Noonan: The 2021 Small College Football Season Was Worth The Wait

The first ten week of the small college (NCAA Division II and Division III) college football season have been very exciting. But what will happen in the 11th week? We’ll just have to wait and find out. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/Noontime Sports)

By Matt Noonan

We have reached the final week of the small college football regular season – that went by fast!

And while there is still more football to be played after the final whistle sounds for most contests tomorrow, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the last 10 weeks.

To say the 2021 New England Division II and Division III college football season has been fun would be an understatement. It has been a blast – can I say incredible?

Many fields, bleachers and press boxes sat quietly at this time one year ago – yes, Coast Guard Academy and the United States Merchant Marine Academy did compete in the Secretaries Cup, but that was the closest we would get to a small college football experience due to the Covid-19 pandemic (other teams outside our region did compete once, twice or a few times last fall or this spring).

Tomorrow, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine will meet again – the contest will mark coach Mike Toop’s final regular season game with the Mariners while a slew of other teams, including Amherst College, Anna Maria College, Husson University, Bentley University, and the University of New Haven will also be in action.

There will be games that will decide conference champions.

There will be contests pitting two rivalries.

And there will be matchups between two teams – excuse me, two programs – looking to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.

But no matter the outcome of every small college football game tomorrow, both locally and around the country, a celebration should be in store for everyone as this will be a season we should all remember five, ten and yes, 50 years from now.

The 2021 small college football season provided us with a sense of joy and excitement that maybe we did not have before the pandemic. But it also provided us with some new (and exciting) storylines like Anna Maria winning its most games in a single season with six victories as of this evening to New Haven capturing its first Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown since 2012 with an impressive win one week ago against Bentley.  

Framingham State won another Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown after starting 0-2 for the second consecutive season, and American International College was one of a handful of teams to watch from the get-go, especially when they were winning dramatic road games, including a come-from-behind 40-33 victory in week two against Pace University.

Of course, there were others – and yes, there are still more stories being written as I type this somewhat “ode-to-the 2021 small college football season.” But no matter what, it has been so much fun seeing the local teams back on the gridiron this fall – enjoy the final day of the regular season, everyone, and make sure to stop by for a few blog posts throughout the weekend.  

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