MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) Most college football teams around the country are getting set to play their second or third game this weekend, but that isn't the case for the Middlebury Panthers, who will be opening their 2018 season this Saturday at Wesleyan.
Middlebury is coming off a 7-2 record last fall in their first nine-game season in a century, which was good enough for a second place finish in the NESCAC. The Panthers bring a lot of talent back this season, notably on offense where two-time first team all-conference selection at wide receiver Conrado Bankey leads a group of 10 returning starters. Under center this year will be Jack Meservy, who took over the job during the Bates game last fall and posted a 3-1 record down the stretch.
Middlebury has a combined record of 24-9 over the past four seasons, but that was only good enough to put them in the top half of the final standings in any given year. Now, the Panthers are determined to claim their first NESCAC title since being part of a three-way tie for the title in 2013.
"The past few years we've just been a few plays off in a few different games that could have launched us into that first place slot," said Meservy. "I feel really good with our entire team chemistry, we've had one of the best off-seasons that we've had since I've been here. And just watching the team grow over the last year, I'm really excited to for this year to start."
"It's been a great group to work with this preseason," added head coach Bob Ritter. "They work incredibly hard and we've been able to progress pretty quickly, both offensively and defensively, because we have some guys back. But there are key positions that we have to replace and we're still waiting to see how those guys will step into those spots in a game situation."
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Wesleyan.