After a nearly 10-month hiatus, the football team is set to take the field for the first time in 2011 Saturday at Stony Brook. When the teams faced off last year, the Bears came away with a thrilling 33-30 double-overtime victory at Brown Stadium. Saturday's matchup is the final installment of a four-game series between the two schools in which Brown currently holds a 2-1 advantage.
The Seawolves (0-2) are off to a tough start in 2011, having dropped road games to the University of Texas at El Paso (1-1) and the University of Buffalo (1-1).
"The advantage we have here is that Stony Brook hasn't seen us yet this year," said Head Coach Phil Estes, adding that the Seawolves have not faced quarterback and co-captain Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5 in two years. "The downfall that we have is that they have two games under their belt, and they know what they do well and what they don't do well."
The Bears are also wary of a winless, but inspired, Stony Brook team looking to avoid falling into an insurmountable early-season hole.
"They're down two, so they're really playing to get back into it," said co-captain defensive tackle Kyle Rettig '12. "If they lose their first three games, they're on their way to a really shaky season."
On offense, Stony Brook is a large and athletic unit that "hangs their hat on being a power run team," Estes said. The Bears will encounter the two-headed rushing attack of Brock Jackolski and Miguel Maysonet, who both eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in 2010.
"They have a dynamic duo," Rettig said. "We're focusing on keeping them under 150 yards. If we can do that, then we'll definitely have a chance to be successful in the game."
On the other side of the ball, the Seawolves boast a big and speedy defense — led by preseason All Big South defensive end Ryan Haber and linebacker Craig Richardson — that can get after the quarterback. "They rely on being really strong and fast and getting to the points where they need to be," said center Jack Geiger '12.
Geiger also stressed the importance of communication between the Bears' offense and Newhall-Caballero, for whom the game will be his first since he was injured in the third game of 2010 against the University of Rhode Island. But Estes said he is not concerned about possible growing pains for the fully healed Newhall-Caballero as he gets reacquainted with live game action.
"Kyle is just anxious to get going," Estes said. "This will be a test for him because they have great corners on defense and a great pass rush. He's going to be challenged."
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 6 p.m., marking the first of three consecutive night games for the Bears, which both the players and coaches are excited about.
"I'd say it's a pretty accurate statement for most guys on the team that it reminds everyone of those Friday night lights," said cornerback A.J. Cruz '13. "There's just a different energy about playing under the lights. You get so amped, and the atmosphere is so great."
But above all else, the Bears are excited to get out on the field, put their offseason and training camp preparation to the test and, as Estes said, "simply play and hit another team."
"Preparing as much as we have for these guys, it's going to favor us," Cruz said. "Our coaches do an incredible job scheming, and we'll be ready for everything they have."
A previous headline for this story misstated the day the football game began. It began on a Saturday. The Herald regrets the error.