HADLEY, Mass. -- The Bates football team was saluted on Thursday with five NESCAC postseason honors, including Mark Harriman as NESCAC Co-Coach of the Year, announced Thursday by the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
Junior safety Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) was named to the All-NESCAC First Team Defense, and three other Bobcats earned Second Team honors: junior placekicker Charlie Donahue (Plymouth, N.H.), junior offensive lineman Liam O'Neil (Hingham, Mass.) and senior quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.), who becomes Bates' first-ever All-NESCAC quarterback, since these awards were first handed out in 2000.
Harriman shares the coaching honor with Trinity's Jeff Devanney, who led the Bantams to an undefeated season. Harriman posted the best record of his 15-year tenure at Bates, leading the Bobcats to their first winning season, at 5-3, since 1981, including the CBB championship and a share of fourth place in the conference with Wesleyan. Harriman also guided the team masterfully, warmly and calmly through the tragic loss of one of its players, freshman wide receiver Troy Pappas, early in the season.
Kukesh, who was the lone freshman on the All-NESCAC team two years ago, tied for the conference lead in interceptions with six, propelling Bates' defense to a team-record 19 pickoffs and 32 takeaways this season and helping the team rank first in all of Division III in average turnover margin (+2.25). Kukesh is tied for fifth in the country in interceptions per game, at 0.75, and already has 14 for his career. He also totaled a career-high 55 tackles (43 solo), third on the Bobcats and only three fewer than team leader Josh Chronopoulos. Kukesh was also credited this season with one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Donahue (Plymouth, N.H.) set Bates' single-season placekicking records in points (49), field goals (9, tying with Don Sarason '83) and field-goal accuracy (9-for-9). Donahue is tied for 16th in Division III in field goals per game (1.12).
O'Neil was a standout at right tackle on what Harriman says is the best offensive line in his Bates tenure (also including Ryan Weston, Mark Sylvester, Larry Guinee, Michael Bernstein and Matt Antonellis). Bates rushed for 233.5 yards per game, ranking second in the conference behind only Trinity, and also ranking 32nd in Division III.
Quarterbacking awards as a rule follow passing numbers, and there's no better example of that than NESCAC Offensive Player of the Year McCallum Foote of Middlebury. But moreso than for his considerable passing skill, Smith was recognized by NESCAC coaches as the center of Bates' highly effective triple-option offense. Smith became a very effective runner in 2012, ranking 10th in the conference in rushing yards per game, at 60.9, and tying for fifth in rushing touchdowns (5). More importantly, he distributed the ball among five other backs who all ranked among the top 25 runners in the league, in terms of yards per game -- senior Pat George (68.0), senior Teddy Downs (30.2), junior Shawn Doherty (29.6), sophomore Mac Jackson (28.8) and junior Ryan Curit (19.0). As a passer, Smith kept opposing defenses honest, ranking fifth in the conference in completion percentage (54.4%) while throwing for 863 yards and six touchdowns against five interceptions.