SAU football

St. Ambrose running back Cole Kelly (20) gains yardage during against McKendree. (Jeff Cook/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Jeff Cook

Heading into the second year operating out of the pistol formation, the St. Ambrose offense is looking to expand on last year’s success.

“We’ll have some new personnel groupings,” sixth-year SAU coach Mike Magistrelli said. “I think that it will be a huge asset this fall, just the fact that we’ve had a year running it.”

The Bees, which finished eighth in total offense last year in the Mid-States Football Association, open their season Saturday at Trinity International.

Junior quarterback Eric Williamson leads the Bees’ offense.

Last season, the Springfield native completed 118 of 226 passes for 1,381 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Bees also possess a strong running game with Cole Kelly and senior Anton Wilkins.

Kelly, who is a junior from West Branch, finished with 883 yards rushing and led the league by averaging 98.1 yards a game.

“We’ve got that power run game,” junior tight end Andrew Friederich said. “Cole Kelly’s back. The line has jelled really well.”

Friederich, who is a Davenport Assumption grad, is part of a receiving corps that returns intact minus wideout Barney O’Donnell.

Joining Friederich at tight end will be fellow junior Mitch Overstreet, who is a Bettendorf grad.

Senior Carter Oltman returns on the outside and will be joined by junior Mike Munro and freshman Zach Grant, who led the nation in receiving and set an Illinois high school record with 2,310 yards in 2011 at Rochester High School.

“We virtually have everybody back,” Friederich said. “We don’t have to worry about installing stuff. We know the different looks we’re going to give and the different situations we’re going to face.”

Anchoring the offensive line is all-American left tackle Carl Meister. The line is also bolstered by freshman Paul Wisniewski, who transferred from Toledo.

“We’re going to be much better than last year, because it’s another year in the offense,” Meister said. “We’re just going to know everything much better. The coaches are going to know more about the offense and we’re going to be able to scheme much better against teams.”