MSA Sports District College Football Preview for 9/4/10

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Thursday, September 2, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Now we turn our attention to the college ranks for another season of College Preview. Here at the MSA Sports Network, each and every Thursday, we will spotlight games broadcast here on the network and preview the week's schedule.

There will be previews of games from the MVC and NEC in Division I-FCS, PSAC and WVIAC in Division II and NCAC, PAC and UAA in Division III. And every Sunday, we will have recaps of those games in College Recap. Below are the week's previews with action starting on Thursday night.

THURSDAY's GAMES:

Merrimack at Slippery Rock 7pm on WISR 680-AM and the MSA Sports Network

Slippery Rock returns 15 starters and 27 lettermen from the 2009 squad. The Rock was picked sixth in the PSAC-West poll, coming off a 6-5 season, but only 3-4 in the division in 2009.

Head Coach Dr. George Mihalik starts his 23rd season at the Rock, he is "cautiously optimistic" about the 2010 team. Slippery Rock looks to be big up front, returning four starters on the offensive line. Center Brandon Fusco highlights those returning, he has received four pre-season Division II All-American honors. Mike Tomiano and Austin Fedell return at the guards along with left tackle A.J. Hopp.

Junior wide receiver Devin Goda is also back, however, Slippery Rock has many questions at quarterback. Michael Bongivengo from New Castle and Kellen O'Neill of General McLane are competing for the starting job, neither have take a regular season snap. At running back, Akeem Satterfield came on in the final three games of the season, he will be the feature back.

Junior Robert Doiley was all conference at cornerback for the Rock in 2010, he will be counted on heavily along with safeties Jayson Nickson and Brandon Watters. Zach Sheridan was all conference at linebacker,

The Rock will also excel in the special teams area, with pre-season All-American kicker C.J. Bahr. Bahr led the team in scoring the last two seasons, he has hit on 25 field goals in his career, third all-time at the Rock.

Doiley returns punts and Satterfield will be the kickoff returner, he took one 90 yards vs. Gannon last season.

For the opener, the Rock hosts the defending Northeast-10 conference champion Merrimack. The Warriors return junior quaterback and conference MVP James Suozzo, junior running back Anthony Smalls and standout linebackers Shaw Loiseau and Tony Johnson. In all, eight all-conference honorees return from last season's team, which captured the second conference title in Merrimack history. As a team, Merrimack led the conference in scoring offense, rushing offense, total offense, first downs and fewest sacks against. They ranked fifth nationally in rushing offense and fourth in total offense.

Fairmont State at Clarion 6 pm

The Falcons return seven starters on each side of the ball, coming off a rough 3-8 season in 2009. Senior Doug Brazil ran for seven touchdowns last season. Freshman Logan Moore and senior Vick Bradford could both see time at quarterback for Fairmont State. Could this be the year for the Golden Eagles. Clarion went 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the PSAC-West in 2009, just missing out on a NCAA berth. 20 starters return for Clarion in 2010, however QB Tyler Huether does not. Junior Eric Coxon and sophomore Ben Fiscus will battle for the job. The PSAC's leading rusher Alfonso Hoggard and senior wideout Jacques Robinson are both back, Robinson caught 70 passes last season. Hoggard also led the PSAC in scoring. Four starters return on the offensive line for the Golden Eagles.

Lake Erie at Gannon 7pm

Lake Erie finished 7-4 last season, including a 35-34 loss to Gannon. The Storm returns 21 starters, and enters into the GLIAC this season. Quarterback Sean Bedevelsky has thrown for over 44 hundred yards in his career, he tossed 15 touchdown passes. The Golden Knights look to build on a four-game winning streak to end 2009, including an overtime win at Bloomsburg that knocked the Huskies out of the playoff race. Gannon finished 6-5 last season and went 3-4 in the West Division. QB Zach Boedicker will begin his second season as the starter, Tyler Batts takes over at running back. Gannon returns all five starting defensive backs including senior Matthew Neal-Mink.

