The 2014 football season was far from a dream for the Fighting Scots. Edinboro lost its first five games and won just once in its opening nine contests. However, 10th year head coach Scott Browning was encouraged with the way his team concluded the campaign with a pair of home wins that aided the confidence of a struggling team heading into the offseason.
“I thought it was very important,” Browning said last month at PSAC West media day on the campus of Slippery Rock University. “The way I sit and look at it right now, we’re 2-0. We’ve got a two-game win streak and now we need to build on it.”
In the midst of its first streak of three straight losing seasons since their last one from 2000-02, Edinboro was picked seventh in the eight-team PSAC West preseason coaches’ poll. A lot has changed from the 11th game a season ago to game one on the 2015 schedule.
One change the Scots were prepared for heading into this season is the reality of a new signal caller. For the first time since 2005, Edinboro will open up its season without a Harris under center. Current CFL star, Toronto Argonauts starting quarterback, and former Scots star Trevor preceded younger brother Cody, who finished up his six-year collegiate career a year ago.
“You hate to see the Harris era end, but you’re excited about the next era that’s going to begin,” Browning said.
Jake Sisson, a six-foot sophomore from Jamestown, New York is considered the front-runner in Edinboro’s four-man quarterback race that includes three newcomers who are all listed as freshmen.
Sisson appeared in seven games last season with one start at Slippery Rock where he finished the 29-7 loss 14 of 32 through the air with 190 passing yards, a 76 yard touchdown pass, and three interceptions as he was sacked five times.
“It’s good, we’ve got Jake Sisson who took some good, quality snaps for us last year and I thought Jake really showed a lot of promise,” Browning said. “I think he will be able to run our offense the way we would like to have our offense be run, but it’s exciting.”
Up front, the Scots did not lose any starters from the 2014 group, but the unit will look to improve upon an effort that included a program low 63.6 rushing yards per game and a school-record 57 sacks allowed last season.
“I just think the big thing is we’ve got to have faith in them, rep things over and over and over,” Browning said.
Edinboro will look to junior (redshirt) receiver Darren Massey, a second team all-PSAC West selection and 2015 USA College Football D-II preseason second team All-American — who racked up a school-record 80 receptions, 900 yards and 11 touchdown grabs a year ago — to head up what should be a solid group of receivers.
“Our wide receiving corps is out of this world,” Edinboro senior defensive end Domenic Principale said at PSAC West media day last month. “Darren Massey was a freshman all-PSAC and then you have Alex Caratelli coming from Robert Morris.”
Six starters return on a defensive unit that finished 2014 just six points away from allowing the most ever in a single season in school history (360). Last season, defensive coordinator Wayne Bradford’s unit finished 11th in the PSAC in scoring defense (32.7 PPG) and 13th in total defense (443.3 YPG), while giving up just over 175 rushing yards per game.
“Last year I do not believe we played a full game of football against any team,” defensive senior Mike Shansky said. “If we as a team can play a full game offensively and defensively I think we can beat anybody. Coach Bradford has a great game plan for us week in and week out.”
Shansky, a two-time all-PSAC performer who led the team in tackles last year and Principale, who finished with a team-high seven sacks and second team all-PSAC honors before being lost to injury late last year will be counted on as big contributors once again for the Scots.
“I expect leadership number, one. I expect these guys to show us the way, our younger players; show them the way,” Browning said.
Edinboro opens up the 2015 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. hosting St. Joseph’s (In.) at Sox Harrison Stadium before its PSAC opener on Saturday, Sept. 12 with a noon kickoff against Shippensburg.
Homecoming for the Fighting Scots falls on Saturday, Oct. 10 with a 2 p.m. kickoff against the Clarion Golden Eagles.
Mike Fenner is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be found on Twitter at Fenner_6.