Thursday, September 1, 2016


12022WILKES-BARRE — The King' College football team will open the 2016 season Saturday when the Monarchs travel to Bethlehem to face Centennial Conference contender Moravian College in a 1:00 PM non-conference matchup at Rocco Calvo Field.

Ticket prices are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, while children under age-five are free.

Fans can follow the game via LiveStats at:

This will be the 15th all-time matchup between the programs with each team holding seven wins.  Moravian, a one-time member of the Middle Atlantic Conference, left the MAC to join the Centennial Conference following the 2006 season. This is the third meeting since the teams resumed playing with the Greyhounds winning both games in 2014 (33-14) and 2015 (21-17).

King's is looking to improve on its 3-7 record of a year ago and will also attempt to avenge last year's home loss to the Greyhounds in the season opener. In that game King's held a 17-14 lead but allowed Moravian to drive 77 yards and push across the winning touchdown with just 0:51 remaining in the contest. Moravian would eventually go on to finish the year with an 8-3 record. The narrow loss proved to be a sign of things to come as the Monarchs dropped four of their seven games by a touchdown or less.

Offensively, King's will be led by junior quarterback Zach Whitehead who inherits the job from graduated starter Tom Hehre. Last season Whitehead played in seven games and made one start, completing 37-of-69 passes for 4-5 yards. Whitehead tossed three touchdowns with six interceptions. Whitehead also possesses the athletic ability to pose a threat on his feet.

The Monarch signal-caller will have a solid crop of receivers to throw to. Heading the list is senior wide receiver Mike Palmer. A year ago, Palmer earned second-team All-Middle Atlantic Conference honors after posting a team-high 54 catches for 631 yards and six scores. Junior Matt Demarco also returns after making 45 catches for 501 yards with two touchdowns. Junior Marquis Miler added 28 receptions for 217 yards and two scores while fellow junior Tyler Marronni contributed 14 catches for 163 yards.


King's running game is a bit untested as senior Zack Funk is the lone backfield returnee with playing experience. A year ago Funk played in all 10 games in a two-back rotation and had 67 carries for 312 yards and three touchdowns.  Freshman Alvonte Thompsonbrings promise as the back-up while senior Avery Simmons, who missed all last season with a pre-season knee injury, is also back and adds depth,

King's offensive line will feature a pair of returning starters as seniorJake Dever and junior team co-captain Ron Ippolite are back at left tackle and center respectively. Senior guard David Hicks played in five games with two starts last season while sophomore tackle Nathan Schoeck and freshman guard Brian Olesen will make their first collegiate starts. Senior guard Andrew Zub will also figure into the mix.

Defensively, King's will rely on experience at linebacker and in the secondary to back-up a young defensive line.

The unit will be led by senior linebacker Bobby Russell, a two-time All-MAC selection, who led the team with 85 tackles (58 solo) with 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Junior outside linebacker Hassan Maxwell is also back after posting 32 tackles while sophomore inside linebacker Bruce Damon played in eight games and made 23 tackles in 2015. Senior Brandon Gonzalez will make his first career start at outside linebacker for the Monarchs.

In the secondary, King's is headed by fifth-year senior cornerback and team co-captain Tyler Mejasc, along with junior safety Jake Manetti. Last season Mejasic made 22 tackles and posted a team-high three interceptions. Manetti, meanwhile, was fourth on the team with 46 tackles and picked off two passes.  They will be joined by junior safety Ryan Minlionoca who played in seven games a year ago while making six stops. Freshman cornerback Eli Vascos will debut at the other cornerback position.

Up front, the Monarchs return just one starter. Senior nose-guardBryan Hicks started all 10 games and made five tackles. Junior defensive end Jacoby Foresman was solid a year ago rotating into the game at defensive end. Forseman played in all 10 games and made 21 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Sophomore Chris DeGaetano will start at the other end position and registered 18 tackles with two tackles for loss as a reserve playing in 10 games.

King's kicking game appears sound with the return of junior place-kicker Mikhail Kniaziewicz and senior punter Eric Haenggi.  Kniaziewicz has made 42-of-43 extra-point kicks the past two season while going 12-of-22 in field goal attempts. Haenggi enters his fourth year as the team's starter and has a 34.5 career average. But more important, he has forced 41 fair catches and placed 31 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Moravian, meanwhile, returns 13 positional starters – eight on offense and five on defense – from a squad that placed second in the Centennial Conference and played in the inaugural MAC-CC Bowl Series.

691The Greyhounds are paced by returning senior quarterback Mike Hayes who completed 186-of-311 passes for 2,217 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Moravian is also led by a pair of returning All-Centenial Conference selections in senior running back Chris Negron  and senior wide receiver Jalen Snyder-Scipio. Last year Negron rushed for 1,425 yards with 15 touchdowns and added 27 catches out of the backfield for 248 yards and another score. Scipio, meanwhile, added a team-high 46 receptions for 487 yards and four touchdowns. Senior wide-out Liam Nolan was second on the team with 33 catches for 436 yards and two scores while junior Justice Anderson tallied 32 receptions for 441 yards with three touchdowns.

Defensively, Moravian returns five starters and are led by senior linebacker Steve Ewald who was second on the team with 73 tackles, 9.5 tackles fro loss, and 5.0 sacks a year ago. Sophomore linebacker Owen Perih added 44 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception while senior defensive back Noah Miller contributed 42 tackles with an interception. Senior lineman John Snyder registered 41 tackles with 10.0 tackles for loss while sophomore Nick Zambelli chipped in with 37 tackles, five pass-breaks, and an interception.

Next Week:
King's will play its second consecutive game on the road when the Monarchs open their 2016 MAC schedule at Lycoming College in Williamsport. Kickoff is at 1:00 PM at David Person Field.

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