October 18, 2011

Block party unites twins

More news about: Maine Maritime | Plymouth State
Nate Duford
Nate Duford is Maine Maritime's leading receiver, although he's caught just six passes. He also had a 60-yard TD called back on a penalty.
Maine Maritime athletics photo
Josh Duford
Josh Duford has caught 11 passes for Plymouth State, which has only completed 32 all season.
Plymouth State athletics photo

It is better to block than to receive.

That is a mantra the Duford twins have to embrace. They are receivers playing in two of the most run-oriented offenses anywhere. Nate is in his senior season at Maine Maritime and Josh in in his final year at Plymouth State.

It took getting used to. After all, before they arrived on college campuses, they touched the ball plenty. They played at Stevens High in Claremont, N.H., where their coach was Ralph Silva, a man whose resume includes being Carlton Fisk's high school baseball coach. Nate was the quarterback for the Cardinals and Josh his favorite receiver.

Before that, they threw the ball around the yard all the time at their Claremont home.

"Our dad instilled football in us at a very, very young age," Josh said. "Football was the big part of our life after academics."

Academics still rules. The twins are top students, Nate majoring in power engineering technology at MMA and Josh in education.

Josh spent his freshman year at Curry, but then transferred because he wanted to be closer to home.

Both said they were never even introduced to the nuances of blocking in high school. Now, that's about all they do and it took hard work to make it part of their game.

"Josh is a very unselfish guy," Plymouth coach Paul Castonia said. "He never says anything about not getting the ball enough. He works just as hard on his blocking as he does on running his routes and catching the ball."

More than that, he has brought this team attitude to the locker room.

"He has spread this positive attitude," Castonia said.

How do two guys who grew up throwing and catching the ball, adapt to life with rarely seeing it and executing the anonymous piece of the offense called blocking? Winning helps, they say. They have won a lot since getting to Plymouth, N.H. and Castine, Maine.

Last week was a rare Saturday when they both suffered losses. Maine Maritime was taken down by red-hot Framingham State 42-14 and Plymouth was the latest team to be crushed by 7-0 Endicott, 49-0. But it has been a whole lot of winning with Nate and the Mariners competing in three New England Football Conference championship games.

"We've won a lot. I would rather win the game than catch touchdown passes," Nate said.

Josh and the Panthers have also won much more than they have lost.

They share in one another's success.

"They are very close. They are at one another's game whenever they have the chance," Castonia said.

Josh has attended all three NEFC title games that Nate has been a part of. Nate has been unable to see a Plymouth game until this year. Maine Maritime opened a week later than the Panthers so Mariner coach Chris McKenney excused him from a practice so that he could go see Josh's season-opening game, a 28-20 victory over Castleton.

"He surprised me. I had no idea he was going to be there," Josh said.

They talk every day and often multiple times a day. They might have gone to the same school had they been able to find one that fit their academic aspirations.

The adjustment was hardest to football for Nate because he came to Maine Maritime as a quarterback.

"When I got here I knew nothing about the triple option," he said. "I wasn't very fleet of foot but I thought maybe my arm could make up for that."

But Nate soon found out the arm is seldom part of McKenney's attack that has made a habit of piling up eye-popping rushing statistics.

"Coach came to me and told me I could stay at quarterback or I could move to wide receiver," Nate said. Tyler Angell was expertly running the option at that time and Nate decided to make the move.

"The switch to wide receiver made me more of a team type person, not that I wasn't before," Nate said.

He's caught two touchdown passes this year and so has Josh. But it's pretty much blocking, blocking and more blocking. "Here, you could catch a pass or two a game, or you might not see a pass or two a game," Nate said. "Ninety-five percent of your practice is blocking or working on blocking."

He seems to take more pride in the way his brother made the conversion at Plymouth.

"Josh works a lot harder than I do and it's not that I don't work hard," Nate said. "He has really earned his playing time. And he's a receiver at heart. He didn't start until this year and I am extremely proud of his for sticking it out.

"He works as a camp counselor in the summer and he told he didn't want to have to tell any of the young kids he works with that he ever quit something."

Framingham, Endicott dominating

The Duford twins got an up close look at Framingham State and Endicott and it was not a whole lot of fun. Those teams continue to be dominate on their respective sides of the NEFC.

Framingham has been undeterred by a series of injuries that have put quarterbacks on the shelf. They have overcome all that by running their record to 4-0 in the Bogan Division.

Melikke Van Alstyne had a day to remember rushing the ball for the 5-2 Rams. He pounded out 251 yards and five touchdowns. And it's not as though this slide down the depth chart at quarterback has precluded any success through the air. Dino Mancinelli completed 20 of 26 passes for 203 yards.

It is a testament to the depth coach Tom Kelley has built in the program.

