Jake Albert of Bridgton has fit right in as a linebacker and special teams player for Dean College of Franklin, Mass.

Albert, a sophomore, has helped the Bulldogs (7-1) win another Northeast Football Conference championship and advance to the Valley of the Sun Bowl on Saturday in Phoenix against Glendale (Ariz.) Community College.

“I can’t wait for the game,” said Albert, who played at Lake Region and Fryeburg Academy.

This is Albert’s second year playing for Dean, which is in the National Junior College Athletic Association. The Bulldogs are ranked 11th in the country.

In Todd Vasey’s eight years as coach of the Bulldogs, the team has been ranked as high as eighth. The school offers four- and two-year degrees. The players are freshmen and sophomores, who typically look to transfer to NCAA Division I or II schools after two seasons. That’s what Albert is hoping for after this season.

Vasey scouted Albert on film out of high school and recruited him.

“Jake has been a real, solid contributor for the last two years,” said Vasey. “He plays on all special teams and is the first linebacker to substitute in. He’s great in kick coverage and executes his assignments well.”

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Albert moved to linebacker this year after playing tight end as a freshman.

“I felt like linebacker was more of my game,” said Albert. “At tight end, I was just blocking. On defense, I have a chance to be involved on every play.

“I feel my strengths on kick coverage are shedding blockers and tracking down the ball carrier.”

Albert has overcome injuries to stay on the field. He sat out one game because of a concussion.

“At the beginning of preseason, I injured my knee, but through rehabilitation, I worked through that. I got a concussion four games ago and missed one game,” he said.

Albert has made the adjustment from high school ball to the junior college level.

“The action is a lot faster and harder hitting. After two weeks of preseason last year, I felt I had made the adjustment and knew what to expect,” he said.

Albert chose Dean not only for football, but to boost his grades so that he could qualify for a Division I scholarship.

“I’m studying business and it’s going well,” said Albert.

After the bowl game, Albert hopes to have a better idea where he might be headed next season. He would like to play at a Division I school. He expressed interest in Maine, but hopes to have options at more than one school.

Albert’s father, two sisters and girlfriend plan to attend the game. “I’ll have a good fan base,” said Albert.

The game is a rematch of the 2009 Valley of the Sun Bowl, which Glendale won, 10-9.

There is no advancing to the next round.

“It’s one (bowl game) and done like in (the Football Bowl Subdivision),” said Vasey.


Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH