MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College football team will open its 2011 season Saturday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. when it plays host to Kutztown University at Grappone Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on SaintAnselmHawks.tv.
HAWKS & GOLDEN BEARS
This is the fourth consecutive year that Kutztown and Saint Anselm will meet to start the season ... Kutztown is 3-0 all-time against the Hawks, winning last season, 41-0 at University Field behind three Mastromatto touchdown runs ... in 2009, Saint Anselm was edged, 17-13, at Grappone after having a chance to win the game on its final drive ... Kutztown defeated the Hawks, 35-0, in Patrick Murphy's debut as Saint Anselm head coach Aug. 28, 2008.
Coming off its first NCAA Division II Super Region One playoff berth in school history, Kutztown is ranked 20th by d2football.com and 23rd by the American Football Coaches' Association (AFCA) ... the Golden Bears (10-2 overall in 2010), who were picked to finish second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division, will be looking for their fourth consecutive opening-day triumph for the first time in program history ... Kutztown has many key offensive performers returning from a 2010 squad that finished ranked ninth overall in Division II in scoring (38.8), 15th in passing (302.7), 16th in passing efficiency (153.73), and 26th in total offense (424.8) ... the Golden Bears scored 30 or more points in 11 games, including the first 10 contests of the year ... junior QB Kevin Morton set single-season KU program records for touchdown passes (38) and total yards (3,633) en route to being named the PSAC East Offensive Player of the Year ... Morton has his entire WR corps from last season returning in junior Chris McCormick, senior Josh Smith, senior Erik Frazier, and junior Colby Tuell ... junior Josh Mastromatto hauled in 30 passes and scored 14 touchdowns (eight rushing and six receiving) ... joining Mastromatto in the backfield will be sophomore Curtis Wortham and senior transfer from the University of Connecticut, Robbie Frey, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma ... defensively, the Golden Bears will have to replace three first-team All-PSAC East players along with a couple of key leaders from a unit that ranked better against the run than the pass, which included leading the PSAC in fumble recoveries.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
The Hawks were picked to finish eighth in the Northeast-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll that was released last week. New Haven was chosen as the favorite to win the conference after collecting six-first place votes and point total of 59 to narrowly edge Southern Connecticut, which earned two first-place votes and 58 total points. Merrimack, which received the other first-place vote, came in third with 47 points. With 43 points, Bentley edged AIC (42) for the fourth-place slot. Assumption (28) and Stonehill (23) checked in at the sixth and seventh spots, with Saint Anselm (16) and Pace (8) rounding out the poll.
While the Saint Anselm College football team enters 2011 following a 2-8 season, expectations are riding higher for fourth-year head coach Patrick Murphy and his squad. The Hawks, who featured the conference's second-highest passing offense a year ago, return the bulk of their impact players and will add a group of talented newcomers that will form what coach Murphy hopes is a drastically improved team.
With leadership from captains Marc Wilson (Farmington, Conn.), a BSN Preseason All-American wide receiver, and 2010 ECAC All-Star linebacker Shane O'Donnell (Dracut, Mass.), along with LB Kyle Hayes (Merritt Island, Fla.) and offensive lineman Jake Smith (Fort Myers, Fla.), the Hawks have the experience to compete in the competitive Northeast-10.
While the Saint Anselm offense has garnered most of the attention the last couple of seasons, Murphy would like to see it become more consistent. It helps that the bulk of the Hawks' impact players, including eight starters, are returning, minus the graduated Marcel Bouie, who caught 45 passes for 578 yard and four touchdowns. Murphy is also excited about a defense he believes is dramatically better than last season and is bigger, stronger and faster than any he has coached in his three years on the Hilltop.
Murphy and his staff will expect a lot out of junior Mike Pierce (Andover, Mass.), who will be back under center for the Hawks after completing 54 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards and 15 touchdowns. Pierce's back-up will be 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound freshman Stephen Cuipa (Merrimack, N.H.) out of Bishop Guertin Academy.
Murphy believes that the offense becoming more consistent will depend largely on how quickly the offensive line gels. That should be aided by the fact that the o-line will feature four upperclassmen, including three starters from a year ago. Smith, at right tackle, will help anchor the line along with standouts, junior P.J. Senatore (Norwell, Mass.) and sophomore Dave Boardman (Westfield, Mass.), who was a Northeast-10 All-Rookie Team member a year ago after appearing in nine games and helping the team to 924 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
Sophomore Keith Charles (Laurel, Md.) leads the charge in the Hawks' backfield after coming off a Northeast-10 All-Rookie Team campaign that saw him carry the ball 152 times and finish with 565 yards and a team-best six rushing touchdowns. Charles, who Murphy said is as good a back as anyone in the league because of his ability to run, pass and block, also caught 38 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown as he finished with 936 all-purpose yards. His best rushing game came at Assumption as he ran seven times for 86 yards and three touchdowns. In the upset of 22nd-ranked New Haven, Charles pulled down four passes for a total of 100 yards as he finished with 168 all-purpose yards in the game. Classmate Greg Bell (Liverpool, N.Y.), who appeared in nine games last year and carried twice for five yards, will open the year as Charles' back-up.
