Trinity Football Season Opens Saturday At Home

40th Meeting Against Bates College

Hartford, Conn., September 21, 2012
 - The Trinity College football team, which posted a 7-1 record last fall to finish in second place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), will host the Bates College Bobcats in its 2012 season opener on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. Head Coach Jeff Devanney (7th season, 41-7) and the Bantams are looking to extend their winning streak at Jessee/Miller Field to 44 games and extend their 33-year winning streak streak (18 games) against the Bobcats who have not beaten Trinity since 1979. In the last meeting between the teams in 2009, Trinity posted a 35-14 victory in Maine. Trinity, which leads the all-time series against Bates, 32-7, making Saturday's game the 40th between the two schools, finished 2011 ranked No. 3 in the New England Division III Poll and sits in the sixth spot in this year's first poll. This week's New England Division III Football Poll: 1. Bridgewater State (3-0), 2. Salve Regina (3-0), 3. Norwich (3-0), 4. Amherst (0-0), 5. Endicott (2-1), 6. Trinity (Conn.) (0-0), 7. Western New England (2-1), 8. Springfield (2-1), 9. Framingham State (2-1), 10. Williams (0-0).

Sophomore running backs Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) and Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) formed as lethal a 1-2 rushing combination as any in NCAA Division III football last fall, combining for 1,356 of Trinity's 1,747 yards on the ground. Bunker has run for 1,791 yards in two seasons while Crick led the Bantams with six touchdowns on the ground to go with 503 rushing yards in 2011. Trinity's annual elite play on the offensive line should continue this fall, as four starters return to a group that paved the way for Bantam ball carriers to average 218.4 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry on the ground while yielding just eight sacks. Senior tri-captain and two-time, All-NESCAC selection Mike Valenti (Bethel, Conn.) and classmate Gino Arnold (Ridgewood, N.J.) return for their third season as Trinity's starting-guard tandem in 2012, while senior tri-captain Andrew Weiss (New York, N.Y.) flourished as the starting center a year ago, and senior Tim O'Brien (White Plains, N.Y.) was an All-NESCAC Second Team honoree at one tackle spot last season. Trinity also returns its starting quarterback and both starting wide receivers in 2012, as senior Ryan Burgess (Dracut, Mass.) should produce quality numbers this season with dependable three-year starter Drew Grombala (Cincinnati, Ohio) and speedy junior A.J. Jones (Freetown, Sierra Leone) back as his favorite targets. Grombala is a smart and skilled pass catcher with 41 catches for 459 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons, while Jones had team-highs of 20 receptions for 418 yards and a team-high six receiving touchdowns.

Trinity, which topped all of NCAA Division III football in scoring defense (13.2 ppg), total defense (253.8 yards per game), and rushing defense (4.5 yards per game) last season, must replace no less than five defensive linemen, and senior NT Donald McDonald (Avon, Conn.) leads a lengthy list of both veterans and underclassmenr ready to step in. The Bantams also need to fill the huge shoes in the middle of the defense left due to the graduation of two-time NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year Walter Fallas at inside linebacker. Junior LB Steve Goniprow Barrington, R.I.) moves inside after earning All-NESCAC Second Team honors on the outside last fall, and classmate Brett Cde Baca (Millbrae, Calif.) is the returning starter at the other inside spot, having made 27 tackles last fall. Sophomore ILB Rob Gau (Westport, Conn.) was one of Trinity's most productive defenders with 33 tackles, an interception, and a team-high eight pass breakups as a rookie. On the outside, junior Mike Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) and sophomore Tom Szymanski (Dracut, Mass.) make the position one the team's strengths. Trinity returns three fourths of its starting secondary from 2011 that helped the Bantams finish fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense (84.68 rating) and 18th nationally in pass defense (141.8 ypg). Senior tri-captain SS Rae Haynes (Hartford, Conn.), an All-NESCAC First Team and BSN All-American Honorable Mention a year ago, leads the unit after totaling 53 tackles, four picks, and six PBU while exhibiting exemplary leadership skills in two years as a starter. Classmates Julian Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.), at safety, and Nick Campbell (New Albany, Ohio), at cornerback are also defensive starters. Senior K Tim Costello (Solana Beach, Calif.), is back on the squad after missing almost all of last season with an injury.

The Bates College football squad, under the direction of Head Coach Mark Harriman (16th season), opened 2011 with a 2-1 start, including a 35-26 win at 2010 NESCAC Champion Williams, but dropped four of its last five games for a 3-5 final record. Senior Trevor Smith returns at quarterback after throwing for over 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, while senior captain RB Patrick George rushed for 465 yards and six scores a year ago, and junior Ryan Curit led the receiving corps a year ago with 44 grabs for 350 yards. Senior Kyle Starr is a top secondary returner with five picks in 2011, while junior DB Andrew Kukesh finished third on the squad in tackles last year with 56 to go with six pass breakups. Senior DL Matt Gaither paced the Bates pass rush with three sacks last season, and classmate Josh Chronopoulos is a top returning Bobcat linebacker.

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