Coast Guard is coming off its most successful season in over a decade as the Bears finished 7-3 overall and tied for second in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) with a 5-2 record. It was the most wins for the Bears since the team went 8-2 in 2007. Head coach Bill George, who begins his 21st season with a program record 70 wins, and the Bears welcome back 14 starters, seven on each side of the ball.
Senior Ryan Jones, who has started the last 16 games at quarterback, is back for his final season. Last year, he earned second team All-NEWMAC honors. Jones was 164 of 286 for 1,799 yards with nine touchdowns while also rushing for 338 yards and a team-high tying five touchdowns this season. He was second in the NEWMAC in completions, completion percentage (57.3) and third in the passing yards.
Jones was key in the final two games of the season, big wins over WPI and Merchant Marine to capture the Secretaries’ Cup as he threw for 520 yards and five touchdowns while rushing of another score. “He continues to improve each time he steps on the field and we are looking for him to have an outstanding senior season,” said George.
Junior Chris Gardner (pictured) is back after leading the Bears with 133 carries, 550 yards and five touchdowns while classmate Jon Wagner (58 carries, 274 yards and two touchdowns and 20 receptions, 119 yards) gives the Bears a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield. Sophomore Jay Griffin will also be counted on at the running back spot.
“Gardner and Wagner (pictured) had some dings throughout last season and they have to comeback healthy and most running backs peak here as juniors and they will be key to our success this season,” said George.
Junior wide receiver Justin Moffatt is coming off a record setting season in which he earned first team All-NEWMAC honors. He set the single-season Coast Guard record with 71 receptions and led the NEWMAC in receptions, yards (853) and was tied for the team lead with three touchdowns receptions. He had four games with 100 or more yards this season.
Sophomore wide receiver Damaso Jaime (17 receptions, 220 yards, 3 touchdowns), who burst on the scene the in the final two games of last season with 15 receptions, 189 yards and three touchdowns, gives the Bears two dangerous targets.
senior tight end and tri-captain Scott Pierce (13 receptions, 123 yards), who is pictured, and sophomore James Duren, who carried one time for a 40 yard touchdown last season, will shift to wide receiver and give the Bears plenty of offensive weapons.
The Bears biggest question mark will be on the offensive line with just two starters returning in seniors Colton Rausch (#64) and Jared Gee (#67). Juniors Robert Childress and Jordan Yriarte each made spot starts last season and will look to secure starting jobs this year. Juniors Hayden Lazzari and Hayden Carter along sophomores Ryan Allen and Mason Schroder will all compete for the vacant spots on the offensive line.
“We not only lost three guys, but we lost three guys who were three year starters. So it’s a combination of three guys who started 30 games. That is 90 games of experience and we have never lost that here before at the Academy in my time,” said George. “We have some young guys coming up and there will be a lot of competition for the starting spots.”
The Bears veteran secondary will be the key to the defense as all four members return led by NEWMAC second team selection senior Patrick Crowley at cornerback. Crowley was third on the team with 61 tackles. His 46 solo tackles were second on the team and he was also second on the team with three interceptions and seven pass breakups.
Senior Michael Goldsworthy (#27) (49 tackles, 20 solo), who led the team with four interceptions, is back at the other corner while senior tri-captain Mark Wicke (#32), who was second on the team with 66 tackles, returns at strong safety
junior Colby Coco (35 tackles, one interception) is back at free safety.
The Bears return a trio of starting linebackers in senior tri-captain R.J. Robiskie (38 tackles) who led the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
senior Dan Dinges (40 tackles, four for loss, one interception), pictured, and junior Eugene Bizer (38 tackles, 2.5 sacks) also return at linebacker.
Juniors Andre Horner (24 tackles) (pictured) and Zach Lukasik along with senior Kane Alletzhauser are the favorites to fill the two starting linebacker spots.
Senior Colby LaDuque, junior Phillip Orlando (28 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks), (pictured) and sophomore Brennan Dalgleish will battle for the starting defensive line spots.
“Just like on the offensive side of the ball, the impact that we have to fill from graduation is on the line and we have had success by rotating a lot of bodies up front and this year should be no different,” said George. “We have to replace linemen on both sides of the ball and we need guys to step up and replace some outstanding leadership on both sides of the ball from last year’s senior class.”
Coast Guard will also face the biggest question mark at both kicker and punter in over a decade after the graduation of second team All-NEWMAC kicker Cole Austin (pictured) and Division II/III All-New England punter Chip Crowley.
“The kicking game, the offensive line and having some younger guys develop at the backup quarterback position are the three biggest question marks we have entering the season,” said George. “We cut our injuries down drastically last season from the previous two years and that was a big key to our success.”
Coast Guard will have the task of opening the season with three straight road games, before hosting Curry in the home opener on Sept. 28th. The Bears open the season at the University of New England on Saturday, Sept. 7th before heading to Nichols for a Friday night game (Sept. 13). Coast Guard will open NEWMAC play at Norwich on Sept. 21st in the battle for The Mug.
“This will be as difficult of a start to season as any in my 21 years at the Coast Guard Academy,” said George. “To open with three straight road games including at Nichols on a Friday night, which is always a huge test for an Academy, followed by a massive challenge in the NEWMAC opener with trip to Norwich for the Mug in a rivalry which has taken off.”
The Bears will close out the season hosting Merchant Marine in the annual battle for the Secretaries’ Cup on Nov. 16th carried by the ESPN family of networks. Coast Guard beat the Mariners 26-12, the Bears first win at Kings Point since 1996.