By Todd Purvis/Sports editor

With preseason practice winding down, the Colonels are ready to get their season under way this weekend when they travel to Boone, N.C., to take on the Mountaineers of Appalachian State.”We’re going to have to play well to go down to Boone and pick up a ‘W’,” head coach Danny Hope said.

Eastern comes into the game looking to pick up its first victory in a season opener since 2000.

Last weekend, the Mountaineers opened its season at Wyoming, where they were drilled 53-7.

In last year’s contest between the Colonels and Appalachian State, Eastern dominated the game and picked up its first win of the season by a 35-7 margin.

Appalachian State finished last season with a record of 7-4 while the Colonels finished the year at 7-5.

“Appalachian State returns a lot of the same guys that played against us last year,” Hope said.

This year, the Mountaineers’ offensive attack will be led by junior quarterback Richie Williams. Williams was 16 of 31 for 200 yards and one touchdown last week.

“Their big gun is their quarterback,” Hope said. “He’s really an exciting player and is one of the top players in their league and he makes a lot of big plays when he scrambles.”

Appalachian State’s lead receiver is senior wide out DaVon Fowlkes. Fowlkes led all Mountaineer receivers last week with 10 catches for 153 yards and one touchdown.

“Fowlkes is there go-to guy,” Hope said.

Alan Atwater is the primary rusher for Appalachian State. Last season Atwater ran for 873 yards and four touchdowns.

Leading the Mountaineer defense is sophomore defensive back Jeremy Wiggins. Wiggins had 90 tackles and one interception last season.

Senior linebacker Jerelle Carter also plays a big role in the Appalachian State defense. Carter recorded 73 stops last season and picked off two passes.

The high-powered Colonel offense will be led by senior quarterback Matt Guice. Last season, Guice threw for 2,266 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“Hopefully we can come out and spread the field and work on our passing game,” Hope said.

The Colonels ground game will be led by senior running back C.J. Hudson. Hudson rushed for 606 yards and six touch down last season.

“C.J. is a guy that can be a difference maker in the game,” Hope said.

The Eastern air attack will be led by junior wide out Andre Ralston. Ralston caught 59 balls last season for 1,082 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Colonels’ will also look for senior receiver Allan Evans to play a big role in its passing game. Evans reeled in 46 balls for 446 yards and two scores last season.

“We’ve got a great group of receivers and we need to get them the ball,” Hope said.

On the other side of the ball, the Eastern defense will be led by senior linebacker Justen Rivers. Rivers recorded 99 tackles and three sacks last season.

Rivers will be joined in the backfield by fellow linebacker Jerome Jones. Last season, Jones had 90 stops, six sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

The Eastern secondary will be led by senior strong safety Pierre Wright. Wright had 85 tackles last season.

The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

“We expect the Mountaineers to bring their A-game,” Hope said. “A win on the road against Appalachian State would be a huge win for EKU.”

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