Courtesy of the Worcester State University athletic department, here’s the football team’s season preview:
A veteran crew looks to take the field in 2013 as the Worcester State Lancers try to contend for this year’s Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference title.
“We are looking pretty good on both sides of the ball,” said 31st year head coach Brien Cullen ‘77 (156-120). “If we stay healthy, we should be competitive.”
Battling for the open quarterback position left vacant by All-New England Football Conference signal caller Corey Spencer will be junior Kevin Bumpus (Bridgewater, MA) and third-year transfer Pat Viencik (Bernardston, MA).
Bumpus, who transferred in from Assumption last season, passed for 1,220 yards and rushed for 230 yards in eight games during the 2011 campaign for the Greyhounds as the Worcester Area Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Vinecek tossed for 2,009 yards and 14 touchdowns in nine games as the primary quarterback at Nichols in 2012.
At receiver, the group returns a talented cast that includes senior AJ Scerra (Marlboro, MA) along with junior classmates Dana Barry (Hudson, MA), Jack Sprague (Maynard, MA) and Josh Fortin (Danielson, CT).
Scerra, who was tabbed with D3football.com All-Northeast Region accolades, hauled in a school-record 85 receptions to go with 958 yards and eight scores last season. Scerra is just 21 catches, 1,200 yards and five touchdowns away from setting all-time Worcester State records.
Junior Casey Hippert (Douglas, MA) provides the offense with another solid moving target from the tight-end position as he has 47 catches for 779 yards and eight TDs in his first two campaigns since matriculating from Sacred Heart.
Third-year Mike Dance (Rocky Hill, CT) and sophomore DaShawn Taylor (Ayer, MA) return to anchor the running game while sophomore transfer Matt Lezama (Milton, MA) provides some depth for the Lancers at the position. Dance and Taylor combined to rush for 521 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.
The Blue and Gold bring back a deep offensive line that includes senior teammates Kyle Morris (Walpole, MA), Mac Hanlon (Littleton, MA) and Tim Laramee (Shrewsbury, MA).
Newcomers to the squad’s primary blocking unit include sophomore transfer Zach Pappas (Worcester, MA/St. Peter-Marian) who started seven games at Framingham State and first-year Cody Curelop (Mansfield, MA).
Junior Bryan Narcisse (Medway, MA) underscores eight returning starters on defense for the Lancers.
Narcisse, who was honored with D3football.com All-Northeast Region laurels as a defensive end, registered 67 tackles – 18.5 of which were for a loss – including 6.5 sacks for 61 yards and two forced fumbles.
Third-year Zach Skerry (Milford, MA) lines up on the other side of Narcisse and at the nose, sophomore Conor Sayles (Hopedale, MA) receives the nod.
Junior Kevin Coonan (Worcester, MA/Burncoat) reinforces the core up front for the Blue and Gold.
At linebacker, seniors Matt Begley (E. Bridgewater, MA) and Adam Straughn (Rockland, MA) return to plug up the holes up the middle.
Begley, an All-NEFC pick, led the team with 70 tackles (51 solo) and he did a little bit of everything with a trio of interceptions, three sacks and four pass break-ups. Straughn tries to pick up from where he left off last year as he notched 57 stops (39 solo), 6.5 tackles for a loss and four blocked kicks.
On the outside, senior Nick Doria (Watertown, MA), junior Justin Pennellatore (Mansfield, MA) and sophomore Zach Arsenault (Lancaster, MA) adds a solid presence to the Lancer pass rush.
Second-year teammates Bryan Gencarelli (Waterford, CT) and Samie Jean (Malden, MA) provide a veteran presence in the secondary. Also, look for junior Mike Goulden (Rehoboth, MA) and freshman Markiesh Harmon (Leominster, MA) to break-up passes at cornerback.
Scerra will handle a bulk of the return specialist duties while senior Alex Blakeslee (Shrewsbury, MA) comes back to take over the punting and kicking for the squad. Blakeslee booted 33.8 yards per punt to go with eight touchbacks.
Worcester State plays their 2013 campaign in the newly formed MASCAC after competing for 26 years in the NEFC.
The Blue and Gold kick off the season with Anna Maria on September 7 on the road and WPI on September 13 at home before they begin league play with NCAA Division III Tournament participant Bridgewater State under the lights of Swenson Field on September 20 in Bridgewater.
The Lancers then take on Mass Maritime on September 28 at home before the bye week. After a pair of road games at Fitchburg State (October 12) and UMass Dartmouth (October 19), the Blue and Gold face off against Western Connecticut for the first-time on October 21 in their annual homecoming game.
WSU heads to New Hampshire to start off the next month with Plymouth State on November 2 followed by Westfield State (November 9) and NEFC Champion Framingham State (November 16) in the friendly confines of Coughlin Field.