Sunday Morning Notebook: Week One Takeaways & Thoughts

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For the first time since 2013, Springfield College defeated Western New England to claim the Pynchon Saw Game. (PHOTO CREDIT: Springfield College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The first official week of the New England D3 Football season is in the books. And it was certainly an exciting first week.

Springfield College’s second half surge, including a 28-point effort in the third quarter, highlighted the opening week as the Pride defeated Western New England for the first time since 2013.

Jordan Wilcox highlighted the Pride’s comeback effort, rushing for a game-high 148 yards on 30 carries, while Jake Eglintine recorded a trio of scores on the ground, including the go-ahead touchdown late in the third.

In addition to the Springfield rushing attack, the team’s defense did its job by recording three sacks and one interception. Christian Zotti also forced and recovered fumble late in the fourth quarter – the recovery resulted in the game’s final touchdown.

This was a game that I picked Springfield to win – a victory over the Golden Bears could result in a new position for the Pride on Monday’s Noontime Top 10 Week Two poll. The Pride entered the week as one of the top five teams in the New England region, according to our week one poll.

Finally, one other statistic to note from this particular contest: Springfield won the time of possession by holding the ball for 40:31. Western New England occupied the ball for 19:29.

Springfield will face Kean next week – the Cougars were idle this weekend, so next week marks their initial contest of the 2017 season. Western New England will visit Westfield State on Friday, September 8. The Owls fell to Nichols College on Friday by a score of 19-13.

John Smith and the Husson University Eagles captured their first season-opener in 10 seasons as they defeated Union College by a score of 20-7. Smith accounted for two of his team’s three touchdowns – both scores occurred during the final frame – while Elvis Suazo Jr. recorded nine total stops, including one tackle for a loss of three yards.

Coach Gabby Price told the Bangor Daily News that Saturday’s win “is a good win.” As noted in the BDN recap, the 13-point victory over the Dutchmen was the program’s first season-opening victory since beating Pace University, 25-13, on August, 31, 2007. Pace is a Division 2 squad that competes in a very competitive Northeast-10 Conference.

Husson will visit Dean College next week for an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) clash – the two teams met last season with the Eagles claiming a 43-23 win over the Bulldogs. John Smith rushed for a season-high four scores in his team’s 20-point victory.

Framingham State picked-up its initial win of the season by defeating Endicott College, 41-10, in Beverly, Massachusetts. Saturday’s win over the Gulls marked the Rams’ fifth-straight season-opening win over Endicott – the Gulls’ last win against Framingham State came in 2012.

Quarterbacks Adam Wojenski and Zakery Walker combined for three touchdown passes and 233 passing yards. Two of those touchdown strikes were received by Michael Calicchio, who concluded the contest with five receptions for 101 yards.

As noted in the Rams’ release from yesterday, Framingham State racked up 502 yards of total offense, while the defense limited the Gulls’ offense to just 262 yards of offense, including 42 net yards rushing. Endicott’s Lavante Wiggins accounted for 22 of those 42 net yards on the ground – he scored his team’s lone touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Said Coach Tom Kelley following his team’s opening day win, “We have a lot to clean up and we certainly have a long way to go, and we’re going to really be tested next week once Cortland (State) comes to (Framingham).

“Defensively I think we got better and offensively we saw that we have some weapons, but we’re certainly going to answer some questions next week.”

One of the big takeaways from yesterday’s win was Framingham State’s defense coming-up with key third and fourth down stops. And one of those big stops occurred early in the contest when the Rams stopped Endicott on its second drive by limiting Wiggins to one yard, not two on a pivotal 4th and 2 from the Framingham State 14.

“I think we were aggressive defensively and I think we went after them, and I think that was the difference in the game,” said Kelley when asked about his team’s third and fourth down stops.

Defense will be the key for the Rams in week two against a talented Cortland squad, which defeated Framingham State last season by a score of 49-21. Endicott will visit Bridgewater State next Saturday. Both games are scheduled to commence at 12 p.m.

