Colby’s offense was nothing to write home about last season, and they lost arguably their two biggest threats; RB Jabari Hurdle-Price and WR Sebastian Ferrall, who did not graduate and simply isn’t returning to school. This puts incredible pressure on Sparacio to step up, even with those security blankets out of the picture. He is the presumptive starter and got the brunt of the action, but was challenged last year by first year Jack O’Brian ‘20, and there is a Dartmouth transfer, Harry Kraft ‘19, who will also press him. Sparacio has the ability to hold onto his job, but the Mules need more than that if they want any hope of matching last year’s win total.
Defensive MVP: DB Don Vivian ‘19
Colby retains much of their solid defensive core from last season, and Vivian is the biggest prize of that returning crop. He picked off two passes and broke up five, but his greatest contributions are as a run stopper and tackler. He tallied 63 tackles, a number usually reserved for linebackers, and made an impact in the backfield with three tackles for loss. Vivian heads up a defense that is as experienced as any in the NESCAC, and should be the Mules calling card this season.
Biggest Game: vs. Bates, October 28
NESCAC football is exciting, yes, but it is also stratified. For the most part, you know at the beginning of the year which five teams will be competing for the title. This puts the teams that are outside of that upper tier in a competition for an award I like to call “The Best of the Rest.” Fans of those upper teams often dismiss games between those teams, but they are often the most enjoyable to watch. This game could very well decide the “Best of the Rest,” assuming neither team makes a miraculous leap to the upper tier. Additionally, the game could decide the CBB winner, which is a fierce regional rivalry. Mark this one down as one to check out.
Colby surprised many last year by tallying three wins, and they return a good deal of that team this season, with the notable exception of star WR Sebastian Ferrall ‘19, who is not returning to the school. Without him, the Mules will have to rely heavily on their experienced defense and try to manufacture offense as best they can.
Defensive back Don Vivian ‘18 is a First Team candidate, and he leads an experience secondary that is Colby’s greatest strength. They also return a talented duo of linebackers in Bryan McAdams ‘18 and Sebastian Philemon ‘19. Defensive line could be an issue, as they are still waiting on several position battles to work themselves out. Stopping the run is critical to NESCAC success, and it’s very tough to do that with an inexperienced offensive line.
On offense, the Mules greatest returning weapon is kicker (yes kicker) John Baron ‘18. Many NESCAC teams struggle to find consistent placekickers, and many teams aren’t particularly bothered by that. But having one is a real weapon, particularly for a team like COlby that lacks a truly dominant red zone weapon. Baron is a key to Colby’s chances this year, especially if they get into games that come down to the wire. Aside from that, offense is going to be a real problem for Colby. They will need to see vast improvement from QB Christian Sparacio, which will not be helped by the loss of Farrell and starting running back Jabari Hurdle-Price. If they don’t get it, junior transfer Matthew Kraft ‘18 (of the New England Patriots Krafts) will be waiting in the wings.
Week 1 of 2016 was exactly what we’ve all been waiting for since the NESCAC football season ended last November. We had a couple blowouts in favor of familiar faces (Amherst, Middlebury, Trinity), and a couple of games that went right down to the wire. The Colby-Williams game was crazy, but not in a pretty way. This was a low-scoring, offensive battle…AKA, it was a battle to see who could have a worse day offensively. Luckily, it ended on a high note, as Colby needed their final drive to take the lead with under a minute left (read below for more details on the ending). Over in Somerville, MA, on the other hand, fans witnessed a battle between two great teams. It involved some terrific defensive plays, a 4th quarter comeback, and a whole lot of excitement as the Jumbos stormed back to win in front of their fans at the first home night game in Tufts football history. Below is our first stock report of the year – check it out to see whose stock rose and whose plummeted over the first weekend of the season.
