Husson, Maine Maritime may battle weather in openers today

Posted Sept. 05, 2008, at 10:04 p.m.

Husson College of Bangor and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine open their respective seasons today, while the University of Maine plays its second game of the young college football season.

Along with their opponents, those teams may need to contend with the remnants of tropical storm Hannah as they try to pick up victories on the road.

Maine (0-1) at Monmouth (0-1), 1 p.m., Kessler Field, West Long Branch, N.J.: The Bears will try to apply the lessons learned last week at Iowa as they embark upon the Football Championship Subdivision portion of their 12-game schedule against the Hawks.

UMaine encounters a Monmouth squad that gave the Bears everything they could handle last season in Orono, where the hosts emerged with a 21-14 victory. The Hawks were picked to finish second this year in the Northeast Conference.

Cosgrove is looking for a more efficient offensive performance against Monmouth, especially in the passing game led by sophomore quarterback Adam Farkes.

“We need to avoid turnovers and things like that that impact the game,” Cosgrove said. “We’ve got to secure the ball and be efficient on first down, to give us better play selection throughout the course of the day.”

A forecast of heavy rain and high winds might make this a run-dominated contest. The Bears look to carve holes for senior tailback Jhamal Fluellen, who rushed for 104 yards at Iowa. He is complemented by the mobile Farkes and H-back Jared Turcotte of Lewiston.

The Hawks counter with a solid defense that yielded 27 points and 350 yards in their opener at Rhode Island. Free safety Jose Gumbs, inside linebacker Joe Cella and cornerback Kenny Amsel, who posted seven tackles apiece against the Rams, head the unit.

“The thing that’s really frightening is their experience level has gone up on that side of the ball,” Cosgrove said. “They’ve got some toughnosed guys up front, in the linebacker corps and with their secondary people. We’re going to really have to play well.”

UMaine’s defense takes on a Monmouth team that features a potent, I-based run attack sparked by senior tailback David Sinisi, who picked up 138 yards against URI. The Hawks balance things out with the passing of QB Brett Burke, who went 18-for-26 passing for 180 yards and a TD in the opener. He was intercepted twice.

“They run what people refer to as the ‘pistol,’ a short version of the ‘shotgun,’” Cosgrove said. “They still have their big tailback Sinisi in there, who’s a very physical, tough, hard-nosed runner.”

Seniors Jovan Belcher (end), Andrew Downey (linebacker) and Lamir Whetstone (free safety) head UMaine’s veteran defense.

Husson (0-0) vs. Merrimack (0-0), 1 p.m., Warrior Field, North Andover, Mass.: Coach Gabby Price’s Eagles open their season where they’ll spend much of it — on the road — against the Warriors in the first meeting between the two programs.

Husson is coming off a strong 6-3 season but has been forced to replace several starters on both sides of the ball. The Eagles will be inexperienced at quarterback, wide receiver and on the offensive and defensive lines.

Merrimack is a Division II program from the New England-based Northeast-10 Conference. The Warriors, who went 4-5 a year ago, are playing for first-year coach John Perry.

Key players for the Eagles include tailbacks Julius “Juice” Williams and Justin Lindie of Winslow, linebacker Joe Gilbert of Beaver Cove and cornerbacks Doug Blades and Darius Charlton.

Merrimack’s standouts include defensive back/kick returner Andrew Jackson, an All-NE-10 pick who was a preseason All-American as a kick returner. The Warriors return eight starters on defense.

However, Merrimack also must break in a new quarterback in sophomore Kurt Leone.

Maine Maritime Acad. (0-0) vs. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (0-1), 2 p.m., Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland: The Mariners and Engineers usually play a scrimmage this weekend, but this year the coaches decided to make it a countable contest.

They chose a neutral site to reduce travel.

MMA and MIT both play in the New England Football Conference, with MMA from the Bogan Division and MIT from the Boyd Division. This game does not count toward the league standings.

Coach Chris McKenney’s Mariners will try to grind it out with their option offense and a tough defensive effort. MIT was 2-7 last season.

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