By Alexa Garrett and Olivia Mangelli, Staff Writers
There’s no question that the 2023 LIU Football Season was one of the best seasons that the Sharks have had in several years. Beginning their season against several well-known football programs: Ohio University, Bryant University and Baylor University, LIU suffered four straight defeats to start the season.
The losses on the field weren’t the only loss LIU suffered in those contests, as sophomore QB Luca Stanzani hurt his shoulder in the second game of the season against Bryant University, effectively ending his season as the starter.
Howell’s start as a 17-year-old has been highly recognized across NEC media. Known for his unique throwing motion, Howell was interviewed by ABC 7 News.
Howell recalls the moment he replaced Stanzani mid-game against Bryant University.
“It was the middle of the game so I knew I couldn’t panic when my number was called. I just had to stay calm and composed and get the job done,” Howell said.
Addressing the defeats earlier in the season, Coach Ron Cooper shared his admiration for the team for being able to pick themselves up, fix their mistakes, and start their back-to-back wins.
“Usually when you lose at the beginning, your attitudes down, your attitudes out; you’re ready for the season to be over, but these guys have practiced hard, their attitudes have been great and I’m very pleased with them,” Cooper said.
LIU had their first taste of victory on Homecoming against Sacred Heart on Saturday, Oct. 7. Senior Owen Glascoe scored three times in the game: two impressive rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown to secure the win 23-13. Freshman Chris Howell helped support the team with his plays through the air and on the ground..
Following the Homecoming victory, the Sharks had two defeats: losing 13-24 against a non-conference opponent in Maine University on Oct. 14, and a brutal 39-0 loss against Merrimack on Oct. 21.
Players got out of their comfort zone as they went out of state to face the Central Connecticut Blue Devils. Glascoe completed a touchdown pass to his fellow senior TE Leak Bryant to secure the points necessary to clinch the 24-23 win. This game was only the beginning of the three-game winning streak that followed.
LIU competed against St. Francis University Nov. 4, winning 29-28. The Sharks continued to surprise by gaining the necessary yards to secure a dominant 49-14 win against Wagner Nov. 11. LIU ended the season with a loss, falling 40-23 against Stonehill.
This season was Cooper’s second season as a Division One football coach. The veteran head coach led the Sharks to the same record as last season, holding a 4-7 overall record. Coach Cooper was proud of the way his players paved the way this season.
“The guys are playing hard, their attitudes have been outstanding all year,” Cooper said.
Notably, the team secured two wins consecutively by scoring in the last quarter. Cooper talks about how this shows the Shark’s resilience during games.
“We’ve gone in two weeks in a row at half being down, and we went into the fourth quarter this week being down, but the guys kept fighting–they stuck to the process, and made some plays on offense and defense,” Cooper said.
As the Sharks take their much-deserved break before practice starts again in the Spring, they are left with a season to be proud of. Each player contributed their hard work and dedication to the game. Eric O’Neil was named NEC Defense Player of the Year, along with All-NEC first-team players TE Owen Glascoe, punter Will Lynch, and DB Jai Roe. Second-team All-NEC players were WR Davon Wells, LB Daylen Fuller and OL Jake Timm. LIU finished the season ranked fifth in the NEC following the final game of the season with a 4-3 conference record.
The quoted material contained in this article was presented courtesy of Sports Editor Joseph Frescott, Assistant Sports Editor Brady Campbell, and Staff Writer Brendan Kaufman.