September 4, 2014


WILKES-BARRE -- After putting together a 6-4 season in 2013 the King's College football team is hoping to take another step up the competitive ladder. The Monarchs will look to begin the challenge of building upon last year's success on Saturday when King's travel to Bethlehem to face Moravian College at 1:00 p.m. at Rocco Calvo Field.
Coach Jeff Knarr
With King's head coach Jeff Knarr entering his fifth season at the helm, the Monarchs are coming off their first winning season since going 6-5 in 2006.  Highlighting the success of the 2013 squad were wins over Middle Atlantic Conference stalwarts Lycoming and Delaware Valley, who ironically were respectively voted as the favorites in the 2014 MAC Coaches Pre-Season Poll.
There is a high level of optimism this season as King's returns a number of players from last season and a promising class of newcomers who will supply a handful of players capable of stepping in immediately to fill roles vacated by graduating players.

The season-opening game with Moravian will be the first between the former MAC rivals since 2006 when the Monarchs won a 28-23 decision in Bethlehem. Moravian left the MAC the following the 2006-07 academic year to join the Centennial Conference.

Watch King's Season Previews on the following local TV Stations:
WNEP TV-16     l     WBRE TV-28
About King's Football:
The Monarchs are in their 22nd year of varsity football after reinstating the sport in 1993 after a 30-year absence. King's has been a member of the MAC every year since its return to varsity status. The Monarchs have won one MAC title (2002) in its history, reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in the process. King's last post-season appearance came in 2006 during a ECAC Southwest Bowl loss to Kean University. Since its MAC title and NCAA season in 2002 yielded a final 9-3 record, King's winningest campaign since was in 2003 when the team finished 7-4 and lost in the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl to Johns Hopkins.
About Head Coach Jeff Knarr:
Coach Knarr is in his fifth season at King's after arriving in Wilkes-Barre in 2010. Knarr, a Lehigh Valley resident, spent 11 years as an assistant coach at Muhlenberg College, Moravian's arch-rival.  Knarr still resides in Easton with his wife Katie and their children Megan and Jake. Knarr owns a 10-30 career record at King's since being hired to rebuild the program.
About the King's-Moravian Series:
King's leads the all-time series 7-5 as the teams played on 12 occasions between 1993 and 2006 when the Greyhounds were members of the MAC. King's owned a five-year win streak from 1993-through-2003 before Moravian posted consecutive wins in 2004 and 2005.  The Monarchs would win the final contest as MAC rivals 28-23.
On The Air:
The game will be televised on tape delay at 4:00 p.m. by Service Electric Cable Station TV2 Sports. The game will also be aired locally for Service Electric Customers in the Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. The game will also be broadcast on the radio by WSAN 1470 AM. Fans can listen live over the Internet at:
The following is a position-by-position breakdown of the Monarchs heading into the season-opener at Moravian....
The Quarterbacks
King's quarterback position will be manned by senior co-captainTyler Hartranft (Schuylkill Haven/Blue Mountain) who enters his third season starting behind center. In 2013 Hartranft completed 150-of-280 passes for 2,013 yards and 16 touchdowns. In just three years he is now 47 completions away from breaking King's career mark of 333 and is also 385 passing yards shy of breaking the school-record of 4,322 yards through the air.?Holding down the back-up role will likely be capable junior Tom Hehre(Ventnor, N.J./Holy Spirit), who made an impact last season out of the Wildcat formation. Hehre rushed for 171 yards, averaging 5.9 yards per-carry.  Freshman Zack Whitehead (Hockessin, DE/St. Mark's) has also pushed Hehre for time.

The Running Backs
King's running attack once again stands as one of the team's strongest points. Leading the pack in senior tailback Kyle McGrath(Sparta, N.J./Pope John) who has rushed for 1,831 yards with 17 touchdowns in his career while also catching 51 passes for 399 yards. 
Junior Patrick Robinson (Scranton/Scranton) improved each week and finished the season with 251 yards and 5.1 yards per-carry while catching 11 passes for 181 yards.  Another player to watch for is freshman John Harris (Darby/Cardinal O'Hara) who at 5-foot-5, 165-pounds is small in stature but big on speed, quickness, and elusiveness. One newcomer who could factor in in freshman tailback Brandon Yescavage (Old Forge/Old Forge) was the 2013 Pennsylvania Class "AA" Player of the Year after rushing for 2,666  yards with 46 touchdowns in his senior year alone.

