This fall semester is going to be far different than what UNH students, along with so many other schools, are accustomed to. Masks, social distancing, remote learning, and no fall sports. Wildcat Stadium and Boulder Field won’t have the same buzz of a Saturday afternoon as they have so often in the past. There are plenty of things that Durham won’t be able to experience with the postponement of the 2020 fall season, but three stand out above the rest.
The Return of Coach Mac
Head football coach Sean McDonnell missed all of last season due to medical concerns. His former quarterback and current quarterbacks coach Ricky Santos took over in his absence. Santos led the team to a 6-5 record with one of the best defenses in recent program history. The 6-5 record was good for third in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
“Coach Mac” was set to make his return to the sideline this fall before the season was postponed. He’s been under the headset for 21 seasons which is the longest run in the CAA. He’s collected 154 total wins, the most in the conference, and 14 playoff appearances which leads the entire FCS.
Talented Wildcat Offense
Wildcats football was led by the senior leadership of their defense in 2019. The unit has lost five defense starters to graduation since last season, most notably cornerback Prince Smith Jr. who signed as an undrafted free agent to the Philadelphia Eagles, and has recently signed with the New York Giants.
In the absence of a veteran defensive presence, the team would’ve turned to sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer and the offense. Brosmer replaced fellow sophomore quarterback Bret Edwards in the second half of the team’s opening game a season ago. The Georgia native is now surrounded by a talented group of skill position players.
The wide receiver core would have been led by junior Brian Espanet, who was selected to the Preseason All-CAA Third Team. Sophomore Charles Briscoe III showed promise in 2019 and likely would have been the number two option on the outside.
The combination of offensive line talent and skill in the backfield would’ve led to a very run-heavy attack. Brosmer has spoken highly of his offensive line. Junior Patrick Flynn made the All-CAA Second Team, and senior Matt Mascia made the Third Team.
The Wildcat running backs were one of scariest units in the conference in 2019. The team has since lost their power back, Evan Gray, to graduation. Junior Carlos Washington Jr. would have been the lead back with the potential to make anybody miss in an open field and produce big plays. Sophomore Dylan Laube is one of the most versatile players on the whole roster. He was featured out of the backfield, out wide as a receiver, as well as the kickoff return man.
Men’s Soccer’s Chance for Third Straight America East Title
Behind the leadership of All-American defender Josh Bauer, the UNH Men’s Soccer team was on a run of three straight trips to the NCAA tournament and back-to-back America East Championships. The team ranked 18th in the nation and advanced as far as the second round where they were defeated by Virginia Tech a season ago.
The team would’ve gone into 2020 without their star, however. Bauer recently signed a professional contract with Birmingham Legion FC of the United Soccer League Championship.
The Bedford, New Hampshire native was a first team All-American a season ago, a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy – which is given to the most outstanding player in college soccer – and was a two-time America East tournament MVP.
While football gets a lot of the attention in the fall, men’s soccer at UNH has been one of the most successful teams on campus over the past three seasons. Not being able to watch the Wildcats defend their title might be the biggest hole in UNH athletics for the fall semester.