BANGOR — Husson College enjoyed its most successful football season ever in 2008, compiling a 6-3 record for coach Gabby Price.

The Eagles will try this fall to draw off the momentum of that senior-laden squad, but must do so with a less experienced team.

Husson suffered heavy graduation losses as 16 seniors completed their careers. That, combined with the departure of more than 50 other players, means the Eagles have many new faces playing important roles on the field.

“We have enough experience that shows people how to practice and how to work hard,” Price said. “The players have a lot of passion, a lot of enthusiasm and are flying around. We’re excited about their dedication, their effort and their ability.”

Defense was a strong point for Husson in 2007 as it ranked 11th in NCAA Division III in total defense (249.8 yards per game) and ninth in pass efficiency defense (87.4) while allowing 20.7 points per outing.

The Eagles will be paced by junior linebacker Bobby Gilbert of Beaver Cove who registered 50 tackles, including 14.5 for a loss, a year ago. Sophomore cornerback Doug Blades (46 tackles, team-high five interceptions), senior cornerback Darius Charlton (24 tackles), sophomore linebacker Tom Hazlehurst (22 tackles) and senior defensive tackle Cory Smith of Otisfield, a converted linebacker, are among the other veterans.

“We certainly have more experience, in terms of starters back, on defense,” said Price, who is looking to captains Gilbert, Charlton, Smith and defensive tackle Dom Torch to bring the unit together. “We’re stronger, with more depth and quickness.”

Others expected to play important roles include senior tackle Pat Ouellette of Biddeford, senior safety Keith Runne, freshman safety Kyle Vanidestine of Bangor, sophomore safety Mike Hersom of Sidney, sophomore linebacker Obed Rinvil, and freshman linebacker Earl Wilson.

Junior Chris Morris of Hampden is the punter.

The Husson offense also is in a bit of a reloading mode.

Tailback Julius “Juice” Williams is back after leading the Eagles’ ground assault last season with 89 yards per game (735 total) and seven touchdowns. Sophomore Justin Lindie of Winslow is likely to contribute more after averaging 8.8 yards per carry last season.

Freshman Mike Toothaker of Wilton and junior Jamie Bonnell of Oakland are the fullbacks.

They’ll run behind a line that is paced by junior tackle Jon Benson of Biddeford, junior tight end P.J. Dowe of Bangor and senior TE Nate Paradis of Biddeford.

The line will try to pick up where a senior-laded group left off in 2007. Junior Ryan Esmail is the other tackle, while Ben Emmott of Woolwich and freshman Kyle Wedge of Buxton are the guards. Junior Mike Austin of Turner is the center.

“We’ve had tremendous competition within the team and that keeps everybody on their toes,” Price said. “The better the competition among your own players, the better you play.”

The Eagles will be directed by a new quarterback, freshman James McCandless of Hollywood, Fla., who should be a versatile performer.

“He’s pretty athletic, throws the ball well, runs well, runs the offense,” Price said. “He comes from a very good football high school.”

Freshman Jack Hersom of Sidney, who directed Lawrence of Fairfield to back-to-back Pine Tree Conference championships in 2006 and ’07 and a state title in 2006, is the backup.

Husson faces the difficult task of replacing eight of its top nine receivers. Dowe is the top returnee (6 catches, 82 yards) in terms of numbers. Junior James Dobson, sophomore Roderic Johnson and freshmen Rosheed Shinaba and Thomas Holmes are the wide receivers.

Lindie and Blades will return kickoffs and punts, while Husson boasts a veteran place-kicker in senior Darren Gauthier of Brunswick.

While making the transition to North Atlantic Conference play in 2009, the Eagles also face a schedule that includes six road games.

“It is what it is,” Price said. “We seem fired up. A lot of the games are in New England this year.”

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...