QUICK HITS: 

PRORGAM NOTE: 

  • We will be posting our second Noontime Top 10 poll on Monday for week two, so make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, which is where it will be posted.
  • Starting this week, Noontime Sports will unveil our first Honor Roll of the season, so make sure to submit student-athletes for the list by emailing us at NoontimeSports@gmail.com.

 

Get In The Game: What You Can Expect From Our Noontime Coverage This Fall

GITG Matt Noonan

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Happy Wednesday, Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) fans!

It’s an exciting time these days – not just because football has returned – but our site has been updated with some new features, including an easy way to join our email list (you can sign-up on the right side of the screen if you’re on a laptop or tablet or at the bottom of the page on mobile).

Additionally, we have introduced a brand-new podcast for the upcoming football season – Football Friday – which has been a great addition to our New England D3 coverage. We have had some great guests thus far – thank you to those that have taken the time to join us! – and will have more interviews with coaches, student-athletes and media members before, during and after the season, so make sure to circle back every Friday for a new show.

Quick ‘Football Friday’ Plug for this week (Aug. 9th): There will be now show this week, but we will return next week after a quick (and brief) one-week hiatus! 

In addition to a brand new looking site and podcast, we will also unveil some new content this season (and school year). Most of this content you may or may not have seen in the past, but it will include longer-form features on student-athletes, coaches and teams, more videos, including a weekly Facebook Live Show, and new guests for Noontime Sports the Podcast. 

We will also expand our reach (or audience, technically), adding some Division I and II coverage in New England, and we may even sprinkle in some high school stories, too.

All in all, the biggest goal going forward for our site (and social network channels) is to produce unique and engaging content for you, the reader (and fan). We want to shed a different light on a player, and perhaps a play or series from a game. We want to take you inside the minds of some of your favorite programs – perhaps some film studies or a day in a life? – while producing content that you won’t always see on national or local site.

And as we begin to embark on an exciting new chapter, we want to hear from you, the fans and readers. We want to know what you think, as well as what you want to read and view, both here on our site and social media channels, too. Send us an email to NoontimeSports@gmail.com or connect with us on social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).

All in all, this is an exciting time for our site and I am really looking forward to providing unique and engaging content this upcoming school year!

Stay connected with Matt Noonan on social media, follow him on Twitter (@MattNoonan11) and Instagram (@MattNoonan11). Matt is also on Snapchat, you can add him by typing in the following username: NoontimeSports. And if you want to email Matt, you can reach him at MatthewJNoonan@gmail.com. 

Sunday Column: It Is Time To Pump The Breaks On Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown was the third overall pick in this year's NBA Draft. (Photo Credit: Boston.com)
Jaylen Brown was the third overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. (Photo Credit: Boston.com)

By Matt Noonan 

I think it is time to pump the breaks on Jaylen Brown.

Seriously, let’s stop antagonizing this individual and see what happens when he competes for the Boston Celtics this season.

Since being selected third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Green and White, Brown has been insulted by die-hard Green Teamers that are desperate for Banner 18.

I am a Celtics fan. I was born and raised in Boston – well, technically born in Boston, but grew up outside the city – and understand the immediate need for championships. And since the New England Patriots began winning Super Bowls, the need for additional hardware and celebrations on Boylston Street have increased.

As of today – Sunday, June 26 – we don’t know what Brown can do for the Celtics or what the Celtics can do for Brown – no play on UPS there, I promise! – but until he steps on the court and sprints up and down the parquet, there is no need to barrage this young man.

Following an introductory press conference last week, Brown exhibited his frustration by telling members of the media he is ready to ‘rip someone’s head off.’

Will he rip someone’s head off? Doubt it, but make sure you wear Celtics gear when walking around or near the Boston Garden.

According to NBADraft.net, Brown’s play should be identical to Jimmy Butler, which should excite Celtics fans – how many times have we heard Butler’s name when it comes to trade talks? We won’t know if this comparison is true until we see him compete for the Green and White.

In addition to the comparison of Butler, Brown has been touted as a strong, physical down-low player, as well as someone that can go toe-to-toe with ‘the best players.’

