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With team no stranger to adversity, LIU coach Bryan Collins hopes to turn things around in second Div. I season

LIU Sharks head coach Bryan Collins during a

LIU Sharks head coach Bryan Collins during a game against Sacred Heart on Sept. 21, 2019. Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

The Long Island University football team and coach Bryan Collins encountered their share of challenges last season — the program’s first at the Division I level — going 0-10.

Now, the Sharks are dealing with preparing for the 2020 campaign during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This team has faced a lot of adversity,” said Collins, during the Northeast Conference (NEC) Virtual Media Day on Thursday. “We had a late start into Division I, and we went from an undefeated team [during the 2018 regular season] to a winless team.

“Adversity can cause some to break and others to break records. We’ve dealt with adversity and stayed strong together, and whenever it is, I think it will be a tremendous outlet for our team to get back on the field together.”

The Sharks were selected seventh out of seven teams in the NEC preseason coaches’ poll. (Defending champ Central Connecticut State was a unanimous pick to win the league title.) LIU is slated to report to camp on Aug. 18, and open its second season at the D-I level on Sept. 5 at Montana State.

“We were successful at Division II and you think you can transition that to the next level,” said the 23rd-year coach, who has a 160-82 record in Brookville. “What we found out is that it’s a different process every year, but it was an opportunity for us to really compete at a higher level and learn what goes into playing at that level.”

The Sharks are excited for the opportunity to move on from a winless 2019 campaign.

“We have to approach every day with the mindset that we can win these games,” junior running back Jonathan DeBique said, “and not let what happened last year bring us down.”

Senior wide receiver Derick Eugene believes the Sharks will be more prepared for their second season in the NEC.

“It’s important for us to come to camp with a better understanding of the playbook,” Eugene said. “I know last year we had a lot of new guys, but everyone has a year under their belt now...When we go out there and play, we just have to have confidence in ourselves.”

New York Sports