#12 Kutztown Golden Bears (11-2, 6-1 PSAC East; PSAC Champions; NCAA Playoffs, Second Round)
Season Opener: Thursday, August 30 vs. St. Anselm (Northeast-10)
Offensive/Defensive Starters Returning: 9/5
Key Returnees: QB Kevin Morton (Sr.), RB Josh Mastromatto (Sr.), S Alex DiNolfi (Sr.)
Kutztown, coming off the best season in program history with their first ever PSAC championship and their first NCAA playoff win, will go as far as two-time PSAC East Offensive Player of the Year Kevin Morton will take them. The senior quarterback has racked up 8,234 passing yards and 85 career touchdowns, both the best among active PSAC quarterbacks.
However, a deep run into the NCAA playoffs were hindered after Morton suffered a knee injury during the Golden Bears’ 21-14 win over Slippery Rock in the State Game. A healthy Morton, combined with senior running back/kick returner Josh Mastromatto and junior Curtis Wortham, will put Kutztown on track for a second consecutive trip to the State Game.
Despite losing their two top receivers, including Erik Frazier, who caught the game winning touchdown in the State Game, Mastromatto and Wortham are just as dangerous as pass catchers as they are in the backfield. And, with all five starters on the offensive line returning, the offense should pick up where they left off last season.
Where the Golden Bears could prove to be vulnerable is on defense. With just five returning starters on this year’s squad, the most noticeable holes are on the defensive front and at linebacker. However, seniors Alex DiNolfi, who led the PSAC with 11 interceptions, and Jason Ulmer lead a defensive backfield which led the conference with 25 interceptions.
Pass defense proved to be Kutztown’s weakest link, ranking next to last in the PSAC with 253 yards per game allowed. That vulnerability led to a 49-7 drubbing by Shippensburg, as pass-happy a team in the PSAC, last season. The Golden Bears, however, made up for it by allowing just 121.9 yards per game, fifth best in the league.
PREDICTION: After the season opener against perennial Northeast 10 doormat St. Anselm, Kutztown’s schedule gets significantly tougher, with the Golden Bears facing California (Pa.), Bloomsburg, West Chester and Slippery Rock in their next four games. An inexperienced defense could hurt Kutztown, however, with Morton at the helm, the Golden Bears will be difficult to beat for the PSAC East crown and a possible return trip to the State Game.