Maine Maritime Academy goes after the New England Football Conference championship, the University of Maine plays its home finale and Colby and Bowdoin renew their CBB series rivalry, highlighting Saturday’s college football around the state of Maine.
Rhode Island Rams (1-8, 0-6 CAA) at Maine Black Bears (4-5, 3-3 CAA), noon, Alfond Stadium, Orono: It will be an exciting day for Cape Elizabeth’s Chris Treister, who will make his first collegiate start at quarterback for the Bears. The sophomore replaces Warren Smith, who is out for the season after suffering a broken bone in his foot last weekend at James Madison.
UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove said Treister possesses some of the same QB qualities as Smith.
“He’s getting an opportunity to play a CAA football game and we’re confident he’s going to do a good job,” Cosgrove said. “He’s not all that different from Warren. They’re physically similar. He has a strong arm, can throw the ball. He’s an adequate runner.”
Treister has played in two games this season, going 0-for-2 passing with an interception against JMU.
He operated a spread offense at Portland High School. Cosgrove said the offense won’t look much different this week.
“His practice performance as a backup quarterback has allowed us to continue to run the offense we’re running,” said Cosgrove, who added senior QB/wide receiver Mike Brusko will again have a lot of impact on the game plan.
UMaine also hopes to establish the run game behind Derek Session, who was banged up last week. Wideout Landis Williams also is trying to shake off an injury from the JMU game.
Rhode Island has been forgiving defensively, allowing 36.9 points and a league-high 422.6 yards per contest. The Rams have the CAA’s Nos. 1 and 4 tacklers in linebackers Rob Damon (102 tackles) and Matt Hansen (91).
“They’re a growing defense like we are,” Cosgrove said.
The UMaine defense expects to be challenged by a Rhode Island offense that put up 42 points in a loss to No. 7 New Hampshire. The Rams, under their third head coach in three seasons in Joe Trainer, run a pass-oriented spread scheme that relies on the talents of QB Chris Paul-Etienne (122-for-221, 1,414 yds., 10 TDs, 6 INTs).
“They gave UNH all they could handle,” Cosgrove said. “I was really impressed with the quarterback and they had a great play-calling selection.”
Paul-Etienne prefers throwing to wideouts Shawn Leonard (36 receptions, 593 yds., 7 TDs) and Tyquan Bynam (32-449-2).
The UMaine defense is spearheaded by linebackers Donte Dennis (90 tackles), Brandon McLaughlin (57) and Vinson Givans (50).
Junior cornerback Dom Cusano will miss the game with an injury suffered at JMU.
It is the final home contest for a group of nine senior players. Brusko, Williams and McLaughlin head a group that includes offensive tackle Tyler Eastman of Old Town, defensive ends Jordan Stevens of Temple and Al Serena, defensive tackle Eric Lee, defensive back Troy Harris and LB Mark Masterson, who is injured and is likely to apply for a redshirt.
“The obvious challenge is to have that last memory, being so important, be a winning memory,” Cosgrove said.
Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (8-1) at Curry Colonels (8-2), noon, Katz Field, Milton, Mass.: The Mariners make their second straight bid for the NEFC title after repeating as Bogan Division champions. Today’s winner earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.
The Colonels claimed the Boyd Division crown for the sixth time in seven years.
Coach Chris McKenney’s MMA squad has been an offensive juggernaut. The Mariners, who have won five in a row, rank No. 1 in Division III, rushing for 425.2 ypg. They also are No. 5 in scoring (42.2 ppg).
MMA’s threats include fullback Jim Bower of South Paris, the nation’s leading rusher with 162.6 ypg and 17 touchdowns, halfback Nick Bourassa of Jay (82 ypg) and QB Tyler Angel of Leeds (72.4 ypg). Bower did not play last week at Fitchburg State.
Curry, which has won eight straight, counters with a defense that is sixth in the country against the run (79.5 ypg), 13th in points allowed (12.9 ppg) and 26th in yards allowed (269.2 ypg). Linebacker Scott Driscoll (75 tackles) leads the nation with seven interceptions, while LB Dan Dawson (59 tackles) has 13.0 tackles for a loss.
The MMA defense has surrendered 386.3 yards and 28 points per outing. The Mariners are led by linebackers Travis Fergola of Mexico (76 tackles) and Wade Mondoux (71 tackles, 13.5 for a loss).
The Mariners must contain a balanced Curry attack that has posted 24.8 ppg while averaging 205.4 yards on the ground and 172.6 more through the air.
The Colonels’ top threats include QB Zach Cavanaugh, who has thrown for 1,592 yards and 11 TDs while rushing for 498 yards and six scored. Their top rusher is Jamaal Woods (719 yds., 3 TDs), while wide receiver Victor Martinez (21 catches, 371 yds., 1 TD) and tight end Jeff Hibbard (17-304-4) head up the receiving corps.
Colby Mules (4-3) at Bowdoin Polar Bears (2-5), 12:30 p.m., Whittier Field, Brunswick: The Mules of Waterville have a chance to claim their first outright Colby-Bates-Bowdoin title since 2005 in the teams’ mutual New England Small College Athletic Conference season finale. A win by the Polar Bears makes it a three-way shared title along with Bates College of Lewiston.
This is the 121st meeting between the two programs, making it the third-oldest Division III rivalry in the country. Bowdoin holds a 65-46-9 advantage dating back to 1892.
Colby has won three straight despite being outscored by 30 points this season. Bowdoin is averaging 28.4 ppg, but has struggled defensively.
Today’s other game, noon: Bates at Hamilton.