WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williams College football team has a mix of experience and youth that head coach Aaron Kelton would like to see pay off with a quality 2012 season.
The Ephs, and the rest of NESCAC, open their football seasons today. Williams will host Colby at Weston Field at 1 p.m.
Kelton’s Ephs prepared for Colby by scrimmaging Little Three rival Amherst a week ago.
"I was really pleased because our kids played hard," the third-year Williams coach said. "When they play hard and they give everything they’ve got, I can’t ask for anything more than that. It was a chance to hit somebody else and a chance to show what they were capable of doing."
Williams returns eight starters on offense and only three on defense. Kelton said the offense might have to carry the defense in the early going.
Two of the three new starters on offense are sophomores and two starters on defense are sophomores. Kelton is confident the young players will be able to step right in.
"Our players are good. When we recruit our kids, we hope they’ll be able to contribute early," said Kelton. "To have four sophomores playing in the first game of the year says that we’ve been able to target good kids. We’ll have some freshmen who will play on Saturday."
Any good offense has a good quarterback, and Williams has a good one in junior Adam Marske. The right-hander from Illinois stepped into the breach when Chris Cleary was injured in the second week against Trinity. Marske started the next five games and relieved Cleary against Amherst. Marske led NESCAC in pass efficiency, was third in passing and fifth in total offense. He’ll run the team’s pro-style offense.
His No. 1 target is literally No. 1 in your program. Darren Hartwell was All-NESCAC as a receiver, as a punt returner and as a kickoff returner. The senior from North Reading, who wears No. 1, was second in NESCAC in receiving yards per game and fourth in receptions per game. Williamstown’s Greg Payton, a junior, caught 10 passes last year and will also start.
Alex Scyocurka returns at running back. The junior from Longmeadow carried the ball two times in the opener against Bowdoin before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Joe Mallock, who is on the Fred Mitchell Award watch list, will handle the placekicking. The Mitchell Award is given to the top kicker in Division I-FCS, II and III football.
Kelton and defensive coordinator George McCormack are basically rebuilding a defense from scratch.
The only returning starters from last year are linebackers Chris Cameron and Emmanuel Whyte and corner Andre LaFontant. Whyte wasn’t even in the starting lineup when the 2011 season began.
Whyte will replace All-NESCAC pick Dylan Schultz in the middle linebacker slot. Cameron returns to his post as the Will linebacker while sophomore Antonio Blanco will be the Sam linebacker.
Seniors Tom Foote and Ebeneezer Gyasi will anchor the line from their defensive tackle spots. Junior Ernest Higginbotham and sophomore Mike Flynn will man the end positions. Freshman James Howe will also see some time at defensive end.