August 9, 2013

Trinity Football Set To Defend NESCAC Title This Fall

More news about: Trinity (Conn.)

Hartford, Conn. - The 2013 Trinity College football team, under the direction of Head Coach Jeff Devanney (8th Season), looks to become the first team to repeat as England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Champions since the Bantams took four in a row from 2002 to 2005 this fall. In a league where the title-winning team has had to win all eight games the last five years, Trinity is up to the challenge with the return of 60 letterwinners from the 2012 undefeated squad including no less than four who received pre-season All-American recognition. The Bantams, 36-4 over the last five autumns, led NESCAC in seven statistical categories a year ago, and boasts one of the most talented and accomplished stable of running backs in all of NCAA Division III with senior co-captain Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.), senior Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.), and junior Michael Budness (Belchertown, Mass.). Fellow senior co-captain Brett Cde Baca(Millbrae, Calif.), an All-New England Division II/III linebacker, leads Trinity's perennially dominant defense.

The Bantams open 2013 at Bates, a formidable opponent that enjoyed its best season in recent memory last fall at 5-3, on Sept. 21, before hosting longtime rival Williams in its home opener on Sept. 28 at Jessee/Miller Field where Trinity holds a 47-game winning streak dating back to 2001. The following three weekends include games against teams with a combined record of 2-22 last season, but the last three Saturdays will be a tough test with road games at Middlebury and Amherst who were 7-1 and 6-2, respectively, a year ago, before the Homecoming finale in Hartford against Wesleyan. In 2012, Trinity edged the Cardinals, which were 5-3 last season, in overtime to clinch sole possession of the league crown.

Bunker will go down in Trinity football history as one the greatest players of all time. Already the Bantams' all-time leading rusher after three seasons including his rookie year when he was a reserve until the fourth week, Bunker is versatile, multi-skilled, and durable as the team's feature back. Bunker is the only player in Trinity history to rush for over 3,000 yards, and has 3,066 on 577 carries for a 5.3 per-carry average. He gained 1,275 yards on the ground last fall, 735 more than the second-leading rusher in the conference, with a league-best 11 touchdowns and has 28 pass receptions out of the backfield in three seasons. Crick is an explosive weapon out of the backfield and in the return game who averaged over 100 all-purpose yards per game and finished seventh in the NESCAC with 540 rushing yards. Budness, who possesses the skills to be a starter at tailback, fills countless roles for the Bantams, including FB, H-back, TE, and RB, and joined Bunker and Crick as Pre-Season All-American selections. He was second on the team with 14 catches in 2012, scored six touchdowns, and helped the Bantams average 5.5 yards per carry as the lead blocker on many occasions. All three can run, catch, and block as needed, allowing Trinity to use multiple formations without changing personnel.

Trinity graduated four players with starting experience, all of whom received various levels of post-season honors and awards during their careers, on the offensive line, but return two solid players to rebuild around. Junior Joe Magardino (Chappaqua, N.Y.) stepped in as a starting tackle last fall, but should slide easily to his natural position a center this season, while sophomore Matt Porter (Chicago, Ill.) enjoyed a fine year as a rookie starter at tackle. Replacing multiple-year starters at guard will not be easy, particularly All-East Region honoree and three-time All-NESCAC selection Mike Valenti, but sophomore Jake Golden (Hingham, Mass.) is a leading candidate to win one of the spots. Senior William Emery (Glenside, Pa.), juniors Connor Flynn (Sarasota, Fla.) and William Lynner (Cohasset, Mass.), and sophomore Mike Castellana (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will also be among the contenders for major roles on the Bantam offensive line.

Quarterback is another position where pre-season competition will determine the depth chart, as Trinity looks to replace Ryan Burgess' 15-0 record as a starter under center. Sophomore Henry Foye (Madison, Conn.) had a good rookie year and junior J.P. Morales (Uncasville, Conn.) is a talented athlete and has leadership skills. The pair will vie with underclassmen throughout late August and early September for the starting nod. Senior WR A.J. Jones (Freetown, Sierra Leone) will give any Trinity quarterback a lethal outside deep threat, having averaged 28.7 yards on 13 catches with five touchdowns in 2012. Juniors Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.), Adrian Johnson (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Will Herbert (Winchester, Mass.) and sophomore Ian Dugger (West Hartford, Conn.) are the other top returning wide outs hoping to fill the shoes of four-year starter Drew Grombala. Ragone has 15 catches for 276 yards over two seasons. Junior Brendan  Oliver (Danvers, Mass.) is a solid returning tight end and freshman TE Luke Viering (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) makes his return after missing 2012 with an injury.

Trinity, which finished in the top ten nationally in scoring defense, total defense, pass efficiency defense, and passing defense last season, has five returning starters and a host of upperclassmen with significant varsity experience at several positions. Junior Nate Cyr (Kingston, N.H) was outstanding at DE late last fall, tying for the team lead in tackles for loss with eight to go with 27 tackles and a pair of sacks, while senior Andrew Paul (Pompton Plains, N.J.) and sophomore Preston Kelly (Orange, Calif.) are also solid at the position. Senior David Jung (Edgemont, N.J.) and sophomore Tyler Hightower (Darby, Pa.) give the Bantams a strong rotation at nose tackle.

Cde Baca and junior Rob Gau (Westport, Conn.) are as good a pair of inside linebackers as any in the league, and both have been regulars in each of the last two years. Cde Baca had 35 tackles and tied for the team lead with eight tackles for loss, while Gau helps the team in a variety of ways having notched 39 tackles, six tackles for loss, and three pass breakups as a sophomore. Junior OLB and Pre-Season All-American Honorable Mention selection Tom Szymanski (Dracut, Mass.) is a force on one side of the defense, and senior Michael Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) is in his third year as a starter on the other side. Szymanski, All-NESCAC First Teamer last year, is Trinity's top returning tackler with 42 hits and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2012.  Several young players will compete for playing time.

In the secondary, three multiple-year regulars were lost to graduation including 2013 NESCAC Player of the Year and All American Rae Haynes and Defensive MVP Julian Brown at the safety positions. Senior CB Akeem Labitue (Dorchester, Mass.) is an exciting and opportunistic veteran at one corner, while junior CB's Joe Diaz (Monroe, Conn.) and Brian Dones (Philadelphia, Pa.) and sophomore Paul McCarthy (North Attleboro, Mass.) all have the ability to start as well. Junior Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.), who was fourth on the squad with 41 tackles (26 solo) last season, has started a number of games the last two seasons.  Senior Brendan Bader (Brookfield, Conn.) and junior Casey Tanner (Wellesley, Mass.) are the top candidates at the strong safety position and will compete with a number of talented young players. Sophomore Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) was an All-NESCAC honoree at punter in his first season and will look to add the placekicking duties to his responsibilities with the graduation of Tim Costello.

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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Capital 35, Wilmington 21
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at Southwestern Assemblies 23, Austin 17
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Langston at McMurry
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at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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at Chapman 19, Trinity (Texas) 17
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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