Football: Season Ends at 4-4
- Football suffers controversial loss
- One Giant of a Super Bowl
- Head football coach resigns after 23 years
Last Saturday, November 14, the Colby football team played its final game of the 2009 season against Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The Mules had a chance to win the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title outright with a victory, but the pesky Polar Bears denied Colby in a hard-fought matchup, 32-27. With the loss, the Mules finish the season 4-4 and must settle for a three-way tie for the CBB Championship along with Bowdoin (3-5) and Bates College (1-7).
"We never imagined a scenario where we shared the CBB title," graduating co-captain Roger Bel '10 said. "It is of course better than no claim at all, but there is a level of frustration."
True, the short New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season ended for the Mules in an anti-climatic fashion, but in no way should this year's results be deemed a disappointment.
The Mules battled back from an early-season 0-2 hole to finish the season fifth out of ten teams in the NESCAC. Colby proved its resiliancy most emphatically in the third game of the season, when the Mules pulled out an overtime victory against Wesleyan College on the road 16-13, just a week after suffering a 45-0 shutout to Middlebury College.
"Following our deflating loss [to Middlebury], we made up our minds that we had to take control of things and turn this thing around," Head Coach Ed Mestieri said. "The next week, fighting back from a two score deficit against Wesleyan, served as a catalyst for the rest of the season."
Colby went on to go 4-1 in their next five games with a shutout victory over Hamilton College and two 34-point offensive onslaughts against Bates and Tufts University. That stretch of great ball had the Mules riding high heading into the Bowdoin game with a 4-3 record.
The final game itself was a microcosm of the season. Bowdoin appeared to have the game put away when the Polar Bears went up 32-21 with 2:53 left in the contest.
Intimidation wasn't a factor for the Mules, who attempted to wage one final comeback. "We fed off each other's never-quit attitude all year," Bel said. Eventually Colby cut the lead to 32-27, but ran out of time with no timeouts left on its final offensive possession.
"We were a team in the truest sense of the word. No stars, no egos to speak of," Mestieri said. "When we were at our best, we played complementary football and when we weren't, one side of the ball attempted to pick the other up."
That's not to say Colby lacked playmakers on either side of the ball this season. The initial resurgence of the team rallied around a strong defensive unit that finished third in rushing defense and fourth in overall defense in the NESCAC. Strong safety Chris Copeland '10 finished an impressive collegiate career with 81 tackles this season, the fifth most tackles in the conference. Opposite Copeland at the other safety, Brian Mellett '12 also had a strong year, compiling 40 tackles. Linebacker Thomas Duffy '12 had 55 tackles (3.5 TFL) while seniors Lamont Henry and Roger Bel finished with 34 and 29 tackles respectively.
The cornerback position was held down by senior Nick Tucker and impressive freshman Derrick Beasley. Beasley tied for the team lead with two interceptions. The defensive line was a rock for the Mules and will be hit hard by the graduation of seniors Casey Sullivan (32 tackles, 2 sacks, 6.5 TFL) and Peter Scheve (24 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 TFL).
On offense, the running-back position was a combination of seniors Dan Prunier (82 attempts, 314 yards, 4 TDs) and Michael Cuqua (59 attempts, 181 yards, 2 TDs). Looking toward next year, the offense should still remain productive as Colby will retain its starting quarterback Nick Kmetz '12 (1,623 yards passing, 13 TDs), top three receivers Patrick Burns '11 (26 catches, 448 yards, 2 TDs), Matt Hellinger '11 (23 Catches, 307 yards, 4 TDs) and Spenser Merwin '11 (23 catches, 281 yards, 5 TDs), and 2/5 of the offensive line in Carson Phillips-Spotts '11 and Nick Steele '11. Co-captain Matt Quinlan '10 and fellow senior offensive lineman Brain Leighton and Matt Fait will need to be replaced.