Senior Days: Weekend Preview 11/13

QB Pat Dugan '16 OL Sean Lovett '18 after something good happened. Clearly. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)
QB Pat Dugan ’16 and OL Sean Lovett ’18 after something good happened. Clearly. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

Well, the best that can be said about this weekend’s match ups is that three of the following four games feature teams within one game of each other in the standings. I know, I’m supposed to be a salesman and get you excited for the rest of the article, but I’ve already got your click, so I really don’t care….

I do care, of course, and even though none of the game’s below will factor into the Championship race (barring the upset of the millenium – and I mean that), there’s still a lot of intrigue around these games, and it definitely means something to all of the senior playing their last game of football on Saturday.

No more clichés need be wrought about the sentimental value of this weekend’s games, so let’s get into the meat of the matter.

Four to Watch: Senior Edition

Bates Defensive Lineman Tucker Oniskey ’16

Oniskey has been possibly the Bobcats’ best lineman three years running. The big man has gone from 23 tackles and nine pass break ups in seven games in 2013 to 26 tackles and five break ups in seven games a year ago to 37 tackles and four break ups in his first seven games this year.

Oniskey’s ability to get in the face of the opposing quarterback will be important against Hamilton, which likes to air the ball out downfield. We saw last week how a good secondary can take advantage of Hamilton QB Cole Freeman ’19, who was picked off four times by Middlebury last Saturday. The Bates secondary has been exploited at times this year, although CB Trevor Lyons ’17 has had a pick-six in two straight games. If Oniskey can get pressure on Freeman, Lyons might just get his third INT TD of the season.

Williams WR Mark Pomella ’16

Pomella had been exclusively a quarterback in his first three years in Williamstown. He had hoped to be the team’s starter last season until BC-transfer Austin Lommen ’16 beat him out for the gig. Head Coach Aaron Kelton hinted in the preseason that Pomella could switch roles because of his athleticism, but it took three games for Pomella to finally make the switch. Between Weeks 3-7, Pomella has 33 catches (6.6/game) for 421 yards (84.2/game) and one TD. Pomella has been the team’s clear top option since Week 3. He’s also served as the team’s punt returner, especially with RB Connor Harris ’18 out. He will need a monster game in Week 8 to help the Ephs upset Amherst.

Colby D-Linemen Ryan Ruiz ’16 and Harry Nicholas ’16

Bowdoin’s top three running backs are out for the year, and the Polar Bears rushed for negative six yards last week. They’ve broken 63 yards rushing just once this year. By default, Bowdoin has to throw the ball. Ruiz and Nicholas have a combined eight sacks this year. Bowdoin QB Tim Drakeley ’17 is back in starting lineup, but he hasn’t really played since Week 3, which will provide Ruiz and Nicholas a chance to capitalize and have one of their best games.

Tufts RT Justin Roberts ’16 and LT Akene Farmer-Michos ’16

Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts
Akene Farmer-Michos
Akene Farmer-Michos

I’m not sure about this, but I think Roberts and Farmer-Michos are the only offensive linemen we’ve ever featured as players to watch or X-factors, and now we’ve done it twice. Apologies to all the other great O-linemen out there around the league.

Roberts and Farmer-Michos are big reasons why RB Chance Brady ’17 is running his way towards history, and the Jumbos need to run well on Saturday to beat Middlebury. The Panthers have been very hit or miss against the run defensively, surrendering 301 yards on 59 carries (5.1 ypc) against Wesleyan, 190 yards on 49 (3.8 ypc) against Amherst and 204 yards on 61 carries (3.3 ypc) at Bates, while also allowing just 33 yards on 31 carries (1.1 ypc) against the vaunted Trinity attack. Inside LB Tim Patricia ’16 will have to make a lot of stops this weekend, and per usual he is leading Middlebury in tackles. If he can’t, Roberts and Farmer-Michos will be opening up some wide lanes for Brady to bounce through.

Elo Ratings

Maybe you’ve never heard of Elo Ratings. I hadn’t until very recently. But recently a little NbN fairy whispered sweet nothings in my ear, and now we have Elo Ratings. If you want the history of what Elo Ratings are, read here. If you want to know about the mainstream sports applications that inspired this fairy to do some great statistical work on NESCAC football, check out If you are averse to clinking on links that may take you to strange places, I’ll give you the rundown here.

Elo Ratings are a system that quantify the gains and losses to each team after each contest. Wins produce gains in ratings, and losses produce reductions in ratings. In our system (again, I can’t take any personal credit for this work), margins of victory compared to expected winning margin also effect the changes in Elo Ratings. At the end of each season, team ratings are regressed towards the mean, which makes sense because in college athletics there is often a lot of turnover between seasons, so teams have to prove it both on the field and in the Elo Ratings.

Our timeline currently stretches back to 2005. In our ratings, all teams begin with an “average” rating of 1500, meaning that at the beginning of our timeline, teams were very closely clustered together. I’ll spare you the math – because I don’t want my brain to start hurting – but trust me when I say that there is a way to convert each team’s Elo Rating into their probability of winning their next game, and by comparing two teams’ win probabilities and putting them into some kind of magical/mathematical cauldron, you can conjure up a spread for every game. It’s also important to note that home teams are allotted a four-point advantage throughout the spreads.

Below is a graph that depicts each team’s Elo Rating from the beginning of the 2005 season through Week 7 of the 2015 season. This should give you some idea of how each team’s stock has risen and fallen over the past decade.

NESCAC Elo Ratings 2005-2015
NESCAC Elo Ratings 2005-2015

What’s the point of showing you this? Well, if you’re a stat nerd, the value is obvious. This is pretty cool. Secondly, though, this week we are sharing the spreads for each game in our predictions and discuss the spread a little bit. In the information you will see which team is giving points this week.

Game Previews

Bates (2-5) (-10) at Hamilton (1-6), Clinton, NY, 12:00 PM

Despite the ugly records, both of these teams are on the upswing. Bates is coming off of two straight wins and a CBB title, the program’s third in the past four years, making the 2016 class the first since 1900 to claim three outright CBB titles in its tenure. A win will also make the 2016 class 16-16, which would tie last year’s class as the winningest since 1983. Finally, Hamilton is the only program which Bates holds the series advantage over, with the Bobcats currently in the lead 19-18.

Hamilton, meanwhile, has returned to relevance this year. Not only did the Conts get their first win in over three years at Williams, but they’ve been very competitive, losing to Tufts by three in double OT, Wesleyan by five, Bowdoin by 10, Colby by five and Middlebury by five. With a lot of young players making impacts, specifically on defense and at QB Cole Freeman, there is a lot of hope for this program next year.

As for this year, though, the focus for both teams is finishing on a high note and giving its seniors a great last memory. When analyzing a Bates game, the first thing to ask for its opponent is whether they can stop the run. In Hamilton’s case, they’ve done a pretty good job of that this season. Tufts, Wesleyan and Trinity put up big rushing totals, but they also ran the ball around 50 times against Hamilton, and on the season the Continentals are allowing 3.28 yards per rush. Not exactly 1980’s Steelers, but passable, and I actually think that practicing against Hamilton’s new Wildcat read option will actually have prepared the Continentals to stop the Bates attack. If Hamilton can force QB Pat Dugan ’16 to the air, it will be a long day for Bates. No one besides Bats WR Mark Riley ’16 scares you in the passing game.

The Bobcats, meanwhile, need to step up their pass defense. Hamilton, as a team, has the highest yards per completion average. They don’t necessarily complete that many passes, though. Freeman and Chase Rosenberg ’17 have combined for a 43.9 percent completion rate. DB Brandon Williams ’17 will be on alert and trying to add to his league-best five interceptions.

The Continentals won a big game two weeks ago, and are still feeling good about themselves after taking Middlebury to the wire. They’ll be good enough to cover the spread, but the final decision goes to Bates.

Prediction: Bates 24 – Hamilton 21

Amherst (7-0) (-22.5) at Williams (2-5), Williamstown, MA, 12:00 PM

If you take a peek at the Elo Rating chart above, you might notice that Amherst is currently at the highest it’s ever been, and Williams is at the lowest. The spread of (-22.5) is actually lower than last year’s (-24), but it definitely feels like more of a lopsided matchup this year. That’s what I meant when I said it would take the upset of the millennium for the championship hunt to be impacted this weekend. Williams would have to cover a 22.5 point spread and beat Amherst in order to give Trinity a shot at sharing the title.

On paper, this game is clearly a blowout. The Jeffs have played some competitive games, but none have really ended up that close besides the 16-7 win over Trinity a week ago. The next closest margin was a nine-point win over Wesleyan in Week 5 in which Amherst needed a five-plus minute drive late in the fourth to clinch the win. The only question for Amherst is which QB Reece Foy ’18 will show up? The efficient, dual-threat Foy, or the clumsy turnover-prone Foy? He’s had five picks the last three games after having one pick in the first four. All he has to do is get the ball near his awesome receivers, including WR Jackson McGonagle ’16, who is a big play threat when Foy is able to hit him downfield, and rely on the bruising rushing attack lead by Kenny Adinkra ’16. As an entire team, Amherst is averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Enough said.

If Williams has one thing going for them, it’s experience. Five starters on offense and five on defense are all seniors, so they won’t shy away from the daunting task ahead of them. DE James Howe ’16 has had massive expectations heaped on him the past couple of seasons, but teams have been able to neutralize him much of the time by scheming for him, but he’s been productive this season with two sacks, and has opened the door for fellow D-lineman Jack Ryan ’16 to get 3.5 sacks of his own.

Despite Williams’ significant series lead (71-53-5), Amherst is expected to win its fifth straight contest against their rivals and clinch not only the NESCAC title, but also its 32nd Little Three title, which we’ve barely even talked about because it’s seemed like a formality for awhile now. And yes, I think they cover that massive spread.

Prediction: Amherst 35 – Williams 7

Colby (1-6) (-0.5)  at Bowdoin (1-6), Brunswick, ME, 12:30 PM

This game is basically a pick ’em, and that’s all I can do, because I don’t know what to think about either team. For the most part, it’s been a lot of meaningless second halfs for these teams this season. Bowdoin has no running game right now, and Colby is afraid to throw the ball and might have a QB battle in camp next season.

