Date Posted:09/21/2004,  1:00PM

2004 Bowdoin Football Preview

Head Coach: Dave Caputi (5th season)

Leading Returners: Ricky Leclerc (488 passing yards, 95.48 pass efficiency), Rob Patchett (639 rushing yards, 4 TD's), Brian Durant (230 receiving yards, TD), Shaun Kezer (59 solo tackles), Brendan Murphy (37 solo tackles, 3 INT), Mike Minogue (4 INT), John Flinn (18 solo tackles, 6 TFL) Greg Berry (Tackle), Shaun Gagnon (Guard), Chris Stratton (Fullback).

Key Losses: Jeb Boudreau (46 solo tackles), Chris Wagner (4.5 sacks), Brandon Casten (10 solo tackles), Bobby Desaulniers (Center)

2003 RECAP: Just 14 total points away from a 4-4 campaign, the Polar Bears lost a pair of one-point nailbiters and posted an 0-8 campaign. Riddled by injuries at key positions for the entire season, Bowdoin benefited from numerous young players gaining experience at the expense of immediate results. Rob Patchett was the key offensive force, leading the NESCAC with 163.2 all-purpose yards per game. Ricky Leclerc, slated in as the starting quarterback, was injured in preseason and played in only the final three games of the season. Jeb Boudreau was named an All-NESCAC linebacker, but Bowdoin's leading tackler was Shaun Kezer, who posted 97 total tackles and two forced fumbles. The Polar Bears were increasingly competitive as the season moved on, losing 21-12 to Wesleyan, 20-17 to Bates and 7-6 to Colby in their final three contests of the year.

2004 OFFENSIVE PREVIEW: Leclerc and Patchett will get a chance to perform together full-time as the season begins. The two only shared the field for one half of one game in the 2003 season. Potentially a lethal combination, they will be supported by a veteran offensive line that includes depth across the board. Nick LaRocque will begin the season as the starting center, flanked by two veterans- guard Shaun Gagnon and tackle Greg Berry- to his left. Right tackle Ted Lyons has developed into a top offensive lineman, while Jason Riley will man the right guard spot. A perfect example of the injury battles of last season, Riley switched from defense to offense in 2003 and was one of five different right guards used by Bowdoin. Senior Chris Zerrilli is a versatile lineman who provides experience and depth to the line, while fullback Chris Stratton will look to pave holes through opposing defenses.

The receiving corps returns five of the top six pass-catchers of a year ago, led by senior captain Brian Durant. Durant caught 21 passes for 230 yards in 2003, and will share week one starting duties with Scott Brisson (8 catches, 71 yards). Jeff Nolin (nine receptions, 233 yards) returns, as does tight end Jared Prichard (11 catches, 208 yards) who led all Bowdoin receivers in yards per catch last fall.

2004 DEFENSIVE PREVIEW: Bowdoin is young, but very athletic on defense going into the season. The line will begin the year with senior captain John Flinn, nose guard Mike Stratton and end Zach Hammond in a 3-4 set. The linebacking corps features veterans Kezer and Ben Babcock. Lucas Guarino and converted defensive back John Regan will look to step into starting positions this fall and become key members of the defensive unit. A number of underclassmen will battle for starting spots at both linebacker and defensive line as the season progresses.

The defensive secondary features some young, but seasoned, players entering the year. Brendan Murphy and Dave Donahue will begin the season at the cornerback spots. Murphy had an outstanding rookie campaign, collecting 37 solo tackles and three interceptions in 2003. Donahue had four pass break-ups and 1 forced fumble in his initial season. While a pair of sophomores man the outside, a pair of juniors will play at safety. Mike Minogue led Bowdoin with four picks last season, while Steve Curwen was among the team leaders with 24 total tackles.

SCHEDULE: Bowdoin will open the year with an opponent they have not seen in three years- Middlebury College. Caputi's alma mater will play host to the Polar Bears on September 25 in the season opener. Bowdoin then returns home in consecutive weeks against Amherst (October 2) and Tufts (October 9) before traveling to Hamilton on October 16. NESCAC Champion Trinity comes to town on October 23. The season wraps up with a trip to Wesleyan (October 30), home against Bates (November 6) and at Colby (November 13).