Warwick teammates reunited at Lebanon Valley

By on August 24, 2016
Warwick grads (left to right) Tyler Melhorn, Tommy Garner, Austin Maguire and Adam Wagaman are hoping to help lead the Lebanon Valley College football team to the post-season for the first time since 2013.

Warwick grads (left to right) Tyler Melhorn, Tommy Garner, Austin Maguire and Adam Wagaman are hoping to help lead the Lebanon Valley College football team to the post-season for the first time since 2013.

Ever since their days on the Midget football field, Warwick grads Austin Maguire, Tyler Melhorn and Adam Wagaman have been teammates.

Dating back to their time playing with the Warriors, Maguire and Tommy Garner always worked out and watched film together.

Today, those four are still teammates and workout partners … only now with the Lebanon Valley College football team.

“It’s actually really nice,” Maguire said, “just having people there you already knew. To have the ability to (play together) in college too was awesome.”

The elder of the group is Garner, a junior outside linebacker for the Dutchmen who started all 10 games last season. In an injury-shortened freshman campaign, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder compiled 17 tackles, including one for a loss and two hurries, while appearing in nine games with two starts.

“We stay close with each other,” Garner said. “Me being the older one, I try to stay on top of them and tell them, if you need anything, just reach out to me.”

Coming out of Warwick in 2014, Garner had also been considering the likes of Kutztown, Clarion, Shippensburg, McDaniel and Juniata.

Given the chance to do it over again, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“A hundred percent (happy),” said Garner, who is studying elementary/special education. “It’s like the best of both worlds. I was talking with my dad (Randy) while I was making my decision and he made it clear, ‘You’re not transferring. Make sure you make the right decision.’ So I sat down and thought about it and it’s the best of both worlds with the education aspect. It’s a small-school setting, so the professors know you on a first-name basis, and then I got to play right away, so that was even better for me. It made my decision a lot easier.”

Maguire (6-foot-2, 255), meanwhile, got his feet wet playing defensive end as a senior at Warwick, and he worked his way onto the field for about 15 to 20 plays a game in his freshman season for the Dutchmen last fall. He finished with five total tackles, including one solo.

“With the state schools, they talked about red-shirting,” said Maguire, whose top three choices were LVC, Kutztown and West Chester. “And their education programs were not as good as LVC’s. The education program (at LVC), in my opinion, kinda blew the others out of the water. That, along with the ability that they said I could play right away, were two big deciding factors in going there.”

Wagaman, a sophomore for the Dutchmen, had initially hoped to go to the U.S. Naval Academy. Unfortunately, however, he was medically disqualified from doing so. But he has found a home at Lebanon Valley College, where Wagaman is studying actuarial science.

“LVC had been in contact with me for awhile. I’d say what I like most is it’s a smaller college and you can have 1-on-1 interaction with your professors and the help is just phenomenal,” said Wagaman (6-foot-3, 245), who played long-snapper in addition to seeing a few plays at defensive end as a freshman. “It’s incredible how much help you can get on campus here from anyone and everyone.”

Melhorn (6-foot-3, 205), like Garner and Maguire, was looking at a couple of PSAC schools in West Chester and Bloomsburg, along with Albright, Lycoming and Geneva College.

An exercise science major, Lebanon Valley College has been a very nice fit for him.

“I’m very happy,” Melhorn said. “I feel like here, the coaches really truly care not just about how you perform in practice and games, but how you’re doing in the classroom and how you’re doing in your personal life.”

The chance to play with former Warwick teammates has just been a bonus.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “Not many people get that opportunity and I think here in the next couple years, we just have to make the most of it.”

Together, the former Warrior stars are looking to help LVC return to the post-season this fall for the first time since 2013. That year, the Dutchmen finished 8-3 after taking the MAC championship and then falling to Wittenberg University (Ohio) in an NCAA Division-III first-round game.

“That was my senior year (at Warwick) and that helped with recruiting,” Garner said. “It’d be awesome (to go back). That was our goal the past two years. When I came in as a freshman, our goal was to repeat. And then we had a down year, so our goal was to get back on our feet my sophomore year, and we did a little better. We started off slow, but then we picked it up toward the end of the season and had some promising young players step up and everything.”

Indeed, the Dutchmen started out 1-3 last fall with close losses to F&M, Stevenson and Widener. But they rebounded to go 4-2 the rest of the way.

