By Matt Noonan
We’re less than 24 hours away until Championship Saturday commences, and excluding AIC-New Haven and Framingham State-Salve Regina, another key matchup to watch tomorrow will be the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Championship between Castleton State and Mount Ida College.
The winner of this particular match will win the conference and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Div. III Championship.
Here is a preview of this particular contest.
Records: Both teams are 7-2 overall. Castleton is 6-0 in the conference, while Mount Ida is 5-1.
Last Meeting: The last time these two squads met was during the final week of the 2011 season. The Mustangs defeated the Spartans in Newton, 54-34.
Biggest Win: The Spartans biggest win occurred in week one when they defeated non-conference foe Plymouth State, 35-7. Senior quarterback Shane Brozowski tossed four touchdowns and recorded 400 yards through the air.
The Mustangs biggest win came against conference foe Maritime (N.Y). Senior kicker Bobby Hemmann kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to secure a 24-21 victory.
Biggest Setback: Castleton’s biggest loss came a week after their first win in Beverley, Massachusetts against Endicott College. The Gulls soared past the Spartans, 66-14. Castleton held a lead midway through the first quarter, but Endicott managed to erase the deficit and go onto earn their second win.
As for Mount Ida, their worst loss came in week three against Springfield College. The Mustangs held a 14-point advantage in the third quarter, but the Pride rallied to defeat the visitors, 49-42. Senior quarterback Scott Drosendahl tossed five touchdowns in the loss, while sophomore Chris McNally rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries.
Castleton’s New Quarterback: Last week, Brozowski suffered a season ending injury in his team’s win against Husson. So, without their starting gunslinger, the Spartans will rely on freshman George Busharis. The former Mansfield High School quarterback has appeared in six games this season and completed 11-of-22 passes for 152 yards. He’s recorded one touchdown and one interception, too.
The Mustang Way: Throughout the season, head coach Michael Landers has preached his team’s new motto: 1-0. It’s a theory that forces players to be discipline, but also focus on the task at hand. And ever since Landers first muttered the words of “going 1-0,” Mount Ida has been a different team.
Overview: Both these teams are evenly matched, but without Brozowski in the lineup, it could be a long day for Castleton State’s offense. However, the Spartans passing attack ranks second in the nation so don’t expect Busharis to struggle too much, especially if he’s able to connect with junior Brandon Boyle.
Drosendahl will be the main focal point for Mount Ida. The Mustangs senior quarterback ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency and is second in the conference in touchdown passes (26).
Castleton’s defense is the top squad in the conference when it comes to defending the pass, so Drosendahl will have to be at his best against an impressive Spartans secondary.
Prediction: Mount Ida College 31, Castleton State 28