GAME #1 PREVIEW -- Bears Open Season at St. Lawrence

GAME #1 PREVIEW -- Bears Open Season at St. Lawrence



ON THE AIR: The game will be aired live on WXLM-980 AM. There is both and audio and video stream available for the season opener. Those links can be found at on the football schedule page.

THE SERIES: St. Lawrence leads 2-0.

LAST MEETING: St. Lawrence beat Coast Guard 21-7 in 2005 as the Saints built a 21-0 lead and won the Liberty League game in Canton, N.Y.

GEORGE MOVES TOWARD THE TOP SPOT: Coast Guard head coach Bill George enters the 2013 season with 46 career wins as head coach at the Academy just two shy of John Merriman's 48 wins which are the most in program history. Merriman was the coach from (1930-1945) and the Gymnasium is named is his honor. Last season, George passed NFL Hall of Famer and former Director of Athletics and head football coach Otto Graham, who had 43 wins in his two stints as head coach (1959-'65 and 1974-'75). Coach George led the Bears to a pair of NEFC Bogan Division championships in 2006 and 2007.

BREAK 'EM UP: The New England Football Conference (NEFC) has a new look in the 2013 season as the 16-team, two division format from the past no longer exists. Eight teams left to form the MASCAC football conferencve while the eight remaining teams will make up the new NEFC. Those teams are Coast Guard and Maine Maritime from the old Bogan Division and Curry, Endicott, MIT, Nichols, Salve Regina and Western New England from the NEFC Boyd Division. There is no longer and NEFC Championship game as the winner of the regular season will earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Playoffs.

BEARS PICKED SIXTH IN NEFC: Coast Guard was picked sixth in the 2013 NEFC Preseason Coaches Poll. Endicott were picked first earning four of the eight first place foves and 59 of the possible 64 points. Salve Regina garnered the other three first place votes while MIT also received a first place vote.

1-Endicott College--59 points (4)
2-Salve Regina University--53 points (3)
3t-Curry College--43 points
3t-Western New England University--43 points
5-MIT--34 points (1)
6-COAST GUARD--28 points
7t-Maine Maritime Academy--14 points
7t-Nichols College--14 points

(first place votes in parenthesis)

FOR OPENERS: Coast Guard opens the 2013 season against a team other than the Merchant Marine Academy for the first time since 2005 when the Bears beat Mass. Maritime 27-0. Coast Guard has played its previous seven openers against Merchant Marine in the annual battle for the Secretaries' Cup going 2-5 in those games. The win over Mass. Maritime in 2005 is the last time Coast Guard opened the season with a win on the road.

A LOOK BACK ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF 1963 TEAM: In 1963 NFL Hall of Famer Otto Graham led the Coast Guard Bears to the only undefeated and untied regular season in school history and the team earned a berth in the Tangerine Bowl.

Each week, we will look back at a game in the historical season. This week, we revisit the season opener. Coast Guard won a thriller beating Drexel 3-0 in Philadelphia as Cecil (Golden Toe) Allison kicked a 15-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to give the Bears the win in the season opener for both teams.

Allison missed pair of field goals earlier in the game from 25 and 15 yards. Drexel appeared to take a 3-0 with four minutes left in the third quarter, but Coast Guard was offsides and Drexel took the points off the board and the first down. The Coast Guard defense however took over on downs as the game remained scoreless. Drexel also missed a pair of field goals in the loss.

Coast Guard finished with 199 rushing yards led by Joe Maka's 14 carries and 158 yards.

SCOUTING COAST GUARD: The Bears will make a 700 mile round trip journey to Canton, New York to open the 2013 season.

Coast Guard is coming off its first winning season since 2007 as the Bears finished 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division last season. The Bears must however replace a large graduating class that featured seven All-division selections. Coast Guard returns just seven starters, four on offense, three on defense along with sophomore All-division selection Tyler Henning, who will handle both the kicking and punting for the second straight season.

The 2013 schedule will feature seven different opponents from last year as the New England Football Conference (NEFC) will have new look this season as the 16-team, two division conference now consists of eight teams, Curry, Endicott, Maine Maritime, MIT, Nichols, Salve Regina, Western New England and Coast Guard. The other eight teams left to form the MASCAC football conference.

