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PITMAN, N.J. – The TCNJ football team earned the distinction of "Dark Horse" from coaches in the NJAC, announced Thursday by the conference in the preseason poll. The Lions were selected to finish seventh in the 10-team league. "We'll see how the season shapes up," head coach Casey Goff said. "We're young, but we feel like we have some talent that will be running around out there. Only time will tell where we fit in to things." TCNJ tied for fifth place last season with Christopher Newport and Kean. The Lions finished the season 4-6 overall and 4-5 in the NJAC, but the team won three straight games to close the campaign. That win streak, along with the return of several contributors, helps the Lions earn the "Dark Horse" distinction from the rest of the league. On defense, the Lions return their top two tacklers from a season ago in NJAC honorable mention linebacker Max Busca and defensive back Xavier Santos. Andrew Conzo, Jesse Streb, and Sam Jackson also return on defense. Jackson led the Lions a season ago with four interceptions. Liam Abujawdeh and Jalen Harmon each saw significant time as depth members of the secondary last year and will look to step up in their sophomore seasons. Busca and Harmon each ranked in the top-10 in the NJAC in forced fumbles. Offensively, TCNJ returns three offensive lineman that started nine games together in Steve Armstrong, Doug Meslar, and Ryan Signora. Ibn Bailey, Jack Clevenger, and NJAC honorable mention Vincent Guckin return at wide receiver. The trio combined for 87 receptions in 2017. Andrew Donoghue saw limited action at quarterback as a freshman but should lead the position as camp begins. He completed 18-of-33 passes for 163 yards. TCNJ returns First-Team All-NJAC punter Zach Warcola as a key member of the special teams. Warcola led the NJAC in punting average for the second-straight season and was 15th nationally at 41.0 yards per kick. He finished with 12 punts of more than 50 yards and 20 found their way inside the opponent's 20 yard line. He set a career high with a 74-yard punt last year. Aydon Chavis also returns after finishing fourth in the NJAC with an average kickoff return of 19.2 yards. The Lions were one of the most disciplined teams in the NJAC last year. TCNJ led the league in fewest penalties committed and were third in fewest turnovers and in time of possession. Wesley College earned seven first-place votes to take the top spot in the poll. The Wolverines are looking for their fourth straight NJAC title. Frostburg State earned three first-place votes and finished second in the poll. The Bobcats reached the NCAA quarterfinals after earning an at-large bid to the tournament in 2017. TCNJ opens training camp this weekend and kicks off the regular season at FDU-Florham on Aug. 31.

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