wesleyan football 2019 season preview

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The Wesleyan University football team opens its 2019 campaign at home on Saturday, September 14 against Colby College. Last fall, the Cardinals finished 5-4 to mark their seventh-consecutive winning season, which was highlighted by a 21-14 win over Little Three archrival Williams. Head Coach Dan DiCenzo, who enters his fifth season at the helm of the program, welcomes back 44 letterwinners from last year including six offensive starters and six defensive starters.

The Cardinals return a bevy of talent on both sides of the ball and look to be among the league’s top teams once again this fall. Last year, Wesleyan averaged 23.8 points per game on 312.3 yards of offense, while surrendering 17.7 points and 267.4 yards per game defensively.

head coach dan dicenzo's thoughts

“I was very impressed with how our seniors led our team in the offseason. I am excited to see the 2019 Wesleyan Cardinals come in and compete. We have big expectations for this team and there will be a lot of competition in the preseason.”

key returners

#5 eli blair-may - senior db

Photo by Lianne Yun '18

Blair-May is a three-year starter at strong safety. Last year, he broke up four passes and intercepted one, which he ran back 30 yards. He tied for seventh on the team in tackles with 21.

#37 Will Kearney - senior lb * captain

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Kearney is the top returning tackler from last year as he finished third on the team with 45. He also recorded two sacks, five tackles for a loss, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and three pass break-ups.

#68 ryan schutta - senior ol * captain

Photo by Wes Bunnell

Schutta is a two-year starter on the offensive line and brings veteran leadership to the Cardinals. He’ll play a significant role in Wesleyan’s success this season.

#15 ben thaw - senior db * captain

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Thaw is a three-year starter in the secondary. In 2017, he led the conference in interceptions with four, while also breaking up six passes, and in 2018 he earned All-NESCAC Second Team Defense with 39 tackles, two interceptions, six pass break-ups, and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

#48 Chase Pratt - senior lb

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Pratt is a two-year athlete (baseball and football) who will look to build off an impressive junior campaign in which he recorded 21 tackles.

#4 taj gooden - junior dl

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Gooden returns to the Cardinals as the team’s most decorated athlete. He was named a 2019 D3football.com Preseason All-American Second Team Defense selection after earning All-NESCAC First Team Defense a year ago. He was also named a Cliff Harris Award Nominee and a D3football.com All-Region First Team Defense selection as a junior.

#60 bryce jenkins - junior ol

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Jenkins is another two-year starter on the offensive line and has plenty of experience entering his junior season.

key underclassmen

#2 danny banks - sophomore db

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Banks made an immediate impact as a freshman. He played in eight games and finished with 19 tackles and one interception.

#8 David estevez

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Estevez saw action in all nine games last season, making a contribution both offensively and on special teams. He rushed 12 times, caught 16 passes, and returned 15 kickoffs and 13 punt returns. He finished second on the team in all-purpose yards with 611, averaging 67.9 per game.

#83 Matt simco - sophomore WR

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Simco should expect to have a bigger role in the offense this season after an impressive freshman campaign.

coaching staff

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Dan DiCenzo returns to the sidelines for a 10th season and fifth as head coach. He is 22-12 overall with four-straight winning seasons. In 2016, he helped guide the Cardinals to their 14th Little Three title in 2016 and a year later, the Cardinals set 18 program records. DiCenzo welcomes back Offensive Coordinator Eric Ludwig (8th Season), Defensive Coordinator Matt Coyne ’12 (3rd Season), Quarterback Coach Kyle Archer (4th Season), Run Game Coordinator Sean Stanley (6th Season), Wide Receivers Coach Jared Osumah (2nd Season), Defensive Assistant John Capodice (4th Season), and Student Assistant Eric Ingall ’21 (2nd Season), while introducing new Tight Ends Coach Pat Dougherty and Running Backs Coach Kevin Burke to the staff.