Coast Guard will play a ten game schedule for the first time since 2000, with the shift in the NEFC format with no conference championship game, the Bears will open with three straight non-conference games before opening NEFC play on Sept. 28th at home against Nichols.

Senior co-captain Mike Vitrano was supposed to return at right guard as the back bone of the Bears offensive line and start for the fourth straight season as the team's only returning starting offensive lineman from last year's team. However, he is on the injured list and could be lost for some time, possibly the season.

The Bears also must replace record setting quarterback Jon Resch and four players, all with very little college football experience, will compete for the starting job. Junior Blake Thompson, who makes the move from wide receiver, has won the starting job and will be under center on opening day.

Junior Collis Brown, who led the team with 53 receptions for 538 yards to go with four touchdowns last season, is back to lead the Bears receivers. Seniors Nick Fredericksen, who had 16 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown last season played well in 2012 and along with classmate Alex Oswald (5 receptions, 33 yards) will look to have bigger roles this season.

The Bears do have a talented duo in the backfield in senior Tyler Hames and junior Jake Wawrzyniak, who were the top two rushers on the team last year. Wawrzyniak led the team with 127 carries for 516 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching 27 passes for 175 yards. Hames, who missed most of the season with an injury last season, had 35 carries for 186 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior defensive end Aaron Black (55 tackles, 37 solo), who led the team with four sacks and ten tackles for loss last season, returns to anchor the defensive line while classmate Joel Wyman (25 tackles, 20 solo).

Senior co-captain Nick Phillips, who missed most of last season with an injury, is back at inside linebacker and will be joined by returning starter junior Victor Rizzardi (38 tackles, 24 solo) at outside linebacker and sophomore inside linebacker Kyle Wood (32 tackles, 23 solo), who played very well in a limited role a year ago and will start this season.

Senior Evan Rothfeld (32 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries), a second team All-Bogan Division selection last season, is back at free safety. He will be surrounded by several new faces in the Bears secondary this season.

Henning, who was a perfect 39-for-39 on extra points last season and made six of 11 field goals, including a 27-yarder to beat Worcester State in overtime last season will handle both the kicking and punting duties after averaging 32.8 yards per punt a year ago.

Oswald, who led the team in both punt returns and kick returns last season is back along with sophomore James Rizzo (10 kickoff returns for 217 yards) and Wawrzyniak (8 kickoff returns for 139 yards) to give the Bears plenty of options on special teams. Oswald returned 14 kickoffs for 231 yards (16.5 avg.) while also having eight punt returns for 128 yards (16.0 avg.).

SCOUTING ST. LAWRENCE: The Saints will be out to snap a 10-game losing skid to open the 2013 season.

The Saints, coming off a tough winless campaign in 2012, are a very young team with 50 newcomers this fall. The defense will start only three returners from last season, including senior linebacker Andrew Cox and sophomore cornerbacks Rajiv Heron and Leondre Simmon. Evan Lapice is a transfer student who will help the secondary at safety alongside rookie James Holly-Grisham, while freshman Alec Dietsch is slated to start at linebacker along with returner Obi Nwaigwe and converted corner Connor O'Brien.  None of the six defensive lineman listed on the two-deep have ever started a game in their collegiate careers.

Meanwhile, the offense will be directed by transfer quarterback Mike Lefflbine, who is set to become the ninth different quarterback to start for the Saints in the last nine seasons (2005-2013).  Lefflbine joined St. Lawrence as a transfer student during the spring semester from Sacred Heart University.

The offensive unit also returns a 1-2 punch out of the backfield in power-runner Jake Gnieser and speedster Maurice Irby, as well as standout wide receiver Mike Tateosian, who set a University single-season record last year with 62 catches. The wide receiver position is one of the deepest on the Saints' roster, with Colby Johnson, Evan Shifley and Miles Crump also providing burst on the perimeter.  Nik Busharis moves from his role at back-up quarterback and is expected to use his 6'3, 200 lb frame at tight end this fall, while All-Conference honoree Ryan Schmidt anchors an offensive line that will start four newcomers in the opener.

UP NEXT: Coast Guard will take on archrival Merchant Marine at Kings Point, N.Y. in the annual battle for the Secetaries Cup on Sept. 14th with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m.

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