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Cal Poly Opens Fourth Season Under Walsh on Saturday, Hosting San Diego

Cal Poly Opens Fourth Season Under Walsh on Saturday, Hosting San Diego


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky), which shared the 2011 Great West Conference title with North Dakota, its fourth crown in the eight-year history of the league, embarks upon its 60th football season as a four-year school, its 19th in the Football Championship Subdivision and its first as a member of the Big Sky Conference on Saturday afternoon, hosting the University of San Diego (0-0, 0-0 Pioneer League) inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium (11,075).

Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. PDT and the contest will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio (1280 am) with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play and Kyle Shotwell doing color commentary. Links for audio and video streams as well as live stats are available on

Facing a difficult schedule, Cal Poly posted a 6-5 mark in 2011, clinching its eighth winning season in the last nine years and nine of 11 with a 41-10 triumph at South Alabama. Cal Poly's foes on the 2011 schedule were a combined 68-45 and the Mustangs faced two FBS schools and South Alabama was in transition to FBS. This year the Mustangs play just one FBS school, visiting Wyoming on Sept. 15, Cal Poly's only other tuneup prior to the launch of Big Sky Conference play Sept. 22 at home against rival UC Davis.

Cal Poly football, presented by French Hospital Medical Center, opens its fourth season under head coach Tim Walsh with just seven returning starters. The Mustangs lost nine of 13 players on the defensive line, will not have a returning starter in the defensive secondary and said good-bye to 1,000-yard fullback Jake Romanelli and slotback/return specialist Mark Rodgers, both seniors in 2011.

Quarterback Andre Broadous, however, returns for his final Mustang campaign. Broadous completed 101 of 171 passes (58 percent) for 1,235 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, throwing his first and only career interception in 207 career attempts Nov. 5 at UC Davis. Broadous, who also rushed for 646 yards, was No. 4 in the FCS in scoring (9.82 points per game) and No. 35 in passing efficiency (136.73) a year ago and broke a school record by rushing for 18 touchdowns.

Also heading the list of returnees are the top two Mustang tacklers of a year ago -- linebackers Johnny Millard (82 tackles) and Kennith Jackson (80 tackles) -- along with slotback Deonte Williams, who rushed for 385 yards and was the 2008 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year while at Northern Arizona. Starting wide receivers Lance Castaneda (26 catches) and Willie Tucker (14 catches), both sophomores, also return as well as center Geoff Hyde, offensive linemen Giovanni Sani and Lefi Letuligasenoa and defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz.

Several transfers and redshirt freshman also are expected to make strong contributions this fall, including defensive linemen Wesley Flowers (UCLA), Jake Irwin (Wisconsin) and Barrett Wangara (College of San Mateo), safety Alex Hubbard (College of San Mateo) and linebacker Cameron Ontko (Wisconsin).

San Diego, coached by Ron Caragher (sixth season, 36-19, UCLA '90), returns 47 lettermen, including 12 starters, off last year's team which went 9-2 and shared the Pioneer League title with Drake, both 7-1. The Toreros lost only to UC Davis 31-3 and Campbell 48-24 in 2011, have won four Pioneer League titles and have been selected by the 10 head coaches in the Pioneer League to capture the 2012 crown.

Defensive end Blake Oliaro, defensive player of the year in the Pioneer League last fall, is one of five Toreros on the 2012 All-Pioneer League preseason squad. Oliaro notched 15 sacks in 2011, fourth in the FCS. Running back/return specialist Kenny James, wide receiver Sam Hoekstra, offensive lineman Matt Peleti and linebacker Zach Dunaj also made the list.

James rushed for 1,208 yards and 12 TDs in 2011 while Hoekstra caught 53 passes for 554 yards and six scores. Dunaj had 74 tackles and Oliaro 57. Peleti earned Pioneer League honorable mention praise.

Caragher has guided the Toreros to three 9-2 campaigns since replacing Jim Harbaugh (Stanford/San Francisco 49ers) on Jan. 9, 2007. He was an assistant coach at Kentucky for four seasons (2003-06) and was on UCLA's staff from 1994-2002.

Cal Poly and San Diego will meet for just the second time in football on Saturday. The other meeting was in 1959, the season opener for both teams, won by the Mustangs 36-14 in then-Mustang Stadium. In that game, Carl Bowser scored two touchdowns while Willis Hill, Tom Klosterman and Claude Turner each scored once.

Cal Poly captured four Great West Conference titles in the eight-year history of the league (2004, 2005, 2008, 2011) and earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in both 2005 and 2008, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005. The Mustangs have won 65 of their last 102 games dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 23 of their last 48 games on the road and 42 of their last 51 home contests.

After a bye week, Cal Poly plays its second game of the 2012 season Sept. 15 at Wyoming.