SATURDAY's GAMES:

Geneva at Frostburg State 7:30pm on WBVP 1230-AM/WMBA 1460-AM and the MSA Sports Network.

The Golden Tornado come off a NCCAA Victory Bowl win 29-28 over Greenville, the fifth in school history.

Senior QB David Girardi returns, he completed 62 percent of his passes last season and threw for ten touchdowns. Gerald Muschette also returns to the backfield, he rushed for 1,183 yards last season. A.J. Delmonico will be the main target in the passing game. Senior offensive lineman Lee Thieroff will anchor an offensive line that returns almost intact for 2010.

The GT's will have some big shoes to fill on defense, but having Dan Dillman return is good news. Dillman started every game in 2008, but missed most of last season with a knee injury. Gary Walstrom and Chance Kelosky anchor the line backing core.

Geneva is the only team in the PAC that is not eligible for the conference title.

Frostburg State finished 1-9 last season, the Bobcats return 15 starters from 2009. Seniors Anthony King and Anton Wade return in the backfield for the Bobcats. Junior Josh Volpe returns at quarterback, he started the final seven games last season, throwing for over 13 hundred yards and eight touchdowns.

Youngstown State at Penn State Noon

The Penguins open the season with a TOUGH TEST, in Happy Valley. YSU struggled last season, so much so that Eric Wolford took over for Jon Heacock as head coach. The Penguins are looking to get back into the Division 1 FCS playoff picture in a tough Missouri Valley Conference, YSU has not been to the playoffs since 2006. Wide receiver Dominque Barnes led the MVC with eight touchdown catches last season, he is only an honorable mention pre-season all conference player. The Penguins will start a redshirt freshman, Kurt Hess at quarterback. Penn State is ranked 14th in one poll and 19th in another, the Nittany Lions are the defending Big Ten champions.

Robert Morris at Dayton 1pm

It was a tale of two halves for the Colonials in 2009, starting the season 0-6, but winning the last five games to finish 5-3 in the NEC. Robert Morris is picked second in the NEC pre-season poll behind Central Conn. State. Robert Morris allowed only 36 points during that five game winning streak, seven starters return including senior linebacker Alex DiMichele, defensive back Rolf Bathold and safety Michael Landers. The Colonials have not won the NEC since 2000, the offense will have to improve from 2009 to challenge for the title. RMU is solid in the backfield as senior Myles Russ is back, coming off back to back one-thousand yard seasons. Sophomore Jeff Sinclair settled in as the starter at quarterback, he threw for nine touchdowns and ran for three more. Dayton returns 15 starters, including 10 on offense, from a team that won the 10th Pioneer Football League title. Steve Valentino moved from wide receiver to quarterback last season and was named the conference offensive player of the year, averaging over 280 yards of total offense per game.

Bucknell at Duquesne 6pm

Bucknell opens the season with Duquesne for the sixth consecutive season, the Bisons had won five straight before the Dukes snagged a 24-19 home field win. The Bison finished 4-7 last season and have a new coach in Joe Susan. The Bison was picked to finish fifth in the six team Patriot League. Head Coach Jerry Schmidt avoids the training room after a 2009 season that saw three key players limited or out for the season with injuries. 2009 all preseason tight end Sean Bunevich was lost with a knee injury in training camp, he is back. Junior Akeem Moore and senior Dave Williams both missed plenty of time last season, they are healthy. Sophomore tailback Larry McCoy also returns, he ran for eight touchdowns as a freshman. 2008 starting quarterback Connor Dixon missed time with a shoulder injury, he was moved to receiver last season, where he will play in 2010. Sophomore Sean Patterson will start at quarterback, he made three starts last season. Senior Nathan Totino returns at linebacker, he has led the Dukes in tackles the previous two seasons. Duquesne is ranked seventh in the NEC preseason poll after a 3-8 season, going 2-6 in the NEC.

