As anticipation builds on campus amidst the continuing Zable Stadium renovations, William and Mary is gearing up for its first road trip of the season. The Lafayette Leopards will host the Tribe in Easton, Pa. Sept. 5, with Kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m.
Although the 2015 version of the Tribe remains untested, victory over the Leopards has become a trend over the past couple of years. Some may remember last year’s home matchup with Lafayette, in which the College triumphed 33-19 after being down 19-9 at halftime. In 2013, the Tribe handily defeated Lafayette on the road 34-6.
Lafayette finished third in the Patriot League with a 5-6 overall and 3-3 conference record in 2014. For perspective, the Tribe finished fifth in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association, just missing the playoffs with a 7-5, 4-4 record last season.
The College returns many of its starters, and is spearheaded by senior captains: running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor, center Andrew Jones, linebacker Luke Rhodes and cornerback DeAndre Houston-Carson. Junior quarterback Steve Cluley will also appear in his starting position once again after his first season behind center last year. During the last game against the Leopards, Cluley ran the ball in two drives late in the third quarter to give the Tribe the lead that would eventually seal the win.
With the graduation of wideouts Tre McBride ‘15 and Sean Ballard ‘15, sophomore wideout DeVonte Dedmon will seek to earn the spotlight as the leading receiver. Abdul-Saboor, who led the conference in rushing last year, is also a strong offensive weapon who can catch as well as run the ball.
Although the starting lineups aren’t clear at this time, preseason workouts show both offense and defense to be formidable, giving the Tribe positive odds for its season opener. With Jones and the rest of the offensive line healthy at this time, Cluley has deep protection from Lafayette’s defensive line.
Based on history and the 2014 individual performance of many Tribe players, the team has a high chance of starting the season 1-0 this weekend in Easton.