Monmouth University begins its 25th season of football tomorrow when it hosts Lafayette and cuts the ribbon on the new $16 million Kessler Stadium. Kickoff is at 3 p.m., which in itself is rather unique for a Hawks home game Despite the fact that students don’t move in until Sunday, there should be a good crowd on hand for the opener.

Monmouth University will kick off its 2017 season on Saturday vs. Lafayette, and unveil the new $16 million renovations to Kessler Stadium. (Photo courtesy of Monmouth University).

There will also be plenty of support for the eight Shore Conference alumni expected to be in the starting lineup, based on the 2-deep released this week, when the Hawks host the Leopards.

Let’s start with senior safety Mike Basile (Brick Memorial), a four-year starter who has been a consensus All-Big South section each of his first three years and was a second-team All-American as a junior. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has been named to a pair of preseason all-American teams, as well as the STATS Buck Buchanan Award watch list. Basile is joined in the starting defensive backfield by cornerback Tymere Berry (Jr., Toms River South) who missed last season after playing in nine games as a true freshman. Also starting on defense is fifth-year senior tackle Manny Maragoto (Freehold Township), who started all 11 games last season and led the team with 11.5 tackles for loss.

The offensive line features a pair of local products in senior guards Ryan Wetzel (Colts Neck) and Pete Righi (Rumson Fair-Haven). Wetzel started all but one game last season while Righi is making his debut as a starter. Both are listed at 285 lbs.

Vinny Grasso and Matt Castronouva are two of the three starting wide receivers, having raised their games significantly through the preseason. Grasso (Donovan Catholic) is a junior who appeared in every game last season, catching nine passes for 88 yards, while Castronouva (Jr., Jackson Memorial) contributed mainly on special teams last season.

The kicker is former Middletown South quarterback Matt Mosquera, who went

6-for-6 on extra points against Howard last year and was named the Big South Special Teams Player of the Week.

Also listed on the two-deep are true freshman wide receiver Joey Aldarelli (Ocean) and sophomore defensive tackle Adam Kakar (Toms River North).


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