By Matt Noonan
Ah, the New England Division III college football season has returned – welcome back!
In honor of a new season, which begins this evening in Paxton, Massachusetts (Anna Maria vs. Coast Guard Academy), here is our first serving of ‘Five Games to Watch.’
‘Five Games to Watch’ has been a frequent blog post over the past few seasons, but this year, I will be keeping track of my picks – yes, I will be picking the winner of each game I preview. And if you have a thought about my predictions – or have ‘two-cents’ on the particular matchup- then send me a tweet @MattNoonan11.
So, without further ado, here are this week’s predictions:
Coast Guard Academy at Anna Maria (Thursday, Sept. 1 @ 7 p.m.): This is the initial New England kickoff, so expect a few pre-game jitters at the start. Coast Guard quarterback Derek Victory will look to build on last year’s success – he went 4-2 under center and will have senior wide-out Kyle Jackson to connect with down the sideline and over the middle. As for the AMCATs – junior wide-out Trai Weaver should be the spark for their offense after leading Anna Maria’s receiving core last season in receptions, yards and touchdowns. PREDICTION: Coast Guard 28, Anna Maria 14
WPI at MIT (Friday, Sept. 2 @ 7 p.m.): As we mentioned on this week’s Noontime Sports the Podcast, this is going to be a big-year for WPI. I am expecting Chris Robertson’s squad to take another step forward – last year the Engineers finished 7-4 overall. MIT is eager to rebound after last season – and returns a majority of its defense, including linebackers Anthony Emberley and Mitch Turley. PREDICTION: WPI 31, MIT 27
Bridgewater State at Curry (Friday, Sept. 2 @ 7 p.m.): While some think the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) will be won again by Framingham State, there is some rumblings out there about Bridgewater State being a dark-horse or challenger to the Rams. This Bears squad is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and should not be overlooked. Curry – on the other hand – will look to build on last season’s momentum down the stretch where they won three of five games. This Colonels squad was a young squad last season, so expect Curry to be a squad that will be in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) mix. PREDICTION: Bridgewater State 24, Curry 14
Endicott at Framingham State (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 12 p.m.): It is year number two of Kevin DeWall at Endicott – this is also his first recruiting class too, so it should be exciting to see how his first-years develop throughout the season. Framingham State has entered a ‘new era,’ according to head coach Tom Kelley, which is exciting, but nerve-racking at the same time. Will the Rams begin their MASCAC defense with a win or will the Gulls shock the New England landscape, and perhaps appear on next week’s Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll? PREDICTION: Framingham State 20, Endicott 17
Plymouth State at Castleton (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 1 p.m.): Castleton checked-in as the final team on this week’s Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll, and should be one of the teams to keep an eye on in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play this fall. Plymouth State – similar to Curry – was a very young squad last year, but did have some key upperclassmen to assist with their growth. I am expecting a big season from senior defensive back RJ Ramsden, who will be the quarterback of the Panthers’ defense. PREDICTION: Plymouth State 28, Castleton 27