|Middlebury offensive lineman
Ryan Moores has caught the attention of more than just the team's
Middlebury athletics photo by Pam Quinn
Offensive fireworks exploded in the sky around New England.
Middlebury quarterback McCallum Foote threw five touchdown passes to earn New England Small College Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors in a 44-18 victory over Bowdoin. Castleton State's Shane Brozowski threw for 349 yards to become the all-time leader in Division 3 football in New England with 8,959 passing yards, erasing the mark of 8,745 by Donnie McKillop, Foote's predecessor at Middlebury. Massachusetts Maritime quarterback Mike Stanton set a school record by throwing for 420 yards in a 42-38 victory over Coast Guard.
School record aside, Stanton was not even the quarterback with the most passing yards in that game. Coast Guard flinger Jon Resch threw for 468 yards in that contest.
But in the midst of all this offense, there is room for some love for one of football's most anonymous species: the offensive lineman.
Why heap attention on Middlebury's 6-5, 315-pound Ryan Moores? Well, for one thing, NFL scouts are giving him their attention and officially measured him at 6 feet, 5-1/8 inches.
Not that he is paying much attention to that right now. He is far more interested in growing the Panthers' 1-0 record into a memorable season.
"I definitely have that interest of playing in the NFL. But really I am just focusing on this year. There are only eight games," Moores said.
He wasn't anywhere near 315 pounds when he came to Middlebury four years ago. But he has worked hard to bulk up. This summer he worked out in what he calls a "warehouse type gym" in Boston with players from Tufts and Merrimack.
"He is a big, athletic kid," Middlebury head coach Bob Ritter said. "He has gotten bigger in a good way. The weight he has put on is good weight. He still has very good footwork."
It has brought NFL scouts to campus.
"He has a lot of the attributes they are looking for. He is on their radar screen," Ritter said.
Foote appreciates everything done by Moores and his linemates.
"Those guys work very hard. They study a lot of film. It is pretty unbelievable how many times they have kept me off the ground," Foote said.
Moores was looking at other NESCAC schools as well as some of the Ivies four years ago.
"I chose Middlebury for the academics and for the opportunity to play football," the political science major said.
Ritter knew he had a good player coming to campus. But he didn't know quite what he would become. "I wouldn't say we knew we had an NFL prospect as a freshman," Ritter said. "He was a great kid and and a great athlete. His junior year he really started developing. Joe Early did most of the leg work."
"I have coached a 6-foot-6 player before and I have coached 315-pound players. But I have never had a 6-foot-6, 315-pound player so it's a learning curve for me," said Early, the offensive line coach.
Moores must be in great shape and adept at both pass and run blocking.
"We still do run the ball a lot, contrary to common belief," Ritter said. "He is a big factor in our run game. We run so many plays with the no-huddle that we run close to 80 to 85 plays a game. That still means 30-35 running plays."
Moores believes the Panthers can put something together this year as they get ready for the second game, a road trip to Colby.
"I think we have a good offensive line this year. We have a lot of guys coming back. We have so much chemistry," he said.
Early said the focus for him and Moores has been on the season. Anything football beyond this year is on the back burner.
"If you are good enough, they will find you. Steven Hauschka is the perfect example," Early said, referring to the former Middlebury kicker now with the Seattle Seahawks.
The NESCAC season is eight games and done as it is the one conference that does not allow its teams to participate in the playoffs.
That is of no concern to Moores.
"I like the NESCAC because you almost have to go 8-0 to win it," he said. "I think that's unique. You've really got to bring it every week."
And you have to go 1-0 before you can go 8-0. The first step has been taken.
Jessee-Miller Field is one of those locks. Oh, someday the Trinity Bantams will lose a game there. It has to happen.
But don't count on it anytime soon. When the Bantams defeated Bates 37-16 it was their 44th straight victory at the facility. The last time they lost there was in 2001.
Evan Bunker led the way in the latest win by rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Not many receivers have had as successful a day as Curry's Robert Bambini did last week when he hauled in 13 catches for a whopping 221 yards and a touchdown. The biggest catch was a 23-yard scoring pass he gathered in from Kevin Fruwirth with just 23 seconds left to sink MIT 31-28. Fruwirth threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns.
Massachusetts Maritime's Keith Caruso had a similar day with 12 catches for 195 yards and a score.
SUNY-Maritime coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes pulled out all the stops for his road game at Castleton. He brought in Karl Swanke, who played on the offensive line at Green Bay from 1980-86 to speak to the Privateers at the hotel the night before the game.
But nothing could stop Brozowski in his record-setting performance. He completed 30 of 47 passes for his 349 yards as the Spartans stunned the Privateers 35-16.
It was arguably the biggest win in their four-year history.
Excitement continues to build in Newport, R.I. where Salve Regina is 4-0. The Seahawks defeated Endicott 41-24 with Steven Wilken throwing for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Dan Buonocore was also a main ingredient as he rushed for 109 yards and caught five passes, one for a touchdown.
Joune Fraser had a big game defensively for UMass-Dartmouth with 11 tackles, but his biggest play was a fumble he returned 88 yards for a score, providing the difference in the Corsairs' 23-21 victory over Plymouth State.
Amherst did nothing to dispel its preseason billing as the Lord Jeffs opened with a 38-18 victory over Hamilton with Ryan Silva rushing for 170 yards.
The key game in the NESCAC is Trinity's visit to Williams. Not only are they among the league's elite year in and year out, but it is the only game this weekend where both teams are 1-0.
Now, that SUNY-Maritime has been saddled with a loss, Norwich's biggest hurdle to a second straight Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title might be Mount Ida. The Cadets travel to Ida on Saturday. If the Cadets do get past the Mustangs, they must deal with Castleton in the battle for the Maple Sap Bucket. Castleton now has the look of a contender in the ECFC so it's two very important weeks for the Cadets.
Framingham State is looking like the real deal in the New England Football Conference, especially after the Rams 16-0 win over Bridgewater State. But Stanton and Mass. Maritime could prove to be a challenge. Salve Regina and Western New England is the other marquee contest in the NEFC.
The Castleton 2012 Hall of Fame class was introduced at halftime of the game against SUNY-Maritime. One of the inductees was Mark Garrow whose NASCAR show Garage Pass is heard on more than 440 radio stations.
The induction ceremony was Sunday morning. After its conclusion, Garrow had to rush to the airport and board a helicopter scheduled to take him to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, hopefully in time for the 2 p.m. race.
It was a whirlwind weekend where he got to see Brozowski's New England passing record one day and then run his own race to get to the Sprint Cup's The Chase the next.