The Panther football team is optimistic entering the 2018 season, with 10 starting returners on offense as well as more than half of its starting defenders. Middlebury finished 7-2 a year ago during its first nine-game season in 100 years, placing second in the NESCAC. The Panthers paced the league in total offense (419.1 yards) and were second in points/game (32.6), while the defense led the NESCAC with 31 sacks and 10 fumble recoveries. The team outscored its opponents 293–190 over its nine-game schedule.
Bob Ritter enters his 18th year at the helm of the program, owning a career mark of 88-49. His teams have won 38 of 49 games over the past six seasons and show no signs of veering from their winning ways.
The Panthers kick off their season when they visit Wesleyan on September 15 at 1:00 p.m.
Senior Jack Meservy started the final three games of 2017 after taking over during the Bates win due to an injury. He finished the season 72 of 129 for 964 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Meservy was very efficient in a 41–20 win over Hamilton, going 11 of 16 for 212 yards with four touchdown passes. Sophomore Will Jernigan will challenge for snaps and is expected to be in a backup role.
Senior Drew Jacobs and sophomore Peter Scibilia return to bolster the running game. Jacobs missed his sophomore season with an injury and owns 612 career rushing yards on 194 carries. Scibilia had a strong rookie campaign, leading the team with 338 yards on 91 carries while catching nine passes for 48 yards with four total touchdowns.
Senior Conrado Banky is a two-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection who had a stellar junior season despite missing two games. He caught a team-best 33 passes for 484 yards with five touchdowns in 2017. His 19 career touchdowns place him third in the program's record books, while his 1,780 yards are fourth.
Senior Jimmy Martinez finished the season fourth on the team with 27 catches for a team-best 486 yards, including four touchdowns. He led the team and was sixth in the NESCAC with 111.9 all-purpose yards/game, returning both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns as an all-league specialist.
Junior Maxim Bochman was just behind Banky with 30 receptions last fall, earning 320 yards with four touchdowns. Juniors Maxwell Rye (19 rec., 342 yds., 2 TD) and Aidan Power (13 rec., 179 yds., 1 TD) both saw quality time a year ago and return to the receiving core.
Junior Frank Cosolito earned first-team all-conference honors last fall at tight end. His 28 receptions for 391 yards placed him third among his teammates, while he paced the squad with six touchdowns.
The offensive line remains primarily intact for 2018 with a senior-laden group. Senior Andrew Rogan (6-4, 280) will play left tackle, while classmates Chris Taylor (6-2, 255) and Ian Arthur (6-1, 255) are expected to hold down the left guard spot. All-conference senior Connor Roche (6-2, 270) returns at center, with fellow senior Parker Ferguson (6-2, 265) also returning at right guard. Junior Kevin Woodring (6-3, 280) is back at right tackle as an All-NESCAC selection, while junior Jack Purcell (6-5, 280) is experienced and will challenge for time on the line.
Seniors Roman Trevino (11 tackles, 3 TFL) and Ian Blow (22 tackles) both have seen significant time in the past and will look to move into starting roles this season. Junior Martin Williams (13 tackles, 2 TFL) was a second-team All-NESCAC selection in 2017 and returns to the line as well. Junior Alex Norton and sophomore Charles Roselle will look to crack the lineup and are expected to play key roles.
Seniors Kevin Maxwell (52 tackles, 6.5 TFL) and Clay Hunt (14 tackles) will lead the linebackers. Maxwell is the team's leading returning tackler, who made 16 stops against Williams a year ago. Junior Wyllis McKissick converts from running back and is expected to make an impact, while sophomores Pete Huggins and Zander Bailey (6 tackles) will vie for playing time. Senior Michael Joncich and sophomore Jack Pistorius will also compete for playing time this fall.
Senior corners Matthew Daniel (24 tackles, 6 PBU) and Bobby Ritter (37 tackles, 4 PBU) return to the lineup this season. Ritter's tackle totals are second among returners, while Daniel is right behind in third. Juniors Coltrane Marcus and Michael Carr will also compete for time.
Juniors Jourdon Delerme-Brown (20 tackles) and Kevin Hartley (19 tackles, 2 INT) are both experienced safeties who should be in starting roles after significant time a year ago. Hartley's two interceptions in 2018 were a team best. Sophomore Jonathan Hobart will hope to see quality time.
Rye was third in the NESCAC with a 38.8-yard punting average last season, landing 17 inside the opponent's 20-yard line, second in the conference. Junior Carter Massengill returns for his third season at kicker after earning a total of 47 points last season.