MMA Football Team Looking To Extend String Of Winning Seasons To Five
By: JIM SEAVEY, August 28, 2014
It’s been a memorable four-year stretch for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football program, which has produced one of the nation’s most potent offenses to go along with a big-play defense.
Head coach Jeremy Cameron has seen his Buccaneers rewrite the school record book while recording 20 victories along the way. The 10th-year mentor welcomes back 47 letter-winners and 12 starters looking to keep that success trending in 2014.
Leadership has been a staple of the program since its inception, and Cameron will look to a quintet of seniors to set that tone once again this fall, as seniors John Trudel, Kevin Stanton, Reynard Ortiz, Zach Ryan and Brad Skeffington will serve as Massachusetts Maritime’s co-captains. Cameron, who has guided the Buccaneers to four consecutive winning campaigns for the first time since the late 1980s, has great confidence in this group to keep the program heading in a positive direction.
“All five of our captains are outstanding leaders in the program, in the classroom and in the campus community,” Cameron said. “They have exhibited an incredible work ethic both on and off the field, and they know what it takes to be successful. The experience and determination that they bring to every aspect of our team will benefit everyone tremendously.”
Trudel, who earned the nickname Johnny Touchdown from his teammates for his proficiency inside the red zone last season, will take over as the starting quarterback following the graduation of the academy’s all-time leading passer, Mike Stanton. In 94 plays from scrimmage in 2013, Trudel amassed 378 yards of total offense while accounting for 17 touchdowns (10 passing, seven rushing), an average of 1.09 points per play.
Skeffington provides versatility as a signal caller for Massachusetts Maritime, as he was the backup in 2012 before playing at both defensive back and running back last fall. Skeffington averaged 9.1 yards per carry and collected a pair of touchdowns on offense for the Buccaneers while chipping in with 35 total tackles (30 solo) on the defensive side. Sophomore Brian Santry also lends experience at the quarterback position for Cameron’s crew.
Graduation also claimed all-conference running back Stefan Gustafson and his 1,237 yards on the ground, but Massachusetts Maritime has three experienced veterans back in the fold to take over in senior Austin Pierce, junior David Yerxa and sophomore Nikko Finnegan. Pierce amassed 381 yards and five touchdowns for the Buccaneers last fall, while Yerxa and Finnegan combined for 121 yards on 36 carries.
Senior E.J. Bennett, who earned all-league accolades with a record-setting 2013 campaign, leads an experienced receiving corps for Cameron after hauling in a school-record 60 receptions and 849 yards to go with 10 touchdowns. Bennett is on pace to take the mantle of Massachusetts Maritime’s career receiving leader from the graduated Keith Caruso, and he is joined by returning seniors Bobby Rosano, Jonathan Wright and Kyle Hardy, who combined for 59 catches, 635 yards and a pair of scores last season.
Junior Kevin Healy returns as a top receiving and blocking tight end, as he hauled in five catches for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns last fall, while sophomore Aidan Desrosiers also looks to make an impact from that position. Juniors Grady McCarthy and Julian Picard, along with sophomore Cody Stahmer, will also be vying for an increased role in the Buccaneers receiving corps.
Massachusetts Maritime’s offensive line helped lead the way for a prolific attack once again last season, as the Buccaneers amassed a school-record 4,942 yards of total offense and averaged 34.9 points per game. Senior Timothy Lawler returns to anchor that group, which graduated all-conference, all-regional and Capital One Academic All-America selection John Moriarty as well as three-year starter John Bochman. Lawler will be joined up front by juniors Joe McCauley, Philip Boudrow and Andrew Bochman along with sophomores Joseph Aviola and Joseph Angelini.
All-conference pick Ryan returns to pace the Buccaneer defensive line after amassing 37 total tackles (31 solo, five for losses) to go with a sack, three quarterback hurries and seven pass break-ups. Fellow senior Richard Ford also returns after a career-high 52 total tackles (39 solo) that included a team-leading six sacks and 12 total tackles for losses of 49 yards, while junior Nicholas Mann added 14 stops from the nose guard position.
Seniors John Dee and Brian Liamos, along with junior Jack Schmitt, provide additional experience on the d-line for Cameron, as Schmitt collected 35 total tackles (26 solo) and a pair of sacks while Dee and Liamos combined for 16 stops in 2013. Junior Kervin Claude makes the switch from linebacker to defensive line after recording four tackles last fall.
Senior Victor Andrade paces Massachusetts Maritime’s linebacking corps after recording a team-leading 75 total tackles (60 solo and 10 for losses of 33 yards) a year ago, while junior Matt King also returns after collecting 70 total stops (46 solo and 12 for losses for 46 yards). Ortiz provides additional experience after amassing 49 total tackles and three interceptions for the Buccaneers, who also welcome back junior Brendan Smith after a 19-tackle performance in 10 contests.
Senior Avery Tavares, junior Ash Ergle and sophomores Mike Lynch, Vaughn Wooldridge, Gregory Tronti, Adam Banks and Tylar Hochstetler will be vying for increased roles in Cameron’s linebacking unit. That group combined for 17 total tackles last season.
Kevin Stanton anchors the Buccaneers’ secondary after notching a team-best four interceptions and 11 defended passes last fall, including a school- and NCAA record-tying 100-yard pick-six return against Worcester State. Stanton added 42 stops (34 solo) on the year, and will be joined in the defensive backfield by junior Mike Williams, who collected 41 tackles (32 solo) in 2013. Sophomore Shane
Haggerty is also back at free safety after recording 22 tackles (19 solo) as a rookie, while junior Michael Kozmiski, along with sophomores Richard Fidler, Nathan Strain and Jonathan Furtado, will look to contribute on Massachusetts Maritime’s last line of defense.
Sophomore Ryan Quinn returns after converting a pair of field goals, including a long of 35 yards, and 25 extra-point attempts during his rookie season, and will handle all of the placekicking duties with the graduation of two-time Capital One Academic All-America Brandon Rodrigues. Rosano set an NCAA Division III record with 51 kickoff returns for 1,109 yards that included an 86-yard game-winning touchdown return in the season-opening Chowder Bowl triumph over SUNY-Maritime last September, while Haggerty, Williams and Wright will join Rosano in handling the kickoff and punt returning corps. In addition to his exploits at quarterback, Trudel earned second-team all-conference accolades as the Buccaneers’ punter in 2013, averaging 39.7 yards on 24 attempts with a long of 56 yards. He stuck four inside the 20-yard line.
All 10 opponents that dotted Massachusetts Maritime’s schedule a year ago are back, but the Buccaneers will play four of their first six contests in the friendly confines of Clean Harbors Stadium this year. Season-opening trophy clashes with SUNY-Maritime and Maine Maritime will be followed by an eight-game Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference slate, as Cameron’s crew will host Worcester State, Western Connecticut, Westfield State and defending league champion Framingham State while traveling to Fitchburg State, UMass Dartmouth, Plymouth State and rival Bridgewater State for the season-ending 36th annual Cranberry Bowl Presented by Ocean Spray.
The 2014 campaign kicks off on Thursday, September 11, with a trip to Throggs Neck, New York, for the seventh annual Chowder Bowl clash with SUNY-Maritime at 7 PM.