By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Division III Ursinus College football team will head down to West Virginia to open its 2016 season, kicking things off on Saturday afternoon against Bethany College.

The Bears are coming off a 3-7 campaign in 2015 and they were picked to finish seventh in this year’s Centennial Conference preseason poll.

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On offense, the Bears have a lot of talent returning here in 2016, but they will go with a rookie under center.

“We’ve got a new face that’s going to be getting the nod at quarterback,” Ursinus head coach Peter Gallagher tells KYW Newsradio. “Freshman Tom Garlick out of Quakertown, he’s a 6’4″ righty that has shown us a lot of promise in camp and we’re really looking forward to seeing how he can lead this offense.”

Listen to the entire interview with Ursinus head coach Peter Gallagher

 

On defense, the Bears lost some key pieces to graduation, most notably all conference players Kyle Adkins (DB), Steve Ambs (DL), and James Roccograndi (LB). But Gallagher has confidence in the guys that will be stepping in to fill those slots.

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“It’s not like we’re going to be putting rookies in there on defense,” Gallagher says. “We’ve got a good amount of kids that did play significant time last year. Our defensive tackles are big and physical, our linebackers can run and we’re going to be talented to do all the things that we want to do in our secondary. So we’re excited about (how) our defense is shaping up right now.”

One key player to watch on defense is senior linebacker Tim Rafter. he led the team in tackles last season with 89.

In this opener on Saturday, the Bears will face a Bethany team that calls the Presidents’ Athletic Conference home. The Bison went 5-5 a season ago.

“Bethany’s got a lot of skill,” Gallagher says. “They graduated some offensive skill kids, a quarterback and a great wide receiver. They have an outstanding tailback, as good as we will see all year. They look to be pretty good and active on defense, so we’re going to have to be on top of our game.”

Saturday’s game in Bethany kicks off at noon.

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.