The Receivers
King's graduated two of its top four receivers last year but return one of the best in the nation in senior pre-season all-American team co-captain Dan Kempa (Susquehanna/Susquehanna Community). A returning first-team All-MAC selection, Kempa had an outstanding junior year, setting two King's single-season records with 58 catches for 1,057 yards while scoring nine touchdowns. 
Fellow senior Vince Albano (Kenilworth, N. David Brearly) is the second leading returning receiver with six receptions for 48 yards. Senior Antoine Basquiat (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Holy Cross), a special teams coverage dynamo, is expected to figure into the mix. The freshmen duo of Tyler Marroni(Wilmington, DE/Salesianum) and Marquis Miller (Reistertown, MD/Franklin) have looked good in the pre-seaosn and have earned a spot on the team's two-deep depth chart. Marroni is 6-foot-4 with good hands and leaping ability while Miller is smaller (5-9, 160), but posses excellent speed and hands.?At tight end, King's welcomes back sophomore Jay Thomas (Spring City/Owen J. Roberts) who started eight games and made eight catches with three touchdowns. Fellow sophomore Brian Atkinson(Cinnaminson, N.J./Holy Cross) played in eight games and made four catches. 

The Offensive Line
The Monarch offensive line has a mixture of experience and youth but possesses excellent size, averaging 6-foot-1, 282 pounds per-starter.
Leading the group is junior Mark Vetterlein, a three-year starter at center. Senior Jim Strelecki (Telford/Souderton) started nine games last season and will again handle the right tackle position.  Sophomore guard Jake Dever (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) battled through injury but started six of the seven games he played in as a rookie in 2013. Junior left tackle Evan Foster (Stratford, Ct./Bunnell) played just three games last season thanks to injuries and his healthy return will give the offensive line a boost. Sophomore Andrew Zub (Clark, NJ/Arthur L. Johnson) will get the start at left guard. Zub, who started his King's as a defensive lineman, was converted to the offensive line early last season and has made a steady transition to the position.

Adding depth is senior guard Lionel Rice (Bronx, N.Y./Mt. St. Michael Acad.) who started six contests last season, along with massive (6-5, 330) sophomore right tackleMike Clausen (Hedensted, Denmark) who started two of his six games as a rookie. King's depth includes freshman Tyler Maxwell (Port Murray, N.J.Warren Hills) who played in the Phil Simms New Jersey All-State All-Star Game at Rutgers University over the summer.   

The Linebackers
King's defense has a tremendous tradition of quality linebackers and the 2014 season should be no different.  Leading the unit is senior co-captain Nick Kaijala (Succasunna, N.J./Roxbury)Kaijala, an inside linebacker, led the team with 78 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks in 2013. Sophomore Bobby Russell(Hamburg, N.J./Walkill Valley) played in all 10 games with one start at inside linebacker and made 23 tackles with an interception. 
Junior James Burke (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan)played in all 10 games with one start and registered 22 tackles. Junior Monroe Sherman(Olney, MD/Sherwood) will get the start at the other outside linebacker spot while senior Greg Minardi (Morris Plains, N.J./Parsippany Hills) and freshman Hassan Maxwell (Pittston/Pittston Area) will also factor in. King's did suffer a big loss in senior outside linebacker Chad Curtice (Stevensville, MD/Kent Island) who started all 10 games last season and posted 57 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.  An injury before the start of training camp will keep Curtice out for an extended period of time with no timetable for his return. 