The Mules’ rushing attack has been solid after a slow start though, thanks to RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and the heavy lifting of FB Robert Murray ’16. They just can’t do anything through the air. QB Gabe Harrington ’17 has one touchdown and 11 interceptions, and Christian Sparacio ’18 has gotten time in spurts, but he’s completed less than half of his attempts and is more like a Wildcat QB with the ability to throw right now. Defensively, LB Stephen O’Grady ’16 has been a workhorse, leading the team in tackles.

It’s going to be a challenge for Tim Drakeley to be effective in the passing game for Bowdoin with no rushing threat. He’ll be looking to find WR Dan Barone ’16 early and often, and there will be a lot of pressure on All-NESCAC C Matt Netto ’16 and his squad to keep Drakeley upright. On the defense, it will have to be a big day for LB Branden Morin ’16 and companion LB Phillipe Archambault ’19, who’s stepped right in and tallied 49 tackles in six games.

It’s going to be low-scoring, with neither team able to move the ball quickly. With that being the case, I have to tip the scales in favor of Colby, who will be able to move the ball on the ground and get after the passer on third and longs. It’s going to be a sad Senior Day in Brunswick.

Prediction: Colby 23 – Bowdoin 17

Middlebury (5-2) (-6) at Tufts (5-2), Medford, MA, 12:30 PM

LB Tim Patricia '16 is the heart of the Panthers defense. (Courtesy of Brad Banky)
LB Tim Patricia ’16 is the heart of the Panthers defense. (Courtesy of Brad Banky)

When was the last time this game was relevant? Probably 2008, when the Panthers beat Tufts 38-24 to finish 5-3, ahead of the 4-4 Jumbos. Tufts hasn’t beaten Middlebury since Nov. 10, 2001. That’s 5,116 days. However, for the first time in a long time, Tufts and Middlebury come into the game with the same record, and in all honesty, I’m not sure Middlebury deserves to be favored in this game.

We’ve talked a lot about the injuries to the Panthers, and that is a big reason why they’ve played some close games recently and I’m feeling like Tufts can pull this off. Early in the week, though, Head Coach Bob Ritter was hopeful that some of his offensive linemen would be healthy by Saturday, which was probably directed at C James Wang ’16, though Ritter didn’t say for sure. Wang’s been dealing with a lingering leg injury all season, which is pretty much par for the Panthers’ course.

I still think the Middlebury passing attack will be productive. In the finale of two brilliant careers for QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16, don’t be surprised to see those two connect early and often. Very often. Minno is chasing history, needing two touchdowns to become the all-time TD reception leader in Middlebury history and 40 yards to reach second in receiving yards for a career. Those two milestones are pretty much a lock. Elsewhere, TE-turned-slot receiver Trevor Miletich ’16 should have a big game, too. When he’s been healthy this season he’s been a favorite target for Milano.

I’ve already discussed the need for Tufts to run the football, but will they be able to move the pigskin through the air? If so, they’ll need to attack the corner opposite boundary CB Nate Leedy ’17. PSA to NESCAC teams: Don’t throw at this kid. Leedy picked off two balls a week ago, and if every team challenged him like Hamilton did he’d have two picks per game. He is also probably the hardest hitter on the Panther defense. Sometimes his shoulder-first launches result in missed tackles because he doesn’t wrap up, but it actually happens less than you’d think. When he connects, the ball carrier goes down. Hard. So, if Tufts QB Alex Snyder ’17 is smart, he’ll try the other side of the field, putting pressure on CB Andrew McGrath ’18 if he’s healthy, but more likely CB Matt Daniel ’19. Safety Dan Pierce ’16 will be a huge factor in plugging up the run, as well.

Maybe it’s just too hard to pick against my team in the last game of my classmates’ careers, or maybe I’m jaded because I’ve watched the Panthers trash Tufts for the last three seasons, but in either case, I’m taking Middlebury even though they’re (-6). There are a lot of Midd haters out there right now because they’ve played some close games against teams that they “should” have blown out. But they’ve still won those games. And that kind of resiliency and winning attitude will play the difference in this one-touchdown game.

Prediction Middlebury 28 – Tufts 21

The Picks (Straight Up)

NbN Staff Last Week: 3-2

NbN Staff This Season: 26-9

The Biggest Fantasy Day of the Year: Fantasy Report 10/27

Matt Milano 16 continues to dominate the fantasy world. Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
Matt Milano ’16 continues to dominate the fantasy world. (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

NESCAC teams put up a lot of points and yards this week, and so fantasy scores were up almost universally. The one exception to that was Nick DiBenedetto who had almost no points this week. His entire team had 38 points (including his bench which had 0). That allowed me to cruise to an easy win and get to 2-3 for the year. Matt Milano ’16 had 42 points just by himself this week. Joe put up a big number of 150 points because of that outburst from Milano. So far this season, Joe has gotten a profitable return on the No. 1 overall pick.

Adam vs. Nick 

Adam Lamont Nick DiBenedetto
QB Austin Lommen 28 QB Gabe Harrington 9
QB Reece Foy 22 QB Tim Drakeley 0
RB Jack Hickey 0 RB Diego Meritus 5
RB Chance Brady 31 RB Connor Harris 5
WR Pat Donahoe 12 WR Darrien Myers 2
WR Mike Rando 9 WR Dan Barone 1
TE Alex Way 1 TE Trevor MIletich 2
FLEX Nick Vailas 6 FLEX Ben Kurtz 0
FLEX Jackson McGonagle 21 FLEX Jaylen Berry 3
D/ST Wesleyan 10 D/ST Trinity 11
K Ike Fuchs 3 K Eric Sachse 0
 Total 143  Total 38
BE Gernald Hawkins 21   BE Matt Hirshman 0
BE Ryder Arsenault 0   BE Jordan Jenkins 0
BE Shaun Carroll 0   BE Raheem Jackson 0

Both quarterbacks showed up for me and neither really did for Nick. That quarterback position has long been an Achilles heel for him, and it is starting to get exposed now. Then Nick got unlucky with some solid contributors like Darrien Myers ’17 and Dan Barone ’16 having substandard weeks. My team still has some flaws to it, but I’m liking them more and more every week. Chance Brady ’17 is becoming a certified stud every week, and if I can figure out another running back, I might actually have something.

Joe vs. Carson

Joe Carson Kenney
QB Matt Milano 44 QB Sonny Puzzo 8
QB Alex Snyder 19 QB Jared Lebowitz 10
RB Kenny Adinkra 2 RB Frank Williams 11
RB LaShawn Ware 3 RB Max Chipouras 33
WR Devin Boehm 12 WR Matt Minno 25
WR Devon Carrillo 16 WR Mark Riley 17
TE Bryan Porter 9 TE Rob Thoma 1
FLEX Jabari Hurdle-Price 12 FLEX Ian Dugger 2
FLEX Conrado Banky 17 FLEX Jack Cooleen 4
D/ST Middlebury 10 D/ST Amherst 4
K Charlie Wall 6 K Charlie Gordon 2
 Total 150  Total 117
BE Lou Stevens 2   BE Neil O’Connor 0
BE Ryan Rizzo 12   BE LaDarius Drew 0
BE Tyler Grant 0   BE Nick Gaynor 9

Having Milano isn’t really fair when he can throw for 405 yards and five TDs like it’s nothing. People have gotten so used to it that he was passed over for NESCAC POTW Honors in favor of Max Chipouras ’19. That Chipouras pickup might win Carson the Fantasy Championship before it’s all said and done, but it wasn’t enough for him this week. Joe, who takes these proceedings much too seriously, is scary good and is only going to get better.


Joe: 4-1
Nick: 3-2
Adam: 2-3
Carson: 1-4

Nick DiBenedetto is a Genius: Fantasy Report Week 3

Our season long vanity project rolls on into week three with ever improving results. Emerging studs like Jack Hickey ’19 are rapidly getting snagged off of the waiver wire, but there is still plenty of talent to be mined going forward. Let’s look at the results.

Matchup 1: Joe over Adam 114-112

Joe Adam
Pos. Player Pts Pos. Player Pts
QB Matt Milano 14 QB Austin Lommen 17
QB Alex Snyder 11 QB Reece Foy 21
RB Kenny Adinkra 13 RB Jack Hickey 11
RB LaShawn Ware 9 RB Chance Brady 30
WR Ryan Rizzo -1 WR Pat Donahoe 6
WR Devon Carrillo 27 WR Mike Rando 5
TE Bryan Porter 2 TE Alex Way 6
FLEX Jabari Hurdle-Price 26 FLEX Shaun Carroll 0
FLEX Conrado Banky 7 FLEX Jackson McGonagle 10
D/ST Middlebury 5 D/ST Wesleyan 1
K Charlie Wall 6 K Ike Fuchs 5
BE Lou Stevens 2   BE Gernald Hawkins 19
BE Pat Dugan 10   BE Ryder Arsenault 0
BE Tyler Grant 0   BE Nick Kelly 4
119 112

Feeling like George Bush after the 2000 election because of how close this one was. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and Chance Brady ’17 basically cancelled each other it with their big days. So Devon Carrillo ’16, who I have long had a definite soft spot for, made the difference because of his receiving ability this week. Adam should be most upset about Shaun Carroll ’16 not getting any points because he is usually good for at least a couple running the ball. More than anything, our high scores tell me that week by week we are getting a handle on the NESCAC fantasy landscape.

