Zak LaNunziata is no stranger to playing on successful football teams. So when he transitioned to Misericordia University’s gridiron squad, he was ready to become a leader at the collegiate level.
LaNunziata won a District 2 championship while playing at Wyoming Area in his three-year letter-winning career. The 2013 graduate gave up on his football career to attend Bloomsburg University. After spending just one semester at Bloomsburg, the former Warrior decided it was time to come home.
LaNunziata is now a junior member of the Cougar football team, with football eligibility as a sophomore.
“It’s a really great atmosphere of guys here,” he said. “The seniors are finally getting to live out their football careers. Now they’ve come together and started to give our team a sense of leadership.”
This is Misericordia’s fourth season as a program. Under head coach Mark Ross, the Cougars sit at 0-7 overall and 0-6 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. The Cougars played a conference game on Saturday, Oct. 31 at FDU-Florham in New Jersey. They clash with Wilkes on Nov. 7 in Dallas.
This season hasn’t been as successful for LaNunziata as the first season was.
In 2014, the first-year safety played in all 10 games for Misericordia, racking up 54 tackles, which included 31 solo tackles. He also made his presence known on special teams with two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick.
LaNunziata said he had little preparation for his first season in 2014.
“It’s a huge adjustment going from high school to college,” he said. “We run so many more defensive schemes. It was nice to have an immediate impact on our defense. It made me think I can help this team win.”
LaNunziata was named Misericordia’s Back of the Year in 2014. This year, however, has been more of a struggle for LaNunziata.
The Exeter native has 18 total tackles with eight solo tackles. He has one pass breakup and one tackle for loss. LaNunziata said the Cougar coaching staff changed some things around this year and he currently plays a little defense and on special teams.
“Last year I was fortunate to start all 10 games,” he said. “This year things were a little different and now I’m trying to help the team as much as I can.’
Currently, LaNunziata is studying accounting at Misericordia. He said his GPA is around 3.6, but it was a tough transition now that he has to balance football and academics.
His first year at Bloomsburg was just academics. Now, LaNunziata has to deal with both at the campus in Dallas.
“Everyone has their own system to handle school and sports,” he said. “I take my academics very seriously. We all put the time and watch film. It’s not easy, but it’s encouraging to have everyone on our team helping each other.”
In LaNunziata’s first year at Misericordia, he was still living in Exeter and commuting to Dallas every day. He said it was difficult, especially when he had lifting in the early morning hours. Since then, he’s been living near campus to make his commute much easier.
However, he does enjoy still being close to his family.
LaNunziata is the son of Susan and David LaNunziata of Exeter. He has a brother who is in school at Penn State. The LaNunziata’s rarely miss a Misericordia football game, whether their son plays or not.
“It doesn’t matter where I play,” LaNunziata said. “They will always be there no matter what. They are my biggest fans and to have their support means a lot. It’s a great advantage.”
Since this is LaNunziata’s second year of college football eligibility, he may consider staying in school for a fifth year to exhaust his football playing days. Until then, his top priority will be to help his football team any way he can.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick