Western New England Hosting Springfield College in First-Ever Meeting Between City Schools
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--After preseason conditioning, weeks of practice and developing a game plan for the first game, the 2013 football season has arrived for Western New England University. The Golden Bears, who return 12 starters among 37 lettermen off a 6-4 team a year ago, kickoff at 1 p.m. Saturday at Golden Bear Stadium against cross-town rival Springfield College in the first-ever gridiron meeting between the schools separated by just 2-1/2 miles.
Springfield Game Ticket Info
General admission is $5 Adult, $3 Seniors/Children (ages 13-17) and free for children under-12.
WNE staff & students are free with WNE ID. WNE staff and students' entrance will be located at single gate behind the Golden Bear Stadium bleachers. All WNE staff and students with ID should go straight to that entrance to avoid lines at the main ticket gate.
"The Hill" will be open for WNE students and they can access the area from within the Stadium. Students will enter through the entrance behind bleachers and head towards gate behind far goal post. Students should enter the hill through that gate behind goal post by showing your WNE ID.
For fans unable to attend the game, you can follow the action on your computer with play-by-play game statistics on Live Stats and watch live on WNEGoldenBears.TV, Live Video, presented by the WNE Alumni Association and University Office of Alumni Affairs.
This year, WNE will face its toughest schedule in the 32-year history of the program since it joined NCAA Division III in 1981. The revamped New England Football Conference has the Bears traveling to New London, Conn., to face the Coast Guard Academy and Maine Maritime Academy coming to Golden Bear Stadium. WNE also faces Liberty League foes Springfield and Union colleges. In all, seven of the 10 opponents this season had winning records last fall.
While Springfield, Coast Guard and Union are all new opponents on the WNE football schedule, Golden Bears head coach Keith Emery (Dickinson College '94) hopes the former will become a series fixture as the first game every year. Emery last season became the school's winningest coach during the NCAA era and owns a 45-36 record in his ninth year.
"It just makes sense", he says, "since this could turn into one of the best rivalries in the region between the Pride and Golden Bears. This season will be a great challenge...we've been getting ready for it."
The offense will set the tone early as a young defense gets their bearings. Senior co-captain John Krafick (176 of 306, 2046 yards, 14 TD) returns to lead the Golden Bear offense from the quarterback position. As a junior, Krafick set school records for pass completions, attempts and tied another benchmark for touchdown passes in his first full season as a starter. Emery is also confident with the Krafick's backups, as Tyler Ward and Kevin Peabody return with two talented freshmen looking to challenge for spots on the depth chart.
"Krafick is a poised and confident signal caller. I am excited to see how he improves from his junior campaign," says Emery. "You're only as good as your backup QB," so there will be competition among the four back-ups.
Krafick will again have the luxury of handing off to junior All-NEFC second team running back Kevin Cook in 2013. Cook battled through an early season injury in 2012 to rush for 815 yards on 187 carries with eight touchdowns. Junior Michael Ozzella added 226 yards to spell Cook. Fellow junior Alejandro Colon moves to the offensive backfield from his wing position to provide some talented depth. The role of the blocking back will be filled by a combination of Ozzella, some tight ends and an incoming freshman.
The receiver position group includes both the wings and wide receivers. Andrew Walz and Kareem Hines both return as wideouts. Walz led all receivers with 37 receptions for 463 yards and five TDs while Hines hauled in 15 catches for 207 yards and a TD in an injury-plagued season. Adam Dunne, Tucker Schumitz and Dan LaNoir all return at the wing position. The trio combined for 69 receptions, 813 yards and three touchdowns in 2012. Schumitz proved to be a dual threat by running for 139 yards and four TDs.
"We made the biggest gains in the off-season at this position, both in training and recruiting," says Emery, "so this will be a fun group to watch."
The offensive line looks to be a strength for the Golden Bears in 2013. Four starters, or significant contributors, are back up front. Andrew McManus, Gary Leroux II, Nick Vanoudenhove and Tyler Underwood are veterans who will open the running holes and protect Krafick in the pocket. Offensive coordinator Jason Lebeau will likely continue to rotate the offensive line as he has in the past. He has plenty of linemen to choose from as seniors Mike Primmer, Jake Butler, DJ Eberle, juniors Tyler Mills, Shane Mulcahy, Andrew Gatzogiannis and sophomore Nicholas Colasante all return for the Bears.
