Even though the Bobcat’s record was not great last season there is a lot of potential and promise about this season. A lot of key guys who were young gunners are now seasoned veterans, which bodes well for them as up and coming players. This also shows that the depth of the team is not a problem, and Coach Harriman can get experimental with players at different positions if need be.
One of the things the team wants to emphasize this season coming off of last year is how to turn margin of error into margin of victory. Four of their eight games were decided by 12 points or less. There is a lot of parity in the conference, which is why the team really wants to harp on the little things — like knowing the situation in a game or where to be positioned on the field. These things will ultimately decide how well the Bobcats do in the tough NESCAC this season.
For the Bobcats to see success they have to do a better job in the red zone offensively and defensively, something that hurt them last year in critical moments in games.
One of the biggest questions for the team this year is the quarterback spot. Patrick Dugan ‘16 is a big loss, so it will interesting to see how the season unfolds with Sandy Plashkes ‘19 taking over. He should be pretty comfortable behind center with a veteran line that has captain James Fagan ‘17, three-year starter Mitch Hildreth ‘17, and Sean Lovett ‘18 anchoring the trenches.
Regarding the skill positions on offense, Bates is deep and boasts good returning players like Noah Stebbins ‘18 and up and comer Marcus Ross ‘19, who came onto the scene late last season as a first year.
As for the defensive unit, most of the starters are returning so the defense should not miss a beat. Mark Upton ‘17 will be the leader of the unit. A team captain this year, Upton started all eight games last year at middle linebacker. The engineer of this defense, he was second in the NESCAC in total tackles with 71 averaging nine a game. He has led the conference in forced fumbles for two years straight, and led the Bobcats in sacks and tackles for loss last year as well. He was also named to New England Football Writers division III All-New England team and won the Stephen B. Ritter Academic Award (top-10 cumulative grade point average). Very active on the ball, expect Mark to raise his level of play again this year as he takes on the gridiron in one last season.
Upton will be joined by classmates Brandon Williams ‘17, who led team with six total takeaways last year and Sam Francis ‘17, who ranked third on the team with 49 total tackles last year, in anchoring the defense.
Ultimately, it will be this team’s performance on the field that will demonstrate the work and preparation they have put in. The team starts their season away against Trinity September 24.