Shippensburg University’s football team is looking to improve on a disappointing 2022 campaign, where they had an overall record of 5-6 and 3-4 in their conference, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East.
SU´s head coach Mark Maciejewski said that last season “didn´t go well.” The team battled many injuries and “if it could go wrong, it kind of went wrong last season,” Maciejewski said. Despite the odds, the team did not stop fighting, and was able to defeat the playoff team Gannon in their last game of the season, according to Maciejewski.
Going into the new season, the team is feeling better with where they are at this point of the season compared to last year and that they are excited for the new season, said Maciejewski. The most important things for a successful season are trying to stay healthy, focusing on their job on the field and ignoring the outside noise said Maciejewski.
Maciejewski is leading the Raiders into his 13th season as a head coach, and his 23rd overall season at Shippensburg. His expectations for the new season are “to play hard, to play as a family and play for 60 minutes, and ultimately we want to become closer as a group, and where everybody does their job, and we win games,” Maciejewski said.
The Raiders did naturally lose a few players over summer, some to graduation, others to injury, but they are returning with many key players for the new season.
For the offense, quarterback Joey McCracken is returning from injury and looked good during the preseason, according to Coach Maciejewski. Jake DeLuccia is returning as running back, and Redd Douglas, who recently got named to 2023 Lindy’s Preseason All-America Football Second Team, is returning as wide receiver. The offensive line is returning most players as well.
For the defense, Jacoby Sherard is returning and had a tremendous camp, and in the secondary Brandon Holt and Isaiah Gilmore are returning as good leaders, Maciejewski said.
The 2023 PSAC Preseason Coaches´ Poll lists SU as sixth team in the PSAC Eastern Division with no first-place votes. Shepherd University, last season the NCAA Division II semifinalists, ranks first in the poll. According to Maciejewski, the poll is going to be a motivation for the team.
“We´re going to use that as a motivation for us, you know, as a football family, Maciejewski said. “Our guys understand that we need to fix that, and it is still a preseason ranking, so it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, but yeah, we´re going to use that for motivation.”
This year’s schedule features home games against Newberry, Bloomsburg, West Chester, Millersville, Lock Haven for Homecoming and Gannon for the last regular season game. The Raiders are also scheduled to play Seton Hill, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and PSAC opponents Shepherd, Kutztown and East Stroudsburg on the road.
The first game of the season will be against Newberry, a team that is ranked in the top 25 of the country, at home on Sept. 2. According to Maciejewski, it is going to be a tough game, but his team will be well prepared.
The Raiders will start their 2023 campaign with a home game against Newberry in the Seth Grove Stadium on Saturday, September 2 at 12 p.m.