SEASON PREVIEW: Richard football kicks off with experience, optimism

The Fighting Irish will have a roster of around 30 players on the varsity for first-year coach Brian Lewis to work with during Thursday’s season opener (4 p.m.) against visiting Bridgeport.

It might not be a stacked deck, but Lewis has some cards to deal with and maybe even a few aces up his sleeve. The Fighting Irish look to fight their way back into the postseason after finishing 3-6 last year.

Leading the way will be quarterback Michael Engelhardt, a senior who played last year for the Irish.

“He had to deal with some adversity last season and the ups and downs players experience during their first year,” Lewis said. “He had a great summer and we are looking for him to do some great things for us running the offense.”

The Irish have some depth at running back and a trio of talented runners should get their hands on the ball throughout the season. Jamison Peoples, Chris Hill and Joe Plencner lead a solid group of running backs.

“They have all worked extremely hard and I see that as a position of strength for us,” Lewis said. “They all seem ready to go. We will be able to rotate them and keep everyone fresh.”

The wide receiver position will feature seniors Andrew Kendzicky and Nick Brookins and junior Charlie Falvey.

Lewis will be forced to use some players both ways so keeping players healthy and rested will be a key factor in how the season goes for the Fighting Irish.

“We will have a couple guys up front and a few linebackers and defensive backs playing both ways for us,” Lewis said. “When you only have 30 players that’s what happens.”

Senior Zak Donnellon, who missed last season because of injury, will play defensive end and linebacker for the defense. Sean Meisling, a three-year player and captain this season, will play on both the offensive and defensive lines.

The Irish have some experience with 17 seniors on the roster and have four starters back on defense and six returning on offense.

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