Worcester State Football Preview

By NoontimeSports.com 

Worcester State University’s Steve Miller Jr., the Sports Information Director, provided a release of the upcoming Lancers football season on Friday, which we have provided below:

WORCESTER, MA – Building off of last year’s 8-3 record and ECAC Division III Northeast Bowl appearance, the 2012 Worcester State Lancers look to be in the mix once again for this year’s New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown.

“We have a lot of new faces, we are coming off a very good spring and a lot of the players on the roster who have been waiting in the wings are going to get chances to step in and play for us this season,” said 30th year head coach Brien Cullen ’77 (150-116).

The offense will be propelled by senior signal caller Corey Spencer (Malden, MA), who was the primary backup to All-NEFC quarterback Tony Tokarz in each of the last two seasons, Spencer has thrown for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, Spencer came off the bench and helped lead WSU to a 42-40 triple overtime triumph over Westfield State with a throwing score and the game-winning two-point conversion toss.

Spencer, who will be backed up by 2011 Worcester Area Offensive Rookie of the Year Kevin Bumpas (Bridgewater, MA), who transfers in from Assumption. In a stellar first-year campaign, Bumpas had 1,220 yards in the air and 230 on the ground with five passing touchdowns.

In the mix at running back to replace two-time All-NEFC halfback Marcus Price, who rushed for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, will be sophomore classmates Kemani Jones (Milton, MA), Michael Dance (Rocky Hill, CT), Stephen Payen (Claremont, FL) and Colby Brochu (Northbridge, MA).

A talented and deep group of wide receivers returns to help anchor the squad’s offense. Just halfway to becoming the all-time leading touchdown reception leader, All-NEFC junior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) comes off a breakout campaign that saw him haul in 43 passes for 635 yards and 10 TDs.

Senior Justin DeAndrade (E. Bridgewater, MA) and sophomore Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) should also see some passes thrown in their direction. Look for first-year newcomers Nick Riley, Mike Turpak (Marlboro, MA) and EJ Yearwood to make an impact in the receiving game.

Second-year All-NEFC tight end Casey Hibbert (Northbridge, MA) figures to be a big part of the passing game along with classmate Parris Nathan (Randolph, MA). In addition to providing a solid blocking presence for the conferences third-highest rushing attack (202.6 YPG), Hibbert caught 19 passes for 329 yards to go with a pair of scores.

Juniors Kyle Morris (Foxboro, MA) and Matt Popino (Metuchen, NJ) and sophomore teammates Dakota Cullen (Mansfield, MA), Mac Hanlon (Littleton, MA) and Tim Laramee (Shrewsbury, MA) all come back with another year of experience to help anchor the offensive line.

The defensive line returns five solid starters that should give opposing coaches headaches during the course of the season. 2010 All-NEFC honoree, senior Joe Sweet (Walpole, MA) comes back from a season-ending injury while junior Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA) looks to build on his stellar campaign that saw him record 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss. Narcisse’s totals were both second on the squad in 2011.

WSU also brings back sophomore Tyler Asam (Milford, MA)– the reigning NEFC Bogan Division Defensive Rookie of the Year – who finished with 11 tackles for a loss that included a trio of sacks. Second-year classmates Matt Intrieri (Westerly, RI) and Zach Skerry (Milford, MA) round out the core up front for the Blue and Gold.

At linebacker, juniors Matt Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) and Nick Doria (Watertown, MA) along with sophomore Brian Orlando (Westboro, MA) should step right in to shore up the unit defensively.    

With 11 career interceptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns in 27 games, senior Graham Asum (Marlboro, MA) returns as the squad’s shutdown corner while junior Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) and sophomore Sean Hanley (Wilmington, MA) will provide some depth in the secondary. Junior Adam Scerra (Marlboro, MA) comes in from Assumption also joins the cast in the backfield.

On special teams, junior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA) will return to handle the punting duties, third-year Derek Muccini (Upton, MA)comes back to take care of the placekicking and sophomore Richie Dube (Shrewsbury, MA) will assist on returns.

Dube, who was an all-NEFC return man and a Beyond-Sports Preseason All-American selection, had 23 punt returns for a school-record 331 yards with one touchdown.  Dube also led all Division III New England schools with 14.4 yards per return.

Scerra and Asum will also see some time handling kickoff returns.  Asum is just 575 yards away from resetting the all-time career kickoff yardage mark with 1,046 yards to his credit including three returns for scores.

The Lancers non-conference schedule starts off with a home game against Anna Maria on Friday, Aug. 31 before the squad heads across town to face off against city-rival WPI for a Sept. 8 tango. After traveling to NEFC Champion Western New England on Sep. 15, the Blue and Gold host Westfield State to open Bogan Division play on Sept. 22.

A pair of road contests against Maine Maritime (Sept. 29) and Bridgewater State (Oct. 13) sandwich a home rematch with Mass Maritime on Oct. 6, who handed WSU one of their three setbacks in 2011. After Worcester State hosts Coast Guard on Oct. 20, the Lancers entertain Fitchburg State on Oct. 27 in their annual homecoming contest.

The final game on the slate is a November 3 matchup against division champion Framingham State. Last season the Lancers capped off their sensational campaign with Coach Cullen’s 150th career win against the Rams.

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