Word on the street is that the 2010 University of Maine Black Bears football team is going to be a handful.
Most of a solid 2009 defense returns, while the offense has been repaired with the return of Lewiston fullback Jared Turcotte, a freshman All-America selection who missed all of last season.
Chris Treister, Portland High’s record-setting quarterback, has returned as a junior after toppling four school records in his debut start last year in Orono. Treister started the final two games of the 2009 season and might finally get his shot to run the Black Bears offense this fall.
Treister broke out in Week 8 last year against Rhode Island with a game for the ages, completing 40-of-46 passes for 468 yards and five touchdowns. In his first start, four all-time passing records were bumped from the school record books. Treister’s 40 completions and his 87 percent completion percentage were both tops in Black Bears’ history.
With expectations at an all-time high for Black Bears football, and several players from Western A programs on the roster and most in starting roles, the folks up north want to know where all the Portland-area fans are.
In particular, with players from southern Maine finding jobs with the Black Bears football team, coach Jack Cosgrove and his staff are hoping to get more and more high school football players up to the games on Saturday afternoons.
They have some pretty good ideas and deals kicking in this year to try and make it happen.
Not feeling the 166-mile drive to Orono? No problem. The University of Maine has put together a sponsorship program with Shipyard Brewing Co. For home games, fans can gather at the Shipyard restaurant and take chartered coach buses to Orono.
The deal includes tailgate provisions, tons of food and Shipyard beer.
The program begins Sept. 2, when the Black Bears open the season hosting the University of Albany at 7 p.m. The is also Military Appreciation Day, with a special Military Tailgate that starts at 4 p.m. and features special pregame and halftime recognition for current and past members of the United States Armed Forces.
“Get in the cars, get in the bus and come on up,” said Cosgrove. “I was at the alumni dinner and I told them if anyone out there could fill up a bus and come up for a game the whole bus could stand on the sidelines with us. I meant it. We’re trying to do some different things to get people to come up to the games.”
“Four of the last five national champions in the (College Football Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA) have come from the Colonial Athletic Association,” he added. “This past season there were 37 players from the CAA on NFL rosters and seven of them came from Maine. We don’t have a professional sports team here in Maine other than the Sea Dogs, Pirates and the Red Claws, so for football this it. We have great athletes flying around up here and it’s neat to see.”
For high school players, the University of Maine offers free admission to any player wearing his high school jersey. And the Albany home opener is High School Football Night, too. Players get in free and their school will be recognized during the game. Free posters and Black Bear schedules will be handed out, and parents and friends tickets go for just $10.
“We have several players from Southern Maine up here competing at this level,” Cosgrove said. “Everybody knows the Chris Treisters and Jared Turcottes, but we have some others guys up here that are a part of this program. They played in the same league as these kids, and now their playing in the CAA, the best conference there is at this level. I think that’s a great vision for them to have. They have a chance to go to their home state university and not only get an education, but have the chance to play football.”
“Friends and Family Day” has been scheduled for Sept. 25 when the Black Bears host William & Mary. Maine has two more home games left after that with special deals and trip packages available.
Former Portland High quarterback Chris Treister hopes to be “the man” for the University of Maine football team this autumn.