By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Widener University football team has had a lot of success since Mike Kelly came on board as head coach back in 2014 and they are hoping to continue that trend here in 2017.

Kelly has led the Pride to 24 wins in 33 games in his first three seasons in charge. Last year, Widener finished 6-4, going 6-3 in the Middle Atlantic Conference to place fourth in the league. In 2017, Widener was picked to once again finish fourth in the coaches’ preseason poll.

“We’re very talented at our skill positions, but we are extremely young and there is an enormous learning curve going on right now,” Kelly tells KYW Newsradio. “I think some of our young guys are in shell shock, coming out of high school programs and then coming into a program the way we run it here. I think the future here looks very bright, but we’ve got some growing pains we’re going through right now.”

Kelly talks about the quarterback position.

“We’ve got Sean McGaughey back,” he says. “Sean is a sophomore, (he) started the last ten quarters of the season for us last year. So he has the best, in terms of level of experience, coming back and right now he is sitting in the number one spot.”

McGaughey threw for 545 yards and two touchdowns in his limited work last season.

Kelly says the unit that will protect the quarterback is a work in progress right now.

“The five guys we had penciled in to start on the offensive line,” Kelly says, “two of them are lost for the season and two others, right now it’s in limbo whether they’re going to make it to the season or not. So we are scrambling as we speak here to put some of these puzzle pieces together.”

While there are some questions up front on offense, on defense the Pride should be a handful at the line of scrimmage.

“I think our starting front four will continue in the tradition that we’ve had here for the last three years in that they will be, I hate to say they’re going to be the best front four in the conference, but they’re certainly going to be under consideration,” Kelly says. “Two of our four that are back were first-team all conference last year, (junior) Vince Char, defensive tackle and (senior) Casey Kerschner, defensive end. They are dynamic college football players.”

Char (seven sacks) and Kerschner (five sacks) were two big reasons why Widener finished tenth in Division III in quarterback sacks per game last season (3.60).

The young Pride will get a tough test to open the season when they travel to Glassboro to battle Rowan on September 2nd.

“If you haven’t seen a small college game,” Kelly says. “Going to a Rowan/Widener game won’t disappoint you, I promise.”