The 2017 campaign was a tough one for the Greyhounds of Moravian College. The team finished with an overall record of 2-8 and 2-7 in the conference. Things seemed to be heading down a tough path following a loss to King's College to open their season in which a late field goal from King's sealed the victory. Following that season opening blow, the Hounds went on to lose the next five in a row, leaving them at 0-6 as the end of October neared.
This season, they'd face the same challenge with a non-conference game against the Monarchs of King's College to open their season. Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn is back at the helm for his 8th season at Moravian and he brings back a team filled with talent and some experience after a difficult 2017. He also brings back a heavy local presence with 35 players combined from East Penn Conference and Colonial League high schools. But the most notable thing for this 2018 team, is a recruiting class of 51 freshmen on the team's roster, many of whom will get an opportunity to gain some experience of their own.
As far as returning experience goes, Pukszyn will look to his captains: seniors Nick Zambelli and Nick Tone along with juniors Sal Pagano and Brett Poling. He also returns a sophomore quarterback, who is no stranger to playing in North Bethlehem thanks to his time at Liberty High School, Doug Erney. Erney started nine of ten games for the Hounds a season ago and can only be feeling more confident with a year of experience and familiarity with the system under his belt. He'll also have some experience at running back lining up in the backfield with him, former Parkland Trojan Eli Redmond and former Freedom Patriot Roberto Diez will both get snaps this season.
Heading into Saturday's matchup with King's it was imperative for the 2018 team to get off to a solid start and they got that thanks to a stop by the Hounds defense who played with a bend-don't-break mentality all afternoon after getting bailed out by a missed King's field goal following the Monarch's opening drive. Starting on Moravian's half of midfield, it was Erney getting the offense firing with a 46-yard dash on a zone read to put the Hounds in Monarch territory. Just two plays later, it was Erney threading the needle on a fade route into double coverage for a 22-yard touchdown strike to Becahi grad Nick Petros to take the early lead. That proved to be all the scoring Moravian would need as the Hounds would pitch a shutout in the 24-0 rout of the Monarchs. Pukszyn's defense appeared to get stronger as the game progressed and only allowed 257 yards of total offense after getting torched for 431 in last season's matchup with King's. Another notable play for the Moravian offense was the 3rd-quarter hookup of Erney to Easton grad and freshman wideout Eddie Olson, who made his first career catch in his college career, which also happened to be a touchdown to make it 21-0 at that point.
The Hounds looked to be clicking on all cylinders Saturday, but after talking with coach Pukszyn after the game he knows his team still has some work to do, but was well-pleased with his team's performance and preparation throughout the offseason. Next up, they'll look for even more redemption at McDaniel College on Saturday before returning home in Week 3 to host Johns Hopkins, both were big losses for Moravian last season.