Matchup 2: Nick over Carson 86-70

Carson Nick
Pos. Player Pts Pos. Player Pts
QB Sonny Puzzo 9 QB Gabe Harrington 8
QB Jared Lebowitz 0 QB Tim Drakeley 13
RB Frank Williams 11 RB Diego Meritus 6
RB Nick Gaynor 1 RB Connor Harris 5
WR Matt Minno 13 WR Darrien Myers 7
WR Mark Riley 6 WR Dan Barone 19
TE Rob Thoma 5 TE Trevor MIletich 4
FLEX Ian Dugger 8 FLEX Ben Kurtz 0
FLEX Jack Cooleen 2 FLEX Jaylen Berry 7
D/ST Amherst 14 D/ST Trinity 12
K Charlie Gordon 1 K Eric Sachse 5
BE Neil O’Connor 2 BE Matt Hirshman 2
BE LaDarius Drew 0 BE Alex Berluti 0
BE Jon Hurvitz 1 BE Raheem Jackson 0
70 86

With each passing week, newcomer Nick DiBenedetto is looking smarter and smarter. His win this week moves him to 3-0, and he did so in part because of strong production from the Bowdoin duo of QB Tim Drakeley ’17 and receiver Dan Barone ’16. The key for him is that every guy is getting a little bit of production, allowing him to win close matchups. For Carson, his first pick LaDarius Drew ’15 is not healthy and didn’t play this weekend. Priority number one for him is finding a second quarterback since Jake Lebowitz ’18 is not seeing the field enough. Carson will likely also try to get Trinity running back Max Chipouras ’19 off of waivers in order to get his first win.


Nick: 3-0
Joe: 2-1
Adam: 1-2
Carson: 0-3

First Impressions Matter: The Weekend Preview

The best time of year is back. Football returns to the NESCAC tomorrow. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

The first week of the season is a special time. After 10 long months of waiting, NESCAC football is back to fill up our early Saturday afternoons for eight weeks. Yet, one can’t help but feel like right now is almost a better time to be a NESCAC football fan. After all, by Saturday night half of the teams will be 0-1. The expectations that every team and fanbase has can’t possibly all be met, and so for some, times are better before those expectations come crashing down.

This is the point where my friends tell me that I’m way too cynical. That football games are one of the best events ever created, and we should welcome them like a crying baby does the embrace of a parent. They are right of course. Enjoy tomorrow, and if at all possible get yourself to a game in person. Thanks to the Northeast Sports Network and improvements in technology, watching a NESCAC football game at home is now a great alternative, but nothing beats the ability to watch a game in person. Alright, enough of me rambling: on to the analysis.

Five to Watch

  1. Quarterback Reece Foy ’18 (Amherst): Coach EJ Mills has been loathe to disclose who his starting QB is, but the game preview on the Amherst website and one source have tipped us off to the fact that Foy is getting the nod for the start. Foy has talent, as he actually played at the University of San Diego (DI-AA) for a year before transferring to Amherst before last season. Foy battled for the starting position early in the year before Max Lippe ’15 retook control of the position down the stretch. At only 5’9″, Foye can have trouble seeing all of his reads. He is a good athlete though we didn’t see him run much last year. Even though Foy might start, I still think we see Alex Berluti ’17 play quarterback at some point, also.
  2. Safety Justin Sanchez ’17 (Wesleyan): As one of the two returners on defense for the Cardinals, Sanchez has to be spectacular against Matt Milano ’16 and Middlebury. Stars Donnie Cimino ’15 and Jake Bussani ’14 helped allow Sanchez to roam free and make plays in the run game (he led the Cardinals in tackles last season with 58), but Coach Dan DiCenzo will ask him to do more in pass defense this game. The Wesleyan defense might struggle to stop Middlebury, but if they get a couple of turnovers, that would also be huge. A noted ball-hawk, Sanchez is their best bet to make that happen.
  3. Defensive End James Howe ’16 (Williams): Does dominant 2013 James Howe return or are teams still able to scheme and stop him like in 2014? That question is one Ephs fans are hoping to see answered on Saturday. Top level talent like what Howe displayed in 2013 is rare in the NESCAC, and it can swing games. The defensive line besides Howe is young, but that is no excuse for him as a senior now. I will be watching Howe in person at Bowdoin while (shameless personal plug alert) I am doing the color commentary for NSN, so rest assured that I will keep a close eye on him.
  4. Outside Linebacker Patrick Williams ’16 (Tufts): This is a name you might not know right now, but I have a feeling that Williams is going to have a big senior year. He had 43 tackles and an interception a year ago; solid numbers but nothing special for sure. However, at 6’2″ and 220 he has exceptional size for his position and he moves pretty well. He was only moved to linebacker last season, and he has a better understanding of the position this year. Also, his dream job is to see the world while making money. Me too, Patrick, me too.
  5. Wide Receiver Darrien Myers ’17 (Trinity): Myers has a lot of hype around him after being selected fifth in our Fantasy Draft. Not actually, but Myers is important to watch because he could help create big plays in the passing game for Trinity. That was something the Bantams struggled with last year after relying on AJ Jones ’14 to be a game breaker for them for a long time. In 2014, Myers was targeted on a lot of short passes near the line of scrimmage in order to get him the ball in space and make plays, but it really makes more sense to allow him to use his speed and get behind the defense for big plays.

Game Previews

Editors Note: We are going to cover Wesleyan vs. Middlebury in depth this afternoon. Just sit tight on that one.

Amherst at Bates: Lewiston, Maine, 1:00 PM.

So Foy is the QB, but that doesn’t change much about the Jeffs. Nick Kelly ’17 is going to get the ball a lot, and Kenny Adinkra ’16 and Raheem Jackson ’17 should also get nearly 10 carries apiece. That offensive line had trouble creating holes in 2014 as the Jeffs ran for only 126 yards on 37 carries (42 yards came on one run too). Look out for any tweaks to the Amherst scheme like them rolling Foy out of the pocket or using the read option more because they knew whomever won the starting job would be better suited for that type of offense. A major concern for Foy is just limiting mistakes and taking care of the ball.

#2 Jackson McGonagle '16 is hoping the Amherst passing attack can break out this year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
#2 Jackson McGonagle ’16 is hoping the Amherst passing attack can break out this year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Outside of Wesleyan, nobody lost more from its roster than Bates so I am not quite sure what to expect from them. The game last year was touch and go to the end, but the defense for Bates will have difficulty keeping this one low-scoring. The best hope for a Bates victory comes from being able to control the clock and hit Mark Riley ’16 on a lot of third downs. The Jeffs of course get the benefit of playing the Bobcats first and have had ample time to get ready defensively to defend the triple option. The 3-4 defense that Amherst runs is already well-suited to stopping it, and the Jeffs have more than enough athleticism in the front seven to make plays. This one won’t be as close as it was last year, but Amherst doesn’t blow many teams out either.

Prediction: Amherst 23 – Bates 7

Williams at Bowdoin: Brunswick, Maine, 1:00 PM

The first game for JB Wells is a chance for Bowdoin to wipe the slate clean and put last year’s 36-0 blowout loss to Williams in the rear mirror. That moment turned out to be the high moment of the year for Williams who face a lot of questions entering the season.

The loss of safety Justin Harris ’17 for the season is a tough one especially since the Ephs also lost Tom Cabarle ’15 to graduation. Corners Taysean Scott ’17 and Mike Davis ’17 are still very good, but the Ephs will really have to hope that their front seven can handle Bowdoin’s running attack without having to bring one of the inexperienced safeties into the box. That running attack is led by Tyler Grant ’17, who didn’t do much in this game last year. The new Bowdoin offense will look similar when they line up, but the action after the snap will be very different. The Polar Bears want to throw the ball more than they did last year, and Dan Barone ’16 will be targeted in the passing game early and often. Because he works out of the slot a lot, I’m not sure how Williams will matchup with him, but he could give the outside linebackers fits.

I’m higher on Austin Lommen ’16 in his senior year than most, and he needs to prove in this game that he can lead the offense even if the running game isn’t working. The Williams receivers will have a large height advantage in at least one of their match ups, but that has often been the case, and they haven’t found a way to exploit it.

As a reminder, I (Adam) played for Bowdoin my freshman year and do not pick their games because of that. So the prediction is from Joe.

Prediction: Bowdoin 17 – Williams 13

Trinity at Colby: Waterville, Maine, 1:00 PM

In case you forgot, Trinity comes into the season with a three-game losing streak. They are going to come ready to play. Sonny Puzzo ’18 is the QB with Henry Foye ’16 ready to play, also. The big battle is in the trenches between the inexperienced Trinity offensive line and the veteran Colby defensive line. The Bantams ended up running all over Colby in the second half last year, but that was after the front seven had been worn down. Chris Marano ’17, Ryan Ruiz ’16 and the rest of that defensive line have to get penetration and stop those big Trinity running backs before they get a head of steam going. When Puzzo does go to throw the ball, he should have great success with all of his talented receivers back against the very inexperienced Colby secondary.

Jabari Hurdle-Price '17 become the team's feature back once Carl Lipani '17 went down with an injury last season and proved that he can carry the load, averaging 4.1 YPC. (Dustin Satloff/Colby College Athletics)
Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 become the team’s feature back once Carl Lipani ’17 went down with an injury last season and proved that he can carry the load, averaging 4.1 YPC. (Dustin Satloff/Colby College Athletics)

Running back Carl Lipani ’17 had great success running against the Trinity front seven last year, and the Mules have to keep that level of commitment to running the ball in order to not have their defense tired at the end of the game. That also means quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 has to complete above 60 percent of his passes. The entire linebacking group for Trinity is new, and so Harrington should put pressure on them to make tackles in space by getting the ball to either his running backs or receivers in the flats. Trying to throw the deep ball against Trinity safety Spencer Donahue ’17 is not a winning proposition. The Mules keep it close again for a while, but the strength of Trinity wins out over four quarters

Prediction: Trinity 22 – Colby 16

Tufts at Hamilton: Clinton, New York, 1:00 PM

Year two of Dave Murray’s tenure begins with a Tufts team coming to town eager to prove they are a better team than the one that beat Hamilton a year ago and that they can win on the road. The key for Hamilton is improvement on defense. They held opponents to under 30 points just three times all season in 2014. The good news is that most of the defense is back, and they had to fend off competition for their spots. The offense should be decent overall, but I don’t like the way that things matchup for Hamilton against Tufts. The Continentals had over 400 yards of offense last year, but they didn’t finish drives.

