The Kats are coming off a 7-3 season in which they claimed the Region III Championship for the third time in seven seasons with a 35-21 win over Hudson Valley Community College.
The Kats return five starters on offense, including leading rusher Brian Fowler (Geneva/Geneva). Fowler rushed for 622 yards in his freshman season and is poised to attack the all-time rushing record.
They also return offensive lineman Luigi Destino (Tampa, FL/Gaither) and Abdulla Hadi (Lackawanna/Lackawanna). Destino was one of the most feared lineman in the conference last season.
Rounding out the returning offensive starters are Ammar Dyson (Landover, MD/Northwestern) and Andre Barboza (Hyannis, MA/Barnstable). Dyson started the last four games at quarterback after Barboza was injured and was 3-1. He also gives the Kats a running threat from the quarterback position as well. Barboza returns to his natural position of wide receiver.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Kats do not return any starters but do return six players who saw extensive playing time last season.
Bradley Cash (Dayton, OH/Kettering Archbishop) played in all ten games as a freshman and had 24 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss from his linebacker/defensive end position. He is a projected starter for 2008.
Also returning is a local product, defensive end Mike Durwald (Lancaster/Lancaster). Durwald appeared in every game last season and had 23 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two sacks.
Also being counted on to contribute are sophomores Keith Savage (Red Bank, NJ/Red Bank Regional), Quintin Sumpter (Brooklyn/Erasmus Hall), Jonathan Johnson (Columbus, GA/Carver), and Chris Blissett (Miramar, FL/Hallendale).
Erie is once again playing a challenging schedule that includes road trips to Georgia and North Carolina. Five of Erie's opponents are receiving votes in the NJCAA / JCFootball.com preseason poll.
The Kats kicks off their home schedule on September 20 when eighth-ranked Nassau Community College visits Jim Ball Stadium for a noon kickoff. The following week, the Kats will host another first-time opponent, College of DuPage, out of the Midwest Football Conference.
Erie will then make the trip to Troy to take on Hudson Valley followed by home tilts against Lackawanna College and defending Northeast Football Conference champion Dean College, both of which are receiving votes in the preseason poll.
After a bye on October 25, the Kats will round out the season with road games versus Milford Academy and fifth-ranked Georgia Military.
2008 Erie Kats schedule
Sept. 6 at Louisburg, 1 p.m.; Sept. 13 at Alfred State, 7 p.m.; Sept. 20 NASSAU, 12 p.m.; Sept. 27 DuPAGE, 12 p.m.; Oct. 4 at Hudson Valley, 12 p.m.; Oct. 11 LACKAWANNA, 12 p.m.; Oct. 18 DEAN, 12 p.m.; Nov. 1 at Milford Academy, 2 p.m.; Nov. 8 at Georgia Military, 12 p.m.