St. Francis of Loretto at Liberty 7pm

The Red Flash finished 2-9 last season and went 1-7 in the conference. Chris Villarial takes over as head coach, and the former All-Pro has a tough task ahead. Sophomore Kyle Harbridge averaged over six yards per carry and scored three touchdowns last season, he is the leading offensive returner. Linebacker is not a problem for St. Francis, Scott Lewis and Matt Parker both return. Liberty is ranked number 20 in the FCS Coaches Poll to start the season.

California at Saginaw Valley State Noon

It's a battle of nationally ranked teams as the Vulcans enter the season as the 4th ranked team in Division II, the Cardinals are ranked 11th. The Vulcans are the conference favorites once again, coming off an 11-4 season. California has won the NCAA region the last four years in a row, despite falling to Shippensburg in last year's PSAC title game. Josh Portis returns at quarterback, he had a wonderful 2009, throwing for 36 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions. His favorite target Terrance Moore is back, he had over one thousand receiving yards last season. Chedrick Cherry and tight end Blake Williamson also return. Cal returns seven defensive starters, including defensive back Erik Harris. Harris was second on the team in tackles and co-leader in interceptions in 2009. Marcus Cook and Sam Fikaris start on the defensive line, Brett Diamond is back at linebacker. The Vulcans have won 20 consecutive games in divisional play, the last loss was to IUP in 2006. The Cardinals went 9-3 last season in the very tough GLIAC, and earned a berth in the Division II playoffs for the first time since 2005. Chuck Dowdell returns at quarterback, he threw for over 22 hundred yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for eight more.

Lock Haven at VMI 1pm

The Bald Eagles went winless in 2009 and have the fewest number of returning starters in the PSAC. Lock Haven has lost 21 consecutive game, they have not won since November 10th 2007 at Clarion. VMI finished 2-9 last season, dropping it's last four games. All five starters return on the offensive line, also look out for senior wide recievers Mario Scott and Bryan Barnson.

Edinboro at West Liberty 1:30pm

It's the third meeting for these teams in two years. Edinboro won the season opener 42-30, but West Liberty won the rematch in the first round of the NCAA playoffs 84-63. The Fighting Scots finished 9-4 overall, qualifying for the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2004. A new Harris will take over at quarterback as Cody Harris steps in for brother Trevor. Harris will have two top receivers returning in Josh Brown and Gary Nolen. Micheal Battles will start at running back, Edinboro is strong up front with three starting offensive linemen back, including four-year starter Rob Stoner. Junior Branden Williams returns, he has nine career interceptions, including three Pick 6's.
West Liberty opens the season ranked number 7 in the country in Division II. QB Zach Amedro threw for 4,945 yards and 49 touchdowns last season, he was a runner-up for the Harlan Hill Trophy, awarded to the best player in D-II. WR Ryan Travis caught 104 passes for 1,250 yards and 14 touchdowns, he returns.

New Haven at Seton Hill(1-0) 3:30pm

New Haven went 5-5 in 2009 in their first year after reinstating football. QB Ryan Osieski threw for 2,825 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Sharieff Hall had 73 catches and eight touchdowns last season. The Chargers return 21 of 22 starters from last year's team. QB D.J. Lenehan was 12-20 for 163 yards and two touchdowns as the Griffins won their season opener 20-14 over Bowie State last week in Greensburg. The win ended a ten game losing streak for Seton Hill. Seton Hill's defense rebounded from 2009, as they allowed over 40 points per game, only allowing Bowie State one score in six trips in to the red zone last week.

Southern Connecticut State at IUP 4:30pm

The Owls shared the Northeast-10 conference title with Merrimack. Junior Kevin Lynch starts at quarterback, Saturday will be only his second collegiate start. Running back John Wiechman is a pre-season All-American and will be counted on heavily. IUP tries to recover from it's first losing season in over 25 years, going 5-6 in 2009, including 1-6 in divisional play. Sophomore Pat Smith had to take over at quarterback after Andrew Krewatch was lost for the season, Smith is the front-runner, but he is being challenged by junior college transfer Bo Napoleon. The running game will be IUP's strength once again, sophomore Harvie Tuck averaged 5.3 yards a carry last season and redshirt freshman James Johnson will be 1-2 on the depth chart. IUP has moved Tobias Robinson, the team's leading rusher the last two seasons, to cornerback. Robinson led the PSAC two years ago in rushing. Defensive end Josh Bolyard and free safety Andre Henderson missed the bulk of last season with injuries, both are healthy and will improve the defense this season, along with strong safety Mark Jackson.