Tufts will run the bubble screen until the Continentals prove they can stop it, and that isn’t easier given the skills of the Tufts slot receivers. I am worried about the quarterback play for Tufts, though. Alex Snyder ’17 has not grabbed the job in the fashion that the coaches were hoping he would, and the Tufts offense will have to be more effective than it was last year when they relied heavily on their defense and special teams to create points. I’ve actually gone back and forth on this one a little because I do like what Murray is selling at Hamilton, but I don’t think his first win comes in this one.

Prediction: Tufts 19 – Hamilton 13

Dreams Never Die: NESCAC Fantasy Football is Back!


We know you were hoping that we wouldn’t do this again. That we’d stop pretending that this is the NFL and just let the kids play. That we’d retire our make-believe fantasies of running an NFL organization and building a perennial championship competitor.

But we did it anyway.

This season, four opponents once again step up to the plate and compete for NESCAC Fantasy Supremacy – editors Joe MacDonald and Adam Lamont, longtime contributor Carson Kenney and newcomer Nick DiBenedetto.

The rules are basically the same as last year. We shrunk the roster size slightly, bringing it down to 14 players. We’ll be starting two each of QBs, RBs and WRs, one TE, one FLEX (RB, WR, TE), a D/ST and a K. Each team has four bench spots.

With this week as an exception, player acquisitions will be made on Tuesdays every week via the very sophisticated method of group chat. The waiver order will always go in reverse order of the standings. If there is a tie in the standings the tiebreakers listed below will take affect.

The following two sections are basically copied verbatim from last year’s initial fantasy article:


Our scoring scheme is essentially the same as an ESPN standard league, so in the interest of saving time and space I won’t put down every point total here.
The only difference is in the points we award for passing. In ESPN standard leagues, QB’s receive one point for every 25 passing yards and four points for a TD pass. However, the NFL is much more pass happy than the NESCAC. Over the three years from 2011-2013 (I chose not to go through the tedious work of adding the 2014 information to this study), there were 316 passing touchdowns and 306 rushing touchdowns in the NESCAC, and 45,452 passing yards compared to 34,181 rushing yards. So, we decided to award six points for touchdowns of any kind (passing, rushing or receiving), and one point for every 20 passing yards as opposed to 25. Running backs and receivers earn one point for every 10 yards on the ground or through the air.
One other miscellaneous note: individual players do not receive points for kick returns. For example, Darrien Myers ’17 is one of the league’s best return men, but if he runs a kickoff back for a touchdown he will accrue no points, while the Trinity D/ST will receive six.

We will be competing in weekly head-to-head matchups. There are four teams, so each team will play each other team twice over the first six weeks. Weeks 7 and 8 will serve as a single-elimination playoff. The top seed will play the fourth seed, the second will play the third, and the winners of the Week 7 matchups will compete for the title.
First tie-breaker: Head-to-head record
Second tie-breaker: Most points in head-to-head matchups
Playoff tie-breaker: QB points
Second playoff tie-breaker: RB points
Third playoff tie-breaker: WR points

We’ve also added one new wrinkle to try and compensate for the most glaring inefficiency in NESCAC Fantasy Football – injuries. So, if an owner plays an individual who ends up not appearing in that week’s game, and there was no prior indication that he would not be playing (meaning that he played the entire game last week, and to the best of our knowledge was healthy going into the current Saturday), then the owner will receive the average of all the players on his bench who are eligible to play that position. Make sense? Good.

Below is how the draft itself shook out. Some picks might raise a few eyebrows. After each round there is a bit of analysis from one of the team owners.


Joe MacDonad: Middlebury QB Matt Milano ’16
Adam Lamont: Amherst RB Nick Kelly ’16
Carson Kenney: Wesleyan RB LaDarius Drew ’15
Nick DiBenedetto: Trinity RB Joe Moreno ’19

Joe: The NESCAC is a running back-heavy league. So I took the gunslinging Matt Milano. No one throws it quite as often or effectively as Middlebury, and that offense is loaded. I really wanted either Drew or Moreno in Round 2 (specifically Drew), but my competitors were too smart for that. Shocker. I also will be interested to see if Moreno can really return this level of value.


ND: Trinity WR Darrien Myers ’17
CK: Middlebury WR Matt Minno ’16
AL: Tufts RB Chance Brady
JM: Wesleyan RB Lou Stevens

Adam: Such a blatant homer pick by Nick to take Trinity WR Darrien Myers ’17 that you can’t help but love it. The Minno pick could be considered high for a WR, but he looks primed for a massive year the way he and Milano found chemistry down the stretch. I love Chance Brady, might have picked him a little high there at seven. Joe showed his respect for the Wesleyan offense by taking another Cardinals running back eighth.


JM: Bowdoin RB Tyler Grant
AL: Williams QB Austin Lommen
CK: Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo
ND: Colby QB Gabe Harrington

Carson: I got off to a great start in my opinion by snagging Drew and Minno, but I needed a quarterback. As a Trin alumn/current employee, obviously my allegiance is with the Bantams. Puzzo didn’t play at all last year so he should have a lot to prove. Word on the street is the kid is about to blow, and since he’ll get fantasy points through the air and on the ground, I thought he was a good choice at QB. Adam taking Lommen that early, in my opinion, was a bit of a panic pick.


ND: Bowdoin WR Dan Barone
CK: Bates WR Mark Riley
AL: Wesleyan QB Gernald Hawkins
JM: Colby RB Jabari Hurdle-Price

Nick: Mac’s pick in the fourth round looks promising. The Colby RB’s should have ample opportunities to put fantasy points on the board. Mark Riley seems to be Bates’ weapon, that may or may not work out for Carson as teams may stack Riley’s side. Adam went with a young Wesleyan QB in the fourth round, which could prove to be the pick of the draft. The Floridian knows what football is, but does he know how to play in the frozen tundras of the Coop. Gernald Hawkins could emerge as a big-time player this year. Lastly, Dan Barone is a solid pick as he should be a big contributor to Bowdoin’s offense at wide receiver.


JM: Middlebury WR Ryan Rizzo
AL: Colby WR Ryder Arsenault
CK: Middlebury RB Jonathan Hurvitz
ND: Amherst QB Alex Berluti

Joe: If you’ve read anything I’ve written about Middlebury this season, I’ve been hyping up Rizzo like you wouldn’t believe. Full disclosure, he’s a friend of mine, but he’s also a damn good football player. The caveat is that there are some other really good wideouts pushing him right now, and I could see Conrad Banky ’19 taking away some of his reps. But I think when the time comes, Rizzo will produce.


ND: Trinity TE Matt Hirshman
CK: Trinity WR Ian Dugger
AL: Tufts WR Mike Rando
JM: Tufts TE Nik Dean

Adam: Quickly getting into the part of the draft where we say, why not, I’ll take him. Hirshman didn’t have a catch last year so total trust pick. Carson also stays loyal to Trinity and makes a solid pick with Dugger. Then Joe and I go back to back with Tufts guys, two good picks. Nik Dean at tight end is a really good one for Joe because the NESCAC as a league does not tend to use tight ends in the passing game very often, and Dean should get consistent targets.


JM: Colby WR Mbasa Mayikana
AL: Bates Slotback Shaun Carroll
CK: Amherst TE Rob Thoma
ND: Wesleyan TE Ben Kurtz

Carson: I was confident in the team I had picked up to this point. Have a good group of receivers, two running backs I like, a QB, so I figured I needed a tight end. I wanted to take Hirshman since he’s a Bantam and is looking to have a big year, but DiBo had a stroke and forgot how to human, so I let him have him. Amherst is going to be good this year but they are inexperienced at QB. So why not throw quick passes to your TE? Also, I like Monty’s pick with Carroll. Could have a sneaky good year in Bates’s two slotback offense.


ND: Trin D/ST
CK: Amherst D/ST
AL: Amherst WR Jackson McGonagle
JM: Tufts QB Alex Snyder

Nick: I started off the eighth round with a flawless pick in the Trinity D/ST. The Bantams are on brink of another undefeated season, and if all goes well, the Trinity defense will be up to par. Trinity had a solid special teams last year, and Devanney welcomes in a true competitor in a freshman kicker. Carson followed in my footsteps, taking one of the other top defenses in the league. The Amherst defense is gritty and they are looking to repeat as undisputed NESCAC Champions. If all goes well for Amherst, this pick from CK will be the right one. Adam has a nice pick with Amherst wide reciever Jackson McGonagle, coming into his senior year he should be a threat, and we heard that he trained with a lot of D-I talent this summer – potential for consistent points there. Really uneasy about Joe’s pick here. Why go with a QB who is going to win one game this year!?!? Tufts QB Alex Snyder has seemed to grow exponentially since his freshman year, but I’d rather see Joe choose a winning QB.


JM: Hamilton RB LaShawn Ware
AL: Wesleyan K Ike Fuchs
CK: Wesleyan WR Neil O’Connor
ND: Williams RB Connor Harris

Joe: I like my pick better than the rest here. I actually think the Hamilton O can be middle of the pack, as Ware is a good runner, and whoever ends up starting for Hamilton – whether that’s Brandon Tobin or Chase Rosenberg – will be doing so because they had a promising camp. Either Rosenberg will have shown improvement, or Tobin will have come in and wrestled the starting job away. I do think Connor Harris could be a steal, though. He showed off his athleticism in the return game last season. Let’s see if that translates to the backfield now.


ND: Middlebury TE Trevor Miletich
CK: Trinity WR Nick Gaynor
AL: Williams TE Alex Way
JM: Trinity RB Ethan Suraci

Adam: The round started with Nick changing his pick from the Trinity freshman kicker who he couldn’t remember the name of to Middlebury’s tight end Trevor Miletich ’16. Ended up working out pretty nice for him. Then what felt like the 20th Trinity player came off the board. I grabbed my tight end in Alex Way, and then somehow Joe decided that it was necessary to take yet another Trinity player with his pick. Unless the Bantams score 100 points a game, some of these picks are going to look quite silly.


