Bates College is a small liberal arts school in Lewiston, Maine, with less than 2,000 students.
But the two young men battling for their starting quarterback job hail from two states away and grew up just 20 minutes apart.
True freshman Brendan Costa, a Westport native who started at New Bedford as a freshman before transferring to Case where he was a three-year starter, started on Saturday after relieving Bishop Stang graduate Matt Golden, a New Bedford native, in Week 3 after the sophomore had gotten his second career start.
“Both guys we had seen during summer camps going into their senior years,” Bates coach Mark Harriman said. “It’s a lot easier nowadays to keep track of guys through Hudl. We were able to have those guys learn about Bates.”
Golden, who ran for 281 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 271 yards and two scores in five-plus games his senior year at Stang, was the first to commit after considering Colby and Bowdoin. The final push came from Dan Dias, a guidance counselor at Stang who had attended Bates.
“He really convinced me to give it a shot,” Golden said. “I’m very happy with my decision. I was happy with the mission statement of the school and the administration and students here work to make sure it’s a place that does what it says it does. There’s a lot of people here who feel comfortable speaking up and we empower students to work in communities and express political beliefs. It’s a special place.”
For the first six games of his freshman year, Golden only played on special teams as the holder on extra points and field goals and as the personal protector on punt team. Then, in the seventh game, at Bowdoin, starting quarterback Sandy Plashkes left with an injury. Herriman turned to his true freshman backup.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes,” Golden replied. “I’m ready.”
That he was. Golden ran for 104 yards in the fourth quarter alone and the Bobcats scored 21 unanswered points to win 24-7, marking the first time since 1931 they’d defeated Bowdoin and Colby in the same year.
“It was a really, really exciting game,” Golden said. “It was great to get in. You don’t want to get in because somebody goes down, but it was awesome to be able to get in and perform alright.”
Golden started in Week 8, a 24-7 loss to Hamilton, and finished with 214 rushing TDs and two scores while completing 7-of-18 passes for 71 yards, a TD and an interception in two games as the Bobcats finished the season 3-5.
“He kind of emerged during the year as the year progressed and we just felt we needed to get him on the field in areas that would help us,” Harriman said. “His demeanor is a serious guy, he’s serious about everything he does.”
While Golden was wrapping up his freshman season at Bates, Costa was completing an eye-popping senior year at Case, which earned him the Otto Graham award after a season in which he threw for 1,612 yards and 20 touchdowns and added 1,415 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Defensively, he made 82 tackles and snagged five interceptions.
He looked at several New England schools, including Stonehill, Bentley and Sacred Heart. But during a family vacation to York, he got a call from Bates assistant coach Skip Capone.
“He said he loved my film and asked me to visit,” Costa said. “I said, “I’ll come by tomorrow.’ He was excited and I was excited. They run a great offense for my skillset.”
Bates runs a triple option, which takes advantage of both Costa and Golden’s dual-threat capabilities. Costa still wasn’t sold.
“I kind of put it to the side,” he said. “It was another college visit. I went through my season.”
But Capone kept calling. Sometimes multiple times per week.
“He told me what Bates football was all about,” Costa said. “It reminded me of my high school and its culture. They have great academics — they’re second to none and the football is second to none.”
When Costa announced his decision on Twitter, Golden took note.
“I was very excited,” he said. “I knew him a little bit. He played one year under my dad (former New Bedford High and current Bishop Stang coach Dennis Golden) and I’d worked out with him and I knew he was a great kid and a good football player.”
Golden spent that summer working out, spending his Wednesday nights at Andrea McCoy Field with players from Stang, Fairhaven and Dartmouth, as well as other alumni including Southern Connecticut’s Hunter Fleugel and Salve Regina’s Mike Mello. Costa, meanwhile, was working out with his high school friend Logan Silvester at 7 a.m. in Warren, Rhode Island. Then on Wednesday’s he’d attend Case’s 7-on-7 passing league, which featured guys like Springfield’s Victor Carrion.
As Costa arrived at Bates this August to begin his collegiate career, he enjoyed an immediate mentorship from Golden.
“Matt kind took me under his wing a little bit, teaching me the offense. He taught me the playbook. That was huge,” he said. “We’ve grown really close since we got here. We help each other out the whole time.”
“Every young guy handles that transition from high school to college differently and learning our offense with a short preseason (is tough) for anybody, specifically a quarterback,” said Harriman. “He’s done a really good job of gaining the knowledge that he needs. From there it’s a matter of the game experience.”
