Football & Asst. Lacrosse Coach
This is Bob Ritter’s 13th season as head coach of the Middlebury College football program and as the Michael “Mickey” Heinecken Coaching Chair. After finishing 7-1 in 2012, Ritter now owns a 57-39 career mark with the Panthers, holding the second-best winning percentage (.594) in program history. In 2007, Ritter earned NESCAC and AFCA Region I Coach of the Year accolades after winning the NESCAC Championship with a 7-1 record.
As the head coach for the Panthers, Ritter mentored 78 All-NESCAC selections and 43 NESCAC players of the week, while seeing his players break 45 school records. Seventy-seven players have earned All-NESCAC Academic honors during his tenure, 15 more were tapped as Academic All-Region picks, and one was named a National Scholar-Athlete. Several players earned All-American status, while one former Panther, Steve Hauschka, plays in the NFL.
Beyond head coaching duties, Ritter serves as the quarterback coach for one of the most prolific passing offenses in the country. During the past four seasons, his quarterbacks have led the nation in completions per game: In 2012, McCallum Foote (32.00/game); 2011, Foote (32.43); 2010, Donald McKillop (31.50); 2009, McKillop (32.75). The prolific quarterback tandem of Foote and McKillop peppered the school and NESCAC record book, appearing first or second all-time for Middlebury 29 times, while holding 10 top-two spots in conference passing annals.
The Holden, Massachusetts, native began his coaching career immediately following his graduation from Middlebury in 1982. The freshly minted economics major joined Mickey Heinecken’s coaching staff that fall, spending six years as the defensive coordinator. Following his six years at Middlebury, Ritter accepted a coaching position at Tufts University as the men’s lacrosse head coach and assistant football coach, where he worked as both the offensive and defensive coordinator for the Jumbos’ football team.
In the fall of 1996, Ritter returned to Middlebury to serve as an assistant football and assistant men’s lacrosse coach. He was named the head coach of the football program in December 2000, following Heinecken’s retirement.
Ritter, who continues to work as an assistant coach in the spring for the three-time NCAA Championship men’s lacrosse team, stays active in the local community, assisting in several local community-outreach projects, and is a member of the town’s school board.
Asst. Football - Off. Coord. & Asst. Athletic Communications
The veteran coach returns for his 13th season at Middlebury and his fifth season as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator. Since 2009, the Middlebury offense owns 10 first-place spots in the national rankings, while holding 19 more spots in the top 10 for offensive production. This is Early’s ninth season leading the offensive line and the field-goal unit. (In 2005–06, he coached future NFL place-kicker Steven Hauschka, '07.) Arriving at Middlebury in 2001, he spent his first four seasons coaching the defensive line before taking over offensive line duties in 2005. During his tenure on offense, Early developed several All-NESCAC players, as well as two All-American offensive linemen.
After a record-breaking 2012 season, Early garnered national acclaim, earning the prestigious AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Award for his efforts on the field and in the community. The prolific Panther offense set 13 school records in 2012, leading all of NCAA Division III football in three categories: Zach Driscoll’s individual receiving yards per game (141.75), McCallum Foote’s completions per game (32.00), and the offensive led the nation allowing the fewest tackles for loss per game (2.63). The offense earned a pair of second-place finishes nationally: Driscoll’s 10.38 receptions per game and team passing yards (371.38), while sitting in the top 15 in 10 more offensive categories.
He began his collegiate coaching career in 1996 at the University of Chicago, working with the tight ends. Following two years in Illinois, Early moved to Hamilton College where he coached the receivers and special teams while assisting the Continental baseball program. In 1999, he moved on to coach the wide receivers at Brockport before going to Swarthmore College in 2000 to coach the running backs and special teams.
The Schenectady, New York, native graduated from the University at Albany with a degree in rhetoric and communication, holding a master’s degree in education from Peru State. Beyond the winter and spring seasons where Early works as an assistant in the Athletic Communications Office, managing game statistics and press releases for numerous sporting events at Middlebury, he is an adviser for Middlebury’s student-based Newman Club.
Asst. Football - Def. Coord.
