Friday, August 26, 2016

Wilkes Football - 2016 Colonels Preview: Find a Way

EDWARDSVILLE – The Wilkes University football team has been hard at work preparing for the 2016 season. The Colonels will have an opportunity to put their work to the test on Friday, September 2 when Wilkes opens its 2016 campaign with a 7:00 p.m. home non-conference matchup against traditional power Muhlenberg College. It will mark the second straight season Wilkes opens its schedule with a night game.

Wilkes will look to get back on the winning track under third-year head coach Trey Brown. Last season saw the Colonels take a step forward in the process of transitioning to coach Brown’s new style of offense and defense as Wilkes posted one of the biggest wins under the third-year mentor with a 12-7 victory at home against nationally ranked Delaware Valley University in week two. “The motto of this year’s squad is to find a way,” Brown said. “We had a lot of football games last year where we were right there either tied or in front heading to the fourth quarter and we need to find a way to make the big play to get us over the hump.” With 16 starters returning, including all of its top skilled players on offense and several key impact players on defense, Wilkes will look to make a push up the standings in the Middle Atlantic Conference in 2016.

Wilkes performed well in its annual scrimmage against Susquehanna University this past week, which will hopefully prepare the Colonels for a Muhlenberg squad which posted a 35-7 victory over Wilkes in the 2015 season opener in Allentown, Pa.

Below is an in-depth look at the squad, position-by-position heading into the final week before the regular season begins.


Wilkes will continue to implement and perfect Brown’s high-octane style of offense which began to show again last season through the air when the Colonels ranked third in the MAC in passing offense (252.3 yards per-game).

The passing game will be the key to the Colonels big-play gains, but Brown is looking to feature the run game more in 2016. “We need to be more balanced on offense,” Brown said. “Running the football for first downs and moving the chains through the ground game takes pressure off our quarterback as well as our defense.” With the offensive line getting bigger and strong through recruiting and the weight room, the run game should take a big step forward helping to provide a well balanced offense for Wilkes this season.

Third-year starter senior Ryan Dailey returns under center to lead the Wilkes offense. After barely playing as a freshman, Dailey emerged as the starter as a sophomore and continued to grow during his junior season under Brown’s tutelage. Now with over 20 starts in his career, Dailey is poised to have the best season of his career. He led the entire MAC in almost every statistical category including completions (258), attempts (423), yards (2,509), and average (250.9). He threw 12 touchdown passes over the ten games including four games of two or more throwing scores. Entering his senior season, Dailey stands fourth on the all-time passing list with 4,688 yards, trailing Neil Rine who totaled 6,094 yards in third place on the list. “Ryan has been pushed this preseason camp and it has really helped him grow both mentally and physically making the right reads and throws on a snap-by-snap basis,” Brown noted.

Three other signal callers have pushed Dailey and add depth to the position. Sophomore Giuseppe Durso has a season under his belt running the Wilkes offense while freshmen Jose Tabora and Nick Candarella round out the quarterback group in camp. Tabora is a highly-skilled athlete, with a dual threat ability to pass or run who comes from renowned St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey.

Wilkes continues to reload with talented running backs and this year proves no different as the position is one of the deepest on the offense. Junior Jacob Brook and sophomore Devin Fink return as the leaders in the backfield in 2016. After losing last season’s starter, Brook and Fink will spearhead a deep and talented group of runners combining for 178 yards and two touchdowns last year. Both are equally as dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield in Wilkes’ short passing screen game.

Junior Brandon Latierno is the leading returner after totaling 208 yards on 61 carries and two touchdowns last season. Jacob Kadis should receive some carries in his sophomore campaign along with senior Paul Martin who has been in and out of the lineup with injuries throughout his career.

Freshman Shane Deemer is a newcomer who has impressed throughout camp and will add even more depth to the position. At fullback senior Austin Quiroz, sophomore Chris Thomas and freshman Niko Cinquegrani will all get snaps paving the way for the Colonels running game.

The deepest and arguably most talented position on the offense, the receiving core returns all of the players who recorded significant time on the field. All-MAC receiver senior William Deemer again leads the group after catching 54 passes for 602 yards and two scores last season. Joining Deemer is junior Aaron Coyne who posted 41 receptions for 489 yards and a team-high five scores.

Junior Ryan Richards, sophomore Zach Bogoly and sophomore Kyle Gattuso are also all back to add depth to the long list of Colonel weapons on the outside. Richards finished with 32 catches for 268 yards while Bogoly grabbed 16 receptions for 213 yards. Other returning players vying for time include junior Aidan Brosious, senior Jared Novitski, senior Nick Brady, junior Glenn Weist and senior Kevin Russoniello. Division II transfer sophomore Jeff Steeber and freshman Greg Albertson are two newcomers who will look to make an impact in year one for Wilkes.

