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Rich Kimball Rich Kimball
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A fool for fall

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Football this fall Football this fall
I'll admit it right up front. I love everything about fall, from back-to-school to football to crisp days and cool nights to anything pumpkin, be it beer, coffee or cookies. While the change of seasons is more than enough to make me happy, this particular fall is shaping up to be an especially awesome autumn.

Not to gloat too much, but way back in March I wrote that the Red Sox were going to surprise people this year and be a playoff team. While I was optimistic, even I didn't expect the season these bearded bastions of Beantown have provided. Poised to become the first Sox team to ever go from worst to first, this lovable collection is in position to join the 'Idiots' of 2004 and 1967's 'Cardiac Kids' in the pantheon of Boston baseball heroes with a unlikely Fenway combination of solid starting pitching, a lights-out bullpen led by Koji Uehara, and a level of base-stealing prowess that the most geriatric of fans have never seen on Landsdowne Street. The fact that they'll be playing games in October is surprise enough for many, but I think this club has the potential to make a deep run and maybe bring New England the third World Series title this century.
While fans may rightly revel in the unexpected glory of their Sox, another fall wonder is developing in Orono, where Jack Cosgrove's Black Bears have started the season 3-0 for only the 15th time in the program's lengthy history. Tough games loom, including a battle with a Top 15 Northwestern team, that may well be the strongest Maine has ever faced, as well as the always-challenging Colonial Athletic Association schedule, but there's much to like about Cosgrove's 21st Black Bear squad. Senior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski combines precision passing with strong decision-making skills and a deceptive speed that has seen him lead the team in rushing through three games. Despite losing the talented Zedric Joseph in the Bryant game, the Bears still have two dangerous backfield threats in Rickey Stevens and Nigel Jones, as well as a bevy of quality receivers, led by Derrick Johnson and NFL prospect Justin Perillo at tight end. Veterans Jeff Gakos and Joe Hook have teamed up with first-year starters Bruce Johnson, Dan Carriker, and Owl's Head native Tyler Patterson to form an imposing offensive line. The defense, featuring perhaps Maine's best secondary ever with Kendall James, Jamal Clay, Axel Ofori and Khari Al-Mateen, sack machine Michael Cole and big play linebackers Christophe Malumba, Cabrini Goncalves and Troy Eastman, will make life uncomfortable for a host of teams this year. Maybe best of all, and rivaling the Red Sox surprising success, is the fact that the Bears have a legitimate scoring threat in the foot of Candian kicker Sean Decloux, who has provided them with the most consistent play at that position since Chris Binder in the mid-1990s. It's still early, and the Bears have already had to deal with some big injuries which have limited their depth, but there's a confidence and a swagger to this team along with an energy and enthusiasm from the coaching staff that should bode well for a return to the NCAA playoffs for the fifth time since 2001.

Now, I didn't include the Patriots in my list of all things great and good this season, mostly because of the sloppiness they demonstrated in their win over the Jets. I do believe they'll get better as the year goes on, but it may take a heaping helping of Belichick magic to keep the hope of the fall from turning to the winter of Patriot discontent. In the meantime, dig out that comfy sweater, enjoy the run of the Sox and Bears and have yourself a pumpkin coffee.
Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 22:51


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