As the season opened, Costa was serving as the Bobcats’ scout team quarterback and Golden was once again backing up Sandy Plashkes. But in Week 2, Plashkes once again went down with an injury and Golden came on in relief, helping the team gain 66 yards on the ground and earn four first downs on his first two series. He finished the game with 33 rushing yards and 30 passing yards, earning him the start in Week 3 against Tufts.
“Matt’s a great competitor,” Harriman said. “He’s one of those guys you can always count on. He’s a guy who has done a lot for us as quarterback and on special teams. You can count on him to do anything. We’ve been really happy with him.”
Despite Golden’s relief efforts, Bates had lost its first two games by a combined score of 92-17, so when the Bobcats fell behind 27-3 midway through the second quarter to Tufts — and Golden was 4-of-8 passing for 21 yards and had 33 rushing yards on nine totes — Harriman called for Costa.
“It was time to start getting him some reps in the varsity game,” Harriman said. “We had really high expectations for him coming in off what he did in high school. I feel he fits what we do offensively very well. We don’t try to put undue pressure on guys. We don’t want them in there before they’re ready. But he’s progressed in practice and we had a JV game and he did an excellent job.”
On his second snap, Costa threw a pick-six. But the next time Bates got he ball, Costa turned a broken play into a 70-yard touchdown run.
“I was kinda like ‘Oh my God, here we go,’” Costa said. “After that I got it out of my system. I knew we needed something to get going because we’d had trouble getting going and the defense was playing their hearts out.”
Costa finished the game with 97 rushing yards on 16 attempts and was 14-of-33 passing for 134 yards, with two would-be touchdown passes being dropped by his receivers. Bates lost 37-17, but played to a 14-14 tie once Costa came in.
“He made some plays,” Harriman said. “He put us in position to score a couple touchdowns and really did a good job running the football and threw a couple of really nice balls. ... He’s a guy who plays with a lot of confidence and he certainly has a lot of the intangibles in addition to athletics, he has a lot of the intangibles that you look for with his demeanor his leadership, things that were very evident.”
For his part, Golden couldn’t have been more magnanimous in his benching.
“I was very excited to see him go into the game,” he said. “You can’t have the mentality you’re happy to come out, but I understand Brendan is going to do a good job. I was happy to see him do well.”
Costa is equally gracious.
“We’re here to win games,” he said. “I don’t care if I’m in or Matt’s in or Sandy’s in, however I can help. My job through the first two weeks was get our defense ready as scout-team quarterback. Then when my name got called I was ready.”
Costa’s second-half performance against Tufts earned him the start on Saturday at Williams. He ran for 49 yards and threw for 98 yards and a touchdown on 5-of-10 passing, but also threw four interceptions.
“I think he instills a lot of confidence in the guys around him," Harriman said. "It started with the young guys in his class and it’s really blossomed into everybody has confidence in him and really supporting him.”
Meanwhile, Golden still got plenty of playing time, logging seven carries for 80 yards, including a 62-yard scamper. Plaschke also returned to light action, meaning next week's starter could change.
Costa is still undecided on his major, while Golden is close to declaring as a sociology major with a minor in education. He hopes to go into teaching.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said. “I want to help people with my life and I think education is the tool that best fits my ability to do that.”
But before he can mold another generation of learners, Golden is focused on molding the protege who has quickly become his peer.
“We’re both here to play football and the most important thing is being a good teammate and getting a win and our best opportunity seems like it’s with Brendan,” he said. “That’s something I’m 100 percent OK with.”
Senior Richie Phillips (Old Rochester) ran wild on Saturday, finishing with 192 rushing yards and two scores on 29 carries for Mass. Maritime. He also caught three passes for 16 yards. He has 519 rushing yards and five scores in five games. ... Sophomore Austin Stahmer (Wareham) made two tackles for Mass. Maritime on Saturday. He has 12 on the season. ... Sophomore Sean Smialek (Dartmouth) made eight tackles on Saturday for Mass. Maritime. He has 46 on the season. ... Freshman Colin McCabe (Dartmouth) made three tackles and had one quarterback hit on Saturday for Mass. Maritime. He has 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks on the season. ... Sophomore Jack Sullivan (Dartmouth) recorded two tackles for Framingham State on Friday. He has five tackles on the season. ... Senior Russell Bolarinho (Bishop Stang) converted his only extra point and made a tackle for Bridgewater State on Saturday. ... Senior Joel Sodeinde (Dartmouth) made four tackles (0.5 for a loss) for Springfield on Saturday. He has 26 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season. ... Sophomore Vic Carrion Jr. (New Bedford) made one tackle for Springfield on Saturday, his second of the season. ... Freshman Nick Landry (Bishop Stang) made three tackles for Williams on Saturday. He has four tackles this season. ... Senior Stephen Smialek (Dartmouth) had three tackles on Saturday for Worcester state. He has 31 tackles and one pass breakup on the season.
