BRUNSWICK — Matt Coyne recognizes the turmoil the Bates College football program has experienced the past few years.

First-year Bates College head coach Matt Coyne spoke at the Maine college football kickoff luncheon for the first time Monday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

But the Bobcats have emerged from that with several talented and experienced players, the first-year coach said Monday at the 15th annual kickoff luncheon at Bowdoin College.

The event, held by the Howard Vandersea Maine Chapter of the National Football Foundation, gives all of the college football coaches from Maine a chance to discuss their teams’ upcoming seasons.

In his first time speaking at the event, Coyne briefly mentioned some of the tumult that the Bates football team has faced the past year. After losing a season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bobcats lost head coach Malik Hall in July 2021. Earlier this year, Hall filed a civil rights lawsuit that accused Bates of racial discrimination.

“I came into a program that had a bit of instability,” Coyne said. “And the main goals were to stabilize, structure and enhance.” 

In order to bring back some stability to the team, Coyne’s first goal was to fill out a coaching staff around him, which, he said, is especially important because he is a young, first-time head coach. 


“I understand as a younger head coach what that assistant pool means,” Coyne said. 


Coyne is excited that the Bobcats, in his first season, have so many game-tested and successful players.

“We’ve got great experience, quite frankly,” Coyne said. “We return a lot of guys offensively and defensively that have 20-plus games of experience. We’re fortunate to have 12 fifth-year seniors take the extra year.” 

Three of those fifth-year seniors — Jackson Hayes, Sean Bryant, and Christian Olivieri — will lead the wide receiving core, alongside senior Mohamed Diawara. 

However, the person throwing the ball to them will not have much experience. 


Bates will hold a quarterback competition, and six different players have a shot at winning the job. 

“At the quarterback position, we have to replace a lot,” Coyne said. “We’ll have a deep room, with six quarterbacks coming into camp. Competition is everything, and we feel like we have the right guy in the room to fill the shoes.” 

“It’s gonna be a good competition, and they know that,” Coyne added. “They know that they’re going to be evaluated on a daily basis and that the best guy is going to play based on those evaluations.” 

Liam Foley and Sean Bryan, two seniors, will battle for the position along with sophomore Colton Bosselait and three incoming freshman.

Bosselait started the final game of last season and finished with a school-record 372 yards in the Bobcats’ 27-21 win over Hamilton. Bosselait also tossed four touchdown passes, including a 48-yarder to Olivieri with four second left in the game. Bosselait was named NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in his first collegiate start.

Whoever is chosen as the starting QB will have the luxury of a plethora of receiving options.


“It’s a lot easier to come in the first time being the guy when you have four guys around you that have done it. It’s a lot easier to throw the ball to good players,” Coyne said. 


The Bobcats schedule looks a lot different than it has in decades.

Instead of having NESCAC-powerhouse Amherst in its first game, as has been the case in recent years, Bates will host Wesleyan in their first game of 2022.

That is a significant opener for Coyne, who coached and played football at Wesleyan. 

“Wesleyan Week 1 is going to be a unique situation,” Coyne said. “Obviously, going into the visiting side of that locker room now, haven’t been there before. But we’re excited. It’s all about us proving ourselves right. We’re worried about the people in our room and going out there and competing.” 


Dating back decades, Bates always played essentially the same schedule, other than the first opponent alternating between Amherst or Trinity, until 2017 when the NESCAC switched from an eight- to nine-game schedule.

Since that change, the schedule Weeks 2 through 6 has changed slightly, then the Bobcats have finished their seasons against Colby, Bowdoin and Hamilton, in that order.

This year, Bates still finishes against Hamilton, but its CBB series games are at Colby in Week 3 (Oct. 1) and at home against Bowdoin in Week 5 (Oct. 15).

That Bates’ matchups against the historical NESCAC powerhouses aren’t all in the first five or six weeks of this season isn’t a big deal to Coyne. He’s more focused on the players in his locker room, not who they play and when they play them.

“I don’t think there’s any easy games. In our situation, we’re worried about ourselves,” Coyne said. “Whoever we have to play, we have to play. We have to play everyone, anyway. So whenever that happens, we have big goals. We want to go out and play whoever’s in front of us.”

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