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St. A football team embraces 'blue-collar' mentality in '18

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 06. 2018 9:22PM

St. Anselm College football coach Joe Adam set only one goal for his players to reach for this season.

Adam, now in his third year leading the program, wants the Hawks to attack everything with a championship mentality both on and off the field.

St. Anselm will try to achieve that and record the program’s first winning season since 2014 this fall.

The Hawks went 3-18 over the past two seasons and were projected to finish last in the Northeast-10 Conference this year in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll.

St. Anselm will host Stonehill (0-1) at Grappone Stadium on Saturday at 6 p.m. in its season opener.

“A new season brings a ton of optimism and hope,” Adam said. “I feel confident. I feel good about the path that we’re on and where we’re going as a program.”

Adam said his team will bring a workmanlike approach when it takes the gridiron.

“Our focus is just to be a blue-collar-mentality team — to out-work people and let our work ethic do the talking for us,” Adam said.

One of St. Anselm’s strengths, Adam said, will be its offense, which is be led by quarterback Eric Fairweather, a senior captain from Londonderry. Fairweather went 103 for 222 last season for 771 yards and six touchdowns and ran for a team-high 761 yards and nine touchdowns on 163 carries.

“We brought back all of our wide receivers,” Fairweather said. “That’s definitely going to be a strength to our offense — the guys on the outside. We have a lot of young running backs ... We’ll lean on that offensive line up front. They’ve been playing great all camp. We’re going to go as they go up front.”

Adam said the offense has improved at the running back, quarterback and wide receiver positions since last season. St. Anselm also added to its offensive talent with the recent addition of Andrew Duval, a freshman from Goffstown. Duval left the University of New Hampshire football team last month.

Duval, a two-way starter at defensive back and slot receiver for Goffstown High School, was named the New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year last fall. He logged 721 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 27 catches and ran for 203 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries for the Grizzlies last season.

Adam said Duval is “cleared NCAA-wise” and could potentially play Saturday. St. Anselm will use Duval at one of its offensive skill positions, Adam said.

“I watched him in high school,” Fairweather said of Duval. “He was a tremendous athlete. We’re all really excited to have him over here. He’s been doing great things in camp. We’re excited to possibly fit him in somewhere and get him rolling as soon as possible.”

The St. Anselm defense will be led by middle linebacker Zack Mercer, a senior captain who logged 25 tackles (13 solo) and forced a fumble last season.

Adam said the Hawks must consistently create turnovers, protect the football on offense, play the game at their speed and execute on both sides of the field.

“At the end of the day, it’s about looking in the mirror and finding the best version of ourselves,” Adam said. “If we can do that, we’ll be successful this year.”

The Hawks begin their campaign looking to rip the Ol’ Bronze Hawk trophy away from Stonehill, a team that has beaten them 14 consecutive times.

The Skyhawks, who opened their season with a 34-19 loss to Fairmont State on Aug. 31, were predicted to finish seventh in the NE-10 in the preseason coaches’ poll. Stonehill went 6-4 last year.

“We’re going to have our hands full and it will be great competition and I know our kids are looking forward to it,” Adam said.