Running Back Jack Hickey ‘19 (Amherst): If it wasn’t already certain, Hickey solidified himself as the goal line back for Coach Mills’ offense this weekend, punching in 3 touchdowns in Amherst’s absolute (yet unsurprising) domination of Hamilton this weekend. The 6’1” 218 pound sophomore fits the bill perfectly for short yardage situations, and he will certainly continue to get touches as Amherst nears the goal line. Hickey ended up with 67 yards on 18 rushes, but if it wasn’t a blowout these numbers might have been MUCH higher.
Linebacker Greg Holt ‘20 (Tufts): Holt surged onto the scene in the Saturday nightcap with a game-high 14 tackles. The freshman showed us that he is not going to gradually get his feet wet in college ball, he is going to dive headfirst into the action. It seemed like Holt was everywhere on Saturday, and if he keeps up that level of play along with fellow Jumbo linebacker Steve DiCienzo ‘18 (another Tufts linebacker who had 11 tackles of his own), the Powder Blue and Brown defense will be a nightmare for their opponents.
Quarterback Jared Lebowitz ‘18 (Middlebury): In the biggest blowout of the weekend, Lebowitz threw 5 touchdown passes and added a rushing touchdown to go along with them, accounting for all 6 of Middlebury’s touchdowns against the Polar Bears. There were some questions about whether the Middlebury aerial attack could be maintained after the departure of Matt Milano ‘16, but Lebowitz has silenced the doubters. Bowdoin is obviously in the lower tier of the conference, but still a strong showing from Coach Ritter’s gunslinger, who tallied 369 yards on the day.
Kicker John Baron ’18 (Colby): The Mules needed Baron to come up clutch on Saturday as he lined up for the game-deciding field goal with just seconds left against Williams. After a failed 2-point conversation earlier in the game, Colby was down one during the final possession. If Baron makes the kick they win, if he misses they lose. Last year Baron missed an extra point against Bates which ended up being the difference in the game (10-9), but this week’s NESCAC Special Teams player of the week has clearly wiped that from his memory. Two words: cash money.
Hamilton Offense: It goes without saying that the Amherst defense played a heck of a game on Saturday, but seriously, Hamilton, 168 yards of total offense? 6 rushing yards on 18 attempts?? You can’t combine these numbers with a -3 turnover differential and expect to win football games. Film, film, and more film is in store for the Continentals.
NESCAC Ball Boys: There were five fumbles in each of the Bates-Trinity, Colby-Williams, and Wesleyan-Trinity games on Saturday. FIVE. Interestingly enough, Trinity had more fumbles than Bates (Trinity-3, Bates-2), but it didn’t hurt them as the Bantams won handily, 38-7. However, both Wesleyan and Williams had more fumbles than their opponents, likely leading to each of their downfalls. Either the teams were a bit too accustomed to no-contact practices or the PSI was far too high in the game balls…you be the judge. All I know is that these coaching staffs are going to be extra hard on their ball carriers in practice this week.
Wesleyan’s Killer Instinct: The Jumbos looked pretty horrible for three quarters, but they hung around because Wesleyan just couldn’t put them away. After a touchdown with 6:50 to go in the 2nd quarter, Wesleyan seemed to hold a pretty commanding 14-3 lead. Things just looked and felt like a blowout waiting to happen. But the Tufts defense kept them in the game until the 4th quarter rolled around, and boom, a Cardinals missed field goal was followed up by a 33 yard run by Chance Brady ‘17, which set the stage for a 39 yard pass to Mike Rando ‘17 a couple plays later. From that point on, the Jumbos had the momentum, and it felt like Wesleyan was just trying to hold them off as opposed to continuing their attack.
