Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College football team, which has won the last two New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) titles with a 17-1 combined record over the last two seasons, will open the 2018 campaign on the road against the Colby College Mules on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. Trinity, under the direction of Head Coach Jeff Devanney (13th season, 83-14), owns a 23-year winning streak (11 games) against the Mules including a 35-0 drubbing in Hartford last autumn. Trinity also puts its 24-game winning streak in season openers on the line at Waterville, while the Mules look for their first win over the Bantams since 1995 while playing their first game under Head Coach Jack Cosgrove who is new to Colby but was a longtime success at the University of Maine. Trinity senior tri-captains Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.), Sameir Madden (Norristown, Pa.), and Nick Rose (Arlington, Mass.) lead the Bantam squad which boasts seven players who have earned All-NESCAC recognition in their respective careers. Trinity has a great chance for its first NESCAC "three-peat" since 2004, and the experts agree as evidenced by a No. 2 ranking in the Noontime Sports Division III New England Poll and a No. 29 national ranking in the College Football America 2018 Yearbook Division III Pre-Season Poll.
Chipouras was the 2015 NESCAC Offensive Rookie of the Year and has added All-NESCAC First Team honors in each of the last two campaigns while racking up conference bests of 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground last fall. Speedy sophomore Colin Beaulieu (Bethany, Conn.) showed promise as a rookie in the backfield and as a returner. Junior Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.) burst on the scene as an All-NESCAC wide receiver in 2017, catching 52 passes for 741 yards in six scores. Sophomores Jonathan Girard (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and Dakota Foster (Hyattsville, Md.) were impressive as rookies, totaling 28 catches between them, and both averaged over 18 yards per reception. Senior Matt LaPorta (Ridgefield, Conn.) adds quality depth at receiver and in the return game, while versatile junior Joe Samuelman (North Andover, Mass.) has settled in as the top option at tight end/H-back. Trinity junior tackle Austin Baiardi (Smithtown, N.Y.) has already earned All-NESCAC recognition twice, while senior Steve O'Reilly (Topsfield, Mass.) is back at center, and junior Alex Wukovitz (East Hanover, N.J.) was solid when called upon to fill in last season. Junior Jordan Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.), who arrived at Trinity in January as a transfer from the University of Rhode Island, has won the starting quarterback role, while senior Brad Whitman (Salisbury, Mass.), and sophomore Ben Brooks (Bel Air, Md.) are veteran backups.
Five All-NESCAC honorees graduated fromone of the nation's top defenses of last year, including Rose and 2017 All-NESCAC First Team DT Corey Jean Jacques (Haverhill, Mass.) up front. Jean Jacques totaled 36 tackles and led Trinity in tackles for loss with nine and sacks with 4.5 (tied) in 2017. Junior Devyn Perkins (Brookline, Mass.) has been a solid member of the of the defensive line rotation for two autumns, while sophomore DL Jimmie Christiano (Middlebury, Conn.) was a disruptive force and ended his freshman campaign as Trinity's top rookie performer. Junior Dan McKeeney (Westwood, Mass.) slides down from linebacker to provide further depth in the trenches. The linebacking corps will also be a team strength, led by All-NESCAC honoree Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) and four-year starter Shane Libby (Scituate, Mass.) on the outside. Picon-Roura paced the Bantams with 61 tackles, and is equally effective against the pass with four career interceptions, while Libby has amassed 96 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss in his career. Senior Jacob Martilotti (Wayne, Pa.) is a dependable veteran linebacker, while talented junior Daniel Negron (Hartsdale, N.Y.) is back from an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. Sophomore Will Dencker (Newburgh, N.Y.) was a weekly contributor as a rookie in 2017 and classmates Charles Barsella (North Baldwin, N.Y.) and Xavier Francis (Bowie, Md.) give Trinity two more promising young linebackers.
Madden will man the strong safety position, after making 24 tackles and picking off a pair of passes last autumn, but the Bantam secondary must replace a pair of All-NESCAC starters. Junior Matt Patry (Medfield, Mass.) is the other returning starter after proving himself as a playmaking cornerback a year ago. Patry notched 22.5 tackles, made two interceptions, led the team in pass breakups with eight, and forced a recovered a fumble in 2017. Senior safety Chandler Colberg (Madison, Conn.) is eager to make his mark, and will be pushed by talented sophomore defensive backs Evander Jackson (White Plains, N.Y.) and Matt McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.). Junior Ian McDonald (Avon, Conn.) and sophomore Hamilton Coiscou(Dorchester Center, Mass.) will battle it out with other young players early in the season for the other cornerback spot. Senior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) is one of the nation's top kickers and one of the best offensive weapons in the conference. He is a two-time All-NESCAC selection collected All-New England Division II/III and All-American honors in 2016 when his perfect percentage on 50 kicks (37 PAT's, 13 FG's) led the nation. Sachse followed that up with 56 points and seven field goals last fall, while also averaging nearly 60 yards per kickoff and even landing half of his 12 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Colby is coming off a dreadful 1-8 season but won its season finale on the road at Bowdoin, 31-20. Mule junior quarterback Jack O'Brien threw for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns, while senior captain Jake Schwern had 642 rushing yards and a team-best 39 catches for 254 yards in 2017. Fellow senior captain Shane Normandeau anchors Colby's offensive line. Defensively, senior captan Don Vivian returns at strong safety and senior captain Sebastien Philemon highlights the linebacking corps. Coach Cosgrove was the all-time winningest coach in University of Maine football history before retiring two years ago.