Tag: Brian Casagrande

New England D3 Football Roundup: Trinity Finishes 9-0; UMD Tops PSU

Spencer Fetter and the Trinity College football team concluded its season with a 9-0 record. (PHOTO COURTESY: Trinity College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

It was an exciting ending to the 2022 New England NCAA Division III football regular season.

Three teams captured their respective conference crown this afternoon, including Trinity College, which became the third-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) team to finish its season with a 9-0 record.

Trinity topped Wesleyan University, 31-14, thanks to three touchdown passes from quarterback Spencer Fetter.

Fetter concluded his team’s final contest by completing 21 of 36 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Two touchdown passes landed in the hands of DeVante Reid, who led the Bantams’ receiving core with four catches for 62 yards.

Wesleyan’s Logan Tomlinson led all receivers by hauling in 10 receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown.

Brian Casagrande led the Trinity defense with nine total tackles, including six solo stops.

UMass Dartmouth claimed its first conference crown in 20 years as the Corsairs sailed past Plymouth State, 46-21, to complete its conference slate without a single setback.

Quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos completed 26 of 29 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns in the win while Richarno Hylton paced the UMass Dartmouth rushing attack with 71 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown.

Aviles-Santos connected with Angel Sanchez for a pair of second-half touchdowns – Sanchez concluded the game with eight catches for 121 yards.

Plymouth State’s Manny Sanchez rushed for a game-high 91 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.

In Washington, D.C., the Springfield College football team clinched its second-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) title with a 35-21 victory over Catholic University.

The Pride finished its conference slate without a setback for the second-straight season while recording its fifth consecutive victory against the Cardinals, dating back to when the two schools began competing in the NEWMAC in 2017.

Arsen Shtefan rushed for a game-high 137 yards while Joseph Cannizzaro and Armando Torres combined for three rushing touchdowns.

Tyler Pohlman clinched the two-score win for Springfield by recording a pick-six with 2:30 remaining in the final stanza.

Endicott College clinched its first-ever 10-0 season in program history with a 26-21 win over Western New England.

The Gulls claimed their second-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown last week by beating Salve Regina University.

Against the Golden Bears, the Gulls leaned on Yavier Cosme-Diaz, who rushed for a game-high 72 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. He also hailed in three of Clayton Marengi’s 16 passes for 42 yards and one touchdown.

Quarterback Michael Berluti concluded his sophomore season with Tufts University by recording 475 yards of total offense to go with eight touchdowns, including one score on the ground as the Jumbos rolled past Middlebury College, 65-34.

The seven touchdowns are a season-best for Berluti, who also rushed for a season-high 181 yards on 12 carries.

Tufts’ Phil Lutz hauled in 10 receptions for 237 yards and six touchdowns while Jackson Butler added four catches for 41 yards and one touchdown.

Williams College concluded its campaign with a 20-10 victory over Amherst College, and Bridgewater State captured its second-straight Cranberry Bowl by beating Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 10-0.

Noontime’s New England D3 Football Top 10 (Oct. 3, 2022)

Michael Berluti and the Tufts University football team have scored back-to-back wins since beginning their season with a 26-23 setback to Trinity College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tufts University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

The fifth week of the New England NCAA Division III football season has concluded, which means it is time to share this week’s Top 10 Poll.

This week, we did not have too much movement, but did, however, welcome two new teams to our weekly 10-team poll: Tufts University and Western New England.

Endicott College remains the top team, thanks to both its rushing attack and defense, while UMass Dartmouth and Springfield College secured the second and third position, respectively, for the second-straight week.

Anna Maria College and Coast Guard Academy left the poll, but remain two teams to watch — the same could be said for Bridgewater State, a squad that has won back-to-back conference games after falling to Plymouth State last month.

Noontime’s Top 10 Poll: Monday, October 3, 2022 (Week Six)

1. Endicott College (5-0, 1-0 CCC) (LW: No. 1): For the third time this season, the Gulls pitched a shutout, thanks to a defensive unit that is tied with Washington & Jefferson for second in NCAA Division III with 22.0 total sacks.

2. UMass Dartmouth (4-1, 3-0 MASCAC) (LW: No. 2): Quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos was the player to watch last Friday as the junior signal-caller tossed six touchdowns against Western Connecticut. He enters the sixth week of the season ranked second in NCAA Division III with 19 touchdown passes.

3. Springfield College (2-2, 0-0 NEWMAC) (LW: No. 3): Springfield was idle this past weekend ahead but should be well-rested for their initial New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) clash with Coast Guard Academy.

4. Trinity College (3-0, 3-0 NESCAC) (LW: No. 4): The Bantams remain in the fourth position for the second-straight week after securing its third-straight win over Amherst College. Brian Casagrande and Noah Glantz highlighted the team’s third win as the duo combined for eight solo tackles, including three tackles for a loss of 15 yards.

5. Salve Regina University (3-1, 0-0 CCC) (LW: No. 5): Coach Kevin Gilmartin’s squad returns from its bye week with a challenging stretch of games, beginning this weekend against Curry College.

6. Middlebury College (3-0, 3-0 NESCAC) (LW: No. 6): Middlebury erased an early 10-0 setback by scoring 20-straight points, including 14 in the second quarter to score a hard-fought win over Bowdoin College. Donovan Wood highlighted the team’s third win by catching four passes for a game-high 88 yards.

7. Wesleyan University (2-1, 2-1 NESCAC) (LW: No. 7): The Cardinals returned to the win column last Saturday with a 49-14 win over Hamilton College. Wesleyan hosts Colby College on Saturday in a battle of 2-1 teams.