Maybe Brad Stevens will tell him to guard LeBron James or Steph Curry next season?

We can go round and round about the selection of Brown or what he will or won’t do for this organization. Yet, until he competes – or plays one or two series – there is no need to antagonize the former Cal Bear forward.

Brown could become a cornerstone of this organization – maybe he’ll join the Celtics Mount Rushmore of Paul Pierce, Bill Russell and Larry Bird – but again, until we see him compete, let’s slow down the criticism and focus our attention on perhaps luring Kevin Durant to Boston.

Could you imagine the tandem of Durant and Brown? Could become the greatest tandem in the league’s history.

Sunday Column: Boston’s Playoff Return Shows Progress Under Stevens

Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics begin their postseason play on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after a semi-successful season, there is optimism surrounding the Green and White. (Photo Credit: Celtics Hub/CelticsHub.com)
Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics begin their postseason play on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after a semi-successful season, there is optimism surrounding the Green and White. (Photo Credit: Celtics Hub/CelticsHub.com)

By Matt Noonan

The Boston Celtics have returned to the postseason.

Yep, the “glory days” of Boston Celtics basketball has returned. However, don’t get your hopes up because Brad Stevens – the head coach of the month! – will be guiding a roster of second and third depth chart players against perhaps the ultimate favorite to defeat San Antonio in June (or Golden State).

Boston will once again see LeBron James in the “second season,” but unlike previous matchups, this particular series favors King James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Framingham’s own David Blatt.

That’s right, the Cavaliers are going to win this series, probably in four or five games.

Perhaps six? Well, that would depend, especially if the Celtics could win one (and hopefully two) game(s) on their own parquet.

Yet, no matter the outcome of this series – again, expect Cleveland to win – this is a huge step forward for a team that became the biggest revolving door earlier this season.

Give credit to Stevens and most of the front office as the Green and White became “pit-stop” for a slew of players over the past few months. Players like Tayshaun Prince, Nate Robinson, Jameer Nelson and Austin Rivers stole the headlines when they all landed in the ‘City of Champions’ during Danny Ainge’s ‘Wheeling and Dealing’ escapade. Rajon Rondo was a Celtic – he was on the opening day roster – but was eventually shipped to Dallas.

Once Ainge stopped shuffling the deck, Stevens had a chance to get to know his team – for the most part! – and teach them a style of basketball that resulted in a 40-42 record.

Boston won more games this year, outlasting their 2013-14 squad that captured 25 games, including 16 contests on Causeway Street. This season, the Celtics won 21 games on their home court, 19 on the road, and 12 divisional matchups. Boston also finished 28-24 in the Eastern Conference, but again, don’t let those numbers fool you because the Celtics won’t be playing basketball in May or June (I am sorry, Boston!).

I am a Celtics fan – always have been! – however, I just don’t think this team has what it takes to defeat the second best team in the East. If they were matched up against the Atlanta Hawks, well … I would think they would have a chance. Chicago? Forget it, I like the Bulls because they’ll contend for an Eastern Conference crown.

Boston – on the other hand – should enjoy seeing their beloved Celtics in the playoffs. It is extremely nice to have a winter team extend their season into mid-to-late April, especially after the Bruins’ collapse last weekend. We love having our teams compete in the postseason, we do, but this team won’t be riding Duckboats around Government Center. Instead, most of the players will learn from this opportunity and apply it to next season.

Year number two of Stevens and the Celtics has been a success. They won more games, were competitive with the league’s top teams – remember when they almost beat the Warriors? – and showed they can compete, even if they look like a squad that resembles a college intramural unit.

I am extremely excited to see the Celtics taking a step forward. And now, it is all about playing your best – at least giving your best effort, Brad! – and learning from the experience. I believe in Brad just like I believe in Boston. Better days are ahead for the Green and White, so consider this the start of something special.

