While watching New England Patriots rookie Nate Solder beat down Cameron Wake, Miami’s big pass rusher Monday night …

Did anyone tell Arron Achey and his University of Maine teammates they should be weaker, slower and smaller than last Saturday’s opponent? That Pittsburgh had too much of everything?

Actually, Coach Jack Cosgrove did, to knock down the premise his team had no chance of beating a Big East opponent.

“Coach told us we were all the same age, all the same people,” said Achey. “We were all football players.”

Achey bought in. Instead of apprehension, he felt adrenaline when he ran onto Heinz Field with Maine’s defensive unit for the first time. He forgot about the 40,000-plus fans in the big stadium. He ignored Pitt’s standing in the Big East and Division I college football.

Michael Cole’s sack of Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri confirmed everything the Maine coaching staff had preached in practice. On Saturday at kickoff, the playing field would be level. Later in the first quarter, Achey got into the Pitt backfield for his own sack, dumping Sunseri for an 8-yard loss. Early in the second quarter he did it again.

Achey’s a redshirt freshman from Newmanstown, Pa., not too far from Philadelphia. His world was Eagles and Penn State, not Steelers and Pitt. Growing up in Pennsylvania he understood the rivalries.

Pitt did beat Maine, 35-29, but Achey found this loss easier to put into perspective.

“It was a great experience, but we went to Pittsburgh to win the game. That game opened our eyes to what we can do as a team. We’ve got to hold ourselves to that standard.”

Actually, the kid with a New Year’s Day birth date (1992) has a lot on his mind. He wears No. 33 in memory of Chuck Kyeremeh, the fellow Pennsylvanian who lost his life in a motorcycle accident earlier this summer. Achey and Kyeremeh came to Maine in the same class and sat out last season. Kyeremeh wore No. 33 throughout high school.

Achey wears the number with the blessings of Kyeremeh’s family. “Whenever I sit down, wearing his number, I’m thinking of him,” said Achey. “Whenever I make a tackle, I let him know. This one’s for you.”

Drew Bledsoe will wrestle with his emotions Saturday when he’s inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame along with Jon Morris. Bledsoe experienced the scorn of fans who believed he failed in the team’s biggest moments. Now he’s feeling the appreciation.

Bledsoe was a class act on the field, in the locker room and away from football. I once compared him to Jim Plunkett, who was beat up and beat down playing for mediocre – or worse – Patriots teams. He left and won his Super Bowl ring with Oakland. Bledsoe got his, as the backup to Tom Brady.

Got to Griffin Field in Livermore Falls for last Friday night’s game and did a double take. Was that a marching band parading onto the football field for the national anthem? Did I count eight, nine or 10 Spruce Mountain football players in full pads playing trumpets, trombones and drums?

“You did,” said Sally Boivin, the Spruce Mountain athletic director. “We have 82 band members. You saw cheerleaders playing, too.” . . .

Good luck to Thomas Welch, activated off the Patriots’ practice squad before Monday night’s game in Miami. The offensive lineman drafted out of Vanderbilt in 2010 is the son of Dwayne Thomas Welch, a Westbrook kid who graduated from Cheverus.


Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: SteveSolloway