At every level of sport, advancement from one level to the next sees a dramatic increase in athletes' speed and quickness. Making the jump from high school to college football, another factor — size — plays a huge part.
Several young underclassmen who were standout players at Fryeburg Academy and Kennett High are finding this out as 18- or 19-year-olds competing against heavier, stronger 22-year-olds. Jared Chisari, Caleb Eklund and Cobey Johnson are three FA graduates of the class of 2018 who are working their way to becoming impact players at Maine collegiate Division III programs.
From the Kennett Eagles, Brett Miller '18 is undergoing a position shift from high school quarterback to collegiate wide receiver. Tanner Brown, Aaron Lamar and Trevor Mills are other ex-Eagle underclassmen attempting to move up their respective team's depth charts.
Chisari, now a 5'11" first-year running back at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, appeared in just one game this fall for the Polar Bears (1-8). This was quite a shift for the Raider star who ran for over 3,600 yards in his junior and senior seasons at the Academy, where he twice won All-State honors.
Eklund, a 6'4", 210-pound linebacker and native of Lovell, Maine, appeared in five games and recorded eight tackles, two of them solo, for the Bates College (0-9) Bobcats in Lewiston, Maine.
Johnson, a 6'2", 215-pound wide receiver at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, caught six passes for 84 yards as a first year, with a top performance of three receptions for 37 yards in a wild offensive extravaganza victory over Tufts, 44-42, on Oct. 6.
Another Nor'easter, this one from Kennett, Brett Miller, at 5'11", 170 pounds, started the season slowly at his new wide receiver position. The converted QB finished strong with 84 yards on five catches, including three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in the Nor'Easters (2-7) final game victory over Alvernia (Pa.), by 42-27 on Nov. 10. Miller also ran back one kickoff for 9 yards in that contest.
For Brown, a 5'7" running back at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine, it was a regrouping year both individually and for the team. Brown appeared in just one game with no carries for the 0-9 Mariners.
Lamar, a 6'0", 210 pounds, linebacker stepped up his game as a sophomore at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. After only one game appearance for the Golden Bears in 2017, Lamar played in seven games and was credited with seven tackles, 2.5 for sacks this fall. Additionally, Lamar caused one fumble, recovered another and blocked a punt. The Golden Bears (8-3) finished at 5-1 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference to earn an NCAA tournament bid. Western New England lost in the first round to Frostburg State by 42-24 on November 17. The future looks bright for Lamar next season, as several senior linebackers graduate, and Golden Bear Head Coach Jason LeBeau declares, "we will expect a lot more from Aaron as he moves up to be an upperclassman."
Mills, a 5'11", 231 pounds, linebacker making the jump to Division I college football at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, took the fall playing season off to overcome injury, gain size, strength and to learn the college game and Wildcats defensive schemes as a redshirt freshman. Mills, with a fall and spring season of practices under his belt, will enter 2019 with four seasons of playing eligibility remaining for UNH (4-7), who will be looking to improve in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Impressive results for past Raiders and Eagles who flourished under respective head coaches David Turner and Vaughan Beckwith, and their staffs, are becoming the norm on collegiate gridirons. While not everyone is a star at the next level, these young athletes are moving up the rosters to earn more playing time as they further mature and grow as collegiate football players.
Watch for further stories highlighting Eagle and Raider collegians who competed in fall athletics. If you know of an athlete who should be included, please contact John Skelton at Shinjo0227@yahoo.com, and/or Lloyd Jones at email@example.com.