Wilkes returns All-MAC tight end junior Garret Armstrong who again should be a vital part in the Colonels high-powered aerial attack this season. Armstrong posted 35 receptions for 334 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. Senior Joe Irving and newcomers Justin Deihm, Erik Skrincosky and Cinquegrani will provide even more depth both in the passing game and blocking from the tight end position.

Although young, the offensive line became much bigger and strong over the offseason both by recruiting and the weight room. Stalwart senior center Ryan Dupre will again lead the line paving the wave for the run game while keeping Dailey upright in the pocket. Junior All-MAC selection Ryan Bowman is back at guard along with sophomore Anthony Marcincavage who transitions from the defensive to offensive line. A pair of freshmen will cover the ends of the line at tackle as JaVon Drakeford and Michael Osayi will use their size and athletic ability early in their Wilkes careers protecting the quarterback.

Returners who will see plenty of time keeping the line fresh throughout the game include sophomore Matthew Helwig, sophomore Anthony Dex and junior Nicholas Rhinesmith. Freshmen Zach Roediger, Jonathan Bender, William Nieves, Shamil Roberts, Deontae Moore, Benjamin Mandell, Tim Peterson, Brandyne Tynes and Corey Lewis will all vie for time on the line as well.

The defense will continue its multiple look scheme under defensive coordinator Cole Glennon and will look to pick up the pressure to cause havoc for opposing offenses in 2016. With its multiple blitz packages and changing coverages, the Colonel defense has both the steady power of depth up front to stop the run game and experienced middle and back lines to protect against big plays. “Using different blitz packages and coverages, our defense will continue to be aggressive thanks to the depth and talent we have on that side of the ball,” Brown explained.

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. Senior Dominick Ammirato is back to anchor the middle of the line after finishing with 43 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season. “Dom has been the heart and soul of our defense up front and should expect another solid season from him this year,” Brown said. He’s joined by three-year starter senior Michael Fitz on the edge who recorded 26 tackles and 3.0 sacks a season ago. Sophomore Jones Mensah is also back to play the other end position after a limited role on the line last year as well as senior David Bernhart, junior Richmond Owusua and sophomore Joseph Gagliotti.

A large group of newcomers with size and ability will add much needed depth to keep players fresh on the line including Vinnie Werner, Brendan Riley and Dane Tarantelli.

Another talented position on the defense, Wilkes returns two of its three starters from last season. All-MAC performer senior Tanner Stengel is back for his senior season after leading the MAC in tackles the past two years. He finished with 129 total tackles including 15.0 tackles-for-loss and a team-best 4.5 sacks as the do-everything linebacker for the Colonels. “Tanner is bigger and stronger than he was last season and will continue to provide the leadership we need for our defense,” Brown stated.

Joining Stengel is returning starter sophomore Jordan Stiles who posted 43 tackles and an interception for a touchdown last season. Sophomore Lukas Wood returns and will most likely move into a starting role after finishing with 31 tackles as a reserve last season.

Other players who will vie for time in the middle level of the Wilkes defense include sophomore Michael Murphy, senior Bobby Nye, freshman Chris DeFrancesco, senior Ethan Lonstein, and freshmen Bud Moyer, Gabe Allgyer and Adam Lounsberry.

The secondary may not be the deepest bunch, but where it lacks numbers it makes up in experience. All-MAC safety Isaiah Robinson returns to pace the secondary after posting 75 tackles and two pass break ups in 2015. He is joined at safety by sophomore Michael Legg who is in his second season on the back line.

The corners are well experienced also as seniors Ondre Roberts and Marcellus Hayes return to shore up the outside. Roberts finished with 22 tackles and three pass breakups while Hayes transitioned from offense to defensive back last season and excelled thanks to his size and speed.

Wilkes graduated it punter and kicker from a season ago so the job has been up for grabs entering camp. Freshman Mike Hauk will assume the kicking duties with Nye serving as the punter in 2016.

- Wilkes will play at the friendly confines of Schmidt Stadium more than on the road this season with just one away contest in October and one in November (four road games total).

- Homecoming is set for Saturday, October 1 at 1:00 p.m. against FDU-Florham. Senior Day will take place during the final home game of the year against King’s on November 12 at 12:00 p.m.

- The annual Mayor's Cup game against cross-town rival King's is scheduled for the season finale Saturday, November 12 at Schmidt Stadium.

- ESPN Williamsport (1050 AM, 104.1 FM), now in its seventh year partnering with Wilkes, will be the official voice of Colonel Football over the radio at all home and away contests.

Other Williamsport OnLine Websites