You don’t have to look too hard to see the growth of the football program at Monmouth University because signs of it are everywhere.

Several ex-Hawks are on NFL rosters, Kessler Stadium was recently renovated and Monmouth has gone 17-6 over the last two seasons.  It has everyone associated with the program feeling optimistic about the 2019 season which opens at Western Michigan on August 31st.

The Hawks held their annual Media Day Monday and clearly the bar has been set high with the return of 13 starters on offense and defense, including quarterback Kenji Bahar who is the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

The senior is one of five Hawks named preseason All-Big South and that group includes a pair of Shore Conference alumni in defensive back Tymere Berry (Toms River South) and kicker Matt Mosquera (Middletown South).

When Monmouth first entered the Big South in 2014 they simply could not match up with the league’s top tier teams, partly due to lack of scholarships.  However that is no longer the case and they finished second to league champion Kennesaw State in each of the last two seasons.

If the preseason rankings are any indication most expect it will be the Hawks and Owls deciding the conference championship again when they meet on November 2nd in Kennesaw, Georgia.

However as head coach Kevin Callahan cautioned Monday there is a lot of football to play before that, beginning with a grueling non-conference schedule that includes road trips to Kalamazoo, Michigan for the opener and a journey to Missoula, Montana in week #4.  Callahan begins his 27th season in West Long Branch and is the only head coach in school history, having started the program in 1992 when it was Monmouth College.

Among players from the shore expected to see considerable action this fall are Matt Castronouva (Jackson Memorial), Eddie Morales (Howell), Joey Aldarelli (Ocean), Justin Szuba (Brick Memorial) and Adam Kakar (Toms River North).

Once again the Shore Sports Network is the radio home of the Hawks and will carry all their road games on 1160 & 1310AM and once again I’m looking forward to another season as the public address announcer for their games at Kessler Stadium.