College football preview: Widener tackles 2019 under new head coach

Matt Leon
August 23, 2019 - 11:30 am
Widener running back Chris Randle

Widener University Athletics

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Widener University football team is preparing for the 2019 season under the watchful eye of a new head coach.

But he is a familiar presence. Mike Barainyak took over the program back in February after serving as offensive coordinator for the Pride in 2018. He replaced Mike Kelly, who was not brought back after five seasons in Chester.

"It's been great," Barainyak said. "Was able to get a staff in here, a lot of guys that are fired up about moving our culture forward. I feel  we have a really good group here on staff. One thing for me is every single day when you come in as the head coach, when the guys around you make you raise your level, then you know you've hired some good people. So we're excited about the guys we have here on staff and excited about moving things forward."

The Pride went 4-6 in 2018 (4-4 in the Middle Atlantic Conference), while averaging nearly 30 points per game. Barainyak says they are still working to decide who will be under center for the offense in 2019.

"We've got four (quarterbacks) in training camp right now that all have some talent," he said. "They're all smart guys with big arms, good mobility. So we've got a battle going on right now between a couple of the freshmen that are coming in and a couple of guys that are returning from last season. So I think our quarterback situation, we're going to find the right guy. They're being pushed every single day out there by our quarterback coach and our offensive coordinator. We've kind of turned up the competition there to see who is going to be the best man and emerge on Sept. 7."

Regardless of who emerges as the starting quarterback, Barainyak thinks they'll be able to protect him.

"Returning three guys up front on our offensive line, (sophomores) Nate Pizzini, Sean Sabo and (junior) Ryan Stecklein," he says, "I think that's going to add some leadership to our offensive line and everything starts up front for us."

Barainyak highlights some players who will be key this season on the defensive side of the football.

"Right down the middle, you're looking at (junior defensive lineman) Mike Pawlowski coming back, (junior defensive lineman) Mario Scotesse and linebacker Sam Ballard, who's really having a great camp," he says. "So we're excited about those guys."

Widener will open it's 2019 season on the road on Sept. 7, traveling to Glassboro, New Jersey to battle always tough Rowan University. Barainyak says his team is excited to match up with the Profs.

"We're not going to raise our level of play and get to where we want to go without playing tough teams and being tested, so we look forward to it."

The Widener/Rowan game will kick off at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7. 

You can follow Matt Leon on Twitter @Mattleon1060.