JM: Midd D/ST
AL: Tufts WR Ben Berey
CK: Middlebury K Charlie Gordon
ND: Trinity Kicker

Carson: I’m a big believer that kickers are the most underrated player on your fantasy team. A good kicker can get you an easy 10-12 points a week which can be huge in winning a matchup. I took Mason Crosby in the seventh round of my real life fantasy draft (which I’ve started out 0-2 so what do I know). Gordon should only have to worry about extra points for most of the year, or kicks from 30 yards or closer, so I’m optimistic he can get me quality points every week. Trinity Kicker is a funny name for a person but I trust Dibo knows what he’s doing.


ND: Middlebury RB Diego Meritus
CK: Middlebury QB Jared Lebowitz
AL: Hamilton WR Pat Donahue
JM: Bates QB Pat Dugan

Nick: Diego was my Middlebury RB pick out of the hat, but he is actually nasty after watching his highschool highlight film. Carson went with Middlebury’s hometown (sort of) hero. Jared Lebowitz is a big bodied sophomore QB who may not see the field due to Matt Milano, but I believe Lebowitz is up and coming. Backup QB’s are awkward picks, but in the 12th round he is a fine pick. Adam chose Pat Donahue. Joe went with the Bates senior which is a good pick to get a starting QB this late.


JM: Middlebury WR James Burke
AL: Colby RB Carl Lipani
CK: Bates Slotback Frank Williams
ND: Bowdoin QB Tim Drakeley

Joe: I think Burke is a steal here, and I actually had Banky on my mind but couldn’t pass up on Midd’s starting wideout opposite of Minno. Sure, maybe a bit of a homer pick, but I like Burke’s upside way more than anybody picked after him. Maybe Lipani will make me look like a fool, though, if he can seriusly cut into Hurdle-Price’s carries.


ND: Middlebury WR Tanner Contois
CK: Trinity QB Henry Foye
AL: Wes Defense/ST
JM: Amherst K Charlie Wall

Adam: Taking a Midd wide receiver late is never a bad pick since they throw the ball so often, even though Contois is pretty deep on the depth chart right now. I grabbed the Wesleyan Defense/ST, realizing my mistake of not grabbing one of Trinity, Middlebury, or Amherst too late. Wesleyan had a great defense a year ago, but that unit is almost entirely gone. I think that while the defense will take a step back, this will still be a good unit because of the talent on the roster and the coaching ability of the Wesleyan staff.

Just Don’t Call It a Rebuild: Bowdoin Season Preview

Running Back Tyler Grant '17 has the advantage of running behind an experienced line. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Running Back Tyler Grant ’17 has the advantage of running behind an experienced line. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Editor’s Note: Our other previews will look a little different than this one. With a new Head Coach at Bowdoin, we wanted to look a little more into the changes in Brunswick.
Additionally, while 99 percent of the work done in these previews is credited directly to the author, the projected records are a decision made solely by the editors, Adam and Joe. So if you don’t like it, blame us.

Projected Record: 3-5

Projected Offensive Starters

QB: Tim Drakeley ’17
RB: Tyler Grant ’17
FB: Tyler MacNeil ’18
WR: Dan Barone ’16
WR: Seamus Power ’16
TE: Bryan Porter ’18
LT: Kyle Losardo ’17
LG: Brian Mullin ’17
C: Matt Netto ’16
RG: Stephen Melgar ’16
RT: Jack Lucy ’17

Projected Defensive Starters

DE: Parker Mundt ’16
DT: Nadim Elhage ’16
DT: Dan Wanger ’17
DE: Latif Armiyaw ’18
LB: Branden Morin ’16
LB: Brendan Lawler ’16
LB/Rover: Bjorn Halvorson ’17
CB: Jibrail Coy ’16
CB: Alan Banks ’18
SS: Reeder Wells ’17
FS: Greg Thompson ’16


First-year coach JB Wells is not implementing a turn-around project for the football program; it is a realignment. “It has just been a change in our mentality rather than a change in our game plan,” said junior RB Tyler Grant. Beginning last spring, when he met his team for the time, Wells made it clear that he wanted to establish a level of consistency and a tradition of success. A change in culture was paramount to the goals he had in mind. The first phase had to do with establishing team standards and raising the expectations of every player.

“We have not necessarily made any big changes,” said senior captain Parker Mundt. “The things Coach Wells has stressed to the team have been extremely easy to get behind and have brought our team closer together”. The next phase focused on establishing core values.

“One thing that I thought was missing from the Bowdoin team culture was that they really didn’t know what they were all about,” said Wells. “I knew the guys really liked football, I think they liked what it was all about, but it was really one of those things that came down to finding out what [the team] is at its core – at its base level.”

Wells encourages a culture of mutual understanding. He wants Bowdoin football to have its own definitions of words like “passion, toughness, love, integrity, and tenacity”, defined not by the coaching staff but by the players themselves. In Wells’ mind, there is a stark contrast between process and outcomes; rather than looking at it as an eight game season, it should be looked at as a 365-day process.

“The goal is not to beat a rival or win the NESCAC; that’s an outcome,” said Wells. “Instead, focus on how you play rather than who you play, to make investments rather than sacrifices”.

The goal is to dominate the day and to develop unparalleled team chemistry. “It’s like building on sand. You need to sink things in as deep as you can,” Wells notes. “When that happens, you create a culture of achievement, and that’s what we’re trying to do here”.

Bowdoin starts its season with a blank slate and a battle at every position. “I don’t care what you’ve done up until this point, it’s what you do going forward,” said Wells. The Tufts scrimmage will be a good indicator of who will fall into leading roles, but there will be depth at every position.

Junior Tim Drakeley is the likely candidate to win the starting quarterback job, but sophomore Chad Carrera ’17 and two incoming freshmen are making the decision for Coach Wells a difficult one. It is unlikely that junior RB Tyler Grant ’17 will replicate the heavy load he carried last year with Wells’ new playbook and the re-emergence of senior Trey Brown. Grant rushed for 893 yards in 226 attempts and added 11 receptions for 77 yards. He finished with eight touchdowns, which was good for second among running backs, trailing only Chudi Iregbulem ’15 of Trinity. The Polar Bears have depth at WR this year led by seniors Dan Barone ’16, Kenny Skon ’16 and Seamus Power ’16.

Barone looks to perform at the same level he did last fall when he finished fifth in the NECAC in receptions (36) and averaged nearly 50 yards per game (48.8). Skon returns after missing all of last season due to back and knee injuries, and the 6’2”, 212-pound wide out will prove to be a valuable deep ball threat if he is able to stay healthy. A converted WR from QB, Power will play on the outside along with Liam Blair-Ford ’17 and the two will look to create more big plays in the passing game.

The only lock on the offensive line appears to be All-League center Matt Netto ’16, but seniors Jonathan Macat ’16 and Stephen Melgar ’16 and juniors Kyle Losardo ’17, Brian Mullin ’17 and Jack Lucy ’17 are expected to see a big bump in production. Tevin Montgomery ’18, a transfer from Boston College, is another player that will play a good amount on the line. Coach Wells has depth on the o-line, and he plans to take advantage of it throughout the season by rotating lineman.

Nadim Elhage '15 celebrates a tackle against Bates (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
Nadim Elhage ’15 celebrates a tackle against Bates (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

The defense will showcase a 4-2-5 scheme, with a defensive line that is highlighted by captain DE Parker Mundt ’16 and senior DT Nadim Elhage ’16, the two unquestioned leaders of the defensive line this year. Seniors Branden Morin ’16 and Brendan Lawler ’16 will handle the inside LB duties, with junior Bjorn Halvorson ’17 returning as the OLB/rover. Senior Jibrail Coy ’16 will man one of the cornerback positions, with the other looking to be a battle between sophomores Henry Little ’18 and Alan Banks ’18. Coy turned in a noteworthy junior season, finishing with 44 total tackles, one interception, and eight broken up passes, which was tied for first in the NESCAC. Reeder Wells ’17 makes the transition from cornerback to safety and may be joined by converted senior wide receiver Greg Thompson ’16. Andrew Murowchick ’16 looks to continue his success as the team’s punter and sophomore Andrew Sisti ’18 hopes to pick up where he left off last year with the placekicking duties.

Other than the leadership and talent being put on display in training camp, Coach Wells considers the players’ efforts to do things right as the team’s greatest strength. As for the weaknesses, Wells cannot pinpoint any area of concern, not a particularly surprising thing for a coach to say. The cultural realignment that began last spring is paying dividends.

“Our team culture this year really revolves around accountability. If your teammates cannot hold you accountable to do the little things like knowing your role and doing your job, you will not survive on our team,” noted Mundt.

Training camp has been physical and competitive, and Wells can already see the Polar Bears building toward a level of consistency. They have come a long way and they are a much different team than they were last year. There is work still to be done, but the players and coaches are putting trust into the process and laying the foundation for a successful season. Like in every facet of life, the biggest obstacle will be consistency. “The biggest challenge for us will be to keep a level mindset throughout the entire season,” said Grant. “It is a short season so we have to maintain our focus and effort game in and game out”. When the Polar Bears take the field against the Williams Ephs on September 26, they  will showcase much of the same talent as last year, but this year they have a new weapon: unity.

Offensive MVP: QB Tim Drakeley ’17 – The Polar Bears are not going to run the ball as much this season as they did last fall. They had a meager one passing touchdown, and it was to fullback Jack Donovan ’15. All-League RB Tyler Grant will be an integral part of the team’s offense this fall, but with the return of Trey Brown, he will not be asked to carry the offense how he did last year. He’ll be put into space more often where he’ll be able to use his pass-catching ability and speed to his advantage, but in Coach Wells’ new regime, the Bears will showcase a more balanced offensive attack, and QB Tim Drakeley will be the driving force behind it all. In 2014, Drakeley played in only two games, but he showed flashes of promise, notably in his 13-24, 96-yard performance against an undefeated Amherst team. With an experienced offensive line, reloaded arsenal at WR, and a three-headed, pass-catching monster at RB in Tyler Grant, Trey Brown, and Garrett Thomas ’17, Drakeley is equipped for success. Fantasy owners should be buying high on the QB in his first full season under center.

