BRUNSWICK — Every year, every college football team undergoes changes. Players graduate, coaches come and go, and opponents vary. This season, the program with the most change in Maine is Husson. Not only do the Eagles have a new head coach, Nat Clark, they’ll begin play in a new conference, the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

A longtime assistant coach at Husson, Clark played for former head coach Gabby Price, who retired after leading the Eagles to the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title last season, as a student at Bangor High School. Clark said the best advice Price gave him upon taking the head coach’s position was be yourself.

“I still talk to (Price) every day, by text or by phone. He just said be yourself. He empowers people so much, I feel ready,” Clark said, at the Howard Vandersea Maine Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s annual kickoff luncheon Tuesday at Bowdoin College. “Our players would say, and our coaches would say, his best quality is he empowers people. I feel empowered.”

Joining the Commonwealth Coast Conference is the logical next step in Husson football’s growth, Clark said. Husson went 27-1 over the last four seasons in ECFC play, winning three conference titles. The CCC should provide the Eagles with a more competitive slate of conference games.

“This is what we wanted when we started football at Husson, was to be in a New England League. That was Gabby’s dream. It was all our dreams at Husson. Now it’s come true,” Clark said. “The ECFC was a fantastic conference for us, but now in this league, it’s a great league and we’ll have to play each and every week.”

Husson opens the season September 14 with a non-conference game at UMass-Dartmouth. The Eagles play their first CCC game October 5 at Becker.

 

• • •

 

Colby won three of its final four games last season to finish 3-6 in Jack Cosgrove’s first season as head coach. The Mules look to make that strong finish a building block for this season.

“Now we’re looking to make another step, the next step,” Cosgrove said.

The Mules return seven starters on offense, including sophomore quarterback Matt Hersch. The New England Small College Athletic Conference Co-Rookie of the Year last season, Hersch threw for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. His 60.5 completion percentage was second in the conference.

Colby opens the season September 14 at Wesleyan.

 

• • •

 

First-year head coach Nick Charlton talked up a few of the Maine natives he has on the University of Maine roster this season. The Black Bears will have 17 Mainers, approximately 20 percent of the roster.

“That’s probably the most we’ve had in a long time,” Charlton said.

The best Mainer on the Black Bears roster is likely running back Joe Fitzpatrick. A North Yarmouth native and Cheverus graduate, Fitzpatrick is the top returning rusher from last season, gaining 533 yards and scoring four touchdowns on 120 carries. Fitzpatrick played in 13 of Maine’14 games last season, but has been slowed by injuries throughout his career.

“I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s just got to stay healthy,” Charlton said.

Charlton added that Oxford Hills graduate Gunnar Docos will play left tackle. A Harrison native, Docos started 13 games in 2018.

The Black Bears open the season August 30 at home against Sacred Heart.

 

• • •

 

Bates went 0-9 last season, Malik Hall’s first season as head coach. Hall acknowledged that wore on the psyche of everyone in the program, but he’s encouraged by the offseason work put in and commitment to success from what he called the Bobcat Posse.

Hall compared the growth of a football program to the growth of a seed. It has to get in the dirt and break before it can flourish.

“You can’t guarantee a harvest, but you can guarantee the work you put in,” Hall said.

Bates has commitments from players from around the country, Hall said, and had visits from high school players from South Carolina, Hawaii and Oklahoma.

“We’re creating a buzz,” Hall said. “Expect that seed to grow.”

Bates opens the season September 14 at Amherst.

 

• • •

 

Bowdoin coach BJ Hammer wasn’t able to provide much insight into his returning Polar Bears.

“To give you a synopsis for the season is tough, because I haven’t coached them yet,” Hammer said.

Hammer was hired in January. He came from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, where he turned around a program that was 1-29 in the three seasons prior to his arrival. The Gators improved from 1-9 to 6-4 in Hammer’s three seasons as head coach.

Bowdoin was 1-8 last season, but returns some talented players. Quarterback Austin McCrum, a Thornton Academy graduate, enters his second season at Bowdoin after transferring from Football Championship Subdivision Lafayette.

“(McCrum) looks sharp. He looks good,” Hammer said.

Bowdoin opens the season September 14 at home against Hamilton.

 

• • •

 

Maine Maritime Academy coach Chris McKenney said his team will be tested not just by a tough New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference schedule, but by three non-conference games in September.

Seven of the 10 opponents on the Mariners schedule won at least six games last season. Conference foe MIT advanced to the first round of the NCAA playoffs. The Mariners play at MIT October 12.

MMA’s non-conference slate ends with the 47th annual Admiral’s Cup game against Massachusetts Maritime on September 21 in Castine. The Mariners open the season at SUNY-Maritime on September 7.

Defense could be a strength for MMA. The team returns conference Co-Rookie of the Year Terrell Thomas, a linebacker who had 47 tackles last season. Winslow’s Trenton Bouchard is back for his third season as a starting corner back. Bouchard made 44 tackles and broke up eight passes last season.

 

• • •

 

The University of New England played its first varsity football season last year, going 2-9.

“We had first after first after first,” coach Mike Lichten said.

The Nor’easters expect their program to continue to grow. Lichten will have 124 players in preseason training camp. UNE’s first game is September 7 against Coast Guard. The Nor’easters will play at new Commonwealth Coast Conference rival Husson October 19.

“We think we’re a year ahead of schedule,” Lichten said.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.