All good teams have to go through a “rebuilding” phase in order to contend. Atlanta was a decent team a few years ago and now they’re number one in the Eastern Conference. Toronto wasn’t that good, even when Vince Carter played for the Raptors, but now they’re a 49-win team. And the same could be said for Milwaukee, but the Bucks won 41 games, not 49.

Let’s all enjoy this series – please do the best you can to enjoy it, but remember that while Cleveland is indeed the favorite, Boston will one day be in their shoes and ready to contend for Banner 18.

Noonan: On Sunday, The Patriots Will ‘Ignore The Noise’ Against Seattle

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and quarter Tom Brady (right) will look to capture their fourth Super Bowl on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and quarter Tom Brady (right) will look to capture their fourth Super Bowl on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s finally Sunday.

One more game remains on the 2014 NFL Schedule: Super Bowl XLIX.

New England versus Seattle, clam chowder and great seafood versus Starbucks and the artists. Bill Belichick against Pete ‘How ‘Bout Our Defense’ Carroll, Tom Brady versus Russell Wilson, and East Coast versus West Coast.

The list goes on and on, but this Super Bowl has a different meaning. Instead of two teams competing for the ultimate prize – the Vince Lombardi Trophy (Yes, I used Lombardi’s first name) – this game is about the Patriots against the World.

Everyone wants to see the Patriots crumble, especially against a defense – The Legion of Boom – that is prepared to burst through the line of scrimmage on each snap. Fans want to see New England – a team that has been under scrutiny for the past two weeks because of “Deflate Gate” – lose.

Enough, people!

This is the NFL, the most popular sport in the North America, and instead of getting excited about two great teams competing for a championship, we’ve been wrapped up in Deflate Gate, as well as pondering the question: Is Tom Brady a cheater?

Belichick’s mantra has always been to ignore the noise, and you can bet New England did that this week while preparing for their final test. Say what you want – go ahead, are they cheaters? – but the Patriots first faced adversity when they finished the month of September with an excruciating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were "done" after ending September with a 41-14 setback. (Photo Credit: The Big Lead/USA Today Sports).
Tom Brady and the Patriots were “done” after ending September with a 41-14 setback. (Photo Credit: The Big Lead/USA Today Sports)

Against Kansas City, Brady completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Brandon LaFell hauled in six catches for 119 yards, including one touchdown reception, while the defense allowed 26 first downs 443 yards.

Yep, the Patriots were done after this game. At 2-2, the “experts” said it was time for Brady to take a seat and make way for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Yet, as I stated above, the Patriots ignored the noise, turned their attention to their week five opponent: Cincinnati Bengals. And in a span of six days, the Patriots went from non-contenders to contenders, blowing out their opponent by a score of 43-17.

Following their win, New England rattled off seven straight wins, including victories against Denver, Indianapolis and San Diego. They finished atop the AFC East again – surprise, surprise! – and claimed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Still think the Patriots should have folded following their 2-2 start?

In the postseason, they earned impressive wins against Baltimore (35-31) and Indianapolis (45-7). Their win against the Ravens featured a formation that continues to baffle John Harbaugh – Baltimore’s head coach – but again, did that faze these Pats?

The answer: nope!

Say all you want about Belichick, who was punished for SpyGate in 2007, but the man knows the game of football. He knows how to coach a team, which is ready and prepared to compete against the Seahawks, who humiliated Peyton Manning and the Broncos literally one year ago.

So, while you may think that Deflate Gate or SpyGate or any sort-of-gate is going to bring down these Patriots, think again.

Tonight, we could see history play out in Arizona as Brady and Belichick look to capture their fourth Super Bowl crown since the 2001 season. Sure, it is the same playing field that saw these Patriots conclude their almost perfect season to the New York Giants, but this team is clearly different from the 18-1 squad.

My prediction: I like the Patriots against the Seahawks. It will be close, but New England will squeak past Seattle, claiming their fourth Lombardi trophy, setting up an interesting handshake between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell.

Again, say what you want – call them cheaters or benders-of-the-rules, but these Patriots will ignore the noise and figure out a way to conclude a controversial season with some hardware.