Senior Casey Meissner (Bishop Stang) recorded an assist on Sept. 30 for Lasell. She has three goals and two assists this season. ... Senior Taylor Souza (New Bedford) scored a goal and added an assist for Nichols on Sept. 30. She has a team-leading six goals and three assists this season. ... Sophomore Nicole Gidley (Dartmouth) scored for Nichols on Sept. 30. It was her second goal of the season. ... Senior Andrea Rego (Bishop Stang) scored her first goal of the season for Merrimack on Tuesday. ... Junior Taylor Canastra (Fairhaven) made six saves while allowing two goals for Southern Maine on Wednesday. She has made 51 saves while allowing 21 goals in eight games. ... Sophomore Sarah Beaulieu (Old Rochester) notched an assist on Thursday for UMass Amherst. She has three assists on the season.
Senior Mike Pruchnik (Old Rochester) made six saves while allowing one goal in two games this week for Mass. Maritime. He has 64 saves while allowing 22 goals in 11 games (10 starts).
Junior Mia Pelletier (New Bedford) notched an assist for Bridgewater State on Tuesday. ... Junior Mya Lunn (Old Rochester) made five saves while allowing three goals for Roger Williams on Tuesday. She has 72 saves while allowing 29 goals in 10 games. ... Senior Katie Frade (Dartmouth) poured in four goals and handed out two assists for Wheelock on Saturday. She has eight goals and three assists on the season. ... Freshman Taylor Bulis (Apponequet) totaled three goals in two games this week for Salve Regina. She has four goals on the season. ... Sophomore Katelyn Santos (New Bedford) scored for Worcester State on Saturday. She has three goals and two assists this season. ... Sophomore Caitlin Baril (Apponequet) scored for Framingham State on Saturday. She has five goals on the season.
Freshman Alexis Duarte (Fairhaven) totaled eight kills, six digs, one block and one service ace in three matches this week for Bridgewater State. ... Freshman Devan McNeill (Apponequet) totaled six kills, one assist, one service ace, 13 digs and one block in three matches this week for Bridgewater State. ... Junior Katie Leidhold (Fairhaven) had nine kills, two service aces, seven digs and one block in three matches this week for Johnson and Wales. ... Junior Faith Richard (Fairhaven) totaled 10 kills, five assists, four service aces and 14 digs in six matches this week for Lyndon State. ... Junior Kristy Walton (Fairhaven) totaled 42 kills, five assists, four service aces, 53 digs and seven blocks in five matches this week for Mount Ida. ... Senior Courtney Carroll (Bishop Stang) had 13 digs and one assist in one match this week for Curry.
Freshman Maddie Lynch (Dartmouth) finished 74th (20:35) for Emerson on Saturday in the James Earley Invitational. ... Freshman Owen Murray (Bishop Stang) finished 176th (31:42.74) for Emerson at the James Earley Invitational on Saturday. ... Senior Emma Robidoux (Fairhaven) finished sixth (18:57.94) for the University of New England on Saturday at the James Earley Invitational. ... Sophomore Nina Bourgeois (Old Rochester) finished 24th (19:32.67) for Trinity at the James Earley Invitational on Saturday. ... Freshman Olivia Wrobleski (Bishop Stang) was 173rd (22:24.71) on Saturday at the James Earley Invitational. ... Senior Elizabeth Sullivan (Bishop Stang) placed 117th (20:01.4) for Assumption at the NEICAAA Championships on Saturday. ... Sophomore Ryan Cardozo (Bishop Stang) took 89th (28:43.7) for Assumption on Saturday at the NEICAAA Championships. ... Sophomore Paige Fehskens (Wareham) finished 81st (19:34.5) for Bentley on Saturday at the NEICAAA Championships.
Senior Jacqueline Andrade (Bishop Stang) went 0-2 at No. 1 singles and 0-2 at No. 1 doubles this week for Becker. She's 0-14 on the season between singles and doubles play. ... Sophomore Evan Russell (Wareham) won at No. 3 doubles for Regis on Monday alongside partner Kyle Dugat. He's 4-0 between singles and doubles play this season. ... Freshman Emma Collings (Old Rochester) won 8-3 at No. 2 doubles for Worcester State on Sept. 30, teaming up with Isabel Badeau to improve to 2-0 on the season. ... Freshman Victoria Vittori (New Bedford/Lenox) went 2-0 this week at No. 3 doubles for Rhode Island College, teaming up with Grace Zangari. They're 11-0 in doubles play this season.
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