Last updated: September 06. 2013 1:35AM - 106 Views
By DAVE ROSENGRANT drosengrant@timesleader.com

Quarterback Tyler Bernsten is the Colonels' leading returning passer headed into Saturday's opener against Morrisville State.
Quarterback Tyler Bernsten is the Colonels' leading returning passer headed into Saturday's opener against Morrisville State.
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If you look at last year’s records, it appears that Wilkes should have no problem in Saturday’s season-opening game against Morrisville State.

Wilkes won five games a year ago, while the Mustangs won just once. The Colonels averaged 21.3 points per game, while Morrisville posted a weak 11.7. The list can go on with stats that favor Wilkes. But somehow the team struggled against this week’s opponent in last season’s opener winning by just two points and not finding the end zone, settling for three field goals.

Plus the Colonels are facing another obstacle as the Mustangs changed coaches in the offseason to former Utica coach Curt Fitzpatrick.

“There was a lot of uncertainty last year when we played Morrisville we didn’t know anything about them,” Colonels coach Frank Sheptock said. “Then you play them and get a sense of what they are physically then they make a coaching change in the summer so we’re back to the uncertainty part.”

The Colonels’ offensive struggles in that game a year ago didn’t seem so far away at the end of last season when they put up 44 points in a win over King’s. Sheptock is hoping that consistency remains not only this week, but for the entire season. But he also pointed to a recent scrimmage for reference of how the unit has been performing so far. And the exhibition showed the team still is making small mistakes such as penalties, which was a detriment to the squad last season racking up 775 yards in penalties. Turnovers were also an issue last season as the Colonels turned the ball over 18 times in the 10 games.

“We need to be more efficient in certain areas because we have opportunities but we’re still doing some things that will hurt you in first games,” he said.”We need to clean those things up to be more efficient. Whenever we’re standing in our own way (we’re) making things harder than it needs to be. We’ve definitely struggled from that standpoint offensively.”

Morrisville St. at Wilkes

When: Noon Saturday at Schmidt Stadium, Edwardsville

Last year’s records: Wilkes 5-5; Morrisville St. 1-9

Last meeting: Wilkes won last year’s matchup, 9-7

Wilkes player to watch: New tight end Alex George, who is a converted quarterback. Sheptock said the senior will see plenty of snaps. He could be a huge weapon due to his 6- foot-2, 221-pound frame.

Morrisville St. player to watch: Senior offensive lineman Nate Ryan is a preseason All-American selection. If the 6-1, 275-pounder can help contain the Wilkes rush, the score will be very close.

Colonel’s 2012 returning team leaders: RB Pat Inguilli 619 yards, 6 TD; QB Tyler Bernsten 917 yards, 6 TD, 6 int; WR Jon Conklin 18 rec, 294 yards, 2 TD; DB Marcus Leaf 4 int, 1 TD; LB Tate Moore-Jacobs 105 tackles, 2 int; DL Jason Ugwu 42 tackles, 6 sacks

Mustangs 2012 returning team leaders: WR Robert Clarke 25 rec, 311 yards, 2 TD; DB Travis French 3 sacks; DB Jeremy Stewart 1 int; DT David Williams 19 tackles, 2 sacks

Wilkes will win if: The offense can maintain the consistency it did at the of the last season when it scored 44 in a season-ending win against rival King’s.

Morrisville St. will win if: Wilkes’ secondary doesn’t show improvement from last season when they allowed 235.6 passing yards per game.

What to know: Morrisville St. head coach Curt Fitzpatrick is in his first year with the team. He previously coached at Utica. The last time Sheptock and Fitzpatrick squared off was in 2010 when Utica won 24-10.

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