QB: Gabe Harrington ’17* RB: Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17* WR: Ryder Arsenault ’17 WR: Alex Kramer ’17*
WR: Mark Snyder ’18 TE: Braden Wilson ’17 LT: Shane Normandeau ’19 LG: Will Julich ’17 C: Mike Roberts ’17* RG: Anthony Cappellino ’17* RT: Larry Patrizio ’17*
Defensive Starters(*Seven returning)
DE: Ben Hartford ’18 DT: Chris Marano ’17* DT: Sam Gomez ’18 DE: Henry Wallrapp ’17* OLB: Justin Lamere ’17* MLB: Sam Friedman ’19 OLB: Bryan Mcadams ’18* CB: Adam Balaban ’18* SS: Will Caffey ’19* FS: Ian Dickey ’18*
CB: Patrick Yale ’19*
Offensive MVP: Running Back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17
Colby’s offense is led by 2015 First Team All-NESCAC running back, Jabari Hurdle-Price. Hurdle-Price had a monster year in 2015 leading the mules in rushing, receiving and returns on special teams. The only factor preventing Hurdle-Price from these numbers in 2016 is the left side of the offensive line, which remains a big question mark for Colby. With consistency on the offensive line for the Mules, expect Hurdle-Price to put up even bigger numbers than he did last season. It will be interesting to see how opposing defenses prepare for the ground attack against Colby, as they were able to find the end zone ten times on the ground and only two times in the air.
Defensive MVP: Safety/Linebacker Ian Dickey ’18
Ian Dickey had a breakout season in 2015 and was second on the team with forty-three tackles. With leading tackler, Stephen O’Grady graduated, the Mules will depend upon Dickey to make even bigger plays for them. Last season, Dickey anchored a secondary that consisted of two freshmen. Having a full season of experience under his belt expect Dickey to have a breakout year for Colby.
Biggest Surprise of Camp:Injury Bug nowhere to be found.
In 2015, Colby lost many valuable players throughout the season via injuries. Losing players to injury coupled with a lack of both depth and experience resulted in a 1-7 season which put them dead last in the NESCAC. This past Saturday, Colby had a joint practice with Bates, and arguably the biggest positive coming out of this is that there were no injuries. Coach Michaeles remains optimistic about his program and knows the capability they have if they remain healthy in 2016.
Biggest Game: Bowdoin at Colby, 12:30 PM November 12, Waterville, Maine (Maine’s Super Bowl)
Colby starts their 2016 season in a hectic fashion. Normally, opening at Williams would be a good thing, but Williams recently hired the former St. Lawrence head coach, Mark Raymond. Raymond is one of the better division three football coaches and is known for his success in turning St. Lawrence into a winning football program. This will not be an easy opener for the Mules. Things do not get easier for Colby as they play Middlebury, Wesleyan and then Amherst in weeks two, three and four.
Fast Forward to week eight: A home CBB rivalry finale against Bowdoin. This game does not only mean a lot to the Colby football program, but it is one of the most highly anticipated events in Maine. In 2015 both teams were 1-6 going into this game and Bowdoin ended up winning 35-13. Colby was unable to score until late in the 3rd which summed up their lack of offense the entire season. Having the home field advantage and experience in both the offense and defense, expect this week eight battle to go down to the wire.
I believe the saying goes: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, Colby opponents take warning.”
Summary: Colby’s 1-7 season in 2015 was attributed to their inability to find the end zone. They were struck with the injury bug early on and were unable to adjust from there. In order to improve from their disappointing season, Colby will need more production and consistency from their offense as well as to remain healthy throughout. They have the talent to win some quality NESCAC football games, but they need their offense to produce. Although his 2015 numbers are discouraging, coach Michaeles has full faith in senior Gabe Harrington to lead the offense. Harrington had a solid season in 2014 and his performance will determine whether or not the Mules’ offense will succeed. Michaeles also has the option of junior Christian Sparacio who gained some experience in 2015 and will definitely compete for snaps. The one position that has been locked in since the end of 2015 is the starting running back position. Jabari Hurdle-Price looks to continue where he left off last season as he was arguably one of the best athletes in the NESCAC. Hurdle-Price was the only consistent spark in the Mules’ offense a year ago. Behind Hurdle-Price is running back Carl Lipani. Lipani provides Colby with plenty of depth at running back. A big asset for the Mules offense this season is the return of wide receiver Ryder Arsenault. Arsenault missed major time in 2015 due to injury and has been a consistent target for them in the past, leading the team in receptions in2014. Alex Kramer and Mark Snyder will look to compete for reps at wide receiver. Braden Wilson will be at tight end for the Mules after starting the final four games of last season. With improvements in the air attack, Colby could be a dangerous football team on offense.
