Maine-Richmond Football

Maine's Bryce Colee holds the ball after recovering a fumble on a punt return during the first half against Richmond on Saturday, November 10, 2018. Teammate Richard Carr signals a recovery behind Colee.

MAINE BLACK BEARS

COACH: Nick Charlton, 0-0, first season at Maine

2018 RECORD: 10-4, 7-1 CAA

POSTSEASON: Lost at Eastern Washington 50-19 in the FCS semifinals

» A LOOK BACK

Maine enjoyed a breakout 2018 by claiming the competitive CAA football regular-season championship outright and then advancing to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for the first time in program history.

The success came with Joe Harasymiak’s final season as the coach. (He is now the defensive backs/safeties coach at the University of Minnesota.) The Black Bears stormed out of the gates with a 28-point rout of then-No. 7 New Hampshire, topped Western Kentucky and lost by 12 at Central Michigan.

Despite losses to Yale and William & Mary during the season, Maine defeated four teams ranked in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll to garner a No. 7 seed in the FCS playoffs. The Black Bears defeated Jacksonville State and Weber State before bowing out to Eastern Washington in the semifinals.

» LOOKING AHEAD

Nick Charlton served as the Black Bears’ offensive coordinator prior to his promotion to head coach, and his rapport with the team should make for a seamless transition into the upcoming season.

Maine returns quarterback Chris Ferguson, who enjoyed a stellar sophomore campaign with nearly 2,400 passing yards and 22 touchdowns. Wide receiver Earnest Edwards, primarily used as a kickoff return specialist in his first two seasons, because Ferguson’s top target with 53 catches and 10 touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for scores.

Four offensive linemen return to bolster an offense that ranked 70th in the nation in scoring. Running back Ramon Jefferson became the second running back in as many years to transfer from the program. Josh Mack, who sat out last season after transferring to Liberty, led the FCS in rushing yards per game in 2017. Jefferson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, but was released from his scholarship in June after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Maine said he was free to transfer to another institution.

The defense led the nation in rushing yards allowed (79.2) and was 30th in scoring (23.4). Three talented linebackers — Deshawn Stevens, Taji Lowe and Jaron Grayer — return to anchor the unit. However, the two starting safeties — Jeffery DeVaughn and Darrius Hart — need to be replaced quickly against the loaded CAA.

» WHO’S BACK?

• SKILL PLAYERS

QB Chris Ferguson (209-371 passing, 2,372 yards, 22 TD, 11 INT)

WR/KR Earnest Edwards (53 catches, 839 yards, 15.83 average, 10 TD; 24 kickoff returns, 616 yards, 25.67 average, 2 TD)

WR Jaquan Blair (43 catches, 572 yards, 13.3 average, 5 TD)

• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

LT Gunnar Docos

LG Migel Garcia

C Chris Mulvey

RG Liam Dobson

• DEFENSIVE LEADERS

LB Deshawn Stevens (120 tackles, 17.0 TFL, 9.0 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 3 QBH, 2 FR, 1 FF)

LB Taji Lowe (85 tackles, 15.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 0 INT, 2 PBU, 2 QBH, 2 FR, 1 FF)

DE Kayon Whitaker (50 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 5 QBH, 2 FF)

CB Manny Patterson (47 tackles, 3 INT, 22 PBU)

LB Jaron Grayer (42 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 INT, 3 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF)

• SPECIAL TEAMS

K Kenny Doak (11-18 FG, 52 long, 0 blocked; 42-46 PAT)

P Derek Deoul (55 punts, 37.1 average, 49 long, 7 TB, 19 FC, 12 I20, 0 50+, 0 blocked)

P David Gelb (41 punts, 36.1 average, 59 long, 1 TB, 19 FC, 10 I20, 1 50+, 0 blocked)

» WHO’S GONE?

• SKILL PLAYERS

RB Ramon Jefferson (182 carries, 1,037 yards, 5.7 average, 8 TD)

WR Micah Wright (47 catches, 539 yards, 11.47 average, 6 TD)

TE Drew Belcher (46 catches, 357 yards, 7.76 average, 1 TD)

• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

RT Cody Levy

• DEFENSIVE LEADERS

LB Sterling Sheffield (84 tackles, 18.0 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 INT, 7 PBU, 2 QBH, 3 FR, 2 FF)

SS Jeffrey DeVaughn (74 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 3 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FR)

FS Darrius Hart (72 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 1 blocked kick)

• SPECIAL TEAMS

None

» WHOM TO FOLLOW

Mike Lowe, Portland Press Herald: @MikeLowePPH

Larry Mahoney, Bangor Daily News: @LarryMahoneyBDN

Maine Football: @BlackBearsFB

» SCHEDULE

Aug. 30: Sacred Heart, 6 p.m.

Sept. 7: at Georgia Southern, 6 p.m.

Sept. 14: Towson, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21: at Colgate, noon

Sept. 28: at Villanova, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 12: Richmond, noon

Oct. 19: at Liberty, 6 p.m.

Oct. 26: William & Mary, 1 p.m.

Nov. 2: at Albany, 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 9: at Elon, 2 p.m.

Nov. 16: Rhode Island, noon

Nov. 23: at New Hampshire, 1 p.m.

» THE SERIES (home team in CAPS)

Maine leads 1-0

Oct. 10, 1992: MAINE 42, Liberty 20

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Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.

Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550. Follow him on Twitter: @DamienSordelett

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