Football opens against White Mules

The 2001 edition of the Williams football team looks to improve on its mark of five wins and three losses last year. Returning to the helm for his 15th season with the Ephs is four-time New England Coach of the Year Dick Farley. Farley has a tough task ahead of him: leading a squad that lost many key offensive players to graduation.

Some of those players include running back Fred Storz ’01, who ran 332 yards in five games last year, and skilled wide receiver Matt Student ’01, whose 596 receiving yards and 792 total yards will be sorely missed.

The Ephs, however, do have running back Mike Hackett ’04, whose 476 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per carry led the team last year.

The Ephs’ backfield also should be bolstered by the presence of Swarthmore College transfer Kenny Clark ’03. Clark led the Centennial Conference in rushing last year and, in the process, became the first Swarthmore player to rush over 1,000 yards in a season.

The quarterback position remains a bit of a mystery, as Jake Moore ’04 and Joe Reardon ’04 continue to battle for the position. Moore and Reardon each saw significant time last year as first-years. Reardon led the team with 725 passing yards, but Moore saw most of the time against Wesleyan and Amherst. Both Moore and Reardon saw time during Saturday’s scrimmage against Bowdoin.

“Reardon had a decent day on Saturday,” said Farley, “but he and Moore are still neck-and-neck for the starting job.”

Waiting in the wings at quarterback is Mike Keenan ’05. Keenan is the brother of Sean Keenan ’00, one of the best players in Williams history and a participant in NFL Europe this past spring.

“Well, Keenan is definitely a talent, but still third [on the depth chart] right now,” remarked Farley. “He’s in a 101 class, while those other guys [Moore and Reardon] are in a 201.”

While none of this year’s quarterbacks will have Student to throw to, there will be several other returning targets. Colin Brooks ’02, who had 23 catches last year, is the top returning wide out, while Jamiyl Peters ’02, Marshall Creighton ’02, Adam Sigrist ’02, Ryan Friend ’03 and David Sands ’03 all look to make an impact as well. Jamaal Mobley ’04, a transfer from Florida A&M, has been impressive so far and should add a great deal of speed to the receiving core.

Tri-captain Sean Collins ’02 returns to the tight end position, giving the young offense a veteran presence and providing another target for either Reardon or Moore. Because the offensive line lost most of last year’s starters, the unit was thought to be of some concern early on, but Collins has described the line as looking very good despite inexperience. Tri-captain David Fontes ’02 will be asked to anchor the young unit from his center position.

The defense should be a strength of this year’s team. One returning star is tri-captain linebacker James Kingley ’02, who led the team last year with 51 tackles and was tied for the team lead in sacks with four.

Another crucial returning starter is junior defensive back Johnny Kelly ’03, who had a team-high five interceptions last fall. He will be supported in the secondary by returning starters Scott Farley ’03 and Ben Sands ’02.

Further solidifying the defensive line will be returning contributors Ian Wilkofsky ’02 and Will Gilyard ’02, each of whom had two sacks last year. Robert Sherwood ’03, Justin Classen ’03 and Garrett DiCarlo ’03 will be looked to for big plays as well.

In addition to Kingley, the linebacking core also has several key players returning. David Ewart ’02, who had four tackles for losses last year and 22 overall, returns along with Eric Bellucci ’02 and Conan Leary ’02, who had 15 and eight tackles in last season, respectively.

On special teams, Scott Farley ’03 looks to step in as kicker, replacing the graduated Robert Kaufman ’01, who was 6/9 last year on field goals and 17/19 on PATs, while Jarod Kidd ’02, who averaged 34.6 yards per kick, returns at punter. The team must also find a replacement for Student, who handled the majority of punt returning duties last season.

Overall, the team appears “solid all around,” as described by Collins, with strengths lying in the defense, an improving offensive line and good running backs. Inexperienced starters and depth may be a problem, though, a weakness that may be highlighted in the Ephs’ first game on Saturday against Colby. Last year, the Ephs fell to Colby 27-24 in the season opener, but now look to avenge that loss on Colby’s home field.

“We worked hard in the off-season, scrimmaged Bowdoin last week and looked decent as a team,” adds Farley in advance of Saturday’s opener. “But Bowdoin and Colby are completely different teams, and we’ll need to be on top of our game.”

Of particular concern heading into the weekend is holding onto the ball ? the Ephs had six turnovers against the White Mules last year ? and containing Colby running back/receiver Danny Noyes.

“Last year, we helped them out with turnovers. We simply can’t do that again,” Farley laments. “And Noyes, well, we can’t shut him down. We have nobody who matches up with him. We just have to make sure we know where he is.”

Kickoff is at 1:30 on Saturday in Waterville, ME.