When you consider that their two losses have been to well-established Division II football programs that are a combined 8-2 on the season, the 3-2 Husson University Eagles are having a good season entering Saturday’s 1 p.m. Homecoming game against Springfield College.
And this will be just their second home game.
Division III Husson has beaten the opponents within its own division: Utica (34-17), Norwich (25-19) and Mount Ida (16-13). The Eagles lost to Merrimack College 42-7 and to American International College 35-7.
AIC, which led just 14-7 at half, has won 11 straight games, including five this season. Merrimack is 3-2.
“We love the kids’ effort. They’ve played hard every game and have played together,” said coach Gabby Price.
AIC coach Art Wilkins said he was “very impressed” with Price, his Eagles and their preparation.
“They’re a real good fundamental football team,” said 15th-year head coach Wilkins, the winningest coach in AIC history (91-58). “They have a big future. They have a classy program. They have tough, well-coached players. All of our coaches and players had nothing but good things to say about Husson.”
Wilkins said if they made the jump to Division II, he feels they would be “very competitive.”
The Eagles have a freshman quarterback in James McCandless, and Price has been encouraged by his progress.
“He has done a good job. He has improved each game. He calls a good game, he’s good in the huddle. He’s a good leader,” said Price.
The Floridian has completed 35 of 78 passes for 538 yards and three touchdowns. He has been intercepted five times.
One thing helping McCandless is a productive running game featuring tailbacks Julius Williams (557 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 5 touchdowns) and Justin Lindie (326 rushing yards, 3.8 ypc, 3 TDs).
Price said they have received exceptional play from the offensive line, headed up by junior tackle Jon Benson of Biddeford.
“He’s as good as anybody, anywhere,” praised Price.
Benson is one of five juniors on the line along with left tackle Ryan Esmail, left guard Ben Emmott of Woolwich, center Mike Austin of Turner and tight end P.J. Dowe of Bangor.
Freshman Kyle Wedge of Buxton is the right guard.
Sophomore Roderic Johnson leads the receivers with 15 catches for 168 yards. Winslow freshman Ben Grant has eight for 180 and a TD, and junior James Dobson of Berwick has seven for 149 and two TDs.
Price said his defense has done a “great job creating turn-overs and running to the football.”
The Eagles have six interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Outside linebacker and former Foxcroft Academy stand-out Bobby Gilbert has a team-high 27 tackles, including 10 for losses and 4½ sacks. Freshman LB Earl Wilson is next with 26½ tackles followed by safety Keith Runne (26), LB Tom Hazlehurst (25½) and Bangor free safety Kyle Vanidestine (23½).
Price said freshman outside linebacker Chris Dalecki, tackles Cory Smith of Hebron and Dominic Torch and nose tackle Pat Ouellette of Biddeford have played extremely well.
Darren Gauthier is 3-for-4 on field goals and 8-for-12 on extra points, and Lindie is averaging 35.8 yards per punt.
UMFK reveals Hall of Fame class
Shaun Tomblin, who is the all-time leading scorer in University of Maine-Fort Kent history, is among four people who will be inducted into the UMFK Athletic Hall of Fame next spring.
He will be joined by Robert Marquis, Jeffrey Pillsbury and the late Terry Drown.
Tomblin, a member of the Class of 2001, graduated Summa Cum Laude. He works in finance in New York City.
Marquis (Class of 1977) had a well-rounded career in athletics after graduation. He retired last year from Schenck High School in East Millinocket after a 30-year career during which he served as a coach, basketball and soccer official, teacher, athletic director and administrator.
Pillsbury (Class of 1987) was a standout soccer player for the Bengals and ranks third on the career scoring list. The two-time Academic All-American is now the assistant principal and athletic director at Mount Abram High in Strong.
Drown (Class of 1968) was a star basketball player at UMFK. He was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and died in the line of duty in June 1969. The school’s Top Scholastic Athlete award is presented annually in his honor.