By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11
Our ‘Early Preseason Outlook’ coverage resumes with a closer look at the Norwich University Cadets, who begin their season on Saturday, September 7th when they visit Salve Regina University for a 12 p.m. kick-off.
The Cadets’ 2018 Season: Norwich finished with a 3-7 record last year – they scored wins against Castleton University (40-0), Maine Maritime Academy (15-7) and Catholic University (31-0) before ending their season with a difficult 20-17 setback to WPI.
Despite ending the 2018 season with just three wins, the Cadets saw some players on both sides of the ball truly step-up as the season progressed, especially quarterback Matt Dunn, who finished the season with 12 touchdown passes and 1,933 passing yards.
Dunn’s best game was against Coast Guard Academy when he tossed a career and season-high four touchdowns in a 38-35 setback.
Taj-Calvin Johnson and Lavontae Decius enjoyed impressive first seasons, combining for five touchdown receptions and 1,055 receiving yards. Additionally, Manni Romero became the go-to target for Dunn, hauling in a team-high seven touchdowns, while finishing his second season with 35 catches for 566 yards.
Clyde Tamburro connected on 22 of 24 extra points while drilling 8 of 14 field goals for 46 points. He will certainly be a player to watch this fall as he attempts to continue his progression as a special teamer.
Finally, Tavares Ward and Brasean Stewart highlighted the Cadets defense by recording 61.0 and 57.0 total tackles, respectively. Additionally, Martin Bailey added 54.0 total tackles, including 3.5 tackles for a loss of 14 yards and one sack for a six-yard loss.
The 2019 Outlook: Despite graduating 11 student-athletes from last year’s squad, Norwich appears to be a team to keep an eye on this fall, especially with so many juniors and sophomores returning.
The juniors and sophomores will certainly be the reason why the Cadets will be competitive this fall, both in and out of conference play.
Norwich’s defense returns a slew of seniors, including Ward, Steward, and Bailey, but does welcome back junior Christopher Ward (defensive line) and sophomore Isaiah Williams (Outside Linebacker). Both student-athletes should help the veterans – juniors and seniors – on defense this season.
While Dunn will have some familiar targets from a year ago, fans should also keep an eye on halfbacks Aaron Conner and Connor Bourque. Both running backs will look to cap their senior seasons with the Maroon and Gold with a winning record. Additionally, the duo should combine for 10 touchdowns this season, too.
Jacob Barr also returns for his senior season and will be a player to watch on the Norwich offensive line. Barr competed in 10 games last season after appearing in just six one year earlier and should receive some help from Tom Emery, who appeared in nine games last season a first-year.
Norwich’s Schedule: The month of September is not an easy one for the Cadets, who will face Salve Regina in week one followed by St. Lawrence University in week two and Coast Guard Academy in week three. Norwich will cap the opening month with a visit to Castleton.
Norwich will visit Springfield College in the first week of October before returning home for contests against Maine Maritime Academy and Merchant Marine.
November features three contests, including an end of season match-up with the Engineers of WPI.
Players to Watch: Matt Dunn (Quarterback/Rockland, Mass.), Aaron Conner (Running Back/Daytona Beach, Fla.), Connor Bourque (Halfback/Goffstown, N.H.), Taj-Calvin Johnson (Wide Receiver/Avenel, N.J.), Manni Romero (Wide Receiver/Phillipsburg, N.J.), Lavontae Decius (Wide Reciever/North Lauderdale, Fla.), Jacob Barr (Offensive Line/Walpole, Mass.), Tom Emery (Offensive Line/St. Johnsbury, Vt.), Clyde Tamburro (Kicker/Elizabethtown, Pa.), Tavares Ward (Defensive Back/Sunrise, Fla.), Brasean Stewart (Defensive Back/Bronx, N.Y.), and Martin Bailey (Defensive Line/Bedford Corners, N.Y.).
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