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St. Lawrence football preview: Saints have nowhere to go but up

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CANTON — Mike Tateosian has experienced both the good and the bad in his three years playing football for St. Lawrence University.

The senior wide receiver from Keene, N.H., was part of a Liberty League champion as a freshman and took part in an NCAA Division III playoff game against powerhouse Mount Union.

But he also was part of an 0-10 team last season.

“After last year it’s like you can’t take anything for granted,” Tateosian said. “It’s all hard work. We worked really hard my freshman year. I knew how much work we put in. Just having that experience, we have to come out and win big games. My freshman year we did that and that helps with expectations. To win the league, that’s big.”

Tateosian and his classmates are the last group left on campus who was part of that special 2010 season, and he hopes to leave campus this spring with his program restored to a more respectable position.

“It’s much better this year,” Tateosian said. “This is one of the best camps I’ve been around. We’ve really come together. I think we can do some good things. This (senior) class, we were around for that championship and we know what it takes.”

SLU struggled on offense last year, averaging just 15.1 points.

But Tateosian was one of the team’s few offensive bright spots. He caught 62 passes for 657 yards, averaging 10.6 yards per catch and 65.7 yards per game. He caught six touchdowns and led the team in scoring with 36 points and led the team in all-purpose yards.

“He’s going to give us great leadership, consistency and he’s a top-end performer,” said Saints head coach Mark Raymond, who arrived on campus with this year’s senior class. “He’s as good as there is in the league, and I’m sure we’re going to get the hard-working, tough kid that we’ve gotten since day one.”

Tateosian, who is 5-foot-11, did not play much in the championship season, but he spent time building muscle and studying veterans like Ethan Sutton, both on and off the field.

He has bulked up from 170 pounds in his freshman year to 190 heading into this season.

“Ethan was a very talented kid, of course, but his work ethic was unmatched,” Raymond said. “He practiced hard. He lifted. He studied. When he wasn’t getting the ball he was blocking. He was a great role model for the receivers now that are seniors to follow.

“(Tateosian) is now in that role where people watch what he’s doing. We are very young and having a senior at the front to help lead the way is really important.”

Said Tateosian, “(Sutton) was great. That group of receivers was an awesome group to be a part of. I learned from them how to become a good wide receiver and they helped a lot with that. I saw the size and the speed of players compared to high school. I realized I had to get in the weight room and work on my routes and my speed and strength.”

Very little went right for the Saints last season. The team only scored three touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, and the closest loss it had was a 30-20 defeat at Rochester on Sept. 29.

But there is a lot new as this season begins, including a new quarterback in Sacred Heart transfer Michael Lefflbine.

The Saints open the season on Saturday with a nonconference game, hosting Coast Guard at noon in Canton.

SLU will also change its outward appearance as the team will sport brown helmets and red jerseys along with red pants.

“We have new helmets and new jerseys and it does feel different,” Tateosian said. “We also switched around the lockers. I’m in a different area. It does feel different from last year, so that could be good.”

Said Raymond, “I have a staff that’s relentless, competitive, tough guys and I’m blessed to coach kids who are focused and never once look back. I don’t need to do much to change these guys. We just need to get to playing better.”

nNOTE: SLU will be offering free high-definition video streams of all its home games on the school’s athletic website; http://www.saintsathletics.com/.

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