Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Legendary Bowdoin College coach and athlete C. Nels Corey knew that Paul Soule had been a quarterback in high school and prep school, so he had the Polar Bears work on a halfback-option pass in practice before the Maine game for the State Series title in 1963.
Late in the fourth quarter on a muddy, rain-soaked UMaine field, Soule completed a 40-yard pass to end Frank Drigotas down to the seven-yard line. Bowdoin scored on the next play to upset Maine, 7-0, and win the annual end of the season series between Bowdoin, Maine, Bates and Colby.
Corey, who died Sunday at age 98 in Gardiner, was remembered by Soule as a very-well organized coach who cared deeply for his players.
"Nels was soft-spoken. He didn't get in your face like you see some coaches do. He cared an awful lot about his players. If you had a slight injury, he would keep you off the field," he said.
Like most coaches, Corey wasn't adverse of using a so-called trick play to give his team an edge. The Polar Bears were a Wing-T team like most of the college teams back then, but Corey knew he couldn't slug it out with a bigger and deeper Maine team.
Hence, the halfback-option pass.
"Nels had us work on the play all week in practice," said Soule.
Soule said Bowdoin set the play up by running Soule, the left halfback, during the game.
"We must have run the ball six times with little yardage. You just couldn't cut because of the field conditions," he said.
But on the seventh time, Soule didn't run, but faded back to pass.
"I got tackled as soon as I threw it and didn't see Frank catch it, but I heard the Bowdoin crowd," he said.
Corey was head football coach at Bowdoin from 1959 to 1964. A short span, but Corey left his mark as the Polar Bears also won the State Series in 1960. Corey returned to his alma mater to coach in the mid-50s after coaching at Colby and Williams
At Bowdoin, he was a standout athlete in football, hockey and baseball, graduating in 1939. He captained the 1938 football team and was selected as a Williamson All-American at tackle. That was an All-American team selected by the country's athletic directors. In 1958, Corey started the lacrosse program at Bowdoin with the late Sid Watson.
"Not only is Nels Corey one of Bowdoin's all-time athletes, he is one of the State of Maine's all-time athletes," said Jim Caton, Bowdoin's director of sports information.
"As an athlete, he played at the end of the golden era of college athletics. The guy did it all," he said.
Corey was inducted into the Bowdoin College Hall of Honor and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.