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

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…