“I just remember talking to the older guys that were on the team (in 2013) and the experience was awesome,” Maguire said. “Hearing those stories makes us really want to get after it and get there.”

This fall, LVC will be under the direction of first-year skipper Joe Buehler, replacing long-time head coach Jim Monos, who stepped down this past January. Monos certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Buehler, as the Dutchmen will have a number of underclassmen returning with experience.

“We have kids that — even though we’re young — believe that we can hang with the top-tier guys and we can build a little dynasty at LVC,” Maguire said. “We’re pushing each other, saying that even though we’re younger than most of the teams in the league, we’re going to hit them with our youth, our speed, and our freshness. Especially defensively … next year and the year after, we’re returning, like, seven or eight starters a year.”

Added Garner: “We’re sophomores and juniors, and we have another year to look forward to (in 2017), so I’d say we’re in the middle of a good (stage) right now.”

Offensively, junior QB’s Tim Pirrone (Middletown) and Tyler Cottle (Elizabethtown) are both returning to help lead the Dutchmen.

“We have a lot of experience not only on the defensive line,” Wagaman said, “but we’ve got a returning center (Bryant Weller/Huntingdon) who I think is going to be a real good anchor on our offensive line. We’ve got a lot of quarterbacks coming back who got time last year. And our kicker is back who did great for us last year.”

Unfortunately for Melhorn, however, he is taking a medical redshirt year after suffering a torn ACL in spring drills. Rehab is going well and he’s hoping to get full clearance to start running in the next month or two.

“I won’t be cleared 100 percent until probably January or February. It’s going to be very tough (not playing). It’s already hard just standing there watching and we haven’t even had our first full-pad practice yet,” Melhorn said last week.

A free safety, LVC’s coaches have moved Melhorn to defensive end in college.

“I never stuck my hand in the dirt before, so it’s going to take awhile to get used to. But I’m starting to feel comfortable with it,” he said. “I feel like I have good hands and good speed coming off the ball and some pretty decent length to be able to get to the quarterback … It’s fun. I like getting after the quarterback.”

Following an off-season consisting of weight room work, running, footwork and conditioning, Garner, Maguire and Wagaman are all ready to go.

“We had a workout we had to follow every single day,” Wagaman said. “We definitely kept in shape.”

Wagaman is still refining his technique at D-end, but he brings a lot of strengths to the Dutchmen.

“I’d say I have a decent amount of speed to keep contain on the edge, and my length also helps out with that,” he said. “One of my weaknesses I’d say that I need to work on is probably staying low. My length also comes at a disadvantage. Sometimes when I’m coming off the ball, when I stand up straight out of my stance, the offense can sometimes get under me, making it easier for them to block me. So I’ve got to work on staying low.”

For Garner, his increased strength could help him be a little more physical at the line in the pass rush. One of his strengths that opposing offenses will have to consider is his pass coverage, an area where he often draws compliments from his coaches.

“Pass coverage is what I loved in high school too,” Garner remarked. “Outside ‘backer is awesome. It fits me well. The coaches thought it fit me perfectly, and so far the past two years, I’ve loved it.”

Ditto for Maguire at D-end. He acknowledges that the speed of college football was an adjustment as a freshman, but he believes that he is currently stronger than when he played at Warwick.

“Strength-wise in high school, I was average,” Maguire said. “Right now, I feel like I’m above average in the weight-room category. I would say my tenacity (is an area I want to improve) — every play, go as hard as I can and get after the ball, instead of saying, ‘It’s second down, I’m going to take this one off and then go really hard third down.’ Every play, I want to go to the whistle.”

Another thing that’s above average for LVC is the friendly rivalry that the former Lancaster-Lebanon League players have with their counterparts from Schuylkill County.

“We definitely harp on that a lot,” Wagaman smiled.

Overall, Garner, Maguire, Melhorn and Wagaman are four of 15 Lancaster-Lebanon League representatives on the Dutchmen’s roster.

“We lost a couple (L-L) guys that graduated this past year, so last year was pretty awesome,” Garner said. “We had, like, 20 last year and (the rivalry) is between us and the Schuylkill County guys. We kinda mess around with them because we’re the two chunks of the team, pretty much.”

“We always try to see which county will perform better,” Maguire said. “We push each other.”

Don’t be surprised if they push one another right back to a post-season berth.

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