Noonan: An Exciting Finish Awaits Numerous Small College Football Teams

Jack Maguire and the Salve Regina University football team scored an important win last weekend against Endicott College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway/TAMMY MCMANAWAY SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

By Matt Noonan

To say the next three weeks of the small college New England football season will be fun – and yes, exciting, too – would be an understatement.

For starters, we have quite a few conference races to watch these next few weeks, including one that currently features four teams in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league.  

Endicott College appeared to be a lock to win their first-ever conference crown since 2013 when they, along with other members of the CCC, competed in the New England Football Conference (NEFC). But unfortunately, things changed this past weekend as their three-game conference winning streak was snapped with a 21-14 setback to Salve Regina University.

Luckily, it is just one loss – Endicott currently holds the head-to-head tiebreakers over Husson University and Western New England, who are also in the mix for the league crown. But to win the conference, the Gulls will need to beat their two remaining foes – Nichols College and the University of New England – as well as get some help from their rivals: Salve Regina and Western New England.

Salve Regina has beaten Nichols and UNE but needs to win their final two contests against Curry College and Husson.

Western New England beat Salve Regina in their first conference meeting of the 2021 season earlier this month before falling to Endicott one week later. The Golden Bears will be idle this weekend but conclude their regular-season slate with back-to-back contests in November against Husson and UNE.

And while all the attention is currently on Salve Regina following an exciting win this past weekend against Endicott, one should certainly not overlook Husson, which has won two of three league matchups, as well as scored some impressive non-league wins against Plymouth State and Springfield College.

As of now, it is hard to project a winner of the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league, but we should have a better gauge this Saturday.

Speaking of Springfield College, they are also in the mix for their conference crown in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) but need to win their remaining three contests, including their matchup this weekend with the University of Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).

The Mariners have been a great story this fall, winning seven consecutive contests to match their best start in program history. They scored an exciting 44-34 win this past weekend against Catholic University, thanks to both Ian Blankenship and Brian McGovern, who combined for five touchdowns, including three on the ground.

Springfield has beaten USMMA in two of their last three outings, including twice at home in 2017 and 2019.

Like the Mariners, the Pride has also become a team to watch over the last few weeks after rebounding from a 1-3 start by winning their last three contests to bump their overall record to 4-3.

David Wells and Isaiah Cashwell-Doe headlined Springfield’s most recent win against WPI.

Saturday’s matchup between the Pride and Mariners is scheduled for 1 p.m. – the contest will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts.

South of Springfield – West Haven, Connecticut, to be exact – will feature another important matchup to follow as Assumption College visits the University of New Haven on Saturday, October 30 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Both teams enter the ninth week of the Division II season in contention for the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown – UNH has not lost a single conference game this fall while Assumption has won four of five league meetings. Assumption could win the conference, but they need to win their final three outings, including two against the top two squads in the league.

Bentley University was idle this past weekend but has been a great story as they have not lost a game since October 12, 2019, and head into the final three weeks with a great deal of momentum.

The Falcons will be at home this weekend against Franklin Pierce before visiting New Haven next Saturday, November 6. It is possible the Falcons and Chargers could enter the week ten matchup without a single conference loss.  

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