Williams College players, coaches 'more comfortable' coming into 2018 football season
WILLIAMSTOWN — It was a young Williams College football team that fought its way to a 6-3 record in 2017.
Those young players, including NESCAC rookie of the year in quarterback Bobby Maimaron, have grown up a lot since first arriving in the Purple Valley a year ago.
"I just feel a lot more comfortable coming in [for] the second year, obviously," said the quarterback. "Not only with football, but with being at college. You're not on your own for the first time. You kind of know everyone and you know the lay of the land. It's a lot more comfortable than being thrown into the fire as a freshman."
The Ephs, who beat Middlebury and Amherst en route to their first winning record since 2011, ended a 13-game losing streak with a 28-14 win over Bowdoin in last year's season opener.
The 66 men on the Williams roster reported to the Purple Valley in late August and have been dutifully preparing for the start of the season. That happens on Saturday, when the Ephs head north to play Bowdoin. The home opener will take place a week later when Williams plays Colby. For senior defensive lineman Jameson DeMarco, it is tough to wrap his arms around the fact that he has nine more games in his college career.
"It's crazy. It's going to be a great year with my best friends," DeMarco said. "It's going to be an awesome year."
Williams coach Mark Raymond, who is starting his third year at the helm, said the returning veterans and new players were more than ready to get started.
"There's a lot more familiarity with the system and player-wise, there were a lot of returners, so that added to the process," Raymond said. "At training camp, everybody's excited."
Linebacker T.J. Rothmann, who was an All-NESCAC pick a year ago, concurs with his coach.
"Compared to last year, it's night and day," he said.
The Eph head coach described training camp as having gone well.
"They were very prepared when they came in," Raymond said. "They're focused and have worked really hard. [Last year's freshmen] are a lot more sure of themselves. They stepped right in, but they know there are freshmen behind them and upperclassmen who want their jobs.
"So it's about competing in the early part of the season."
There are 19 first-year players in camp. One of them, kicker-punter Andrew Schreibstein, is listed in the first week depth chart as a starter. Four of the 19 recruits are wide receivers, four are defensive linemen and three are defensive backs.
"They've done a good job. They spent the summer preparing," said Raymond. "They came in with a knowledge of what we want to do. There have been several guys who have done a really good job and are building their way to playing time."
Everything on this side of the ball starts with the sophomore from Duxbury. Williams threw 287 passes as a team last year, and Maimaron threw 281 of them. He completed 57.7 percent of his passes, threw for 1,800 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was also the Ephs' leading rusher, carrying the ball 118 times for 402 yards and seven touchdowns. None were bigger than his overtime TD that beat Amherst and ended the Ephs' six-game losing streak against their rival.
T.J. Dozier, now a sophomore, was the Ephs' top rushing threat before being sidelined by an injury. Ryan Pruss, a tight end last year, was also thrown into the mix at running back late in the season.
Junior Steve Bohling is back, while Christian Dumont — who moved to linebacker last year — is back at running back. Keep an eye on first-year player Carter Begel.
Four of Maimaron's top receiving targets were freshmen. All of them — Frank Stola, Justin Nelson, Dozier and Justin Burke — return. Sophomore Rashad Morrison, sophomore David Colucci and freshmen Will Loffredo and Tyler Spezio are all 6-foot-3 or taller. That gives Maimaron some big targets. Colucci was a Duxbury teammate of Maimaron.
Sophomore John Rooney replaces the graduated Ellis Eaton at center. Tackles Jeremy Subjinski and Patrick Watson and guard Mike Ludwig are all returning vets, while sophomore Jeff MacArthur is the new right guard on opening day.
Former Suffield Academy kicker Schreibstein is going to handle the kicking and the punting for Williams.
In its heyday as a NESCAC power, Williams was always considered Linebacker U. With a lot of more-than-qualified backers, Raymond and defensive coordinator Mark McDonough have switched the Eph defense from its traditional 4-3 lineup to a 3-4.
All six of Williams' top tacklers return, with sophomores Rothmann and Jarrett Wesner, and junior Luke Apuzzi as the top three returning tacklers. Rothmann had 83 tackles and Apuzzi had 69.
The fourth linebacker is former lineman Austin Thomas, now a senior. Thomas had 39 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks.
Senior defensive end Jameson DeMarco is the only veteran returning on the three-man line. Junior Oscao Unobskey and sophomore Nick Landry are the other linemen.
The Eph secondary of corners Amhyr Barber and Desmond Butler along with safeties Jake Kastenhuber and Ben Anthony return intact.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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