By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports
Our ‘Early Preseason Outlook’ coverage continues with a closer look at the Springfield College Pride, who begin their season on Saturday, September 7th when they visit Western New England at 1 p.m. The winner of this week one clash will claim Pynchon SAW trophy.
The Pride’s 2018 Season: Springfield concluded ist 2018 campaign with an 8-3 record, along with its first-ever New England Bowl victory, too.
The Pride’s win over Maritime (N.Y.) in the New England Bowl was highlighted by a pair of rushing touchdowns by Hunter Belzo, three interceptions by Jonny Bianchi and a team-hight 12 total tackles from Nick Giorgio.
Prior to scoring an exciting end of season win, Springfield scored early-season victories against Western New England and Kean University, as well as a gritty conference victory at WPI.
Springfield bid farewell to 24 student-athletes from last year’s squad this spring, including Bianchi, Giorgio, and linebacker Tom Casey, but do return a slew of talent that will keep them in the mix for their second New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship this season.
The 2019 Outlook: While the Pride’s defense will look a bit different this season with some key graduation losses, the unit does return linebacker AJ Smith, who posted career-highs last fall in total tackles (68.0), tackles per game (6.2), sacks (four), and tackles for a loss (nine).
Smith, along Jack Pavelchak (linebacker) and Grayson Heyward (defensive line), will be the leaders of the defense, which yielded 16.3 points per game one year ago.
Quarterback Chad Shade and halfback Hunter Belzo will be the focal points of the Pride’s offense – the duo combined for 23 touchdowns last season and should receive some help fullback Tim Callahan, who finished 2018 with 642 rushing yards on 146 carries and three scores.
Nick Bainter returns to anchor an offensive line that helped the offense rush for 295.2 yards per game last fall. Bainter will receive some help upfront from Jeremy Lipsky, who appeared in 10 games last season, along with John Cox.
Springfield is certainly a team to watch this season – they will definitely contend for the NEWMAC crown – but one of the biggest questions facing this unit is their defense. The offense should have no problem continuing its success on the ground from one year ago.
Springfield’s Schedule: As usual, the Pride will challenge themselves immediately with a trio of non-conference games in the first three weeks before hosting WPI on Saturday, September 28th for a 3 p.m. kick-off. All four September contests are winnable, but they certainly aren’t easy.
A week three match-up with Union College is one to circle – the Pride lost to the Dutchmen last season before rebounding one week later with a hard-fought conference win over WPI.
Springfield will entertain Norwich University in the first week of October before hitting the road for two more important conference meetings with Coast Guard Academy and Merchant Marine.
Weeks after their visit to Merchant Marine, the Pride will cap their 2019 campaign with a visit from MIT, which defeated Springfield last fall to secure their initial NEWMAC crown.
Players to Watch: Chad Shade (Quarterback/Pittsfield, Mass.), Hunter Belzo (Halfback/Middletown, Conn.), Tim Callahan (Fullback/Enfield, Conn.), Ryan Deguire (Halfback/Schenectady, N.Y.), Nick Bainter (Offensive Line/East Bridgewater, Mass.), Jeremy Lipsky (Offensive Line/Glen Rock, N.J), John Cox (Offensive Line/Stratford, Conn.), AJ Smith (Linebacker/Rahway, N.J.), Jack Pavelchak (Linebacker/Patchogue, N.Y.), and Grayson Heyward (Defensive End/Albany, N.Y.).
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