On defensive, Colby will look to fill the void of leading tackler and captain Stephan O’Grady as well as All-NESCAC defensive end Ryan Ruiz and defensive tackle Harry Nicholas. Replacing the graduated O’Grady will be Sophomore Sam Friedman. As a Freshman in 2015, Friedman recorded nineteen tackles in six games. Additionally, the Mules will look towards senior Bryan McAdams and junior Justin Lamere to produce for them at linebacker. Senior Henry Wallrapp provides experience on the defensive line at strong side defensive end. Replacing Ruiz and Nicholas will be Gerry Nvule, Chris Marano, Sam Gomez and Ben Hartford. Colby’s secondary was filled with underclassmen in 2015. Ian Dickey started all eight games at safety as a sophomore and was second on the team in tackles behind O’Grady. The youngest part of their secondary was Will Caffey and Patrick Yale who started at both cornerback positions as freshmen. These three are locks for starting jobs this season but the other safety position is up for grabs. John Baron will be the place kicker and punter for the mules in 2016. Last season, Baron went four for five in field goal opportunities, including a thirty-seven yarder against Tufts. He was seven for eleven in extra point opportunities. With a more productive offense in 2016, Baron will have more opportunities to put points on the board for Colby.
The Lord Jeffs enjoyed (proverbial) champagne showers following their victory over the Bantams. It will likely be their sixth NESCAC title since 2000, sharing the reigns with Trinity on the modern-era All-Time Championships list. There was no better way for the 2016 class to go out on Senior Day than by earning their third consecutive ring. Besides Amherst, the rest of the NESCAC has an opportunity to move up the ladder as the final week is filled with exciting rivalry games dating back to the 1800s. Should be a beautiful week of football, and it will be thrilling to see where teams end up.
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (7-0; Last Week: 1)
Amherst essentially walked away with their third consecutive NESCAC title Saturday as they took down Trinity. The Lord Jeffs took advantage of Trinity’s mistakes, and that seemed to be the biggest difference between these two teams Saturday. They controlled the second half, running all over the Bantams, with Reece Foy ’18, Kenny Adinkra ’16, Nick Kelly ’17, Jack Hickey ’19, and Jackson McGonagle ’16 all averaging at least 3.6 yards per carry. Amherst SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 went out with a bang with two interceptions and a crucial blocked field goal to end the first half. Amherst will wrap up their season against the Ephs in Williamstown, Mass for the Biggest Little Game In America — a game that dates back to 1884, and is the most-played Division-III game in the country.
Trinity Bantams (6-1; Last Week: 2)
Despite analyst Joe MacDonald’s bold prediction of a Bantam victory, Trinity was unable to get it done down the stretch. Amherst did a good job depriving kick and punt returner Darrien Myers ’17 in the forms of pooching and squibbing, which put a lot of pressure on the offense to move the ball up the field. The Trinity faithful felt some home cooking involved between a questionable touchdown catch and the Bantams racking up 12 penalties resulting in 98 yards opposed to Amherst’s three penalties.
Despite edging Amherst’s 247 offensive yards with 314 of their own and possessing the ball for 38 minutes of the game, Trinity had too many blunders. A fatal sideline pass intercepted at the Trinity 37 yardline resulted in Amherst taking the lead and never looking back. Trinity’s Max Chipouras ’19, Sonny Puzzo ’18, and Myers averaged 3.8 yards per rush, but the Amherst running game was even more efficient. Trinity still has life to live as they take on long-time rivals Wesleyan in the homecoming game that will be featured on CPTV Sports.
3. Middlebury (5-2; Last Week: 3)
Middlebury took care of business Saturday against Hamilton, but their stock dropped with such a tight game. They were able to keep their spot at No. 3 for Week 7, but that could change as they take on the Jumbos this weekend.
