’re not just cool, calm and collected, they’re an experienced group as six of the seven teams are returning their main starter for the 2022 season.
Of course, everybody else is chasing Holy Cross, which on Tuesday was installed as the preseason favorite in the league’s preseason poll. The Crusaders will seek to match the 1998-2001 Lehigh squads as a second Patriot program to win four straight league championships, and they have a chance to become the first to claim four outright titles in a row.
Dual-threat quarterback Matthew Sluka was at the controls of the offense last season as Holy Cross went 10-3, beat an FBS opponent (UConn), swept all six league opponents by an average of 29.5 points per win and posted an FCS playoff victory for the first time in program history.
Now a junior, Sluka is one of 17 returning all-league selections on Holy Cross’ 2022 roster. The only reason he was the league’s second-team choice and not first was Fordham boasts Tim DeMorat, the Patriot League’s offensive player of the year in each of the past two seasons.
It shouldn’t take many games for DeMorat to become the third quarterback in league history to reach 10,000 career passing yards. He enters the season leading active FCS signal callers with 8,570 yards.
Other starting QBs back in the league are Colgate’s Michael Brescia, the 2021 PL rookie of the year; Lafayette’s Ah-Shaun Davis; Lehigh’s Dante Perri; and Bucknell’s Ethan Grady/Nick Semptimhelter combo. Georgetown is the only team that doesn’t return its main starter, but Pierce Holley is back after making four starts last season.
Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Holy Cross (10-3, 6-0 Patriot), 71 points (11 first-place votes)
2. Fordham (6-5, 4-2), 61 (2)
3. Colgate (5-6, 5-1), 50 (1)
4. Lafayette (3-8, 2-4), 42
5. Lehigh (3-8, 3-3), 35
6. Georgetown (2-8, 1-5), 21
7. Bucknell (1-10, 0-6), 14
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Tim DeMorat, QB, Fordham
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Malik Hamm, DE, Lafayette