Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wilkes Football Game Notes vs. Muhlenberg

A Photo
Wilkes University opens its 2017 regular season against Muhlenberg College at Scotty Wood Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both teams will be taking the field for the first time this year. Muhlenberg enters the game receiving votes in the preseason poll.

Trey Brown (Colorado ‘93) begins his fourth season at the helm of the Wilkes football program following his hiring prior to the 2014 season. In just three years, Brown has coached 22 Colonels who earned All-MAC honors including first team tight end Jeremy Hartman in 2014, defensive end Jason Ugwu in 2015 and tight end Garrett Armstrong in 2016. Under Brown’s guidance, the Colonels offense ranked in the top five in several offensive statistical categories including passing yards and plays per-game. In a game at Delaware Valley in 2014, the Wilkes offense ran 113 plays, a Division III regulation game record. In 2016, the Colonels recorded one of the biggest upset victories in the program’s history when it bested No. 12 Stevenson University 38-35 on the road. Brown came to Wilkes after four years serving as the quarterbacks and special teams’ coordinator at Muhlenberg. In his role with the Mules, Brown was responsible for coaching the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and special teams as well as the installation of the pass game. Prior to his time at Muhlenberg, Brown spent four seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Lehigh University. The Mountain Hawk offense scored 30 or more points 15 times during his tenure and led the Patriot League in scoring in 2006, when its quarterback was named to the All-Patriot League first team.

Corey Goff (Susquehanna ‘95) was named special assistant/acting head coach of the Muhlenberg football team in the summer of 2017 after head coach Mike Donnelly was diagnosed with leukemia. Goff will fill in when Donnelly’s treatment prevents him from coaching the team. Goff, who has been Muhlenberg’s director of athletics and recreation since 2012, was an assistant football coach with the Mules from 2000 to 2005, serving as offensive coordinator the last five of those seasons. The Mules won four straight CC co-championships from 2001 to 2004, made their first three appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament and broke numerous school records.

This will be the seventh meeting between the two schools as Muhlenberg leads the series 4-2. Muhlenberg posted a 29-22 victory last season at Schmidt Stadium. Wilkes’ last win came in 2009 over the Mules when the Colonels posted a 14-12 victory in Edwardsville.

Wilkes opens Middle Atlantic Conference play against Lebanon Valley College on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Schmidt Stadium. Wilkes fell 38-20 against the Dutchmen last season in Annville, Pa.

Wilkes is 5-8 in the season’s first game over the past thirteen years, including 2-4 on the road.

Sophomore quarterback Jose Tabora returns for his first full year as the starter in 2017 after dazzling performances late in his rookie season. Tabora took over for three-year starter Ryan Dailey (Easton, PA/Wilson) in week seven and never looked back leading the Colonels to wins against Lycoming and at nationally ranked Stevenson to finish the season. Tabora, a dual threat quarterback, can use his strong arm to make long plays through the air or scramble with his legs for first downs causing headaches for opposing defenses as evident by his school record 453-yards, three touchdowns through the air and 36-yard, two touchdowns on the ground stat line at Stevenson. He finished his rookie year throwing for 1,098 yards on 96-for-156 passing and eight touchdowns. He also ran for 348 yards on 84 attempts and four more scores. Two other signal callers have pushed Tabora and add depth to the position. Rookies Wade Rippeon and Nicholas Geimer round out the quarterback group in camp.

This year’s running back group may be a bit less experienced than in year’s past as last year’s starter Jacob Brook moved to the defensive side of the ball transitioning to safety. Sophomore Shane Deemer, who saw limited time last year, will be the Colonels starter in 2017 possessing all the tools needed to be an everyday three-down back. Deemer can run inside or outside the tackles, catch passes as well as block which fits perfectly into the Colonels offensive scheme. In what the position lacks in experience, it makes up for in depth as five other players will vie for time in the backfield this year. Junior Jacob Kadis is back and will see more time this season along with a host of talented freshman who look to make an immediate impact. Sincere Williams, Travis Taylor, Demorie Carey, and Malachi Clore all possess size and speed to make a direct impact in the Colonels offense in year one.

Matt Rossi and Lycoming College transfer Bryce Harrison will both see time at the full back position, a spot not only reserved for run blocking but also in the passing game.

