Bates football looks to improve with veteran players
|Coach Mark Harriman returns for his ninth season.|
The Bates College football team, 2-6 in 2004, returns 16 starters as it focuses on two goals for 2005. “We want to claim the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin title and have a winning season,” said Head Coach Mark Harriman, now in his ninth year (16-48).
The Bobcats only lost six of 22 starters to graduation, including defensive back Mike Horan and wide receiver Matt Orlando. Both earned all-conference honors from the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
Harriman says the team plans to “prepare for each game like it is the only game on our schedule. With the number of veterans returning on each side of the ball as well as the continuity of our dedicated coaching staff, we are poised to have an outstanding season.”
|Brandon Colon is the second consecutive NESCAC Offensive Rookie of the Year for Bates. Ken Adams ’07 won the award in 2003.|
Offense was a strength for Bates in 2004 as the Bobcats were ranked third in NESCAC passing with an average of 186.4 yards per game. The team completed 48.9 percent of its pass attempts for 1,491 yards.
NESCAC Rookie of the Year Brandon Colon ’08 (Manchester, N.H.)started the final six games of the season at quarterback. He was ranked third among conference quarterbacks with 173 passing yards per game and a 99.6 passer rating.
He set the single-game completion record in an October 30th loss to Colby, completing 28 of 52 pass attempts for 294 yards. He completed 49.6 percent of his passes on the season, throwing five touchdown passes and rushing for three more.
“Brandon did an exceptional job last season and the coaching staff expects him to continue to improve in all areas of his game,” said Harriman. “His arm strength and touch have allowed us to open up our passing attack.”
Running back Jamie Walker ’07 (Needham, Mass.)scored three touchdowns in 2004 including two in the season-ending win over Hamilton. In the victory, Walker rushed for a career-high 181 yards. “Jamie is a very talented player who was hampered with injuries last year.
“In the two games he was healthy, he had outstanding performances,” said Harriman.
Walker finished the season ranked seventh in the NESCAC in rushing with 117 carries for 409 yards.
Offensive lineman John Pambianchi ’06 (Saugus, Mass.)is a three-year starter and a dominate run blocker.
“He plays with a great deal of intensity which has been motivational to the other members of the offensive line,” said Harriman.
|The return of three key defensive leaders are expected to have a major impact in the backfield.|
Defensive linemen Terence Ryan ’07 (Milton, Mass.)and Eric Obeng ’07 (Wellesley, Mass.)and linebacker Dave Bodger ’06 (Lewiston, Maine)will lead the defensive backfield.
“We expect all three to be impact players for us on defense,” said Harriman. “They each have game experience to go along with their athleticism and that will pay great dividends.”
Ryan had 20 tackles on the season, including 7.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Bodger led the team with 14 tackles vs. Williams and had 11 tackles and a forced fumble vs. Hamilton. He led the team with 72 tackles on the season.
On the defensive line, Obeng led the team in sacks and tied for the lead in tackles for loss. As a short-yardage running back, he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns.
Ron DiGravio ’08 (Farmington, Maine)will move from running back to linebacker, and Adam Kayce ’07 (North Easton, Mass.)will move to rover from cornerback to bolster the defense.
Both kickers and the kick-off and punt-return specialists return. Tyler Schmelz ’06 (Monmouth Beach, N.H.)will handle kicking and punting duties, Graham Raymond ’08 (Westfield, Mass.)returns as long snapper and Kevin Reyes ’08 (North Andover, Mass.)will handle punt returns.
Schmelz averaged 32 yards on 49 punts last season, while Reyes had 81 yards on 12 punt returns.
“Tyler improved dramatically over the course of the season,” said Harriman. “He is a tremendous competitor who likes to be in pressure situations. Graham and Kevin both did outstanding jobs stepping in to key roles as freshmen and they will continue to have an impact for us.”
“Joe McDermott ’06 (Walpole, Mass.), Jason Moody ’06 (Moody, Maine)and John Pambianchi ’06 (Saugus, Mass.)have all been outstanding team players for us during the past three years,” said Harriman. “As captains, they will provide the team with great leadership on and off the field. Their work ethic and intensity will serve as positive role models for the incoming class.”
A highlight of the 2004 season was the Bobcats’ first win over Wesleyan since 1982, breaking the Cardinals’ 17-game win streak vs. Bates. The Bobcats wrapped up their 2004 season with a 37-13 win over Hamilton.
Bates opens the 2005 season at home, Saturday, Sept. 24 vs. Trinity, at 1 p.m.