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Weber State football: football team opens season Saturday at Fresno State

By Paul Grua

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012 6:23 p.m. MDT

After a turbulent offseason, the Weber State football team will kick off action for the 2012 season this Saturday, Sept. 1, when the Wildcats play at Fresno State in Bulldog Stadium.

Saturday’s game will be heard live on AM-1280 KZNS “The Zone” with Carl Arky, the 2011 Utah Sportscaster of the Year, calling all the action. Former Wildcat standout Ty Sparrow will provide color commentary. Saturday’s game will not be televised, but the game can be seen online for a fee. Live video streaming of the game will be available at gobulldogs.com. That website will also have live stats of the game.

WILDCATS READY TO START 2012 SEASON

After three weeks of fall camp the Wildcats will open the 51st season of Division I football this Saturday. Weber State returns 35 lettermen and 14 starters off last year’s team. Eleven players that earned Big Sky All-Conference honors last season also return, including sophomore fullback Tevia Tolutau who was named to the first team. Junior running back Josh Booker, senior defensive end Trevor Pletcher and senior offensive lineman Tytan Timoteo all return after earning second team All-Conference honors a year ago. Six Wildcats return after earning Honorable Mention All-Conference honors last season. That list includes junior safety Tony Epperson, senior quarterback Mike Hoke, senior tight end Brian Jankowski, junior wide receiver Shaydon Kehano, junior linebacker Anthony Morales, junior safety Willie Okwuonu and junior center Tyson Tiatia. Also returning for the Wildcats is senior running back C.J. Tuckett who rushed for over 460 yards and eight touchdowns in Weber State’s final two games last season. Following a 5-6 overall record and a 5-3 mark in Big Sky play last season, head coach Ron McBride retired after seven seasons at Weber State. McBride totaled a 43-38 overall record with the ‘Cats and led Weber State to the 2008 Big Sky title and two trips to the FCS Playoffs. In December, Weber State hired former Wildcat and longtime college football coach John L. Smith to lead the Wildcats. Smith coached Weber State through spring 2012 camp but left in late April to take the head coaching job at the University of Arkansas. On April 26, Weber State hired Jody Sears as head coach for the 2012 season. The Wildcats were picked to finish sixth by the coaches and seventh by the media in the new-look Big Sky Conference preseason polls.

FIRST SEASON FOR HEAD COACH JODY SEARS

Saturday’s game will be the first time as head coach for Jody Sears who brings nearly 20 years of coaching experience to Weber State. Sears joined the WSU staff in January as the defensive coordinator and was named head coach in April. He is the 10th head coach in Weber State history. Sears will also be the defensive coordinator and coach the safeties for the Wildcats. Before coming to Weber State he spent the past three seasons at Washington State where he spent the last three seasons as the co-defensive coordinator with the Cougars under head coach Paul Wulff, a former college teammate at Washington State. He is no stranger to the Big Sky Conference as he spent five seasons (2003-07) as the defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, also under Paul Wulff. During his time with the Eagles he coached safeties, linebackers and defensive backs. In his five seasons at Eastern Washington he coached seven players to Big Sky All-Conference honors. Prior to his time at Eastern Washington Sears spent three seasons (2000-02) as an assistant coach at Army where he coached cornerbacks and the defensive line. He also spent time as an assistant coach at St. Ambrose University, an NAIA school in Davenport, Iowa and Iowa State. Sears played football at Washington State where he was a two-year letterwinner with the Cougars after walking on as a wide receiver. He played under head coaches Jim Walden, Dennis Erickson and former Weber State head coach Mike Price. He graduated from Washington State in 1991 and received his master’s degree from Iowa State in 1996. Sears, 44, is a native of Pullman, Washington. He and his wife Molly are the parents of five children.

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