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SBU, ranked 22, expecting a 'special' football season

Quarterback Joe Carbone and his Seawolves teammates have

Quarterback Joe Carbone and his Seawolves teammates have their eye a return to the FCS playoffs.  Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Stony Brook football team opens at Air Force on Sept. 1, but the Seawolves are just trying to hit the ground running.

Last season was one of the best in program history, even though the 10-3 campaign culminated in a 26-7 loss to top-seeded James Madison in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Seawolves have graduated several cornerstone players on both sides of the ball, but that’s OK. Despite a few question marks, senior quarterback Joe Carbone said last year provided a glimpse of what his team can be. He’s confident the Seawolves will continue to improve.

“I think last season was a great confidence-booster for our team, realizing we can compete with really anyone in the country,” said Carbone, who threw 23 touchdown passes. “Now we have to focus on one game at a time, and just prepare the right way, and at the end of the game, we’ll be in a position to compete for the win.”

Ranked No. 22 in the American Football Coaches Association Preseason Poll, the expectation is that the Seawolves will build off last fall. But they return just six starters on both offense and defense, leaving holes to be filled.

Depth is a strength for these Seawolves, however, and running back Jordan Gowins said this team has more depth than the Boston College teams he played for before transferring to Stony Brook two seasons ago.

“I honestly think that makes it that much more special,” said Gowins, who will split touches out of the backfield with Donald Liotine. “When you have more guys at one position that you have to account for as a defense, it makes it that much more difficult to defend them. It speaks for itself. I think the past few years, when we had this tandem at running back, it gave defenses a bigger problem than it would’ve if it was just one of us.”

Defensively, Sam Kamara, Noah McGinty, Shayne Lawless, Gavin Heslop, Jordan Scarbrough and John Haggart return with significant experience as starters. By mixing in younger players with experience, the Seawolves should have a diverse defensive unit. Last season, the defense allowed 20.6 points per game, 28th fewest in FCS.

Against Air Force, a team that rushed more than five times for every pass play, the Seawolves defense needs to buckle down and stack the box, while still paying attention to the vertical game.

Coach Chuck Priore wants his team to take the schedule game by game, and beginning on a positive note against Air Force — an FBS opponent — would be a nice start.

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