Wilkes enters the year ranked 13th in the Street & Smith Division III Pre-Season Top-25 Poll. They are also ranked 15th in the d3football.com Top-25 Poll.
William Paterson will be looking to bounce back from a tough 2006 campaign. The Pioneers went just 1-9 overall and 1-6 in New Jersey Athletic Conference action. One of William Paterson’s losses was a 31-3 defeat at the hands of Wilkes in the season opener for both sides.
The Colonels return seven starters on the offensive side of the ball, including first team All-MAC and All-ECAC quarterback Al Karaffa. Karaffa, a senior, threw for 1,966 yards and 17 touchdowns during his junior campaign to help Wilkes average 339.7 yards in total offense and a conference-leading 26.2 points per game. Sophomore Drew Letcavage, who will move from running back to tight end this season, is the team’s top returning receiver after hauling in 15 passes as a rookie.
The Wilkes ground attack will have to replace graduated senior Tom Andreopoulos, who rushed for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. However, the Colonels do return their top two fullbacks in seniors Ryan Gallagher, who was a second team All-MAC selection in 2006, and Paul Signora. They also welcome back four starters on the offensive line, including second team All-American senior Jordan Purdy.
The Wilkes defense will have to replace seven starters from last season’s unit that ranked among the nation’s best. The Colonels surrendered a mere 205.6 yards per game, including only 61 yards per game on the ground, and 8.7 points per game to lead the MAC in all three categories.
Two-time All-American Kyle Follweiler is back for his senior season after leading the Colonels in tackle during each of his first three campaigns. Follweiler, a three-time first team All-MAC selection, is a two-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year and was named the ECAC Defensive Player of the Year a season ago after racking up 102 tackles.
Seniors Jason Acquaye and Erik VanGilst are returning starters on the defensive line. Acquaye, who had 45 tackles and eight sacks, was selected to the All-MAC first team as a junior. VanGilst contributed 19 tackles, 12 of those coming behind the line of scrimmage, and 4.5 sacks in his first season as a starter.
The Colonels secondary, which registered 19
interceptions last year, has just one returning starter in sophomore Corey
William Paterson returns seven starters from an offense that averaged 209 yards in total offense and 15.9 points per game in 2006. Senior wide receiver Kareen Moon and junior running back Mike Vicci headline the list of returnees for the Pioneers. Moon was a first team All-NJAC selection after snagging 35 passes for 621 yards and five touchdowns. Vicci rushed for 331 yards and four touchdowns and caught a team-leading 38 passes for 200 yards on his way to garnering honorable mention All-NJAC honors.
Defensively, William Paterson allowed 363.1 yards in total offense and 28.5 points per game. The Pioneers surrendered 167.7 yards per game on the ground and 195.4 yards per game through the air, while forcing 24 turnovers in only 10 games.
Junior defensive back Harold Green was the team’s leading tackler last season on his way to earning a berth on the All-NJAC second team. Green finished the season with 80 tackles, four sacks, five interceptions and one fumble recovery. He also forced one fumble and was credited with one blocked kick.
The Pioneers also have a weapon in senior kicker/punter Ricky Krautman. Krautman was an honorable mention All-NJAC selection last season after averaging36.8 yards per punt and leading William Paterson with 39 points. Krautman connected on 7-of-14 field goal attempts and was successful on 18-of-19 extra point tries.
Wilkes will return home next Saturday when