The Defensive Line
The Monarch defensive line stands as the biggest question mark after the graduation of two starters in the team's 3-4 set, including first-team All-MAC play-maker Ron Garrett. Leading the  defensive line is senior co-captain Peter Santorelli(Hillsborough/Hillsborough) who has started 28 of the 29 games he has played in, made 41 tackles last season, including 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and an interception. Santorelli, who has played nose-guard the past two seasons, will move to defensive end.
Two other veterans who are expected to contribute at defensive end include senior Joe Cole  (Allentown/William Allen) and junior Gary Poulson (Easton/Notre Dame).  Cole has played 18 games in his career and made nine tackles in nine games as a reserve last season. Poulson played in seven games last season and made three stops. ??Sophomore Bryan Hicks (Bloomfield/Bloomfield) played in five games behind Santorelli at nose-guard and will move into the starting line-up. A potentially strong freshmen class could see multiple players earn a spot in the team's rotation of linemen. Junior end Michael Martina (Lafayette Hill/Plymouth-Whitemarsh) and freshman nose-guard Bob Shaw (Pompton lakes, NJ/Pompton Lakes), have both earned spots in the defensive line rotation.

The Secondary
King's secondary returns a number of players with experience and depth. The veteran of the group is senior free safety Kris Matthews(Seymour, Ct./Notre Dame) who his third year as a starter. Matthews was second on the team with 73 tackles and two interceptions last season and has amassed 161 tackles with four interceptions in his career. 
Also back is junior safety Anthony Martuccio (Ridge, N.Y./Longwood) who was third on the team with 68 tackles and two interceptions. Junior cornerback Justin Burke (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) played in nine games with one start and tallied 23 tackles with an interception.  
King's welcomes back  two veteran players who suffered season-ending injuries last season. Junior Tyler Cruz (Whitehall/Whitehall), who was the Monarchs' top cover cornerback, went down in week-five after making 10 tackles. Also back is fellow junior cornerback Tyler Mejasic (Phoenixville/Bishop Shanahan) was lost for he season in game-two. 
One newcomer who could make an impact is freshman Jake Manetti (Old Forge/Old Forge), a first-team Pennsylvania all-state product who led his team to the state title game. Fellow rookie Justin Foster (Plainfield, NJ/Bound Brook) and junior A.J. Hubiak(New Philadelphia/Pottsville) are also slated to contribute as reserves at cornerback and free safety respectively.

The  Special Teams
King's special teams will have a mixture of experience and inexperience.  The return game is sound with Kempa back returning both kickoffs and punt. Kempa returned 28 kickoffs for a 17.5 yards average. He also had 17 punt returns for a 7.8 yard average. Robinson and Justin Burke both saw action as kick/punt returners. In kick/punt return coverage, the Monarchs also return top gunner Basquiat who made 22 special teams tackles last season.
The punting chores will be manned by sophomore Eric Haenggi(Mickletin, N.J./Kingsway Regional) who started all 10 games last season. Haenggi posted a misleading 32.65 yards per-average but in 49 punts he forced 18 fair-catches and pinned opponents inside their own 20 nine times. Freshman Connor Hoffman  (Lawrence Twp., N.J./Lawrence) hope to challenge. The Monarchs will have a new place-kicker this season. Sophomore left-footer Mikhail Kniaziewicz (Levittown/Pennsbury) was the team's kickoff specialist last season but will handle the field goal/extra-point duties this season.
Next Week:
After its game with Moravian, King's will return to the field Saturday, September 13 when the Monarchs open up MAC play with its home debut against Stevenson University at 1:00 p.m. at McCarthy Stadium in the Betzler Athletic Complex.

691Scouting Moravian: 

