Two years and seven months after he was hired to build an NCAA Division III football program from scratch, Coach Mike Lichten will lead the University of New England into its first varsity contest Thursday night.

The Nor’easters kick off at 7 p.m. against Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

“We’re just excited to play,” Lichten said. “It’s been a long camp and I think the kids are ready to see somebody that they don’t know across from them. They’re excited to compete in what’s going to be a charged and electric environment.”

Coast Guard is coming off a 3-7 season and has a roster that includes 13 seniors and 16 juniors. UNE went 2-6 in a subvarsity schedule and has only two seniors and eight juniors among a squad of 83.

Sophomore Brian Peters of Darien, Connecticut, took most of the snaps at quarterback last season, but Lichten stopped short of naming him the starter, saying that he was still working out a rotation.

“We have some guys who are really capable and he’s one of them,” Lichten said. “We know it’s going to be warm and it’s the first time they put together a full four quarters. We’re going to need to play a lot of different kids.”

At least eight UNE starters played high school football in Maine: defensive backs Joey Curit (Biddeford), D.J. James (Leavitt) and Owen Berry (Wells); linebacker Keegan Stanton (Deering); defensive lineman Pat Saunders (Kennebunk); wide receiver Cobey Johnson (Fryeburg); offensive lineman Dakota Joy (Scarborough) and kicker Robert Inniss Jr. (Windham).

Classes at UNE started Wednesday. The team has not named any captains.

“We’re just trying to make it like every other game we’ve played,” Lichten said. “There’s going to be the initial adjustments that have to be made considering that it’s not only the first game of the season, but also the first varsity game in program history. At the end of the day, however, the field is the same size, the rules are the same and there are the same amount of guys on the field.”

The first home game on UNE’s refurbished blue turf field in Biddeford is scheduled for Sept. 8 against Husson. A third nonconference game follows at Hampden-Sydney (Virginia) College before a string of six Commonwealth Coast Conference contests, culminating in a visit to Lichten’s old school, Becker, of Leicester, Massachusetts.

Lichten spent five seasons as head coach at Becker and was named Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Coach of the Year in 2017 after his team went 7-3. He is a University of New Hampshire graduate who was an assistant at Northeastern for two years.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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