The deepest and arguably most talented position on the offense, the receiving core returns all but two players who recorded significant time on the field. Senior Aaron Coyne and junior Zach Bogoly lead the list of returners after finishing third and fourth in receiving yards a season ago. Coyne caught 21 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns while Bogoly added 20 receptions for 303 yards and three scores.
Junior Jeff Steeber is also back after posting 18 receptions for 196 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Greg Albertson also returns to fill the slot receiver spot left by the graduation of All-MAC performer William Deemer. With the amount of experience on the outside, Tabora should have plenty of options to throw to looking for big-play capabilities.

Other players vying for time at wide out include Austin Krauss, Derek Nelson and rookie Nick Yanik.

Wilkes also features the best tight end in the MAC in pre-season All-American and All-MAC selection Garrett Armstrong. At 6-4, 215, Armstrong possession the size and skill to create matchup problems for linebackers and safeties. He posted 36 receptions for 390 yards and five touchdowns, all ranking second behind Deemer last season. Sophomore Justin Deihm will backup Armstrong at the position and will be used more in a blocking roll.

The offensive line continues to get stronger thanks to a dedicated offseason in the weight room. The left side figures to be the strongest with all three starters returning. Anthony Marcincavage moved to center with All-MAC performer Ryan Bowman at left guard and sophomore Mike Osayi at left tackle. The three combined for 24 starts a year ago. The right side will see several new faces including rookie Vincent
Rogers at guard and rookie Keith Allen and sophomore Brandyne Tynes at tackle. Rogers looks to have the size and footwork to be an impact player in the trenches for Wilkes this season.

It all starts up front stopping the run and getting to the quarterback and the defensive line has the experience and young talent to do just that. Sophomore Vinnie Werner is back and has had a productive camp at defensive tackle. Sophomore Ryan Smith remains healthy and will anchor the line at nose guard with sophomore Brendan Riley, freshman Nick DiRose and junior Anthony Dex adding depth.

Sophomore Dane Tarantelli is also back healthy along with senior Richmond Owusua and sophomore Derek Schneider at defensive end. All three saw limited time last season and will be expected to play larger roles in 2017.

The middle of the Colonel defense looks to be the strength of the unit with three of the four starters back. Juniors Lukas Wood and Michael Murphy along with sophomore Bud Moyer all saw time in starting roles last season. Wood finished third on the team in tackles a season ago with 52 stops, 5.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.0 sacks. Murphy followed with 32 tackles including 6.0 for a loss. Moyer contributed 19 total tackles and 2.0 tackles-for-loss. Senior Bobby Nye and sophomore Gabe Allgyer add more depth to the group combining for 25 tackles last season. Seniors Ian Brown and Isaiah Robinson both moved down to linebacker after spending a majority of their careers in the Colonel secondary.

Wilkes may not see as much of the effects of the graduation of do-everything All-MAC Linebacker Tanner Stengel, who will be on the sidelines mentoring the group as an assistant coach this season.

A few players have transitioned to the secondary to shore up a group that was hit hard through graduation including its two starting corners. Former running backs junior Devon Fink and senior Jacob Brook have moved to corner and safety respectively. Fink possess the athletic ability to guard receivers on the outside while Brook is built for the hard-hitting aspects of the safety position. Joining those two in transitioning is junior Jordan Stiles, who saw extensive time the last two years at the linebacker position but will be appearing as a safety in 2017.

Senior Michael Legg may be the most experienced player back in the secondary finishing with 28 tackles at safety. Junior Jordan Billups (14 tackles) and sophomore Ishmael Coleman both saw significant time at corner last season and will battle for even more time this year. Junior Jones Mensah moves back to the secondary after playing linebacker last year where he made 27 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Kyle Gattuso will see his first full year on the defensive side of the ball after making 26 tackles last year playing both corner and wide out. Senior Casey Evans, sophomore Zac Weber, sophomore Cameron Scarpaci and freshman
Amari Peterson round out the secondary squad.

Junior Mike Hauck was more than stellar in his first year with Wilkes making good on 8-of-9 field goal attempts, topping the MAC in percentage at 88.9 percent. He also fared well in kickoffs netting an average of 42.1 yards in 48 attempts. Nye will assume punting duties again this season posting an average of 31.8 yards per punt including five inside the twenty.