Friday, April 18, 2014
By Travis Lazarczyk email@example.com
At the end of Thursday’s practice, the Colby College football team gathered around to watch the team’s offensive and defensive linemen compete in their annual punt, pass and kick challenge. Head coach Jonathan Michaeles was asked, what’s on the line here?
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Whittier Field, Brunswick
Last season: Colby 17, Bowdoin 0
Key players: Colby — QB Justin Ciero, WR Luke Duncklee, T Paul Gallagher, DL CT Harris, LB Henry Nelson, CB Jason Buco. Bowdoin — RB Zach Donnarumma, QB Mac Caputi, WR Daniel Barone, LB Joey Cleary, LB Brian Glazewski, DB Reeder Wells.
Outlook: With a win, Colby earns its first Colby-Bates-Bowdoin title since 2005. This is the 125th meeting between these rivals, and Bowdoin holds a 68-47-9 lead in the series. Colby’s defense, which has allowed just three points in the last two games, will be a key. The Mules lead the conference in rushing defense, allowing 84.1 yards per game on the ground. Colby is third in the league in scoring defense (15.9 ppg). Offensively, Ciero is second in the NESCAC in total offense (244.7 ypg), while Duncklee leads the league in catches (57) and receiving yards (566). For Bowdoin, Cleary leads the conference in tackles, with 86.
“Nothing but pride,” Michaeles said. “There used to be a trophy, but it’s gone.”
The trophy the Mules really want will be at stake Saturday, when they play at rival Bowdoin, with the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin championship up for grabs. Colby beat Bates two weeks ago, and Bates beat Bowdoin last week. A Colby win gives the Mules their first CBB title since 2005. A Bowdoin win makes it a three-way tie, and sends the trophy back to Bates, last season’s winner.
“We had a chance for it my freshman year, and we didn’t come through. Last year, I missed the game and I’m just excited to be back at it with a chance to take it home,” junior wide receiver Luke Duncklee, a Cony High graduate, said. “No one on our team has seen the trophy. I’m excited to have the chance to bring it back.”
Colby hasn’t won the CBB title since 2005, and the Mules are in their longest drought without the rivalry title since a 10-year dry spell that ended in 1983. The Mules enter this season’s Bowdoin game playing as well as they have for a few seasons. Colby has won three games in a row, and the Mules (4-3) have allowed just three points in the last two games combined.
“Defense has been unbelievable. We’ve been able to shut down run games, and that will be the challenge in this one. They’ve got an excellent offensive line and a very good couple of running backs. They’ve got an excellent quarterback, too,” Michaeles said. “It’s going to be the most balanced team we’ve faced, I think, in the last couple of weeks. If the defense can continue to perform they way they have, I think we’ll be in great shape.”
Michaeles referred to Bowdoin running backs Zach Donnarumma (506 yards rushing) and Tyler Grant (237 yards rushing), as well as quarterback Mac Caputi. Stopping the run has been Colby’s strength of late. Allowing just 84.1 yards per game on the ground, the Mules lead the New England Small College Athletic Conference in rushing defense, and are ranked eighth in the country at stopping the run.
All week, Michaeles has heard from alumni from around the country, wishing the team well in the chase for the CBB title.
“It’s very important to the alumns, It’s one of our tangible goals, every year,” Michaeles said, “and it’s a big one.”
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Duncklee’s sophomore season lasted less than a game. The receiver broke an ankle in the first game of the 2012 season at Williams, and spent the rest of the season on the sidelines. After experiencing some soreness in his repaired ankle early this season, Duncklee has become Colby’s most reliable receiver, and one of the top wideouts in the NESCAC.
With one game to play, Duncklee leads the league in catches (57) and receiving yards (566). Duncklee’s six receiving touchdowns are second-best in the league, behind Middlebury’s William Sadik-Khan, who has nine touchdown catches.
“At the beginning of the year, I was still struggling a little bit, but as the year’s continued on, I’ve been getting healthier and healthier and started to ignore the pains. I’m feeling good now,” Duncklee said.
Duncklee developed great chemistry with quarterback Justin Ciero. Of the 132 passes completed by Ciero and backup Gabe Harrington, 43 percent have been to Duncklee.
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