By Matt Noonan
The final week of the New England NCAA Division III football regular season has arrived.
As expected, the final week will feature some important matchups that will determine conference winners, along with which teams will advance to either the national postseason or a regional bowl game.
Let’s check in on all five New England conferences to see where things stand after a busy few weeks of small college football.
Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC): Endicott College clinched its second-straight CCC crown last Saturday with a 42-10 win over Salve Regina University to secure a spot in the upcoming national postseason.
The Gulls will travel to Western New England on Saturday with hopes of completing its regular season slate without a setback.
Endicott beat Western New England last season but lost to the Golden Bears in Springfield in 2019 (WNE won the conference that season, as well as competed in the postseason).
Husson University can possibly secure a spot in the upcoming New England Bowl, pending they beat Salve Regina. The Eagles have won four conference games for the third consecutive season, as well as scored their first-ever victory against Western New England last month.
A loss to Salve Regina could open the door for another CCC squad to appear in a bowl game.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): For the first time since 2013, Gallaudet University has won the ECFC.
The Bison clinched the conference crown this past weekend by topping Alfred State, 36-22. Brandon Washington, who is a slot receiver and quarterback for the Bison, rushed for a career-high 228 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns in the win.
Gallaudet is idle this weekend but will return to the field next weekend in the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.
Castleton University can secure a spot in the New England Bowl with a win over Anna Maria College on Saturday. But a loss to the AMCATs could open the door for Anna Maria, Alfred State, or another ECFC team to represent the league in an upcoming bowl game.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Saturday is a big day for two MASCAC teams: Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth.
The Panthers set up a de-facto conference title game with the Corsairs this weekend by defeating Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 21-7, last Saturday.
A Plymouth State victory would provide the Green and White an opportunity to compete in the postseason for the first time since 2017.
A Corsairs victory over the Panthers would allow UMass Dartmouth an opportunity to contend for a national title.
No matter the outcome, it’s likely both teams will be competing next weekend with one squad representing the MASCAC in the New England Bowl.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Trinity College is one win away from capturing its first conference crown since 2018.
Additionally, the Bantams are looking to become the third-straight NESCAC team to finish its respective campaign with a 9-0 record.
Middlebury College and Williams College finished 9-0 in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
For Trinity to clinch its first perfect season since concluding its 2016 slate with an 8-0 record, they will need to beat Wesleyan University, which claimed its first Little Three title in three years this past weekend.
Trinity has beaten Wesleyan in four of its last five meetings.
A loss to the Cardinals could pave the way for the Bantams to share the conference crown with Middlebury, pending they beat Tufts University. However, a Trinity win over Wesleyan and a Middlebury victory against Tufts would result in the Bantams winning the crown outright, thanks to its six-point win over the Panthers last month.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): Catholic University will entertain Springfield College this weekend in a win-or-go-home contest.
Both teams enter the season finale with identical 5-0 conference records.
Catholic has won all five NEWMAC tilts by a combined score of 206-60.
Springfield beat its first five conference foes by a combined score of 162-92.
Like the MASCAC, the winner of this matchup will represent the NEWMAC in the national playoffs. The team that finishes with a 5-1 conference mark will most likely appear in next weekend’s New England Bowl.
Springfield has won all four meetings with Catholic, dating back to the initial season of NEWMAC football in 2017.