With the University of Maine’s football opener less than two weeks away, first-year head coach Joe Harasymiak is looking to finalize some starting positions when the Black Bears hold their second preseason scrimmage at 4 p.m. Sunday at Harold Alfond Stadium.

“We’re going to answer some questions on depth,” said Harasymiak. “We’ll know our quarterback after Sunday. Our offensive line has got to get set. Defensive ends have got to get set. The secondary, especially the safety position, has got to get set.”

The quarterback battle between senior Dan Collins and junior Drew Belcher has garnered most of the attention – and Collins gained an edge with a strong showing in the first scrimmage – but the other positional battles are worth watching as well.

The offensive line took a hit when junior left tackle Jamil Demby, a two-year starter, suffered a strained posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the first scrimmage. Harasymiak said Demby might be ready for the Sept. 1 opener at the University of Connecticut.

“He’s ahead of schedule,” said Harasymiak. “But we don’t want him back too early and then lose him for league play.”

Senior Max Andrews has slid into Demby’s spot, with senior Sam Cooper becoming the top reserve on the offensive line. “There are a lot of moving parts there,” Harasymiak said.


At defensive end, both of last year’s starters graduated and one of them, Trevor Bates of Westbrook, is competing for a spot with the Indianapolis Colts. Among the possible starters for Maine at that position are junior Dakota Tarbox of Saco and sophomore Connor Walsh.

“There’s a good five or six guys battling it out there,” said Harasymiak. “We’ll probably play three or four but need to figure out the starting spots.”

Then there’s safety, where Harasymiak said another five or six players are battling for two positions. “I’d be shocked if we didn’t play at least four of those guys at those spots in the first game,” he said.

Beyond the individual battles, Harasymiak – who replaced longtime coach Jack Cosgrove after last season – will be watching his entire team closely.

“I want to see a consistent effort across the board,” he said. “I think the energy will be there. One other thing I want to see is how they respond when something doesn’t go their way.

“I kept some stats on that in the first scrimmage – whether it was the offense after a turnover or a three-and-out or the defense after a big play or a long drive. You know, it’s easy when you’re flowing and everything is going well. I’m looking for how we react when things go bad, how we turn the tables to get back on track.”


Senior linebacker Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, one of the returning defensive leaders, said everyone is looking forward to the opener.

“We’re definitely excited to play somebody other than our own teammates,” he said. “But there’s a lot to do to be prepared. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for Connecticut.”

And it starts Sunday.

“I’m just looking for the defense to get better, that all the assignments are done properly, that we line up right and that we play physical,” said Mulumba Tshimanga. “Our first scrimmage wasn’t too bad, but the second one … we’ve got to do better.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: