The legendary Mark Duda has been with the Lackawanna College football program since its inception in 1993. After spending the inaugural season as the defensive coordinator, Duda took over as the head football coach, and is now entering his 29th year in charge for the 2022 season.
Duda, a Northeast PA native, is the active wins leader in all of the NJCAA, with 192 career victories. In his time at Lackawanna College, Duda has produced over 400 NCAA Division I scholarship athletes, and he has helped produce over 20 different players who have signed NFL contracts.
Duda has led the Falcons to a .500 or better record in 24 seasons, including five official undefeated regular seasons. Duda has won Northeast Football Conference Coach of the Year accolades on four different occasions, and was named the Junior College Football Coach of the Year by the American Football Network following the 2016 season. Duda has helped guide the Falcons to twelve postseason bowls, including an appearance in 2019’s NJCAA National Championship in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Duda came to Lackawanna College as the defensive coordinator in 1993, the inaugural season of Falcon football. After a 4-4-1 opening campaign, Duda took the reins of the program in 1994, and immediately guided Lackawanna to a 9-2 record, and a postseason bowl in just its second year of existence. He’d follow that up with another postseason bowl berth and an 8-3 record in 1995.
Duda would guide the Falcons to another 9-2 record and a postseason bowl berth in 1997, followed by an 8-2 record in 1998.
In 2000, the Falcons would have their first of five official undefeated regular seasons under coach Duda, going 10-0 through the regular season before dropping their bowl match-up against Middle Georgia.
The Falcons rebounded to have another undefeated regular season in 2001, before meeting a similar fate in their postseason bowl game with Ricks College.
After some ups and downs in the mid-2000’s, it wouldn’t be until 2010 when coach Duda and the Falcons officially broke their bowl game slide, going 9-2 through the regular season and coming away victorious in the Graphic Edge Bowl against Ellsworth CC.
Duda and the Falcons rocketed back into the national spotlight in the 2016 season, going undefeated in the regular season, behind a record-setting offense, and taking the defending national champion Mesa CC to overtime before falling in the Valley of the Sun Bowl. Lackawanna College finished that season at 10-1, and set school records for points scored in a season, total offensive yards per game, total yards on offense through the season, and more. Duda would be awarded the AFN Junior College Coach of the Year for his team’s success in 2016.
A pair of losses in the 2017 season derailed Lackawanna College from any serious postseason bowl consideration, but the Falcons managed to knock off Georgia Military in their final game of the year. The Falcons wouldn’t lose again for two years, as that victory ignited a 22-game win streak for Lackawanna College and coach Duda.
In 2018, Duda and the Falcons had another undefeated regular season, only playing at home twice throughout the year. This year, the Falcons made that undefeated season stand up, knocking off Arizona Western CC in the El Toro Bowl to cap the only official undefeated season in school history.
The Falcons and coach Duda would follow that up with a history-making season in 2019, once again going undefeated through the regular season and helping Lackawanna College earn a spot in the NJCAA National Championship game, their first chance to play for a national title in school history.
In a nationally televised game against top-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, Lackawanna College held a halftime lead, but ultimately fell, 24-13, snapping its 22-game unbeaten run. The Falcons finished with a #2 ranking in the final NJCAA national poll, their highest final ranking in school history.
The Falcons have won ten or more games five different times under Duda, three coming in the last six seasons.
Northeast PA football fans will remember coach Duda from his days at nearby Wyoming Valley West (’79), where he was a major part of the “Mad-Dog” defense that helped the Spartans go 9-2 and post six shutout wins in his senior year.
Duda would receive a scholarship and go on to play football at the University of Maryland, where he recorded 13 sacks in his senior season, a school record that stood until 2015.
After his time at Maryland, Duda was drafted in the fourth round of the 1983 NFL draft by the then-St. Louis Cardinals. Duda made 34 starts and played in 55 games, recording 9.5 career sacks in the NFL.
Duda earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education from East Stroudsburg University in 1991, and eventually earned a Masters in Professional Studies from Thomas Edison College in 2005. Duda was inducted into the Maryland Wall of Fame in 1994, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, and the NJCAA Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
One of the many beneficiaries of Coach Duda’s vast knowledge is Bryant McKinnie, a former Super Bowl Champion with the Baltimore Ravens, who was selected in the first round (No. 7) of the 2002 National Football League Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. McKinnie played at Lackawanna in 1997 and 1998 and went on to The University of Miami (Florida) where he was the recipient of the prestigious Outland Trophy, a consensus All-American offensive lineman, and the only offensive linemen to finish in the Top 10 in Heisman Trophy voting (7th). Other notable Falcon alumni to reach the game’s highest level include: Kevin White (7th overall, Chicago), Jaquan Brisker (48th overall, Chicago), Kyzir White, Mark Glowinski, Jarell Broxton, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Renard Cox, Tyler McMeans, Mike Balogun, Trevon Wesco, and Donald Jones.
|Year||Wins||Losses||Postseason Bowl Appearances|
|1994||9||2||Midwest Bowl Appearance|
|1995||8||3||Golden Isles Classic Appearance|
|1997||9||2||Dixie Rotary Bowl Appearance|
|2000||10||1||Golden Isles Classic Appearance|
|2001||10||1||Real Dairy Bowl Appearance|
|2006*||2||8||Valley of the Sun Bowl Appearance*|
|2008||7||4||North Star Bowl Appearance|
|2010||9||2||Graphic Edge Bowl Appearance|
|2011||7||4||Salt City Bowl Appearance|
|2016||10||1||Valley of the Sun Bowl Appearance|
|2018||11||0||El Toro Bowl Appearance|
|2019||10||1||NJCAA National Championship Game Appearance|