TCNJ Lions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The College of New Jersey football team opens its season on the road this Friday night at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa. The game is schedule to kick off at 7 p.m. This will be the first of four Friday night games for TCNJ this season, two of which will be held in Lions’ Stadium.
Wayne Dickens enters his first season as interim head coach of the Lions, following the retirement of long-time coach, Eric Hamilton. Hamilton called the shots on the sidelines in every game since 1977 and now hands over the reigns to Dickens, who becomes the 10th coach in Lions’ program history. He will look to improve the Lions record from 2012, when they posted a mark of 4-6. Dickens will run the offense, while newly hired assistant Rocky Hager will serve as defensive coordinator.
TCNJ will feature some fresh faces on offense, led by projected starting quarterback Chris Spellman (Mount Laurel, NJ/Bishop Eustace Prep). Spellman is a sophomore and tossed a 37-yard touchdown pass in the only preseason scrimmage against Misericordia. The scoring toss was reeled in by co-captain Freddie Sprengel (Wall, NJ/Wall). Sprengel was enjoying a breakout season in 2012 before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the final four games.
The defense will be spearheaded by co-captains Nick Bricker (Middletown, NJ/Middletown South) and Patrick Kimball (Sea Girt, NJ/Ocean City). Bricker is a two-time All-NJAC First Team linebacker, while Kimball will be a force on the defensive line. Look for Justin Bruso (Verona, NJ/Verona) to put pressure on the quarterback, while Matthew Chierici (Towaco, NJ/Montville) and Sean Clark (Mays Landing, NJ/St. Joseph’s Hammonton) will lead the secondary.
Ursinus is coming off a 6-4 record in 2012. After defeating the Lions in the season-opener last year, they struggled a bit before hitting their stride during midseason. They won four straight and capped the season with a victory over Dickinson. Ursinus will have eight all-conference players returning to their squad for the upcoming season, including All-Centennial Conference players quarterback Chris Curran and wide receivers Darius Jones and Jerry Rahill. Defensive lineman Andrew Fiorentino should warrant some attention as he dropped the quarterback eight times last season en route to receiving conference honors.
SERIES HISTORY: (Ursinus leads 2-0)
Playing each other for just the third time in their programs’ history, the Lions and Bears square off in the season-opener for the second straight season. Prior to 2012, Ursinus and The College of New Jersey had not played since 1972, when the Bears shut out, then, Trenton State College 17-0. Last season, TCNJ led for a majority of the game in Lions’ Stadium, but quarterback Chris Curran hit Ryan Lynady with a 45-yard touchdown pass with 2:56 remaining to give the Bears a 24-20 victory.