The start of the 2019 season for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football team will begin with a bang.
Not only will the Bucs welcome in SUNY Maritime for the 12th annual Chowder Bowl—a game that resulted in a 51-21 loss last year in New York—but MMA will be unveiling a new turf field, new alternate jerseys and, perhaps most importantly, a new outlook on the season come Friday, September 13.
“We have great veteran leadership,” said Bucs head football coach Jeremy Cameron, entering his 15th season at the helm. “I think it’s some of the best we’ve had in a long time.”
With that veteran leadership—Cameron added that about eight or nine players from both sides of the ball returned this season after playing meaningful snaps—comes a heightened level of excitement for the upcoming campaign. And right out of the gates, the Bucs will be tested with two big non-conference rivalry games, the second of which is at Maine Maritime for the 47th annual Admiral’s Cup. The Bucs won last year’s Admiral’s Cup at Clean Harbors Stadium, 22-7.
But getting back to the season-opener, the team is ready to prove it’s worthy of prime time billing to exact revenge against its New York counterpart.
“It’s a rivalry and good tradition. It’s a great way to start out and give us something to look forward to. That will probably be the last Friday night lights I’ll ever play in my life, probably for most of these guys, too. So I think we’re all excited,” receiver Will Bennett said.
To celebrate the occasion, MMA will be sporting brand-new alternate jerseys that stray from the traditional blue and gold colors of the Bucs. The jerseys will be mostly blue with white lettering and red trim. Along the shoulder pads is an American flag print.
“I think we’re all pretty excited to wear them,” Bennett said.
The game against SUNY Maritime will also serve as the official unveiling of the new synthetic turf playing surface at Clean Harbors Stadium. The previous surface, which the men’s and women’s soccer teams, men’s and women’s lacrosse teams and other various club teams used, had been in place since 2008. With the new surface comes a new midfield logo.
With a new look and a new feel, the Bucs are ready to open some eyes to begin the fall.
“I think everyone looks forward to those games, those rivalry games,” offensive lineman James Cooke said. “There’s a lot of history behind them. So there’s a lot of pride that comes with winning those games. No one should have a problem getting up for those games.”
Captains Named For 2019 Season
Four players will lead the Bucs on the gridiron in 2019.
Defensive lineman Erik Marchant (East Bridgewater), defensive back Cameron Stewart (Uxbridge), and offensive linemen Victor Ramirez (New Britain, Connecticut) and James Cooke (Wrentham) were selected to be the ultimate leaders among a group of leaders this year.
Between the four of them, the 2019 captains have amassed 99 total games played with an average nearly 25 each in their three years of action.
In a school that attracts such necessary gridiron qualities as leadership, self-determination and discipline, these four players are the leaders among leaders.
“I think our philosophies for the school and the football program totally align. We attract guys that have leadership qualities or are willing to learn,” Cameron said. “What you want from a student-athlete here is 100 percent what we want out of our football players.”
And Cooke agreed, adding, “It’s huge. A lot of the people that come here know what they’re getting into. I’d say in terms of other teams in the league, we like to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Just as far as being disciplined and respectful.”
New, Old Look On Offense
Expect a faster-paced, more dynamic offense for the Bucs in 2019.
After a more subdued, long-forming offensive scheme last season that wielded little success in averaging 16 points per game, MMA will be going back to what they know on offense.
“Our philosophy, offensively, is getting back to a lot more uptempo stuff—we’re much more comfortable coaching and playing that style,” Cameron said.
In 2018 the Bucs only mustered 249.3 yards per game, 107.8 on the ground and 141.5 in the air. They lost two of their top three rushers from last season and had four quarterbacks take snaps under center.
“It just wasn’t for us,” Cameron said of the slower paced scheme.
To help add some dynamism to the offense, the Bucs shift last year’s leading rusher Matt Long to quarterback after seeing him play in the final week of the season last year in a wildcat-type role. Four others, including a few freshman, will also vie for the position.
With Long shifting over to quarterback and the Bucs graduating their other top two rushers from last year the backfield will be led by sophomore Connor Reynolds (Norton), whom the coaching staff has raved about entering the year.
Reynolds along with a bevy of talented freshmen will fill out a stable that should be loaded with colts this year.
Spanning The Country
The football program wants to own its backyard, but that won’t stop the Bucs from recruiting across the country to find quality players. According to Cameron, the 2019 recruiting class boasts approximately 75 players hailing from 14 different states.
“We recruit any good football player within a couple hours of here for sure. But it’s not for everybody, so we cast a pretty large net from there, too. I think we have pretty good relationships with everyone on the Cape all the way up to Boston and down through Mansfield and Franklin and Wrentham and that area and certainly around New Bedford and what not,” Cameron said. “But we cast out farther from there because our academic record is so strong.”
Of the 14 states that sent players to MMA, California, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland and Florida are among them. Cameron credits the wider net in recent years to the impact of social media and the school getting recognized for its academic achievements.