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Football—2011-12 Season Overview
2013 Season Outlook
The Colby College football team heads into the 2013 season with likely the youngest roster in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
The Mules have only six seniors on the roster under second-year head coach Jonathan Michaeles. Defensive back Daniel Maddox and offensive lineman Paul Gallagher are co-captains and two of the six seniors.
A number of first-year players had a chance to play a year ago when the Mules won three of the final four games to finish the season at 3-5. Colby's new group of first-year players should also get chances to play right away.
Colby's coaching staff mainly remains intact from a year ago. Tom Dexter is back for his 25th year at defensive coordinator and Steve Opgenorth will run the offense for the second straight year.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Ciero took over as signal-caller early in the season and performed well. He threw for 1,001 yards and 10 touchdowns while leading Colby in rushing with 497 yards and three scores. Ciero was fourth in the NESCAC in touchdown passes, eighth in total yards (125.1), and ninth in rushing (62.1). Junior quarterback Greg Ladd and first-years Gabe Harrington and Joseph Anile IV are in the mix for playing time.
One of the keys for Colby offensively will be lack of depth at running back and wide receiver. The Mules had defensive backs Jason Buco and Derrick Beasley playing both ways last year, with each finishing in the top six of Colby receivers. Buco, who earned All-NESCAC Second Team honors at defensive back, led Colby in yards per catch (18.8) with 11 grabs for 207 yards. Having junior Luke Duncklee back from missing nearly the entire season with an injury will help out. Kyle Roth is the team's leading returning receiver after pulling down 13 catches for 128 yards, while junior Nick Joseph had 16 catches for 180 yards and five touchdowns two years ago.
Thomas Brewster made the most of his limited opportunities at running back a year ago, rushing 26 times for 128 yards (4.9 yards per rush) and one touchdown. Running back and wide receiver are both spots where young players have room to make an impact.
Colby returns four of its five starting offensive linemen from a year ago, losing co-captain John Gilboy. Connor Clancy started at center last season and returns along with Gallagher, Jeff Lamson, Tom Abare, and tight ends Glenn Parsons and David Von Euw.
While Maddox will be a captain and lead the defense, junior middle linebacker Henry Nelson will look to lead Colby in tackles for the third straight year. Nelson was fourth in the NESCAC last year in total tackles (77) and also forced three fumbles and picked off one pass.
Colby may have the most experience at any position at linebacker. Besides Nelson's presence inside. Tony Atkinson was sixth in tackles (31) a year ago and Gabe Salzer (20 tackles) and Mark Vargas also return at linebacker. The Mules have first-year linebackers who could play a large role as well.
The Mules lose their starting defensive ends from last year, but defensive tackles CT Harris and Mike Wincek both are back. Harris, who could slide over to defensive end, made 18 tackles last year and Wincek finished with 13. Kalu Kalu, who started at defensive tackle as a first-year, returns to the line. Ryan Ruiz could be the other defensive end after making 23 tackles at linebacker in three games, but then missed the rest of the year.
Buco was exciting in the defensive backfield, picking off five passes for 52 yards of returns. He also made 28 tackles and was tied for second in pass break-ups. Zach Padula also returns along with Maddox after making 32 tackles. Kyle Andrews could step in at the strong safety spot.
Louw Scheepers had a 30-yard punting average on 17 boots last year and attempted two field goals.
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.