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2011 Season Outlook
The Colby College football team heads into the 2011 season after back-to-back 4-4 records the past two years and solidified the program as a top-five team in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
The Mules have a 48-40 record from 2000 to 2010 and rank fifth among the 10 league schools in victories.
Seniors Nick Kmetz, Connor Walsh, and Tom Duffy will be the captains for eighth-year head coach Ed Mestieri. Kmetz threw for 1,850 yards and 15 touchdowns (school record) last year and will once again be one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Walsh holds the singe-game school record for receptions in a game, with three efforts last year of 11 catches. Duffy was the team’s leading tackler at middle linebacker a year ago, but will miss his senior season due to career-ending concussion problems.
With some key skill players returning and an experienced offensive line, Kmetz will have plenty of support on offense. Senior lineman Jonn Swinehart and Rich Poirier both return as starters along with junior John Gilboy. Swinehart will start at left guard, Poirier at right tackle, and Gilboy at right guard.
Senior Tripp Stevens is talented enough for Mestieri to move him from defensive tackle to offensive tackle for this year. Stevens will play the all-important left tackle spot and have the pressure of protecting Kmetz from blindside hits in passing situations. Bill Hudson, a senior, will take over the center position.
The Mules also have one of the top tight ends in the league in senior Spenser Merwin, who caught 29 balls for 344 yards and three touchdowns last year.
Walsh was a terrific possession receiver a year ago, pulling down a team-best 55 catches for 532 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a 133 yards and returned punts and kick returns. Walsh led the team in all-purpose yards at 111 per game.
Senior wide receiver Rob Turner provides a big target at 6-foot-5 for Kmetz, while junior Michael Lahiff should also step in and be a key offensively for the Mules. Sophomore Nick Joseph will battle for minutes as well.
The Mules are least experienced in the offensive backfield behind Kmetz. Senior Ian Borthwick and junior Spencer Gopaul will carry the load in the running game for the first time. Meanwhile, Merwin and sophomore Ian Leitch will both see time at fullback.
Junior kicker David Bendit and senior punter Connor Sullivan both improved from the previous year. Bendit was 3-for-5 on field goal attempts (made a long of 38 yards) and hit 20-for-22 on extra points, while Sullivan had 38 punts for a 35.2-yard average. Sullivan had eight kicks inside the 20-yard line and had just three touchbacks.
While the loss of Duffy will sting for the defense, the Mules do return some talent players. Junior defensive end Ryan Veillette earned All-NESCAC honors last year after finishing with 39 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. The other defensive end --- junior Lester Batiste --- added 22 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Juniors Cody Anderson and Paul Spada also return at end.
Sophomore defensive tackles Kalu Kalu and Michael Jenkins both saw quality minutes last year and are ready to start this season. Teddy Echeverria also will play at the tackle spot.
Colby would have had an experienced linebacker corps with Duffy playing. However, the Mules do return senior Brian Mellett at one outside linebacker spot. He was fourth on the team in tackles last year with 41 and five tackles for loss. Mike Hyatt, the other outside linebacker, had three tackles for loss among his 10 stops last year and saw quality playing time. Junior Patrick Harper will get the call at middle linebacker.
The Mules had 21 first-year players on the pre-season roster.
2010 Season Outlook
The Colby football team will have eight starters back on offense and eight more on defense when the 2010 season begins with an away game at always-tough Trinity College on September 25.
The Mules finished 4-4 a year ago under seventh-year head coach Ed Mestieri. Colby could have done even better, but suffered two tough home losses to Amherst College and Williams College. The Mules earned a share of the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title with a victory over Bates College and a season-ending setback to Bowdoin College.
Colby won three of the last four games in 2009 against Tufts, Bates, and Hamilton. The Mules hope to take the momentum of those victories into the 2010 season under captains Matt Hellinger '11, Ryan Murphy '11, and Nick Steele '11.
Nick Kmetz '12 returns at quarterback after throwing for 13 touchdowns and running for three more scores. He earned the Gridiron Club of Boston's Gold Helmet Award during the season. Dan Hussey '13 showed promise at quarterback before suffering an injury and punter Connor Sullivan '12 will provide depth.
Kmetz will have a veteran group of receivers as targets, with the top four pass catchers returning. Patrick Burns '11 led the way a year ago with team-bests of 26 grabs, 448 receiving yards, and a 17.2-yard per catch average. Hellinger had 23 catches for 307 yards and fellow receiver Connor Walsh '13 finished with 21 catches for 182 yards. Andy Graham '11 and Ken Prior '13 also return and will give the Mules great depth at the position.
Spencer Merwin '12 was third on the team in receiving yards (307) and tied for second in total catches (23) and should be one of the top tight ends in the NESCAC. Nat Carson '11 caught five balls for a 16.6-yard per catch average last year in a reserve role behind Merwin.
Veteran linemen Carson Phillips-Spotts '11 and Steele will anchor a young offensive line. Dennis Gallagher '12, John Swinehart '12, John Gilboy '13, and Joe Tagliente '13 are expected to compete for starting spots and the Mules have some first-year players who will provide competition and depth.
The line will block for running backs Conor Tidgwell '11, Spencer Gopaul '13, Ian Borthwick '12, and some talented newcomers. Tigwell has the most rushes of any returner with 35 carries a year ago.
Colby has experienced linebackers and a defensive secondary to make the Mules a tough team to score upon. Tom Duffy '12 is one of the top middle linebackers in the league after finishing second on the squad in tackles last year with 55. Brian Mellett '12 moves from safety to outside linebacker after finishing third on the team with 40 stops. Murphy also returns at linebacker and should be a consistent performer.
Derrick Beasley '13 started all eight games as a first-year player and will take over at safety. Veteran defensive backs Nick Tucker '11 (26 tackles) and Rich Newton '11 (11 tackles) will bring experience to the secondary. Shayne Begin '12, Philip Amato '13, Sam Nuber '12, Jeremy Glick '11, Eric Wilsterman '11, and Jed Rooney '13 will battle for starting spots or quality playing time.
Dave Bendit '13 and Murphy will compete for the kicker position, while Alex Olsen '11 will challenge for punting and kicking duties.