By Matt Leon

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (CBS) – After putting together a fine 8-2 season and sharing the Centennial Conference title in 2010, the Ursinus Bears have high hopes for more success this season.

The Bears were picked second in the Centennial Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, and head coach Peter Gallagher says on defense there are a lot of reasons to get excited.

“We return four out of our five defensive backs in our secondary,” he says, “obviously highlighted by (junior) Chris Rountree (five interceptions in 2010).  We’ve got (seniors) Mike Rissmiller, Shane Eachus, and Joe Henry, all returning starters back there. ”

gallagher  College Football Preview: Division III Ursinus Hoping for Big Things

(Ursinus football coach Peter Gallagher.)

“First team All-Conference returner (senior) Greg Martel kind of anchors our linebackers,” Gallagher (right) adds.  “We lost a couple of real good defensive lineman (to graduation), but we are excited about the kids that are stepping in there.”

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On the other side of the ball, the Bears love to run the football.   The backfield of junior Ted Conrad, a Central Bucks West product who is getting a lot of work at fullback, and Bryan Ellis, who set a freshman record last season at Ursinus for rushing yards with nearly 800, is poised for big things.

But it all starts up front, and the coach says the Bears are in great shape there.

“I made a statement in the Centennial Conference preseason chat that this is our best offensive line in my 11 years here,” Gallagher notes.

The Bears are looking for a new signal caller after the graduation of last year’s starter, Justin Decristofaro, and Gallagher says that they are watching the development at that position closely.

“The question mark in our camp right now — and it’s not really a question mark, it’s more of a transition for us — is our quarterback position.  We’ve got (sophomore) Chris Curran, who came out of our spring as the number one guy.  (He’s a) big, 6’2″, 6’3″, 210-215 pound quarterback.  And (junior) Derek Giannetti out of Upper Dublin High School here in Philadelphia, have both shown a lot of promise to be able to step in and compete.”

Ursinus opens the 2011 season on Saturday, September 3rd, against Albright.  That will be an extra special game for the school, as it will be the first night home game in program history.  Patterson Field, the Bears’ home, had lights installed in the offseason along with a new artificial surface.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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