Coach Gueriera’s tenure will begin with an Augustinian trifecta.
Malvern opened last season on September 2 at St. Augustine’s Prep in New Jersey. The Friars hoped to get their season off to a fast start and be 1-0 on the bus ride home.
But things didn’t go their way and Malvern headed home 0-1 with a 47-30 loss to their fellow Augustinian school.
The football team, however, will get a second chance against the Hermits on Friday, September 1 at Villanova Stadium.
“It would be huge to beat St. Augustine’s to start off the season,” junior football player Liam McKnight said. “We had a tough loss to them last year and nobody has forgotten about how bad that felt.”
Last year, St. Augustine’s went undefeated in the regular season but eventually lost in the New Jersey state playoffs. They are returning many players from last year’s roster and are expected to continue right where they left off.
Many teams prefer playing weaker opponents to start the season so the team can build up their confidence, but new head coach Dave Gueriera said that he would rather have a more challenging first opponent.
“Iron sharpens iron,” Gueriera said. “We can never lose focus, each week we have a championship game.”
Recently announced captain for the team next year, junior Joe Basiura agreed that he likes playing stronger opponents to start off the season.
“I think that playing better teams at the beginning of the year prepares us better and gives us a better chance of beating the other teams in the Inter-Ac,” he said.
“I’d rather play a good team like St. Augustine’s to start off the year,” Liam McKnight said. “We definitely want the best competition possible because every non-league game is only preparing us for the Inter-Ac and playing good non-conference games will pay dividends for later in the season.”
Coach Gueriera said that although the team will spend a lot of time in the preseason on preparing for St. Augustine’s, the opening game will not be the sole focus of the summer. The main goal of the season is to win the Inter-Ac.
“During preseason we will install the majority of the offense and defense for the season. Each week during the season we will tweak the playbook to exploit the weaknesses for that specific opponent,” Gueriera said.
That being said, the Friars would definitely love to start the season 1-0.
“Starting 1-0 is always good and it’ll build momentum going into the rest of the season,” McKnight said.
Gueriera agreed. “I think it’s important because it starts the year off on the right foot for the program. A confident team playing together is always hard to beat,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest storyline of this game does not involve a single play, player, or coach. This will be Malvern’s first game with Malvern incoming Head of School and current St. Augustine President, Fr. Don Reilly.
After hearing about the announcement of this game, Fr. Reilly provided a prediction. “Given the score the last time the two brother teams met, I think it’s going to be a close call. The older brother (Malvern) might have a score to settle,” he said.
“This is a great game for both schools and pays great homage to our Augustinian Family. It’s going to be an electric night at Villanova against a very good St Augustine Prep team. And of course we want to get that win for Fr. Reilly’s new school,” Gueriera said.