Defensive MVP: Junior OLB/Rover Bjorn Halvorson – Coming off a season in which he finished third on the Polar Bears in total tackles (51), Halvorson looks to replicate and improve upon the success he had last fall. A safety in high school, he moved to outside linebacker at Bowdoin, and the junior is set to thrive under Wells’ new defensive scheme. The way the new Bowdoin defense is designed, Halvorson will be in the thick of it all. In the 4-2-5 alignment, he will be tasked with stopping short runs and covering the short passing zone. Expect the skilled defender to become a force in the NESCAC this year and see an increase in his totals from last season, especially in terms of big time plays like takeaways.

Biggest Surprise of Camp: When asked, Coach Wells was cagey about singling out a player who has excelled in camp. Wells did, however, have nothing but high praise for Nadim Elhage.

“Nadim is a hell of a defensive tackle,” said Wells. “He’s as good of a player as there is in the league”.

As he inherits a more expanded role after the Bears lost leading defensive tackle Jake Prince ’15 to graduation, there are high expectations for Elhage by his coaches, teammates, and himself. “I came to Bowdoin with really high expectations for myself and since I’ve been here I’ve felt like I haven’t come close to meeting those expectations,” Elhage said. “This summer and preseason I have worked incredibly hard to fulfill my potential and become the best player I can be”. His hard work has not gone unnoticed, as Elhage is described by senior captain Matt Netto as having come into camp “strong, quick, and in overall great shape”. In limited playing time last fall, Elhage recorded nine tackles and one broken up pass, but finished fourth on the team in sacks (1.5). We know what Elhage is capable of; it’s only a matter of time until number 98 breaks out. Check out his Twitter account if you don’t believe me.


Best Tweet of the Offseason:

Biggest Game: Colby, November 14 – If Bowdoin takes care of business from the start of the season until the finish, their biggest game may be the season finale against Colby College at home on November 14. It’s a short season, and the most important game is going to always be the next one, but if Bowdoin plays itself into a position to compete for a title, it will have stolen a couple surprise wins and the Polar Bears may be controlling their own fate when they take on Colby in the last game of the season. Even if Bowdoin is not in the championship fold by then, the Bears may be playing for the best record of the three Maine colleges and the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) crown. Last fall, the Polar Bears lost a 14-7 thriller to Colby in the last game of the season, resulting in a tie in the standings between the two schools. Also, in case you don’t remember what happened the last time these two played at Bowdoin…

Making the Turn Home: The Weekend Preview 11/1

Two weeks of football are left to be played, and much is still to be decided. Like any good college football schedule, the NESCAC is backloaded with the best games at the end of the season. The Little Three and CBB both play the second of their three game series in what are sure to be highly contested games.

Yet the focus of the league is squarely on Hartford, Connecticut. It was not just that Trinity lost their first home game since 2001 last week, but also how they did so. The game was not close, and nobody could argue that Trinity was the better team. Trinity is hoping it was simply a one game blip that they can rebound from.

Three to Watch

 Wide Receiver Chris Ragone ’15 (Trinity): The battle between the front seven of Amherst and offensive line of Trinity is obviously going to be tantamount (more on it later), but don’t overlook the ability of Trinity to throw the ball. Henry Foye ’15 has shown himself to be a serviceable QB, but he requires time to set his feet and hit open receivers. Ian Dugger ’16 will draw Jaymie Spears ’16 on the majority of plays, and Foye will want to avoid Spears whenever possible. That makes Ragone so important if Trinity wants to keep Amherst off balance. The senior had limited production early on with most of it coming off of big plays, but in the last two weeks he has averaged five catches and 53 yards per game. Because he only stands 5’10”, Ragone relies on exquisite route running to create space for throws. Fooling the Amherst secondary is not easy, but keep an eye out for Trinity to take a shot or two deep with a double move from Ragone early.

Wide Receiver Dan Barone ’16 (Bowdoin): Lets continue the receiver theme with the number one target for Mac Caputi ’15. The junior has 30 receptions, three times the amount of any other Bowdoin player. He works mostly out of the slot where he is mismatch for linebackers. Since a 95 yard performance at Hamilton, two great secondaries in Trinity and Wesleyan slowed his production to only 33 yards per game. The Bates secondary is no slouch either, and Barone will have to work hard to find space in the middle of the field. Look for Caputi to target Barone especially on 3rd down plays. Establishing an early rhythm in the passing game is a must for a Bowdoin offense that could not move the ball against Wesleyan. Just like Trinity must do against Amherst, the Polar Bears will not be able to run the ball every time on first and second down.

Linebacker Chris Tamasi ’15 (Amherst): Tamasi was an absolute force on the field last Saturday. He had three sacks and two forced fumbles to go along with his nine total tackles. In the second quarter he had consecutive sacks to help put Tufts into 3rd and 38 from their own eight yard line. He now leads the NESCAC in tackles for loss with 11.5. Tamasi acts as an outside linebacker/defensive end most of the time. He makes up for his lack of height(5’11”) by out-leveraging larger offensive tackles. The Trinity offensive line is the biggest in the NESCAC, but that will not scare Tamasi. In fact, he is likely relishing the challenge in front of him and the rest of the Jeffs. Also, if you didn’t know, the senior is a member of the Allstate AFCA Good Works team for his community service efforts at Amherst.

The Picks

Game of the Week: Amherst (6-0) at Trinity (5-1)

In some ways Amherst is a better match-up for Trinity than Middlebury was last week. The Jeffs rely on a downhill running attack led by Nick Kelly ’17 and Max Lippe ’15 to make the throws when he needs to. Even more so than usual, this will be a game decided at the line of scrimmage. Both teams have similar mentalities as physical teams that do not try to fool you.

The best hope for Trinity is to keep the game very low scoring and have Kyle Pulek ’16 control field position. The Bantams are not built for overcoming leads in the second half and they can’t let the game get away from them like it did last week. They are going to try their hardest to control the clock by running ball with Chudi Iregbulem ’15. Even if he is 100%, running on Amherst is not an easy task. The Jeffs allow a NESCAC low 2.4 yards per carry.

Early in the year it appeared that Trinity had assembled a run game that nobody in the NESCAC would be able to slow down. They showed cracks first against Hamilton and then more visibly on the road at Bowdoin. Then Middlebury shut it down completely. Teams have felt comfortable loading the box and allowing their defensive lineman more freedom to try to get into gaps and make plays.

Earlier in the week we pointed out how the Trinity has seen their pass rush disintegrate in recent weeks.

The question of cause or effect might have confused some of you who thought, well yes of course it is a cause because sacks are bad for an offense! While that is obviously true, a sack also happens because circumstances help the defense to key on a pass. The stagnation of the running game influences everything Trinity tries to do. When they can’t move the ball, suddenly teams can send blitzes and cause confusion along the line.

And the Jeffs are a team that loves to wreck havoc behind the line scrimmage. Last week they had 12 tackles for loss in total with Tamasi and Max Lehrman ’15 combining for nine of them. The Amherst defense is not the most impressive physically, but they almost never miss an assignment.

On the other side of the ball, don’t expect any fireworks from Amherst. Max Lippe ’15 has done a lot of good things to stabilize the offense, but defenses don’t have to worry about a multitude of skill players running wild on them. Some of the Amherst sluggishness last week could be attributed to recovering from a body blow game. Amherst rose to the occasion on offense against Wesleyan, and they are likely to have a similar game this week.

The health of Iregbulem has obviously been a factor for the Bantams in recent weeks, but their problems go deeper than that. Though it seems shocking to think the Bantams could lose at home for two weeks in a row, The Jeffs have shown themselves to be the best team in the NESCAC.

Prediction: Amherst 20 over Trinity 10

Bates (2-4) at Bowdoin  (2-4): Game Prediction and writeup by Joe MacDonald. After their overtime victory last week, the Bobcats have a chance to clinch the CBB if they can figure out the Polar Bears. The Bates offense looked as balanced as it has all year as they grinded their way to 163 yards on the ground. How the two senior quarterbacks play will likely be the difference between two teams that have looked good in spurts but struggled overall. Mac Caputi ’15 struggled mightily against Wesleyan and was benched in favor of Tim Drakeley ’17 for a good portion of the game. Yet as he has before, the younger Caputi should return to the starting lineup again Saturday. Meanwhile, Matt Cannone ’15 has fought through injuries and should be healthy enough Saturday to make plays through the air and on the ground. That will be the difference in a close Bates victory.

Prediction: Bates 28 over Bowdoin 21

Wesleyan (5-1) at Williams (2-4): Before the season we were high on the possibility of Williams affirming their comeback season by beating Wesleyan at home and ending Wesleyan’s perfect season. We ranked it sixth in our ten biggest games of the year. The Ephs did take Middlebury to overtime just three weeks ago so the potential is there for a close game. Still, Jesse Warren ’15 and company will do enough on offense while the Wesleyan defense stifles the Williams offense. Both teams went into the season expecting to be run first teams, but at this point in the season have become stronger passing teams.

Prediction: Wesleyan 28 over Williams 17

Colby (1-5) at Tufts (3-3): How real is the magic in Medford? The Jumbos have a chance to get to 4-0 at home with Colby visiting. As we have said many a time, the Mules are better than that record indicates. They felt like they gave the game away against Bates in the final minutes. Gabe Harrington has to hit receivers when they are open instead of simply going for the deep ball. He went 13-38 (34%)  against Bates. The Tufts offense is just happy they don’t have to face Amherst after the Jeffs dismantled them. Jack Doll ’15 had to leave the Amherst game in the first quarter and his status is unclear for this week. The Jumbos need him in order to get to .500. No team has given us more trouble picking than Tufts, but we are going to go with our gut and say they do what appeared impossible. Tufts will go undefeated at home.

Prediction: Tufts 35 over Colby 28

Middlebury (4-2) at Hamilton (0-6): It is tempting to think this is a trap game for the Panthers coming off of their big win and having to travel to New York. We just don’t see Middlebury allowing themselves to get into a dogfight with a Hamilton team that has shown some friskiness but no results. The array of weapons at Matt Milano’s ’15 disposal is too much for Hamilton to slow down. Chase Rosenberg ’17 has averaged only 129 yards since his first game of the season. It will be a challenge for him to get even that amount against a Middlebury secondary that has come into its own as a unit. We said it was best to catch the Panthers early, and unfortunately for Hamilton, that is not the case.