Middlebury trailed late in the first half, when QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16 connected to even the score pending a QB Jared Lebowitz ’18 two-point conversion rush. Milano threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with one pick, while Diego Meritus ’19 picked up 75 of the Panthers’ 89 rushing yards. Minno leaped out of the water catching a season-high three touchdowns on six catches for 171 yards. Naples native and CB Nate Leedy ’17 picked off Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 twice. S Kevin Hopsticker ’18 also added an interception and 10 tackles in what was probably his best game as a Panther.
4. Tufts (5-2; Last Week: 5)
Tufts outscored Colby 28-10, and QB Alex Snyder ’17 only passed 13 times for one touchdown caught by WR Mike Miller ’18. Chance Brady ’17 averaged 7.9 yards on 27 attempts scoring two touchdowns. His longest run was 49 yards. Brady also was the Jumbos’ leading receiver, with two catches for 49 yards, en route to being named NESCAC Offensive POTW and the second NESCAC player this season to be dubbed the New England Football Writers’ Gold Helmet winner. Colby was able to move the ball on Tufts, nearly gaining more offensive yards than the Jumbos. Tufts return man Mike Rando ’17 ran one kick back 85 yards for a touchdown, and he took a second one back for 37 yards. The Jumbos’ Zach Thomas ’18 racked up 3.5 sacks. It is tough to say how Tufts will fair with Middlebury next week; I could see either team taking that game. A Tufts upset could stir up rival tensions between the two foes.
5. Wesleyan (5-2; Last Week: 4)
Wesleyan will have a chance to move up the ranks next week when they take on Trinity for the rivalry game that dates back to 1885. The Cardinals took on Williams Saturday in a convincing win. QB Mark Piccirillo ’19 stepped up and completed 11-14 passes with one touchdown for 105 yards, and he continues to show off his accurate arm. It was just the freshman’s second game playing a pivotal role, as Gernald Hawkins ’18 threw just 12 times and only completing six. They will likely continue to keep with their dual quarterback threat to keep the Bantams off balance, so it will be interesting to see how Trinity is able to respond. S Justin Sanchez ’17 picked a ball off and forced a fumble with six tackles. K Ike Fuchs’17 missed a short field goal wide right, and also missed an extra-point that was pushed back five yards due to a penalty, and things have just not been right with the formerly reliable Fuchs. If Wesleyan is going to win next week, they will probably need Fuchs at his best.
6. Hamilton (1-6; Last Week: 8)
The Continentals gave Middlebury a run for their money, something they have done to every team besides Trinity this year. They proved they can hang with the big dogs which has pushed them up to the No. 6 spot, a big jump from where they began the season. Yes, QB Cole Freeman threw four interceptions, but none of them resulted in a Panther score, and it seems like Coach Dave Murray is fine with Freeman taking shots down field as part of his learning process. The Continental defense did a good job containing the run game, keeping Middlebury to 2.6 yards per rush, but Matt Milano’s 14 completions were too deadly. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 played well – especially in the first quarter – picking up 77 yards on 21 carries, and WR Charles Ensley ’17 caught a 78-yard touchdown pass. Hamilton did not lay down easy as they posted a safety in the fourth quarter on Sean Tolton’s ’19 blocked punt. The whole league has been impressed with the Continentals this year, and is excited as it raises the competition. Hamilton has a chance to earn their second win of the season as they take on a rolling Bates.
7. Bates (2-5; Last Week: 6)
CBB Champions. Bates shellacked Bowdoin, shutting them out 31-0, waltzing their way to a killer recruiting tool in the CBB —Bates has won three of the last four CBB Titles. The Bobcats are on the cusp of – in the words of the great Lou Brown – a winning streak.
They have a chance to end on a high note at Hamilton and make up for all those closes losses earlier this year. The Bobcats outplayed Bowdoin last week in all facets, tackling the Polar Bears for a loss five times for 29 yards including three sacks. CB Trevor Lyons ’17 had a pick-six that he took 50 yards all the way back. QB Pat Dugan ’16 put on a show, running and throwing for a touchdown as he piled up 252 of Bates’ total 380 offensive yards. Another big win will vault the Bobcats back over the Continentals in the ranks.
