|Senior quarterback Derek Victory threw for 354 yards and accounted for five touchdowns in Coast Guard's opener.
Coast Guard athletics photo
There were some outstanding performances beginning with Coast Guard's 34-0 victory over Anna Maria on Thursday night through the games on sun-splashed fields on Saturday. There was Coast Guard's four-year starting quarterback Derek Victory firing three touchdown passes and running for two more scores while becoming the first in program history to eclipse 5,000 career passing yards. There was also Andy Short catching a couple of touchdown passes for SUNY-Maritime in the Privateers 35-28 overtime victory over Maine Maritime.
Fans delight in overtime thrillers and milestones each weekend, but it can be the journey to the field for many players that is the hard part. The game can be easy compared to what it took for some of them to get on the field in the first place. The journey is what many fans aren't aware of as they relish in watching these accomplishments each weekend.
Victory was a 5-foot-9 quarterback in high school. Nobody was clamoring for him to come to their campus and play football.
"Derek won about three games in high school," Coast Guard coach Bill George said.
Then, there was his height. "Everyone wants the 6-foot-4 quarterback," George said.
He wanted a Coast Guard education and the career path it offered. Still, you have to get into the school, and that is not easy in itself.
"Derek did not get accepted. He was wait-listed for about four months," George said. "He probably did not get in until about June.
"But Derek had a true love for the Coast Guard."
That love allowed Victory to persevere. He got in and had a superb season as a freshman and has been completing passes ever since, achieving the 5,200 career passing yards.
He was solid as a freshman and better now as a senior.
"He knows a lot more now. And he has a lot of natural leadership ability," George said.
George credits offensive coordinator Ray LaForte for much of Victory's success. The longtime coach is a good teacher who has a student willing to devour every morsel that LaForte puts on the table.
"They spend a lot of time together. The biggest thing with Derek is that he learns and he takes coaching," George said. "He is a typical cadet."
Short's journey has similarly been filled with obstacles. It normally has come in the form of an injury.
"He seemed to get injured every summer. It usually involved diving for a ball," Maritime coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes said.
He has suffered a broken hand and a badly broken collarbone. The collarbone injury prevented him from playing at all in 2015.
Instead he was the team manager. He spent last season loading buses. He started this season by catching two critical touchdown passes.
"He is a big, physical guy. Really strong in the weight room," Kendrick-Holmes said.
Like all coaches, Kendrick-Holmes gets a lot emails. The one from Short caught his eye. He wanted to go into marine transportation.
Not everyone is a fit for SUNY-Maritime. It looked as though the Louisianan would be.
"His dad was a Mississippi River pilot," Kendrick-Holmes said.
The Privateers opened with a win and catching touchdown passes was a whole lot more fun than loading buses.
And while talking about the journey, Stephen Beahn's journey at Framingham State from the defensive side of the ball to wide receiver began as a smashing success. All he did was catch six passes for 248 yards (41.3 yards per catch) in the Rams' victory over Endicott.
Finding Mr. Wright
SUNY-Maritime does well recruiting Long Island products. They got a gem in Thomas Wright.
After spending time at Suffolk Community College, he landed with the Privateers where he was a backup quarterback seeing little time last year.
He deftly directed the option attack against Maine Martime, completing 10 of 16 passes for 117 yards and the two touchdowns to Short. He also ran for 59 yards and a score.
Leading the defense for the Privateers was Nick Conte. He had 12 tackles and two interceptions that he returned for a combined 42 yards.
Conte made some game-changing plays, a tackle for a loss on third down and an interceptions when the Mariners were driving deep into SUNY territory.
Great start for Plymouth
This is new territory for this group of Plymouth State players. The Panthers had lost the last four openers to Castleton, but this time they took down the Spartans in their own house, 20-7.
"This feels really good," Plymouth quarterback Zach Edwards said. "This will give us confidence in going forward."
Edwards completed 14 of 22 passes for a touchdown and was not intercepted as the Panthers made very few mistakes.
Fitchburg State's Garrett Dellechiaie looks ready for a big senior year after throwing for 309 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-20 victory over Becker.
Not surprisingly his hot receiver was Devin Summiel with nine catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
"They came in together as freshmen, and they have grown together through the four years," Fitchburg coach Pat Haverty said.
Another combo on defense was a wrecking crew. Tre Watson and Ousmane Samb each had 11 tackles and each forced a fumble.
"This year we lost a lot on defense. Tre and Ousmane have been in the system for three years. They had very good games," Haverty said.
Quick kicks: Framingham's Zakery Walker threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns. ... Western Connecticut beat Hartwick 35-31 with a great finish. Quinn Fleeting and Jaward Chishom hooked up for an 81-yard touchdown pass with 54 seconds to go. Fleeting threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns. ... Husson fell 35-28 to Alfred, but John Smith tied a Husson record with his 17th 100-yard game. Smith had 153 yards on 22 carries. ... Norwich coach Mark Murnyack was anxious to see who could full the void with last year's leading rusher Quincy Williams shelved by an injury for the opener against RPI. The Cadets lost, but Patrick Brown stepped in and rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown. ... Three of Coast Guard linebacker Titus Creamer's five tackles were for a loss. He was No. 2 on the depth chart but received an opportunity due to an injury. ... UMass-Dartmouth's Cory Burnham threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers in the Corsairs' 40-9 win over Mount Ida. UMD's Diego Hebra had eight tackles and an interception. ... Sam Pascale rushed for two scores for Salve Regina in a 39-3 thumping of Worcester State. ... Curry defeated Bridgewater State 28-24 and Western New England won its city rivalry with Springfield 26-10 as Vinny Lalumia made both field goal attempts including one of 43 yards. ... Westfield State's Shawn Braithwaite threw three TD passes and Travon Holder rushed for 168 yards in the Owls' 34-21 win over Nichols.
The big games
SUNY-Maritime hosts Mass. Maritime in the ninth edition of the Chowder Bowl. This is a special game between schools who have a great appreciation for each other.
Westfield State visits Western New England in another rivalry game between teams in the Greater Springfield area.
Framingham State travels to Cortland in a game that should be a good gauge for a Framingham team picked to win the MASCAC again.
But the pick for the marquee game of the weekend is the Secretaries Cup game between U.S. Merchant Marine and Coast Guard in New London.
George knows the task to go to 2-0 is a challenging one for the Bears.
"Merchant Marine has one of the best teams in the history of their school coming back," George said. "It's a great rivalry for college football."