Prediction: Middlebury 34 over Hamilton 13

Last Week: 3-2

Season Record: 24-6

Is an Upset on the Horizon? The Weekend Preview 10/23

Conventional thinking for this season has been that three teams have a legitimate chance at winning the NESCAC title-Amherst, Wesleyan, and Trinity-and that the title would come down to the results of the games between those teams. This week will be the strongest test of that thinking as all three top teams face varying challenges this weekend. Middlebury traveling to Trinity is the highlight, but Tufts visiting Amherst and Bowdoin at Wesleyan could also offer intrigue. The big advantage for the top three teams is that they all play at home, though on the season home teams are only 12-13.

If one of the top three teams loses, then the final two weeks could become much more complicated. It would not necessarily drop Amherst or Trinity from the conversation because both teams are still undefeated, but Wesleyan knows they must win out to have a chance. Elsewhere the CBB gets underway with Colby and Bates, and Hamilton looks to notch their first win at home against Williams.

Three to Watch

Quarterback Jesse Warren ’15 (Wesleyan): Perhaps lost somewhat in Wesleyan’s loss last Saturday and their inability to run the ball, has been how good Warren has played this season. The knock on him last year was that he didn’t need to throw the ball often and his stats were a product of teams loading the box to stop the run. This year he has proven that wrong in all respects. He is averaging over 45 more yards per game while also being more efficient as his yards per attempt is up 0.9 yards and his completion percentage has edged up from 64.7 percent to 66.9 percent. To top it off he still has only thrown one interception this year while also tossing nine touchdowns. Last week Trinity was forced to turn to Henry Foye ’15 and air the ball out against Bowdoin, and a similar situation could see itself play out again this week. If Warren continues his stellar play, the Cardinals are in good hands.

Linebacker Tom Szymanski ’15 (Trinity): The Bantams defense is a very deep unit that has talent all across the board, but Szymanski has been the leading man so far. His 31 tackles are the most on the team. He has also been a force in the pass rush with two sacks on the season. The senior had his biggest game a few weeks ago against Hamilton totaling 12 tackles. The Bantams are banged up on defense (more on that later), and Szymanski will have to be a steadying force to make Middlebury one-dimensional through the air. Even though the Panthers have not run the ball particularly well (second to last in the NESCAC per carry), they will try to establish something on the ground.

Running Back Nick Kelly ’17 (Amherst): After some early season missteps, the Amherst offense seems to be on track with Kelly as the main horse for the Jeffs. Kenny Adinkra ’16 was the starter entering the season, but injuries have forced him to miss multiple games. Kelly has stepped in and been a force. His first highlight came when he iced Bates with a 42-yard touchdown. After only gaining 28 yards in week two, Kelly has busted out for three straight 100+ yard performances. Kelly is a powerful back who also has breakaway speed once he turns the corner and gets a full head of steam. Amherst will need him to approach the 100 yard mark again this week, but it might not be as easy as you might expect against Tufts. Though they are not usually associated with a strong run defense, the Jumbos stonewalled Williams for 46 yards on 29 carries last Saturday.

Trinity Looks to Make Sure There is NPITC
Trinity Looks to Make Sure There is NPITC (No Poop in the Coop)

The Picks

Game of the Week: Middlebury (3-2) at Trinity (5-0)

Trinity survived on the road last Saturday, and they are more than happy to be back at home protecting their 53-game home winning streak. Meanwhile Middlebury comes in on a two-game winning streak and hoping for a signature win to their season.  Sources told us this morning that Chudi Iregbulem ’15 will give it a go tomorrow after not playing last week.

Middlebury has lost both of its games by one touchdown, and their main issue has been offense in those games. Matt Milano ’16 and company have put up 28.3 points per game in their victories but only 7.0 in their two losses. Granted, they played Amherst in a driving rain storm that was a huge boon for the Jeffs in terms of stopping the Panther passing game. The Bantams stack right up there with Wesleyan and Amherst on defense allowing only 7.6 points per game.

The Trinity defense has been even better than their stats as well. Teams have only scored two touchdowns on drives of more than 40 yards through their first five games. The rest of the touchdowns given up by the Bantams were because of short fields after a turnover. They are strongest against the run allowing only 2.5 yards per carry, and the Panthers should expect few lanes open.

Injuries on the defensive side of the ball are a major issue. Safety Mike Mancini ’15, linebacker Mike Weatherby ’14, and cornerback Brian Dones ’15 are all questionable for the game because of injury. Head Coach Jeff Devanney has said he thinks it is possible all of them play, but as Iregbulem’s injury shows, the Bantams do not reveal a lot of information about injuries. Not revealing injuries is of course part of the game and Trinity is under no obligation to tell anybody who will be playing. However, at this point Trinity appears to be healthy, and all those players will try to play tomorrow.

Dones in particular is important because when healthy he can shut down one side of the field. Grant Luna ’17 did not play last week due to a concussion so his status is up in the air, but Matt Minno ’16 and Brendan Rankowitz ’15 are more than capable of making plays for Milano and Luna’s replacement, Ryan Rizzo ’17, is just as athletic as (and faster than) every receiver on the Panthers’ roster. The major difference between this year’s Middlebury offense and those of past years’ is the lack of a pass catching tight end. William Sadik-Khan ’14 and Billy Chapman ’13 were both big targets in the middle of the field that were match-up nightmares for NESCAC teams. No tight end has more than five catches on the year right now for Middlebury.

On the other side of the ball Middlebury will look to make Trinity rely on the passing game. Bowdoin did a good job of this last week, but Henry Foye ’15 proved he could make throws when it mattered. In the second half Foye had a handful of throws down the field that helped make his receivers open. This entire video of Trinity coach Jeff Devanney going over game film is worth watching, and he does a good job of breaking down some of Foye’s throws starting at 9:15.

The Middlebury secondary should be more up to the task of shutting down Ian Dugger ’16 and Chris Ragone ’15. Nate Leedy ’17 is the top corner for the Panthers, and safeties Matt Benedict ’15 and Dan Pierce ’16 make a lot of big plays as well. On the season the Panthers have allowed the second least amount of passing yards though per attempt teams fare reasonably well against them.

If Iregbulem is still slowed then the Panthers have a good shot at pulling the upset. It will be imperative for Milano not to make any costly mistakes. Since throwing for two interceptions against Wesleyan, he has passed for eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Still, though health is an issue for Trinity, the Bantams will have enough to keep the streak alive for at least one more week.

Prediction: Trinity 27 over Middlebury 21

Tufts (3-2) at Amherst (5-0): No team has a bigger disparity between their home and away performance than the Jumbos, and unfortunately for them Amherst hosts this week, but that doesn’t mean Tufts has no chance. Jack Doll ’15 is right up there with Warren for top QB in the NESCAC so far, but throwing on the Jeffs is always difficult. As mentioned before, Tufts loves to get the ball into the flats quickly, something that Amherst is adept at covering. Gene Garay ’15 emerged as Max Lippe’s ’15 security blanket underneath last week. Tufts needs its defensive stars Mike Stearns ’17 and Matt McCormack ’16 to be presences all day long in order to slow down Amherst. The Tufts have a good chance of getting to .500 on the year, but it won’t happen this week.

Prediction: Amherst 31 over Tufts 21

Bowdoin (2-3) at Wesleyan (4-1): (Editor’s Note: Prediction and game blurb by Joe MacDonald) How the Cardinals respond mentally to their let down last week will go a long way in this game. Given all the seniors on the roster, the likelihood is they come out looking for revenge. Besides their Week 1 debacle, the Polar Bears tend to keep games close and have looked better every week. The Wesleyan defense will work hard to force turnovers to help put the offense into good situations. Jay Fabien ’15 has become the number one target for Warren through the air, and Lou Stevens ’17 enjoyed his biggest game of the year on the ground last week. Meanwhile Dan Barone ’16 has cemented himself as Bowdoin’s number one option and is enjoying a top five receiver caliber season. The Polar Bears don’t have enough talent to hang for 60 minutes, and Wesleyan will pull away.

Prediction: Wesleyan 31 over Bowdoin 17

Our favorite NESCAC football photo of all time (courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Our favorite NESCAC football photo of all time (courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Colby (1-4) at Bates (1-4): The Mules busted out last week, and if they play anything like they did last week, then Bates could be in trouble. Some regression should be expected however, and in the opener of the CBB this should be a close one. Strong play by the Bates defense has only led to one victory so far because of offensive struggles exacerbated by injuries especially to Matt Cannone ’15. It is still uncertain whether Cannone will play Saturday, and if he does how effective he can be because of his ankle injury. Both teams have endured grueling schedules to start the year, and are more than ready for this game to get underway. Whether Bates can find consistent gains on the ground will be the difference. The Bobcats want to hold the ball for the majority of the game and keep Luke Duncklee ’15 and Nick Joseph ’15 from getting loose deep. Consider this one basically a coin flip between these two teams, but we will give Colby the edge based on last week’s results.

Prediction: Colby 21 over Bates 20

Williams (1-4) at Hamilton (0-5): The wheels fell of the bus somewhere along the way from Clinton to Waterville last week for the Continentals, and the same can be said for Williams too. The Hamilton defense has been a hard luck group this year as they place last in the NESCAC in points allowed per game (32.6) but are fifth in yards allowed per game (334.0). Williams will look to get Alex Scyocurka ’14 the ball at least 25 times on the ground in an attempt to wear down the Continentals. Chase Rosenberg ’17 has to do a better job making the easy throw when open. He has not had a single game with a completion percentage above 60 percent. As long as the Ephs show up motivated and ready to play, they should keep Hamilton in the loss column.

Prediction: Williams 24 over Hamilton 14

Last Week: 4-1

Season Record: 21-4

The Halfway Pole – Stock Report 10/13

If you missed it, we recapped every game Saturday in our wrap-up, and now in the Stock Report we get into some hard analysis of the weekend. The top three of Wesleyan, Amherst, and Trinity, had to sweat things out for about a half before their superior depth and skill wore down their opponents attempting big upsets.

