Coach Sets Record Straight: No JV Team


A photo of the football team at practice.

Megan Kishbaugh, Reporter

Football staffers hope to correct student rumors about the formation of a new junior varsity team.

“There has been no addition of a JV football team,” head coach Mark Ross said. “We have one team and eight coaches.”

There are a high number of rostered players on the football team for this 2015 season, with 117 compared to the 89 rostered players in the 2012 introductory season.

On a football field there are 22 “starting” positions between offense and defense, 11 positions each. Of course, more than 22 players get the opportunity to play, but with 117 total on the roster not all players get a chance to see the field in Saturday games.

“It is impractical for everyone on a college football team to play on Saturdays,” Ross said. “On any team, not just ours.”

Even though there is no formal team, the JV

games were added to give players who do not get to play in the game on Saturdays the opportunity to compete. This is important for coaches to see how their players are developing.

“JV games is a label attached to games designed to provide an opportunity for players who do not have the opportunity to play in the regular season schedule,” Ross said.

The football program is still growing. The team has only had three complete seasons, but this is the first season with  JV games. The players think that it will be helpful for the program to grow as a whole.

“As a senior who has experienced MU football from the beginning, I think that the JV games will help our team develop,” senior offensive linemen Connor Duffy said. “With the large number of players on the team, some guys don’t get the chance to show what they’ve got on a Saturday game so at the JV games, it’s important to work as hard as you would on a Saturday.”

Even though there are some separate games, the coaching staff and the players want to remain as one team working together to achieve their goals.

“We have one team,” Ross said. “We do not distinguish someone as somehow being different because he played in a JV game.”

Though JV games may be a new aspect of Cougars football, the idea of having two games for the team is not new to college football.

Four hundred, forty-four institutions comprise  the NCAA Division III. Schools such as Utica, Ithaca, and Alfred University, all DIII, have a JV football schedule.

Many colleges utilize JV games as a way to develop future players. That is exactly what coaches hope to accomplish.

“Typically, the majority of players who compete in a JV game are young players,” Ross said. “Many times, the opportunity to play in a full JV game is the impetus for a young player to see an increased role on Saturdays.”

The Cougars already had their first JV game Sept. 13, resulting in a five point loss to Susquehanna University.

“It was exciting to compete in a game with my teammates even though we did not get the result we wanted,” Junior Matt Morris said. “We all worked really hard and gave it our all on the field.”

Coming into its fourth season, the football program still has some developing to do.

“These games provide an opportunity for players to compete versus similar competition,” Ross said. “They are critical in the development of players who are not quite ready for the regular season schedule played on Saturdays.”

In JV games, there is no box score or recap. Unlike a “varsity” game, there is no impact on conference standings. However, the players who participate in these games still take them very seriously.

“I joined the football team this year as a junior,” Morris said. “I loved being able to get back on the field because I haven’t played football since high school.”

The positive results make the coaching staff think that JV games will continue in the football program.

“Yes, we will look to schedule JV games in the future,” he said.

The line between “JV” and “varsity” is no longer defined as it once was. Many people are misled into thinking that because a player participates in a JV game he is not part of the “varsity” Saturday team.

“The main thing that our coaches take into account right now for our team is experience,” Duffy said. “If a player does not have as much game experience, they are more likely to play in the JV game. That doesn’t mean they aren’t as good as anyone else.”

This season, as with every season, the Cougars want to better their final game record. Misericordia has won two games within the last three seasons. With the development of the players through the JV games, the team thinks that they will improve.

“The JV games are going to help our team overall,” senior Robin Custodio said. “This way, no player misses a day. We all play over the weekend and get to see what we have improved on or what we need to do better.”

Some schools have a complete schedule for  JV teams. For example, Ithaca college has a schedule of six games with a separate roster, which consists of freshman players.

“There is not a set number of players on a JV team,” he said. “I want to keep the team together and not separate them.”

JV games are more prevalent at the DIII level, but schools at all levels do have them, such as the University of Kentucky. Teams will typically play three to six games.

“I know there’s a lot of football programs in all divisions that have JV teams,” said Custodio. “Our coaches do not want to create a separate roster for JV, which I think is better because it keeps the team as one.” And this united team will do better, players say.

“This is my final season with MU football, and I want it to turn out to be the best one yet,” Custodio said. “We’ve all worked so hard and I want to see the program build into something big.”

MU had no wins in the 2012 season, although two players received honorable mention in the Mid Atlantic Conference.

The next season, MU had its first victory against FDU-Florham. Offensive Lineman John Ameen was second-team All-MAC, and quarterback Jeff Puckett was honorable mention All-MAC.

In the same season, Puckett was a two-time MAC Offensive Player of the Week and Puckett set a MAC single-game record with six rushing touch downs.

In the 2014 season, the Cougars defeated FDU-Florham for the first home victory. In addition, two players were named to the 2014 All-MAC team: Patrick Newins earned first-team All-MAC honors at punter and John Ameen was named second-team on the offensive line. Ameen earned All-MAC status for the third consecutive year. He started all 10 games while anchoring an offensive line that paved the way for the number two rushing attack in the MAC at 204.6 yards per game

“Our program is still so new,” Duffy said. “In the short amount of time that we’ve had the football team here, I think we’ve achieved some great things.”

This season, Misericordia is picked to finish ninth in the Middle Atlantic Conference, according the 2015 preseason Coach’s Poll.

“We definitely have a chance to move up in the conference standings with some wins this year,” said Custodio.