By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Division II West Chester Golden Rams are anxious to return to the top of the always tough Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference as they get ready for Thursday night’s season opener on the road at Delaware.
West Chester went 5-6 last season (4-3 in the PSAC). This follows a 4-7 finish in 2010 and head coach Bill Zwaan is anxious to get his team back to their familiar status as a power team in the conference.
“Good camp. Real happy with what I’ve been seeing so far,” Zwaan tells KYW Newsradio. “Got a couple guys dinged like you would expect, hopefully we’ll get them back for Thursday, couple will be questionable. But in general, overall, health has been pretty good and I like the way we are practicing and I like the way we are playing.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Bill Zwaan:
The Golden Rams struggled stopping other teams last season, allowing 26 points and 180 yards rushing a game. But Zwaan likes how his defense looks here in 2012.
“I think our defense right now is running around. A lot of team speed over there. We look more physical. We made a couple of changes in the offseason I think that have helped us.”
One of the key players on that defense is sophomore middle linebacker Ronell Williams. He actually led the team in tackles a season ago with 79, even though he only started three games (41 of his 79 tackles came in those three games). He thinks his unit has already developed great chemistry.
“The strength of our defense, I would have to say is that we are ‘one’. No one particular position, not the linebackers, not the d-line, not the secondary. We all communicate, we all come together, we all do our one-eleventh, we handle our own responsibility and that makes us one solid defense.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Ronell Williams:
On offense, the Golden Rams will be led by junior quarterback Sean McCartney. He threw for 1,481 yards and eight touchdowns a season ago. Zwaan breaks down what he has surrounding him.
“We’ve got some pretty good kids at running back and wide receiver, some speed there. I think pretty good talent. We’re going to be new on the offensive line, not young, but new. Older kids, but some of them haven’t played a whole lot.”
On special teams, it’s rare that a Division II team has a weapon at place kicker but that is most certainly the case at West Chester. Junior Shawn Leo is just 4 field goals away from the West Chester career record (24) and last season he set the single-season school record with 15 field goals (in twenty attempts).
“It’s nice to be able to count on him,” Zwaan says of Leo. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to score more and he will be kicking more extra points than field goals.”
West Chester’s Thursday night opener at Delaware kicks off at 7:30 down in Newark.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.