About the Head Coach
Jeff Pukszyn (Moravian '97) is entering his fourth season as Moravian's head coach after ten years as an assistant coach with the program. Pukszyn joined the Moravian staff as a part-time coach in 1997 after a three-year playing career that saw him named to the All-Middle Atlantic Conference First Team in 1994 and 1996. He was also a two-time captain. Pukszyn joined the coaching staff full-time in 1999 as defensive coordinator and added the titles of assistant head coach in 2001 and special teams coordinator in 2007. He has been a part of 205 games for Moravian since 1994 with a 99-105-1 record.
The Quarterbacks
Moravian entered preseason camp looking to have someone fill the role of starting quarterback. Sophomore Mike Hayes (Philadelphia, Pa./Chestnut Hill Academy)earned the starting nod for the opener with freshman Kordell Theadford (Easton, Pa./Notre Dame HS) listed as the back-up. Hayes did not throw a pass while seeing action in one game in 2013.
The Receivers
The Greyhounds have a strong core of returning wide receivers led by junior Will McLaughlin (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack HS) and sophomores Jalen Snyder-Scipio (Pottstown, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic HS) and Liam Nolan (Ventnor City, N.J./Holy Spirt HS), who will be the starting wideouts. McLaughlin battled an injury all season but still caught 19 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns in his second year as a starter. Snyder-Scipio led the Hounds with 45 catches, 482 yards and four touchdowns in his first year with the squad.

Junior Andrew Racobaldo (Pennsauken, N.J./Camden Catholic HS) is slated to be the starting tight end while freshman Nick Nejad (Whitehall, Pa./Whitehall HS) will serve as the backup.
The Offensive Line
Moravian has four returners on the offensive line with seniors Jacob McKee (Perkiomenville, Pa./Boyertown HS) and Steve Paradiso (Flanders, N.J./Mount Olive HS) set for their final seasons. Also back are juniors Max Neis (Tinton Falls, N.J./Monmouth Regional HS) and Daniel Smith (Washington, N.J./Warren Hills Regional HS). Sophomore Bradley Straight (Annandale, N.J./North Hunterdon HS)has earned the other starting position to give the Greyhounds' front five an average size of 6-4, 276. 
The Defensive Line
Moravian returns three starters to the defensive line this season. Senior Andrew Richmond (Matawan, N.J./Matawan HS) and junior Ryan Pysher (Bangor, Pa./Bangor HS) will start at the tackle positions while sophomore John Snyder (Lehighton, Pa./Palmerton HS) will be back at nose guard. Richmond had 34 tackles with a tackle for loss, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick while playing just six games due to injury. Pysher made 35 stops with five tackles for loss, a pass break-up and a forced fumble last season while Snyder added 39 tackles, five and a half tackles for loss, two and a half sacks and three pass break-ups in his debut season while earning a spot on the All-Centennial Conference Honorable Mention squad.                                                
The Linebackers
Moravian returns its entire starting group of linebackers this season with senior Kevin Bracken (Wanaque, N.J./Lakeland Regional HS) and junior Brendan Downey (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack HS) as the starters at the two inside linebacker positions and senior Richard Kugel (Northfield, N.J./Mainland HS) and junior Chernoh Shaw (Allentown, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic HS) as the outside starters. Bracken had a team high 107 tackles last fall to go with seven tackles for loss, four interceptions, six passes defended, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Downey contributed 68 tackles with four for loss, one sack, one interception and two passes defended whileKugel had 34 tackles, one tackle for loss and a pair of interceptions in 2014. Shaw, who also saw action at defensive end, had 18 stops with two for loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble a year ago.
The Secondary
Moravian has more depth retuning in the defensive backfield with three starters back in senior Rick Sinnig (Hillsdale, N.J./Bergen Catholic HS), junior Anthony Orlando and sophomore Noah Miller (Easton, Pa./Notre Dame HS)Sinnig, who was on the Centennial All-Conference Second Team last fall, made 84 tackles with one for loss, two interceptions and five passes defended while Orlando had 103 stops, five tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass breakup, three fumble recoveries including two returned for touchdowns and one forced fumble in his first season at Moravian. Orlando ended up earning a spot on the Centennial All-Conference First Team, the ECAC Division III All-Star First Team and the All-South Region Second Team. Miller moved into the starting line-up in week three last year and had 45 tackles, two for loss, and a pair of interceptions.
Special Teams
ophomore Gonzalo Hurtado (Macungie, Pa. Emmaus HS) will take over the kicking duties for the Greyhounds this season after transferring to the school.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Junior defensive back Jimmy McCarthy is slated to return punts and kickoffs this season along with sophomore running back Chris NegronMcCarthyis second in school history with 60 career kickoff returns and also second in kickoff return yardage at 1,281 yards.