Now in his third season at Middlebury, Mandigo returns as the team’s defensive coordinator, coaching the defensive backs. A 1996 graduate of Middlebury College, Mandigo served as an assistant coach in football, baseball, and women’s ice hockey at his alma mater the year following his graduation.
He moved on to St. Anselm College to serve as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach in football for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. While earning his M.Ed. degree, he served as a graduate assistant in football at Boston College during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, and he received his degree in 2001. He subsequently returned to Middlebury to work as an assistant professor in physical education. He also served as defensive coordinator and secondary coach in football and as assistant baseball coach through the spring of 2004.
In 2005, Mandigo moved to California, where he served as assistant baseball coach at Ohlone College and head football coach at Piedmont High School, receiving conference coach of the year honors. He returned to Wesleyan in the fall of 2006, and stayed as the team’s defensive coordinator for four seasons.
He spent the 2010 season in the professional ranks with UFL’s Hartford Colonials, where he coached NFLers Emanuel Cook and Quintin Demps.
As an undergraduate at Middlebury, he was a rare three-sport athlete, lettering in football, ice hockey, and baseball. He served as a team captain in the latter activity his senior year.
The Middlebury native returned to Vermont in 2011 and continues to coach the linebackers. A 2006 graduate of Wesleyan, Johnston-Bloom spent four seasons at his alma mater coaching the defensive line and linebackers.
Johnston-Bloom also serves as the strength and conditioning coach at Middlebury. Along with being a certified member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), he has also received his CATZ Level 1 Coaching Certification and his USA Weightlifting Level 1 Sport Performance Certification.
As a player, he was an immediate starter on the defensive line for the Cardinals, starting all 32 games throughout his career. A two-time all-NESCAC pick (2004 and 2005) and a two-year team captain, he amassed 177 total tackles with 15 sacks. His senior year, he joined the lacrosse team for the first time as a faceoff specialist. While assisting with the football program, he also worked with the Wesleyan lacrosse team as an assistant coach, leading the program to new heights with two NCAA appearances and a conference title.
During his time at Wesleyan, Johnston-Bloom earned an MA in liberal studies.
A 2002 graduate of Middlebury Union High School, Johnston-Bloom was a three-time All-State selection, captaining the Maple Sugar Shrine team in 2002, the same year he was inducted into the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
In 2010, he was hired to start a lacrosse program at Thiel College, in Greenville, Pennsylvania, becoming the program’s first head coach, leading the Tomcats in their inaugural campaign in the spring of 2011.
Asst. Football & Lacrosse
Brakeley returns for his fifth season with the Panther football team, working with the defensive line for the third straight year. He previously worked with the running backs and tight ends in 2009 and 2010.
In the spring, Brakeley will begin his fifth season as assistant coach of the three-time NCAA Champions men’s lacrosse team.
A Middlebury native, Brakeley earned his degree in political science in 2003 from the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand. He later earned his master’s degree at the school.
Brakeley, a member of the Vermont Maple Sugar Shrine all-star team in 1998, spent three seasons assisting with the Middlebury Union High School football team, where his father, former Panther player Peter Brakeley ’75, served as the long-time coach. He also assisted with the lacrosse team at Middlebury Union High School.
Asst. Football & Baseball
Phelps is now in his seventh season on the football coaching staff. He graduated from nearby Castleton State College with a degree in sports administration and a minor in business. The Middlebury native will again coach the wide receivers in 2013. Phelps has also spent the last seven springs as an assistant coach for the Middlebury baseball team.
Phelps has also worked as an assistant coach with the Middlebury High School football team. During his time at the high school, Phelps was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball. His team won a state title with an undefeated season during his senior year, with Phelps taking part in the Maple Sugar Shrine game for senior all-stars from Vermont and New Hampshire.
Marsella returns for his third season coaching both the tight ends and running backs, after previously working as the wide receivers coach at Mount Ida. A four-year member of the Wesleyan football team from 2005–08, Marsella began his coaching career at his alma mater in 2009, coaching the wide outs. During his playing career, Anthony played both quarterback and defensive back for the Cardinals. Before attending Wesleyan, Marsella was an all-state football player at Woonsocket (Rhode Island) High School, where he also earned all-division baseball honors and was a state place-winner in wrestling.