With half of the NESCAC season now over, trends are clear. New players are still emerging, and injuries are beginning to really be felt. Here’s your Stock Report.

Stock Up

Quarterback Max Lippe ’15 (Amherst) – After seeing the vast majority of the snaps in 2013, Lippe did not see the field at all in the first three and half games this year. That was until Coach EJ Mills turned to Lippe with the offense unable to generate anything against the Colby defense. The senior responded brilliantly in his first snaps completely changing the look of the Amherst offense. The Jeffs scored four offensive touchdowns in the second half with Lippe going 7-9 for 142 yards and throwing two touchdowns. Mills said that injuries limited Lippe early and that is a big reason why he had not played yet this year, but the senior was still the third quarterback to come off the bench on Saturday behind Alex Berluti ’17 and Reece Foy ’18. From his first throw Lippe looked completely in control, and played some of his finest football at Amherst. The Jeffs have been unable to settle on any QB in the last two years, but the reemergence of Lippe could not have come at a better time. This Saturday Amherst travels to Wesleyan in the biggest game of the season so far.

Courtesy of Megan Robertson (Amherst '15)
Courtesy of Megan Robertson (Amherst ’15)

Wesleyan Defense – We have mostly concentrated on the negatives with Wesleyan because they are not playing at the same level that they were in 2013. Those struggles however have been limited mostly to the offensive side of the ball. The defense is playing as good, if not better than last year. They are allowing the same amount of points, 14.0, and 16.1 (256.6 to 240.5) fewer yards per game compared to last year. Also, they are making more big plays as they are on track to finish with 20 takeaways and 18 sacks (17 takeaways and 15 sacks in 2013). The biggest difference is the three defensive touchdowns they have already recorded. Jake Bussani ’14 has returned two interceptions for scores. And it would be four defensive touchdowns at this point if a block in the back penalty had not negated a Donnie Cimino ’15 interception return on Saturday. The final third of the Wesleyan secondary’s triumvirate, Justin Sanchez ’17, recovered the fumble that led to Wesleyan’s clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Running Back Drew Jacobs ’18 (Middlebury) – The Panthers got the thrilling overtime victory over Williams on Saturday, and Jacobs was the player who kept the offense moving. He rushed for 81 yards and caught eight passes for 68 yards. He also caught the tying touchdown pass with under a minute left in the game. Jacobs has been huge for a Middlebury team that lost a lot of its talent in the ground game after last year’s starting running back Matt Rea graduated and dual threat Joey Zelkowitz ’17 decided not to play this year and focus on lacrosse. The Marblehead, MA native leads the Panthers in rushing yards and is second in receptions and yards. Middlebury has shown much more commitment to the running game.  Jonathan Hurvitz ’17 also carried the ball 18 times on Saturday and it looks like Middlebury has found two backs they can rely on and keep fresh.

Stock Down

Receiver Mark Riley ’16 (Bates) – We don’t associate great receivers with run-heavy Bates, but Riley brought consecutive games of more than a 140 receiving yards into Saturday. Then the Wesleyan secondary shut him out holding him to no yards. Riley was working without his starting QB Matt Cannone ’15. Backup Patrick Dugan ’16 performed admirably filling in, but Wesleyan made it a point of emphasis not to let Riley behind them and make big plays. Without Riley to lead the passing game, the Bates offense only mustered 164 yards. Despite not getting any yards on Saturday, Riley still leads the NESCAC in receiving yards with 349 – 77 more than anyone else.

Bowdoin Special Teams – When Tyler Grant ’17 showed off some top end speed to go 39 yards and put the Polar Bears up 30-17 with 2:06 remaining in the game, it looked over in Clinton. Then Amman Weaver ’18 took the kickoff 85 yards to bring Hamilton back to within one score. Then Bowdoin couldn’t keep Hamilton from blocking a punt with under 15 seconds left to give the Continentals one last chance at the victory. Those few mishaps nearly wiped out another good performance from the Bowdoin offense. Grant and Dan Barone ’16 have emerged as go-to playmakers for the Polar Bears who are now back to .500 after sneaking out the victory over the Continentals

Teams that Kick to Zack Trause ’15 (Tufts) – Will NESCAC teams ever learn? Trause is a beast in the return game, and letting him get the ball in space is asking for a big play for Tufts. Trause only touched the ball twice on special teams Saturday, but one was a 77 yard punt return. DON’T KICK HIM THE BALL! The schemes that Tufts runs on these returns are also top notch as they give a lot of misdirection. It did not make a big difference in the game Saturday because the Trinity run game once again showed that stopping it might require a brick wall being installed on the field. Still, teams should stop giving Trause any chances. If they do try to, don’t be shocked if Tufts starts to do crazy things like lateral the ball back to him if it’s a pooch kick.

Bowdoin Team Preview – Polar Bears Look to Prove Winter is Coming

Editor’s Note: This post was written by editor Adam Lamont, a former member of the Bowdoin football team. Adam played his freshman year and very beginning of sophomore year for the Polar Bears, but is no longer in uniform for Bowdoin and instead roots them on from the sideline.

2013 Record: 3-5

Number of Returning Starters: 14 (7 offense, 6 defense, 1 specialist)

Offensive Overview:

In terms of yards per game, Bowdoin was the worst offense in the NESCAC last season, though the team did finish seventh in scoring offense. Running back Zach Donnarumma ’14 and two offensive lineman don’t return, but the other starters coming back give Bowdoin a compelling case for improvement. Quarterback Mac Caputi ’15 is the key to the offense. He struggled in 2013, especially against the better defenses in the league, but he finished the year on a high note throwing for 211 yard with a completion percentage of 64 percent (16-25). His two starting receivers, Dan Barone ’16 and Ethan Drigotas ’15, are both back. Barone will serve once again as a Julian Edelman-type player by returning punts and kickoffs, working out of the slot, and running the ball on the occasional sweep. Drigotas plays on the outside where he runs crisp routes and acts as Caputi’s security blanket.

Tyler Grant ’17 is the starting running back after being the backup last season. The offensive line shifts around a little bit. Jake Giovanucci ’15 is in his third year at left tackle while fellow three year starter Anthony Todesco ’15 moves from his center position to right tackle. Matt Netto ’16 therefore changes from his guard position to center. That means the two guard positions were open entering camp, but Stephen Melgar ’16 and Brian Mullin ’17 appear to have grabbed those spots as first year starters. Captain and tight end Matt Perlow ’15 is healthy after recovering from an ACL tear last season.

Defensive Overview:

The strength of this defense may have shifted in recent weeks. As we reported yesterday on Twitter, Clarence Johnson ’15, starting defensive tackle and All-NESCAC second team performer in 2012, is no longer playing because of foot injuries. Dan Wanger ’17 looks like the favorite to win increased playing time beside Jake Prince ’15 at tackle. Tom Wells ’15 and Brian Golger ’15 are both third year starters at defensive end, and there is still a lot of depth with Parker Mundt ’16 a top backup along with others. All three linebackers graduated leaving Brendan Lawler ’16, Brandon Morin ’16, and Bjorn Halvorsen ’17 the new starters.

Meanwhile in the secondary, reports are that captain Jon Fraser ’14 has looked great in camp and Jibrail Coy ’16 is healthy and should start at a safety position. The secondary also returns Reeder Wells ’17 and Dan Johnson ’15 to a unit that looks primed for major improvement this year. If the veteran front four is able to consistently make plays then Bowdoin’s pass defense, second worst in the NESCAC last season, should improve.

Dan Barone makes the Hail Mary Catch (Courtesy
Dan Barone makes the Hail Mary Catch (Courtesy

Three Big Questions:

1. Will Tyler Grant hold up?

Grant showed he has talent when he ran for 119 yards against Wesleyan when Donnarumma was injured, but his health is a concern. His height and weight as a freshman last year was 5’10”, 158 pounds. While he has put on about fifteen pounds (heights and weights on the current Bowdoin roster have not been updated), he is going to take a lot of hits over the course of the season. Behind him at running back are a few promising, albeit very uncertain, options including Garrett Thomas ’17 and Barone, who could switch positions if Grant sustains a lasting injury.

2. Are the linebackers ready to step up?

All three of the graduated linebackers were major playmakers a year ago that limited the time the backups saw.  Lawler ’16 is the most experienced returner as he started the second half of the season because of an injury to Griffin Cardew ’14. Morin played some against run heavy Bates, and he could be primed for a big year while replacing 2013 NESCAC defensive player of the year Joey Cleary ’14. Halvorsen is a little bigger of a question mark because he was so limited in playing time last season, but he has looked confident and athletic in camp at his outside linebacker position.

3.  Can Bowdoin engineer big plays in the passing game?

For the offense to take a step forward, plays of more than 20 yards are going to have to come more often. The lack of a down-field passing attack was a major reason why Caputi only threw for four touchdowns all season. Unfortunately Ken Skon ’16, Bowdoin’s biggest receiver and best deep ball threat last season, is not playing because of back and knee injuries he sustained in 2013. A combination of receivers will have to replace him, and taking more chances could also yield more big plays.

Team MVP: Dan Barone. He was fifth in the NESCAC in total yards from scrimmage and could be primed for an even bigger year this season. An uptick in passing will leave Barone as one of the biggest benefactors. The more times he gets the ball in space, the more chances the shifty slot receiver will shake a defender and pick up a big gain.

Biggest Game: Nov. 1 against Bates

The Bobcats have now beaten Bowdoin for three consecutive seasons and won the CBB title the last two seasons. Last season’s game in Lewiston was a low scoring affair that saw the Bates defense stifle the Bears. Expect head coach Dave Caputi to open up the playbook a lot more in this matchup. The linebackers, who will have almost an entire season of experience under their belts by November, will be tested by the Bates triple option.

Best Tweet of the offseason: QB Mac Caputi and LB Brendan Lawler spent the summer in the Marines. Great story.

Bowdoin looks to see its magical end to 2013 grow into a big season around its returners.