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New era for Colby football starts Saturday with home opener

WATERVILLE, Maine -- A new era of Colby College football has started with head coach Jack Cosgrove running the show as the Mules begin the 2018 season.

Cosgrove, the all-time leader in career wins at the University of Maine, was out of coaching after stepping down at UMaine two years ago. He was working in athletics administration for the Black Bears before getting the itch to coach again.

"We're excited to start the season and see how much we have grown as a team since January. Our young men have done everything we have asked of them throughout the spring, summer, and pre-season," Cosgrove said. "Now we get to see how our attitude and effort combines with our football skills in a highly competitive league."  

Cosgrove gets a tough test in the season opener, facing two-time defending NESCAC champions Trinity College at 1 p.m. Saturday. There will be some new sideline policies for the Colby football games this season. Only those with a sideline pass will be allowed on the field and track area. Photographers wishing to gain field access should contact the Colby sports information department to obtain credentials at 207-859-4940.

Colby captains Shane Normandeau, Sebastien Philemon (pictured), Jake Schwern, and Don Vivian are all veteran players for Cosgrove. Normandeau will play the left tackle position, Philemon will be at middle linebacker, Schwern is a running back, and Vivian is back at strong safety. 

"We are blessed as a program to have an inspiring group of captains and seniors. These young men are serious leaders, as good as I've been around during my coaching career," Cosgrove said. "They consistently embrace their roles in a serious and leadership-driven manner. Their ability to influence and provide direction for their teammates has been inspirational for all of us."

Junior quarterback Jack O'Brien threw for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns and showed he could take off with the ball and run. He had 109 rushing attempts last year. First-year Matt Hersch will be O'Brien's back-up.

Schwern had a terrific junior season with 642 rushing yards (4.7 yards per rush) and a team-best 39 catches for 254 yards. He ended the 2017 season with a school-record 262 yards on 30 rushes (8.7 per rush) and four touchdowns in a win at rival Bowdoin College. Junior Chris George also will get carries.

The Mules do have some depth at wide receiver, with senior Matt Richman, juniors Andrew DeFranco and Jibri Woods, and sophomore Aidan McCleary all returning.  All four receivers had 13 catches or more. Brandon Miner and Rory Glavin also will catch passes. 

Sophomore Ethan Smith will start at tight end for the second straight year. First-year Pat Sweetnam will make a big target at 6-foot-6.

How well the Mules' offense does could come down to the offensive line, led by seniors Normandeau and Brandon Troisi (guard) on the left side. Junior Chris Shaffrey, with a left-handed quarterback in O'Brien, plays the all-important right tackle spot. Sophomore Brandon Leibman is at right guard, while first-year Ty Mahar will play center.

Travon Bradford and Rashawn Grant also return for the offensive line. First-years Lou Gordon and Thomas Lapointe could make an impact right away.

The most experience on the team will come from Colby's defensive backs. While Vivian returns at strong safety, Patrick Yale is back at cornerback. Will Caffey has started games and will begin the year at free safety, while Asher Inman plays the other corner. 

Senior Jack Colleran has played many minutes over the past few years at defensive back. Gus Forseth, Mike Whiting, and CJ Hassan also will see minutes in the defensive backfield.

Philemon will lead a young group of linebackers. Sean Godin moved from defensive back to linebacker, Marcus Bullard will play in the middle, and Billy Costello is the other starter. Sophomore Alex Sands and first-years Will Terzi and Dylan James should see time at linebacker.

Patrick Sopko returns at one of the defensive tackle positions, but the rest of the defensive line is new. Hans Gabriel, David O'Donnell, and first-year Nick Wilcox will all start. James McCarthy, Justin Masella, John Leuschner, and Michael Staiger give the Mules depth.

With the graduation of All-NESCAC kicker John Baron, the kicking and punting job goes to first-year Moises Celaya. Sophomore Walter Thilly will handle the kickoffs, while Hassan will return punts and kicks