8. Williams (2-5; Last Week: 9)
After a scoreless first 23 minutes, the Ephs let up a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wesleyan’s Eric Meyreles ’18. Williams’ lone touchdown came on a last minute, three-yard pass by Austin Lommen ’16, who threw for 150 yards including an interception. RB Noah Sorrento ’19 got his first crack as the starter and ran for 105 yards on 21 carries, including one for 45 yards. This weekend’s rivalry game will not have as much hype as most years due to the fact that Amherst is a heavy, heavy favorite. Williams moves up from last week, like Colby, more by virtue of the lackluster performance that Bowdoin put on last weekend.
9. Colby (1-6; Last Week: 10)
Colby lost to the better team Saturday when they hosted Tufts. Colby’s QB Gabe Harrington ’17 continued to struggle, throwing two interceptions while completing 53 percent of his passes. RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 got his touches and scored a touchdown on 21 attempts, though only averaging 2.1 yards per carry. John Baron ’18 kicked a 37-yard field goal and an extra point. Despite a crooked score, Colby compiled 320 yards compared to Tufts’ 325.
The consolation game of the CBB will happen this week, and it is a chance for each Colby and Bowdoin to rid themselves of the shame of being part of a one-win program.
10. Bowdoin (1-6; Last Week: 7)
Not to take away from Bates, but that game shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like it did. It was a sad sight to see for Polar Bear fans Saturday as they rushed for negative six yards. Negative six. When they did have the ball in their hands, they fumbled three times, only making it into Bobcat territory four times. The Polar Bears were closest to a score when QB Noah Nelson ’19 threw an interception from the Bates 25-yardline. Bowdoin let Bates run right over them, as they let up 12 rushing first downs. Bowdoin will take on Colby for the runner-up of the CBB this weekend.
When Amherst scored with 3:43 left in the first quarter to go up 24-0 against Bowdoin, the message was clear: the champions are still on top. They were simply on a different level than the Polar Bears. The Jeffs took their foot off the gas pedal and cruised to a 37-6 win. Elsewhere, Trinity went out and pitched their second consecutive shutout against Williams, and Middlebury cruised to a 28-9 victory against Colby. Combined the three won by a score of 89-15, and the scores could have been even more lopsided than that. Of the Fantastic Four of NESCAC football, only Wesleyan struggled as it took a late fourth quarter comeback to keep Hamilton in the winless column.
Nine out of the 10 games so far had the same result as last year (Middlebury beating Wesleyan is the only different result), and the results so far have mostly reinforced the idea that the league is built on two levels. Jumping up or down a level is possible (William’s descent has been coupled with Wesleyan’s and to a lesser extent Middlebury’s rise), but for the most part a team’s performance from year to year remains within that tier. The top of the bottom tier is occupied by Bates and Tufts, and the Jumbos win on Saturday affirmed their status as the team closest to making the jump from the bottom to the top tier – though they’ve win by slim margins in both weeks.
Wide Receiver Jack Cooleen ’16 (Tufts)
Cooleen’s statistics from 2014: 13 catches, 195 yards, two touchdowns Cooleen’s statistics from Saturday: seven catches, 178 yards, two touchdowns
Tufts really only had one way of moving the ball on Saturday. That actually worked pretty well in the second half when Alex Snyder ’17 threw the ball up for grabs to the 6’5″ Cooleen. All 17 of Tufts’ points were a direct result of long balls to him. The two touchdowns came on 45- and 27-yard catches by Cooleen, and the game-winning field goal was set up by another 45-yard reception. Cooleen was beating mostly one-on-one coverage on the outside against much shorter defensive backs, and other teams have had success with being physical against him. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, and the Jumbos escaped with a win mostly because of his efforts. If he is able to sustain that threat of a deep jump ball, the Tufts offense suddenly adds a whole other dynamic to it.
