Date Posted:09/15/2003,  1:30PM

2003 Football Preview

BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College football team posted the exact same record in 2002 as it did in 2001, 1-7. But anyone who saw coach Dave Caputi's squad play last season could see that significant impovement was made. And now, as Caputi enters his fourth season as head coach, Bowdoin is poised to make a jump to the next level of the NESCAC- not just competing consistently, but winning consistently.


Offensively, the Polar Bears will need to replace quarterback Justin Hardison, who started for three seasons. Caputi had his choices whittle down as sophomore Ricky Leclerc (Manchester, N.H.) went down with an ankle injury in preseason and will miss significant time this year. Stepping up to fill the role will be one of two juniors; Tom McMahon (South Weymouth, Mass.) or Mike Ferrante (Canton, Mass.). McMahon is the only one to have seen game action, but both players have over two years of practice experience to fill the void.


Likely to carry most of the offensive load will be junior tailback Rob Patchett (Pembroke, Mass.), who led the squad in rushing last season with 546 yards in seven games, placing sixth in the conference. Include his yards as a receiver and on kick returns and Patchett averaged 143 total purpose yards per game. Sophomore Matt Boyd (Rockland, Mass.) was the goal-line back for the Polar Bears last year, scoring five touchdowns, and will look to get more touches this season. At fullback, Bowdoin will count on juniors Chris Stratton (Weston, Mass.) and Jon Rock (Waltham, Mass.) to open the running lanes for the tailbacks.


At wideout, Bowdoin will depend on junior Brian Durant (Dorchester, Mass.) to step up as the number one receiver. Durant caught 15 passes for 160 yards in 2002 and will receive support from sophomore Jeff Nolin (Dover, N.H.) who will likely get the nod at the other wideout spot. In support, the Polar Bears have a plethora of options, including senior Drew Loucks (Acton, Mass.) and sophomore Scott Brisson (Danbury, Conn.). The tight ends will be counted on for significant contributions in 2003, and veteran Mark Drauschke (Melrose, Mass.) will look to carry the load. Drauschke accounted for five catches last year, including a touchdown. Competing for time at end will be Jared Prichard (Marston Mills, Mass.). Both players are over 6-3 and will provide big targets for the quarterbacks.


Perhaps the strong suit of the Polar Bears, Caputi has size and experience in the trenches this year. Senior captain Bobby Desaulniers (Framingham, Mass.) will anchor the line from the center position and will be flanked by classmate Jim Weeks (Worcester, Mass.) and junior Shaun Gagnon (Sanford, Maine) at guard. Juniors Greg Berry (Portsmouth, N.H.) and Chris Zerilli (Glaucester, Mass.) will man the tackle positions. Across the board, Bowdoin averages 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds on the offensive line. Competing for time will be junior Nick LaRocque (Brewster, Mass.), sophomores Justin Kievits (Naugatuck, Conn.), Craig Drauschke (Melrose, Mass.), Ted Lyons (Washington, D.C.) and first-year Russell Stevens (Andover, Mass.).


A juggling act on the defense has resulted in a few players being in different positions at the beginning of 2003. Senior Brandon Casten (Wells, Maine) has switched from linebacker to defensive end and will book-end the tackles with classmate Chris Wagner (Norfolk, Mass.). Casten accounted for 13 solo tackles last year, including a sack and a three tackles for a loss, while Wagner racked up 10 solo stops in 2002. Tackles Jarrett Young (St. Louis, Mo.) and Mike Stratton (Weston, Mass.) are perhaps the strongest and most imposing tackle duo in the NESCAC, standing almost 12-and-a-half feet and 500 pounds combined on the inside for Bowdoin. Young had six tackles, while Stratton had 16, including two sacks last season. Fighting for time on the line will be senior Mike Costello (Hingham, Mass.), junior John Flinn (New York, N.Y.) and sophomore Matt Regele (Rutland, Mass.)


The Bowdoin linebacking corps returns a strong group from last year, including the top three tacklers on the team, led by senior Jeb Boudreau (Waltham, Mass.). Boudreau had 33 solo tackles last year and forced two fumbles. Sophomore Brian Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) was second on the squad in total tackles with 34 solos and 22 assists, and he also posted six tackles for a loss along with two fumble recoveries. Sophomore Shaun Kezer (Mansfield, Mass.) was third on the team with 20 solo tackles and will start at the other linebacking spot. Other key linebackers for Bowdoin include first-year Mike Vitousek (Kamuela, Hawaii) and sophomores Kevin Wilcox (S. Glastonbury, Conn.) and Rich Florence (Bridgewater, Mass.).


A perfect example of the young talent that Bowdoin has attained will be exhibited in the defensive backfield. Junior corner Andrew Parsons (Derry, N.H.) is the veteran of the group and will likely start alongside two sophomores and a first-year this season. Sophomore safeties Mike Minogue (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and Steve Curwen (Milford, Conn.) will play key roles, as will first-year cornerback Chris McCann (Hopkinton, Mass.). Rookie Brendan Murphy (Winthrop, Mass.) will see significant time either starting or as a nickel back, along with sophomore Ahron Cohen (Shorewood, Minn.).


Bowdoin will begin their year with two of the top three teams in the conference from a year ago. The regular season opens on Saturday, September 20 as Bowdoin will host NESCAC co-champion Williams College. The Polar Bears will then travel to Amherst and Tufts in successive weeks before returning to Brunswick to play Hamilton on October 11. Bowdoin will close out the year with away trips at Trinity and Bates and a home game against Wesleyan before hosting rival Colby on November 8.