BRUNSWICK  — Like all of the college football coaches from Maine who spoke Tuesday at the 13th annual National Football Foundation Kick-Off Luncheon at Bowdoin College, B.J. Hammer likes what he’s seen of his players.

With this caveat: “I haven’t coached them yet.”

Hammer, 41, is the first-year head coach at Bowdoin. He’s looking to reverse the fortunes of a team that has gone 1-25 the last three years and hasn’t had a winning season since 2005.

Because the New England Small College Athletic Conference does not allow spring football practice, Hammer hasn’t seen his players on the field. He has seen them in the weight room, where he also serves as the strength coach and oversaw an offseason program with six meetings a week.

“We went from January to May,” he said. “The work ethic was great. I think they found out you could go a lot harder than you ever could imagine. The results were very good in the weight room.

“So I feel confident that a lot of the culture that we want to establish comes through that. There’s no video, there’s no speech that develops it. It’s your work ethic.”

Hammer is no stranger to turning programs around. He came to Bowdoin from Allegheny College, where he was 10-20 in three years. Not impressed? Well consider that the Gators were 1-29 in the three years before his arrival. Sound familiar?

Allegheny went 1-9, 3-7 and 6-4 under his leadership. And now the Polar Bears hope he can do the same with their program, which hasn’t even had a .500 season since 2011.

Hammer, an Indianapolis native, knows it will take a lot of work.

“There’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “Some of the things are external, and that’s with administration and the school support and athletic department support. Those are big questions that I asked and got great answers to from the alums and everyone I interviewed with. I felt great about it. That’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

Assistant coach Kevin Loney, in his fifth year with the Polar Bears, said the players appreciated the “instant feedback” they received from having Hammer in the weight room. “We’ve had great strength coaches here,” he said. “But when it’s the head coach in there, it’s a different thing. And they guys responded to it.”

Hammer said the players bought into his program from the first day.

“They had a great work ethic,” he said. “One of the things I really enjoyed was that, when I came up here to interview I met with (running back Nate) Richam and (linebacker Joe) Gowetski. And I asked them some really tough questions: ‘Are you guys tired of losing?’ and ‘How important is this to you.’ They gave me some great answers. Then they backed it up in the weight room.”

Hammer will bring a multiple offense and an attacking defense – “We want to create a lot of confusion and negative plays,” he said – to the Polar Bears but he can’t say exactly how the team will play because he has to fit his system to the players. He has some good ones. In addition to Richam (526 rushing yards, four touchdowns last season) and Gowetski (team-high 73 tackles), Bowdoin returns junior quarterback Austin McCrum of Saco as well as its top five receivers and next three tacklers.

Hammer’s goal entering the season, which begins Aug. 25 with the opening practice, is simple: “I want to see us improve every single week. I know that’s coaching cliche but it’s true. I want to see it from Day One to Day Two to Day Three. It’s all about that improvement.”

And, he said, success will come.

“But it takes time and you’ve got to stay the course,” he said. “There’s always going to be, ‘Why are you doing it that way? or ‘It’s hard.’ Well that’s what it takes.”

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