Led by Wilson, the receiving corps is filled with reliable targets for Pierce to throw to, including sophomore Justin Bernard (Cambridge, Mass.). Wilson, an All Northeast-10 Second Teamer last season, and Bernard, a Northeast-10 All-Rookie Team selection, make up what Murphy believes is the best 1-2 receiver punch in the league. Murphy called Wilson, "the straw that stirs the drink," and said he has been Mr. Everything for Saint Anselm. Wilson, one of the top offensive players in Saint Anselm history, led the team in total receptions last season with 57 catches, despite playing in only seven games due to injury. Wilson finished with 519 total receiving yards and caught a team-high five touchdown passes. In his absence, Bernard stepped up over the final three games to reel in 31 passes, including a touchdown, while averaging 110 yards per contest. Six-three junior Craig Dennis (Atlantic City, N.J.), who made 29 catches for 309 yards and a touchdown in 10 games last season, will also provide Pierce with another weapon down the field.
Murphy is excited about the development of his tight ends, especially 6-3, 235-pound redshirt-freshman Pete Carbone (Hopkinton, Mass.), who switched over to tight end after practicing on the defensive line last season. Six-four sophomore Chris Chapman (Bronx, N.Y.) is healthy and had a good training camp, while 6-4 freshman Brian DeAngelis (Peabody, Mass.) will also be in the mix.
Murphy has high expectations for the defensive line and is expecting a lot out of sophomore Andrew Lebowitz (Andover, Mass.), who is coming off a Northeast-10 All-Rookie Team campaign in which he played every defensive snap for the Hawks, finishing with 31 tackles, two sacks for a loss of 16 yards, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries. His 31 total tackles ranked him ninth on the team and second among freshmen. Lebowitz will be joined up front by sophomore Lou Licciardi (East Falmouth, Mass.) and juniors Mike Hobbs (Medford, Mass.), Tyler Williams (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Derek Brewer (Walpole, N.H.).
The Hawks are solid in the middle of their defense at linebacker, a position that features three upperclassmen, including O'Donnell and Hayes. O'Donnell, who was an All Northeast-10 Second Team selection, finished third on the team in total tackles with 61, including 39 solo stops, and also posted two double-digit tackle performances, including a season-best 12 tackles in a road loss at Assumption. O'Donnell recorded two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pair of pass breakups. Hayes, who is always around the ball, ranked sixth on the team with 38 tackles, including five for a loss, and added an interception, two fumble recoveries and seven pass breakups. Juniors Chris Bent (Dracut, Mass.) and Brendan Timmons (Franklin, Mass.) will further bolster the linebacker corps. Bent led the team in total tackles with 73, including nine for a loss, while adding half a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Timmons was fourth with 60 stops, including nine for a loss of 40 yards and a pair of sacks for 19 yards. He also forced a fumble and recovered another.
Sophomore Ethan Sylvain (East Montpelier, Vt.), the 2009 Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year, is healthy after playing in just the first two games of last season before suffering an injury and will be counted on to help strengthen a pass defense that ranked seventh in the conference a year ago. Classmate Daniel Ruiz (Framingham, Mass.), redshirt-freshman Jason Busfield (Hampton, N.H.) and true freshman Ryan Havey (North Reading, Mass.) will all add depth at the position.
The Hawks are most improved in the secondary where sophomore Trevor Jesse (Cumberland, Md.) and redshirt-sophomore Jordan Colas (North Plainfield, N.J.) will look to shut down opposing receivers. Jessie recorded 29 tackles, one interception, four pass breakups and recovered a fumble last season, while Colas returns after receiving a medical redshirt in 2010. Junior Tyler Crawford (Lamoine, Maine), who will start at one corner spot, made 25 tackles and broke up five passes a year ago.
Junior Shea Cerio (Canastota, N.Y.) will handle both kicking and punting duties this season after serving as the punter last year when he averaged 34.1 yards on his 58 punts. Sophomore Tommy Donovan (Holliston, Mass.) will push Cerio at punter, while sophomore Stan Pacuk (Plainville, Mass.) will be the backup kicker. Ruiz and freshman Billy Darling (South Portland, Maine) will handle long snapping duties. Wilson and speedy freshman Cortez Taylor (Alexandria, Va.) will return kicks, with Taylor also bringing back punts. Wilson averaged 16.8 yards on his 19 kick returns last season.
While Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Rob Eggerling and Defensive Line/Special Teams Coach John Trisciani are back, five new assistants join Murphy's staff for the 2011 campaign. Kevin Doherty will serve as the Defensive Backfield Coach/Assistant Head Coach for Defense. Robin Bowkett will coach the wide receivers and will be handling Recruiting Coordinator responsibilities. In addition to coaching the offensive line, Chris Mosley will serve as both the Video Coordinator and Director of Football Operations. Allistair Sebastien will coach the running backs, while former Bishop Guertin head coach and current BG athletic director, Tony Johnson, will lead the outside linebackers.
The home of the Hawks, Grappone Stadium, also received a major makeover as the old grass surface was replaced with a new synthetic Field Turf and lights were added, making night football on the Hilltop a future possibility.