Polar Bear Football Opens 2012 Campaign at Middlebury on Saturday

Bobby Driscoll (67) and Martin Robledo (66) return to anchor Bowdoin's offensive line in 2012
Bobby Driscoll (67) and Martin Robledo (66) return to anchor Bowdoin's offensive line in 2012

The Bowdoin College football team will open its 121st season this Saturday, September 22 at Middlebury College. The Polar Bears and Panthers both finished 4-4 in the 2011 season, tying for fourth-place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference standings. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

Middlebury will be providing live stats, live video webcast and home radio coverage of Saturday's proceedings from Youngman Field.

The Bowdoin football team will look to build on a 4-4 campaign in 2011 that saw the program finish in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Middlebury. The Polar Bears will have the most experienced group of quarterbacks in the league this fall. Due to a rash of injuries in 2011, Bowdoin boasts three quarterbacks with starting experience on their roster. Likely to get the starting nod is junior Grant White, who has completed over 60% of his passes for 1,043 yards while sharing time over his first two seasons. Junior Thomas Romero and sophomore Mac Caputi, who led the Polar Bears to a 3-2 mark over the final five games of 2011, have also seen action under center in their career.

Tailback Zach Donnarumma rushed for 654 yards and four touchdowns last fall to rank fifth in the league. He will lead a deep group of runners that could also include converted defensive back Greg Pierce this year. Bowdoin returns three starters on the offensive line, including senior co-captain Martin Robledo, senior Mike Carilli and junior Bobby Driscoll.

Defensively, the Polar Bears had one of their finest seasons in recent memory last fall, ranking second in total defense (266.8 yards/game) and third in the conference in scoring defense (16.0 points/game). Bowdoin will have to replace their entire defensive line from last fall, and will rely on veteran linebackers Griffin Cardew (65 total tackles, 3 sacks) and Joey Cleary, pictured, (57 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss) to anchor the unit. Senior co-captain Beau Breton (29 total tackles, 4 break-ups) and sophomore Jon Fraser (27 total tackles, 2 break-ups) return to the defensive backfield.

Kicker Jimmy Garvey will return to the Polar Bears in 2012 off a solid campaign last autumn. Garvey connected on 6-of-8 field goals with a long of 37 while hitting 9-of-11 PAT's. Breton will return to his role as punter this fall after averaging

Entering his 13th season at the helm of the Polar Bears, head coach Dave Caputi has led a resurgence of the Bowdoin football program. In the six seasons from 1999-2004, the Polar Bears accumulated just five victories, but in the last seven years have an overall record of 25-31 and have retained the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) Championship for six straight seasons - the longest stretch in school history.

Middlebury returns more than 70 percent of its starters from a year ago, looking to improve on a 4-4 campaign. The Panthers again opened with a 1-3 mark, before finishing strong with three wins in their last four contests of the year.

Last year's offense was tops nationally, leading all of NCAA Division III in passing yards per game (345.71) and plays per game (82.25). Junior quarterback McCallum Foote returns for his second season, after leading the nation in completions per game (32.43) and 342.43 passing yards per game in his first year as a Panther. One of his top targets will be tight end Billy Chapman, a D3 Football.com preseason All-American who had a stellar junior season 57 receptions to go along with a team-best 635 yards, scoring five touchdowns. Carrying the ball will be senior Remi Ashkar, who finished fourth in the NESCAC with 83.4 yards/game last fall. The offensive line remains mostly intact from the '11 campaign and will be led by two-time All-NESCAC selection Ryan Moores.

The defensive line is a veteran group, comprised mostly of seniors for the '12 campaign. Seniors Jimmy Tilson (21 tackles, 2.5 TFL) and Keegan Ashley (25 tackles, 2 TFL) and junior Bryant Adams (11 tackles, 2 TFL) all started last season and will look to return to that role once again. Joining senior John Wiet (33 tackles, 4 games) in the team's linebacking corps will be senior Andrew Donnelly (41 tackles) and junior Matthew Crimmins (22 tackles, 2.5 TFL). Three consistent starters return to the secondary from a year ago. Senior Daniel Kennerson (54 tackles), junior Jared Onouye (52 tackles), and sophomore Joel Blockowicz (17 tackles, 2 INT) were starting at season's end and all return to the field in '12.

Bowdoin has one native Vermonter in quarterback Grant White, pictured, (Springfield) but head coach Dave Caputi (Middlebury '81) and offensive line coach Ryan Sullivan (Middlebury '95) are both former Panthers. In fact, Caputi and Middlebury head coach Bob Ritter (Middlebury '82) were teammates in college. Ritter leads Caputi 3-2 in their five meetings as head coaches.

In a record-setting contest in 2009, Bowdoin totaled 515 yards of offense and scored outscored Middlebury 19-0 in the fourth quarter to win 50-35. In a classic quarterback duel, Oliver Kell '11 tossed for 374 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Polar Bears while David McKillop threw for 420 yards and three scores in defeat for the Panthers. In his breakout performance as a sophomore, Pat Noone '12 broke the Bowdoin school record with 12 catches while his 180 yards were the second-most in school history.

Bowdoin has played Middlebury just 19 times in the series history- the fewest of any of the Polar Bears' NESCAC foes. The squads first played in 1916 (a 7-0 Bowdoin victory) and did not play again until 1976. The Panthers, who hold an 11-7-1 edge in the all-time series, had won seven straight meetings before falling to Bowdoin in 2005. The Polar Bears have claimed two of the last three match-ups.