Quarterback Reece Foy ’18 (Amherst)
Well, Amherst has found a quarterback, and that should scare every team in the NESCAC. The defining moment of the game against Bowdoin was when Foy was forced to step up on a pass play and took off to run. He quickly made it into the second level, and once he got going it was clear that he was faster than every Bowdoin defender. The play was a 90-yard run, and Foy finished with exactly 300 yards of total offense. Having thrown for 242 YPG, he is second in the NESCAC in that category. He is still not the most accurate quarterback, but as long as he can keep his completion percentage right around 60 percent (he is at 61.3 percent right now), he will be fine. Foy has the luxury of throwing to athletes like Jackson McGonagle ’16, too, who made a few acrobatic catches where he simply outmuscled Bowdoin defensive backs for the ball. The Amherst coaching staff has made it clear that they are sticking with Foy at QB, and he has given them no reason not to be happy with that decision.
Through two games, the Bantams haven’t allowed a point. You don’t need to have created your own sports website about NESCAC sports to know that that means they are pretty good. Their dominance goes even deeper than that. The Bantams have allowed only 167.5 YPG, the best in the NESCAC and 88 YPG less than second place Wesleyan. Their six takeaways through two games is also tops in the league. The scariest part of the defense is their youth: the top six tacklers are all underclassmen and three of them are freshman linebackers. Safety Spencer Donahue ’17 collected NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, making him the second straight Bantam defensive back to win the award (Paul McCarthy ’16 won it last week). Williams had their chances as they got into Trinity territory on five different drives, but the Bantams made the plays in big moments. The play of the game came from McCarthy who wrestled a jump ball away from Darrias Sime ’16 in the end zone to keep Trinity up 14-0 at the beginning of the second half. The Trinity defense still has yet to face the best offenses in the league, but so far so good for the Bants.
Bates’ Decision Making
Bobcats faithful are still at a loss for how they let the game Saturday against Tufts get away from them. Bates was up 14-0 at halftime, and their young defense was playing well. The Jumbos stormed back, but after a Tufts safety made it 17-16, the Bobcats were in a position to win with a 4th and goal from the one-yard line with just under seven minutes to play. However, instead of taking the field goal and the lead, Coach Mark Harriman went for it and watched Ivan Reese ’17 fumble the ball into the end zone for a Tufts touchback. Harriman has been aggressive near the end of games before, but this decision was puzzling because it amounted to an extra point for kicker Grant DeWald ’18, who is 4-4 on the season on PATs. I can see the logic of Harriman wanting to go for it so close to the end zone – and in a sense it worked, since Reese had the first down – and thinking that even if they got stopped that Tufts was pinned deep. But, hindsight is 20-20, and in this case he should have trusted his kicker and defense.
Quarterback Gernald Hawkins ’18 (Wesleyan)
The Cardinals struggled to move the ball all day against a very game Hamilton defense, and their inability to throw the ball downfield was a big part of that. Hawkins was just 14-31 (45 percent) for 157 yards, and Coach Dan DiCenzo went to backup Mark Piccirillo ’19 for short spurts as well as leaning on Devon Carrillo ’16 to run the Wildcat offense. Hawkins did not look comfortable sitting in the pocket and tried to make plays with his legs without great success. He did have one rushing touchdown that was negated by a Wesleyan penalty. Quarterback Jesse Warren ’15 was at times under appreciated for his importance in the Wesleyan offense and ability to keep defenses honest. Hawkins threw the ball more than 20 times in the first half, and the Cardinals put too much pressure on him without trying to wear down the Hamilton defense. Wesleyan has two weeks to get their offense right before they face Amherst.
