By Matt Williams
---- — It’s been said that the only thing an athlete wants more than a championship is a second one.
Trinity College senior running back Evan Bunker would agree.
After a record-setting season in 2012 helped the Bantams win the NESCAC title, Bunker is hoping Trinity can repeat this fall.
“Finally getting that ring last year, I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said Bunker, who fell just short of a ring in three playoff trips at Masconomet and went 7-1 in his first two seasons at Trinity before last year’s perfect 8-0 championship campaign.
“No matter what sport it is, when you win a league there’s a big bulls eye. Everybody is gunning for you, Middlebury, Amherst, Williams — they’re coming and when they play us it’ll be their Super Bowl. We have to be ready.”
A two-time All-NESCAC first team honoree, Bunker is expected to be one of the most productive players in Division 3 college football this fall. He’s been recognized on a pair of preseason All-America lists: the Cutting Edge Sports Management All-American first team and the Lindy’s College Football preseason All-American second team.
“It’s very exciting and it’s an honor to be mentioned for any of those things,” said Bunker. “It’s also a motivating factor, especially when you’re lifting and working out. You want to prove that you’ve earned that.”
A look over Bunker’s career at Trinity shows why the experts figure he’ll turn in another monster season. The Topsfield native is already Trinity’s all-time leading rusher with 3,066 yards and is the only player in Bantams lore over the 3,000 mark. His 1,275 yards last year as a junior were the second most in Trinity history and the third most ever by a NESCAC running back.
“I’m honored but I really try to downplay that stuff. I’d rather get a ring than worry about that. Playing well and winning will hopefully come along with records,” said Bunker, who also highlighted the role the offensive line plays when a running back gets his name in the record books.
“Without the big uglies up front, there’s nothing. Much of the credit should go to them, and also to the defense for getting us the ball. It’s a cliche, but it’s a time game and when the time comes everybody’s doing a job to win.”
Bunker scored 11 touchdowns a year ago and with 21 rushing TDs in his career, he needs six this fall to pass Everett grad Genaro Leo for Trinity’s all-time career mark. His gaudy career numbers are made even more impressive by the fact that NESCAC schools play just eight games per season — fewer than the 10-11 in high school and 10-12 played by many colleges.
As a result, the Bantams don’t open the season until September 21. In fact, Evan won’t begin preseason training camp until after his younger brother Troy has started camp for his senior year at Masco.
“You’re always excited for the start of camp and by day three everybody’s sick of it,” Bunker said. “The blood really starts flowing at the end, after our scrimmages and when we can start preparing for (the opener against) Bates.”
The 2010 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, Bunker is excited about going into his final season at Trinity. He was honored to be voted a team captain as well.
“I feel like I have to show the guys the ropes, what it takes,” he said. “I think we have a great senior/underclassman relationship at the school and we want those young guys to be confident when they step in.”
One of the things Bunker has worked on, and is most proud of, isn’t running through and around defenders, but what he does when he doesn’t have the ball under his arm.
“I think the biggest thing is the mental aspect. Blitz pickup, reading defenses, the college game can’t be solely based on talent,” he explained. “You can’t outrun and outmuscle everybody, so you have to know the read. Being able to pass block, catch passes, be out there on first and third down, that helps. The more you can do the more you’ll play.”
Trinity has a number of Bay State players on its roster, with the only other North Shore product being Brendan Oliver of Danvers and the Pingree School. In about a month, he, Bunker and the rest of the Bantams will be fully focused on defending their NESCAC crown.
“For me, I want to enjoy senior year and what comes with that. My older brother and my cousins tell me’ You’ll miss it when it’s done, enjoy it now.’ I want to finish strong.”