The Golden Bear defense will feature a dramatically different look with the loss of seven starters. Seniors Kevin Soule, a co-captain, and Scott Maille will hold down the run game as a brand new secondary focuses on the pass game. Soule finished with 34 tackles including 11 for loss and five sacks to earn All-NEFC honors for a second time, while Maille added 31 tackles and three for loss. Junior Myles Becker (21 tackles) will get significant playing time rotating in with the two seniors. Sophomores Sean Coverdill and Steve Melino will compete for the starting defensive end spot left vacant by three-time all-conference performer James Georges.
"Kevin and Scott are extremely athletic and play with great discipline", said Emery, who added that the rover position will likely be filled by sophomores Michael Stasiewicz or Kevin Degnan who had the lead coming out of spring drills.
Linebacker Nathan Fleming returns after his 101-tackle performance that netted him first-team All-NEFC and 2012 Eastern College Athletic Conference North Defensive Rookie of the Year accolades as a freshman. The competition is wide open to play alongside Fleming in the Golden Bears' 4-4 set. Seniors Oliver Gregan, Ryan Critelli and junior Kyle Jones have the inside track, with Jones having the most productive season in 2012 with 26 tackles and three for loss.
"Nathan is excellent at the point of attack and in pursuit", commented his position coach Brian Cain, and "we've been working on his pass defense this off-season, so he should be even better in 2013."
Junior Walter Lewis returns and moves to the zip position after a successful sophomore campaign. Lewis had 45 tackles including 4-1/2 for loss, three sacks and one interception. Junior Ryan Nolte and sophomore Blair Cook will push Lewis for playing time. The WILL position is in flux and could be filled by any combination of players, who also may figure into the safety position.
The defensive backfield will have a completely different look as all three starters graduated. Senior corner Ryan Connolly returns after missing the entire 2012 season to injury and is likely to man one of the corners position, while sophomore Adam Glynn will likely hold down the other. Look for junior Nathan Russell to challenge for playing time in addition to a few highly-skilled incoming freshmen. The safety position is up for grabs as senior Brandon Ormsby returns after missing 2012. He will compete with sophomores Kenny Strecker, Nicholas Andriani, Zac Cast and transfer Zachary Fleming for the safety and WILL positions. Freshmen again will be very competitive at both positions.
Junior Ian Kennedy will handle both kicking and punting duties to start the campaign. Kennedy finished a terrific 2012 season with 39.1 yards per punt, placing him 18th in the nation, and downing 15 punts inside the 20. Tucker Schumitz is also back to return both kicks (24.2 per attempt) and punts.
A Season Ago for Springfield
Springfield is coming off an 8-3 season that ended with a 31-8 win over Alfred University in the ECAC Division III Northeast Bowl Championship. The 2012 Pride ranked second in the nation in average rushing yards per game (340.9) and passer efficiency rating (186.5).
Leading the SC Attack
The offense will be led by sophomore quarterback Jonathan Marrero, who earned ECAC Division III North Offensive Rookie of the Year honors last season after a stellar freshman campaign where he ran for 794 yards and 10 TD's on 141 carries. Averaging a team-best 88.2 yards per game, Marrero a key reason the Pride's passer efficiency rating was so high, recording a 203.7 rating in nine games played after he took over as the team's starting quarterback in the fourth game of the season. As a whole, the Pride return six starters on the offensive side of the ball.
Pride On the Defensive
Springfield's defense will have plenty of familiar faces, as eight returners are back from last season. Headlining the group will be junior Max Nacewicz, who has brought in a number of preseason All-American awards after a dominant sophomore season at defensive end. After setting a pair of program records with 20.5 tackles-for-loss and 14.5 sacks, he finished the year tied for fifth in the country in sacks.
At the SC Helm
Mike DeLong is entering his 30th season as the coach for Springfield. His 185 career wins, 173 of which came at Springfield, ranks him second among all active Division III football coaches.