Kicking is usually an adventure in the NESCAC, but this weekend was an unusually bad one. In the Colby-Middlebury game, Middlebury blocked a punt that led to a safety, and Colby blocked two extra points and a field goal by Middlebury. Colby’s John Baron’s ’18 first punt went -2 yards (not a typo), and in the second quarter he boomed a 79-yarder that rolled out at the one-inch line – one of the few kicking bright spots on the day, coupled with Pat Donahoe’s ’16 71-yarder to the two-yard line. Trinity had a bad snap on a punt lead to punter Kyle Pulek ’16 having to throw a pass out of desperation that led to a nine-yard loss. Hamilton missed a 32-yard field goal, and Wesleyan almost lost because their extra point was blocked after their first touchdown. The Tufts kicking game was off all day long with an eight and 14-yard punt, two botched snaps leading directly to nine Bates points, and a 22-yard missed field goal – this after kicker Willie Holmquist ’17 went 3-4 on FGs last week, including a game-winner in OT, to earn Special Teams POW honors.
A year ago this unit sputtered and scored the fewest amount of runs during conference play which was a big reason why the Mules ended up falling short of the playoffs. The Mules lose Kevin Galvin ’14 along with three other contributors to that lineup. The good thing is that Jason Buco ’15 is back. Buco hit seven homers in 2014, and the two-sport star is likely headed for another big season. Ryder Arsenault ’17, another member of both the Colby football and baseball teams, is the second best returning hitter. He will need to get on base a lot in front of Buco. Soren Hanson ’16 and Daniel Csaplar ’16 are going to be important for providing Buco with protection in the middle of the lineup. The bottom of the lineup looks like a potential Achilles heel unless somebody like Tyler Starks ’16 is able to boost their production.
An average defense in the field, what makes Colby special is their play from the catcher position. Tim Corey ’15 was great at throwing runners out finishing the season with 42 percent success rate. He was even better in conference where overall the Mules threw out well over 50 percent of potential base stealers. Starks is back at the ever crucial shortstop position and should improve on the 10 errors from a year ago. The combination of Buco and Arsenault in the outfield will lead to a lot of fly balls getting tracked down.
The trio of Greg Ladd ’15, Hanson and Scott Goldberg ’15 coalesced into a great rotation a year ago. Hanson improved on his solid freshmen campaign, but it was the massive development of Ladd and Goldberg that was the biggest difference. Hanson and Goldberg are both power pitchers who will attack hitters up in the zone. Ladd tries to imitate his first name brethren Greg Maddux by overcoming his small frame with control and movement. The presence of these three will give Colby a chance in every game that they play. The bullpen is much more of a question mark. Csaplar could end up being an important piece for them there.
Three Storylines to Watch
1. How deep do their starters go?
Two of Colby’s important pitchers from a year ago, Luke Geoghegan ’14 and Dakota Rabbitt ’14, have graduated. While both had ERAs above 4.00, they were helpful for Colby in a good deal of games. Now Ladd, Hanson and Goldberg will have to go very late in games in order to keep their bullpen from getting exposed. The good news is that those three combined for seven complete games a year ago. Because of his style Ladd will be able to go late in a lot of games, but the other two starters might have more difficulty. Striking out guys pushes up your pitch count and wears on pitchers as the game goes along.
2. Which freshmen step up?
Freshmen will have a chance to get early playing time both in the lineup and rotation. Colby only has seven freshmen on the roster which is a smallish number. Three of them, John Baron ’18, Griffin Clark ’18 and Matt Garcia ’18 were also football players (Colby has six players who are also on the football team), but all three were actually more accomplished baseball players in high school. The graduation of several players and lack of any obvious replacements on the roster means freshmen will not only be asked to but will need to be big parts of any potential playoff run.
3. Do they get on base?
At their most basic, most sports are simple: score more than your opponent. Besides Buco and at times Arsenault, nobody on the Colby roster has proven themselves to be a solid consistent hitter. The Mules can still put together a decent offense together if they are more patient. Colby walked only 24 times in conference, seven less than any other team. None of Colby’s hitters outside of Buco are going to hit for extra bases so a walk is nearly as good as a hit. Walking more will also force opposing teams to go to their bullpen earlier.
Biggest Series: April 10-11 against Bates
Colby hosts the first game of this series before the teams play the Saturday doubleheader at Bates. Anytime two Maine teams meet, the stakes feel a little bit higher, and that will certainly be true for this one. The Mules dropped two of three last year mostly because they managed to score only four runs overall in the three games.