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Morrisville State College football to begin new era in 2006

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.¬ – Change is in the air for the Morrisville State College football program, as the Mustangs enter National College Athletic Association® (NCAA) competition for the first time in 2006.

Tenth-year head coach Terry Dow (57-36, nine seasons) leads a program that in nine seasons as a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has won three conference and two regional championships and have produced several all-conference and All-America team selections at the junior college ranks, including six conference players-of-the-year. Morrisville State College will have a nine game schedule this fall and will face veteran squads, half who finished above .500 last season, including powerhouses Wesley College, Salisbury University and Cortland State.

A large share of the Mustangs talent is untested as they return just eight starters this season to a squad that is composed of mainly freshmen and sophomores. Because of this, Dow and coaching staff will lean on a small group of upperclassmen to pave the way for Morrisville State into the NCAA.

Sophomore quarterback Billy Poling (Waretown, NJ) leads six returning starters on the offensive side of the ball. Poling appeared in two games for the Mustangs last season as backup and recorded a 57.1 percent completion rate. Talented freshmen Robert Zippel (Mastic Beach, NY) will serve as Poling’s backup in 2006.

Junior Dante Bryant (Philadelphia, PA) and sophomore Joe Galligan (North Massepequa, NY) will be leading the Mustangs in the backfield from the tailback and fullback positions. Bryant, returning starter at tailback, averaged 100.3 yards per game in 2005, bringing two years of collegiate experience into the 2006 season as one of five Mustang junior classmen. Galligan averaged 4.2 yards per carry last season at fullback as a freshman. Key incoming freshmen will add depth to the Mustangs and will compete immediately for time.

Veterans Derrick Woodard (Whitesboro, NY) and Eddie Hull (Brewerton, NY) will lead the receiving corps this season. Woodard, third on the team in receiving as a freshman, averaged 18.1 yards per catch and tallied 343 yards on 19 receptions.

The line features the most returning experience of any position on the offensive side of the ball. Returning four starters, who average 6’3” in height and 300 pounds and started in all ten games last season, the Mustangs will look to junior Quenzell Smith (Syracuse, NY) and sophomores Patrick Shepherd (Islandia, NY), Ryan Baker (Chittenango, NY) and Mike Lynch (Utica, NY) to provide additional protection for the backfield. Smith and Lynch were first team NFC all-Conference selections last season.

Defensively, Morrisville State will rely on five returnees, just two starters from the 2005 squad, to lead the youthful unit.

The Mustangs coaching staff expects good things from newcomers Andy Auguste (Lauderhill, FL), David Daly (Red Bank, NJ), Adam Visconti (Wyckoff, NJ) and David Adams (Bronx, NY) and returnee Keith Stevenson (Morrisville, NY) as they look to anchor the defensive line with size and talent.

Junior Justin Galletta (Baldwinsville, NY) and newcomers Clyde Murphy (Baldwinsville, NY) and Josh Wells (Middlesex, NY) will make an immediate impact from the linebacker positions. Galletta recorded 12 tackles last season and returned an interception for a score.

Sophomores Antonio Bond (Gaithersburg, MD), Jerome Ramirez (Brooklyn, NY) and junior Michael Laster (Bronx, NY) bring a wealth of experience and talent to the secondary unit. Bond tallied 45 tackles last season at safety, 21 solo, defended three passes and recorded three interceptions. Laster tallied eight solo tackles, 12 total, and defended a pass at defensive back.

Junior Derek Mulson (Troy, NY) returns to handle placekicking duties and will also carry punting duties for the first time in 2006. Mulson was second on the team in points scored in 2005, kicking for 38. He went 4-for-8 in field goals and hit 26 of 30 PAT’s.

Bond and Hull return to the special teams unit as return specialists. Bond averaged 33.5 yards per punt return and 29 yards per kick return last season for the Mustangs. Freshman Scott Bebernitz (Scotia, NY) has long snapper duties for Morrisville State this season.

Playing a nine game schedule in 2006, the Mustangs will begin with a pre-season scrimmage against Hartwick College at home on Saturday, August 26 before opening their season on the road at Buffalo State College Saturday, September 2.

Morrisville State will be at home for four, opening their home schedule on Saturday, September 9 against Cortland State. On September 23, the Mustangs will host Kean University, Maritime College (SUNY) on September 30 and will conclude their home schedule against Newport News Apprentice School on October 7.

Beginning in the fall of 2006, Morrisville State will enter its first year as a provisional member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division III. Upon successful completion of the provisional period, Morrisville State will be a candidate for full accreditation as a member of the NCAA.

Morrisville State College offers 12 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine. The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus also offers programs in business, technologies, liberal arts/education transfer, and nursing to Chenango County area residents and employers.