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By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After a solid 6-4 campaign in 2011, the Division III Ursinus College Bears have been picked to finish second in the always tough Centennial Conference in 2012.

During the eleven years that head coach Pete Gallagher has been at the helm, the Bears have been built on a foundation of tough defense, and Gallagher expects his 12th team here this season to be no different.

“Our defense has to run full speed every play,” Gallagher tells KYW Newsradio. “I think when you watch us play defense on film, you see our kids playing with tremendous effort, tremendous hustle. And we’re playing through the whistle and we’re playing with a lot of enthusiasm. And I think that we have some kids that are doing that defensively.”

But Gallagher does have a big time hole to fill on that defensive unit.

Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Peter Gallagher:

“First time in Ursinus College history that we had the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year (2011) in (linebacker) Greg Martell out of Neshaminy High School. He’s gone now, and Brian Taylor out of the Episocopal Academy has shown us a great deal of effort in the spring and in camp this year and is looking good. A kid from Dallas, PA, a freshman, Jim Roccograndi has been running around and doing a lot of great things for us. (Freshman) Safiullah Hasseeb has shown some promise there at linebacker as well.”

On the other side of the football, Gallagher says his offense is in good hands under center.

“Our (junior) quarterback Chris Curran accounted for 22 of our touchdowns last year (13 passing – 9 rushing) and threw for over 2,000 yards (2,114) and he is another year stronger and more mature. Certainly has been throwing the ball very well in camp, as well as the second team quarterback (sophomore) Kevin Monahan. So we are very strong at the quarterback spot.”

chriscurran Hopes Are High In Collegeville For Ursinus

Chris Curran (credit: Steven M. Falk / Photographer)

As for the rest of the Bears offense.

“We did have to replace a couple key kids on the offensive line, they seem to be coming together okay,” Gallagher says. “Our backs are back. (Junior) Bryan Ellis was very close to rushing for 1,000 yards (936 – last season) and has 1700 in his career. And (junior) Drae Lewis has shown a lot of promise here in camp as well.”

Ursinus will open the 2012 season on a Friday night, August 31st, on the road at TCNJ.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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