Bridgewater State's football team has already proven "it."
The Bears defeated perennial Division III power Springfield College in the season opener 21-17, limiting the Pride to 229 yards rushing after they averaged 400 yards per game on the ground a year ago.
"No doubt, it's the best defensive line I've seen," said Coast Guard Academy coach Bill George, whose team meets Bridgewater today at 1:30 p.m. in New London on Parents' Weekend. "I think they have a lot of confidence in their defense. They have a lot of great athletes.
"We're good, too, but we have to prove it."
Coast Guard is 2-2 overall, 1-1 in the New England Football Conference Bogan Division, but the Bears are coming off an impressive 59-0 victory last week over Fitchburg State.
George's team is averaging 493 yards per game, 13th in Division III and best in the NEFC, while the Bears' 42.3 points per game is 16th nationally and also best in the league.
Coast Guard senior quarterback Jon Resch is second nationally with 370 yards of total offense per game and leads the NEFC with 348.5 yards per game. He is 115-for-189 this season with 1,394 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Bears' offensive line has also been solid, allowing just four sacks.
Those Coast Guard strengths will be tested by Bridgewater, however.
Bridgewater (4-1, 1-1, 16-0 loss to Framingham State) allows a Bogan Division low 13.4 points per game.
Five-foot-10, 255-pound defensive tackle Paul Melicharek leads the NEFC with 11.5 tackles for a loss to go with three sacks. Junior safety Eddie Jewell has three of the team's seven interceptions.
Bridgewater beat Coast Guard 34-16 last season.
- Vickie Fulkerson