Bates College enjoyed its best season in 31 years in 2012, and coach Mark Harriman is proud of that accomplishment.

But Harriman is also proud that his players have left last year behind them. With 14 starters back from their 5-3 season, the Bobcats have so much more to look forward to in 2013.

“We’ve still got a lot of talent left,” said Harriman, last year’s NESCAC Co-Coach of the Year who is entering his 16th year leading the Bobcats. “We’ve still got to shake out a couple of positions, but defensively, we’ve got all but two or three starters coming back, and offensively it’s kind of the same thing. It’s not like the cupboard’s bare. We’ve just got to find out what our niche is this year.”

Bates will get a pretty good idea where it stands when it hosts defending NESCAC champion Trinity at 1 p.m. in Saturday’s season-opener at Garcelon Field.

One position that did shake out in preseason was quarterback, where athletic sophomore Patrick Dugan earned the starting nod after a strong performance in preseason scrimmages. Dugan hasn’t thrown a pass for the Bobcats, but he does have the top five pass-catchers from last year at his disposal, including senior wide receiver Kevin Davis (30 catches, 366 yards, 3 TD) and senior slotback and co-captain Shawn Doherty (15 catches, 182 yards, 4 TD).

Doherty is also the leading returning rusher (237 yards, 3 TD), followed by junior slotback Mac Jackson (230 yards, 1 TD). The running backs are all new, although South Portland senior Ryan Curit played there as a freshman before spending the last two years at slotback, and 220-pound freshman Ivan Reese will also figure prominently in Bates’ triple-option. Harriman has plenty of depth at the skill positions to keep everyone fresh. The offensive line returns three starters, led by All-NESCAC senior right tackle Liam O’Neil.


Harriman is excited about his defense, which he thinks has the athleticism to improve upon last year’s performance. That’s when the Bobcats set school records in takeaways (32) and interceptions (19) and finished third in the nation in turnover differential.

Co-captain Andrew Kukesh sets the tone for the Bobcats at safety. A preseason Div. III All-American, Kukesh joins linebackers Gilbert Brown and John Durkin as the top returning tacklers. Senior nose tackle Matt Comstock leads the front of Bates’ 3-5-3.

The Bobcats will also have one of the strongest kicking games in the conference, with all-NESCAC senior placekicker Charlie Donahue carrying a streak of 10 consecutive made field goals into the season. Junior David Kurey is in his third year handling the punting duties.

Bates’ home schedule also includes Tufts (Sep. 28), Middlebury (Oct. 19), and Bowdoin (Nov. 2), when the Bobcats hope to have a shot at defending their CBB title on Homecoming. They face Colby on Oct. 26 in Waterville.

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