Bridgewater at Saint Vincent 1pm

Bridgewater returns two year starting quarterback Hagan Driskell and wideout Tyler Beiler. Sophomore Thomas Tate rushed for 1,139 yards in his freshman campaign. The Bearcats were winless in 2009, the program has won one game since returning three years ago. Saint Vincent will have a QB battle as last year's starter Jake Smith returns as well as Aaron Smetanka, who transferred from Robert Morris. Junior tailback Zach Mihalko returns, he is one of the best kick-returners in the PAC. Senior Sheldon Loughner caught four touchdown passes, he will lead the receivers.

Westminster at Hiram 1pm

Westminster comes off a 4-6 season and 2-4 in the PAC. The Titans return 13 starters from last year's team. Junior Shawn Lehocky started three games last season, he threw for six touchdowns and ran for seven more. Senior guard Mike Kudelko is back, he is a three-year starter and was all-conference last season. On defense, Westmister returns six starters including junior corner Jordan Rooney. Rooney also excells as a punt returner, averaging over 11 yards a return. Hiram was 0-10 last season, Randy Moore takes over as head coach, with 15 starters returning. Senior wide reciever Glenn Campbell accounted for over 900 yards of total offense last season, he also played some time at quarterback. Junior linebacker Jon Hull leads the defense, he made 77 tackles last season.

Allegheny at Bethany 1:30pm

The Gators are picked to finish third in the NCAC, behind conference powers Wittenberg and Wabash. Allegheny returns 17 starters from last year's 8-2 team, including talented senior quarterback T.J. Salopek. Senior wide receiver Terry Hartford also returns as does all five starting offensive linemen. Senior Sid Facaros anchors the defense from his strong safety spot. 2009 is a season that the Bison would like to forget. 20 players were lost to injury, forcing many freshman to have to step up and play much earlier than the coaching staff would have liked. Bethany was 3-7 overall and 1-5 in PAC play. QB Chad Smith was forced to end his college carrer with concussion issues, senior Dan Pegg will be the starter, he finished the final four games of the season. Junior tailback Eric Walker returns, he led the conference with 15 touchdowns last season.

Carnegie Mellon at Grove City 1:30pm

The Tartans return a great team in the backfield. Senior fullback Justin Pratt rushed for 11 touchdowns and tailback Christopher Garcia scored six. CMU finished 5-5 last season and went 1-2 in UAA play. Grove City finished 5-5 overall in 2009, but went 4-2 in PAC play. The Wolverines have a load of talent at wide receiver with senior Luke O'Hara leading the way. O'Hara caught 53 passes, seven for touchdowns. Senior Zach Summey had 40 catches, and junior tailback Blaine Miller caught 49 passes and scored nine rushing touchdowns. On defense, junior Jason Ferguson led the conference with 105 tackles, he will again start at inside linebacker. Grove City also returns senior kicker Craig Bicehouse, going six of nine in field goal attempts last season.

Marietta at Thiel 1:30pm

The Pioneers went 3-7 in 2009. Marietta returns six offensive and seven defensive starters. Junior quarterback Andrew Keller threw for 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns in his first year as a starter. The Tomcats struggled in 2009, going 3-7 overall and 1-5 in PAC play. Ross Gargano is multi-talented, scoring six rushing touchdowns and catching 34 passes, including two touchdowns. Wideout Tyler Dejong had 46 catches for Thiel, who has three starters returning on the offensive line. Will Haase will anchor the defensive line and safety Bryan Villegas leads from the secondary. Both head coaches were teammates in college at Allegheny, Pioneers coach Jeff Filkovski hit Tomcats coach Kurt Reiser for the game-winning touchdown to give the Gators the 1990 Division III National Championship.

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