And over at Endicott, excitement is high where the Boyd Division Gulls are trying to get to a second straight NCAA appearance. Mike Lane rushed for four touchdowns and Kevin Eagan blew up the Plymouth offense with 13 tackles and two interceptions.

Also in the Boyd, Richie Edwards rushed for two touchdown to lift Salve Regina to a a 31-6 win over Curry and UMass-Dartmouth won 21-6 to keep Nichols winless.

Mass. Maritime topped Fitchburg State 19-7 as Matt White rushed for 126 yards and Barry Reopell for two touchdowns.

Late lightning strikes down Coast Guard, again

Coast Guard lost for the third time this year in the final minute. This time Westfield State's Tyler Dow threw to Jeff Winchell with 49 seconds left for the 24-21 win. Dow threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns.

Western New England stayed on course by hiking its record to 6-1 by whipping MIT 31-0 with Kevin Cook and Bryce Brown each running for two touchdowns. Jake Laux had 18 tackles for MIT.

Blaise Branch rushed for 201 yards in helping Bridgewater State to a 34-23 win over Worcester State. It was the second straight loss for the Lancers after starting 5-0.

Cadets, Privateers stay perfect

Norwich and SUNY-Maritime stayed undefeated in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. Norwich won its showdown with Gallaudet 10-7 as quarterback Kris Sabourin scored with 33 seconds left. A spectacular diving catch by Derius Selius set up the score.

Earlier in the week, Norwich coach Mark Murnyack said the team had not been in a game yet where talented field goal kicker Long Ding was a difference, but he he added that in a league like the ECFC, he knew that day would come.

It did. Ding's 30-yarder provided the margin of difference when it cut the Bison's lead to 7-3 with just under five minutes remaining.

It was the first league loss for the Bison.

Castleton's offense erupted with the score 28-28 against Becker. The Spartans scored the final 28 points to win 56-28 as Tyler Carpenter ran for four touchdowns and caught a pass for another. Shane Brozowski threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

Mount Ida also won going away. The Mustangs defeated Husson 50-0 as Johrone Bunch rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns and Scott Drosendahl threw for another three.

Anna Maria is still winless since starting the program in 2009. The AmCats fell to SUNY-Maritime 34-13. Thomas Davis rushed for two touchdowns for the Privateers.

Amherst, Trinity go to 4-0 in NESCAC

Amherst roughed up Colby 30-7 and Trinity fashioned a 9-0 win over Tufts as those teams stayed unbeaten in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

They have a highly anticipated meeting Nov. 5, but nobody in Amherst or Hartford is thinking about that right now, at least not the players and coaches. That's because they have tough tests coming up this weekend.

It was Amherst's 16th straight win over Colby.

Trinity got 207 yards rushing from Evan Bunker and the Bantam defense pitched its second shutout in a row. Walter Fallas was abig part of the shutout with 12 tackles. Ben Crick ran for the touchdown.

A couple of things jump out at you about Wesleyan's 21-14 win over Bates.

First of all, these aren't your father's Bobcats. Not even your older brother's. Bates, long a NESCAC doormat, is a team to be reckoned with and won't be an easy out for anyone.

Secondly, Wesleyan's LaDarius Drew has become one of the top running backs in the NESCAC and beyond. He rushed for 162 yards, marking his third straight 100-yard game. It was also the second week in a row that he has rushed for three touchdowns.

Bates is not the only Maine NESCAC program on the rise. Bowdoin beat Hamilton 20-7 as the Polar Bears had six sacks in earning the win. Peter Troubh had three of them.

Mac Caputi replaced Bowdoin starting quarterback Grant White during the game and threw his first collegiate touchdown pass.

Pat Noone extended his Bowdoin school record of 23 games with a reception.

Tom Wohlwender ran for three touchdowns as Williams got to .500 (2-2) by beating Middlebury 48-28. Brown transfer McCallum Foote had another 400-yard passing game for Middlebury. He threw for 409 yards and two touchdowns.

The Big Games

Neither Amherst or Trinity have an easy task this week in trying to move to 5-0. Amherst must deal with 3-1 Wesleyan and Drew. Trinity has the improving Bowdoin program coming to town.

"Bowdoin is a good team and they are very athletic," Trinity coach Jeff Devanney said.

SUNY-Maritime is probably facing its sternest ECFC test yet with Mount Ida visiting. The Mustangs are dangerous offensively, able to move it by land (with Bunch) or air (with Drosendahl) and they had Norwich (4-0 in the league) locked in a 17-17 tie late in the fourth quarter. That is Ida's only league loss.

It doesn't look like anyone is going to touch Endicott. JB Wells' challenge is to keep the Gulls from thinking that way, especially with Mass-Dartmouth in town with plenty to play for. The Corsairs are just a step behind at 3-1 in the Boyd Division.

Framingham State attempts to go to 5-0 in the Bogan. The Rams are also home but the opponent is not an easy one in Westfield State.

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter.

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