8. Plymouth State (4-0, 2-0 MASCAC) (LW: No. 8): Manny Sanchez’s six-yard touchdown in the third quarter helped the Panthers score an important road win last Saturday against Framingham State. Plymouth State is off to its best start since beginning its 2016 campaign with four-straight wins.

9. Western New England (2-3, 1-0 CCC) (LW: NR): The Golden Bears return to the poll after scoring its first conference win of the season. Despite losing three of four non-league tilts, it’s hard to overlook Western New England, which should be in the mix for the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown.   

10. Tufts University (2-1, 2-1 NESCAC) (LW: NR): The Jumbos earned the final spot on this week’s poll after clinching an exciting seven-point (35-28) win over Williams College last Saturday. Quarterback Michael Berluti was quite impressive against the Ephs, completing 28 of 33 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns.

On the Rise: Anna Maria College (2-2, 0-1 ECFC), Bridgewater State (2-3, 2-1 MASCAC), Colby College (2-1, 2-1 NESCAC), Norwich University (2-3, 1-0 NEWMAC), and University of New England (3-1, 1-0 CCC)

Noontime’s NESCAC Football Preview: Can Williams Defend Its 2021 Crown?

Joel Nicholas and the Williams College football team begin their 2022 season on Saturday at Colby College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour)

By Matt Noonan

A brand-new season of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football returns this Saturday.

As expected, there are some enticing matchups this weekend, including Trinity College at Tufts University, Amherst College entertaining Middlebury College, and Bates College visiting Wesleyan University.

But perhaps the game most fans will be watching – or perhaps following – is Williams College at Colby College.

The Ephs completed their first-ever 9-0 campaign last fall – Williams defeated Trinity, Wesleyan, and Amherst during the final three weeks to clinch its first outright crown since 2010 (the Ephs concluded its 2010 campaign with an 8-0 record, along with some hardware).

Quarterback Bobby Maimaron and wide receiver Frank Stola have graduated so if Williams is going to defend its crown, the Ephs will need to lean on both its returners and newcomers this fall.

Halfback Joel Nicholas returns after leading the NESCAC in scoring last season – the Buffalo, New York native tallied 17 touchdowns in nine contests. In addition to Nicholas, Williams will lean on John Freeman (offensive line), Ian Devine (defensive line), and Rocco Giandomenico (defensive back).  

The biggest question for the Ephs is who will play quarterback?

That remains an unknown, but don’t be surprised if you see Jack Dickinson or Luke Bobo line up under center on Saturday.

“We’ll make our decision on who will start later this week,” coach Mark Raymond said in the Williams College football preview on Ephsports.com. “Both are smart, talented, athletic, and they are good leaders who have taken control of the offense.”

Looking to challenge Williams for the top spot in the standings are Trinity and Wesleyan, which finished second and third, respectively, last season.

The Bantams return some key pieces from its 8-1 squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, and wide receiver DeVante Reid. Additionally, Noah Glantz (defensive line), Brian Casagrande (linebacker), and Aidan Kennedy (defensive back) return to anchor a defense that yielded 13.77 points per game last season.

Trinity concluded its season with back-to-back wins over Amherst (49-7) and Wesleyan (14-7) but saw its six-game winning streak snapped last October against Williams (42-3).  

Wesleyan began its 2021 campaign with six-straight wins before losing its final three contests to Amherst, Williams, and Trinity.

But despite ending its previous season with three-straight losses, there is a sense of optimism surrounding coach Dan DiCenzo’s squad, which will be led this fall by Nick Helbig, who was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year last November.

Helbig was the Co-Rookie of the Year in 2019 with Middlebury College’s Alex Maldjian and finished his junior season with 50 total tackles. He ranked second in the conference in tackles for a loss (11) and tied with Ian Devine in sacks (5.5).

As a unit, the Cardinals surrendered 168 points while the offense produced 197 points, thanks to David Estevez, a dual-threat quarterback that placed fourth in the conference in rushing yards (746). His longest burst was an 88-yard rush against Tufts last October.

Wesleyan shared the conference crown with Amherst and Middlebury in 2013 while finishing as the runner-up to the Panthers in 2019.

Trinity won three-straight titles from 2016 to 2018 and is seeking its 18th crown in program history.

Noontime’s Team to Watch in 2022: Colby College. Coach Jack Cosgrove’s squad has gradually improved over the last few seasons – last fall, the Mules produced its first four-win season since finishing 4-4 in 2013.

Brett Holmes, who represented the Blue and White on the NESCAC First-Team Defense last November, has graduated, which means Colby will need to lean on a few returners, including defensive back Nick Donatio, who led the unit in total tackles (69.0). Donatio also recorded a team-high 47 solo stops to go with six pass breakups.

Linebacker EJ Brister is back after recording 35 total tackles in nine contests, including seven tackles for a loss of 15 yards.

Quarterback Matt Hersch returns after throwing for 1,742 yards – expect him to target wide receiver Jack Sawyer, who led the Colby receiving core with 462 yards on 28 receptions.

Colby may have dropped three of its first four contests last season, but the Mules did score some impressive wins last fall over Amherst (10-7) and Middlebury (28-14). Additionally, they topped Bates and Bowdoin College to claim their third consecutive CBB crown (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin trophy).

Noontime’s Surprise Team in 2022: Middlebury College. The 2022 season will mark the final time coach Bob Ritter will pace the sidelines, so I expect this current group of Panthers to play some inspired football this fall.

Middlebury’s perfect season from 2019 seemed like a distant memory last fall as the Navy Blue and White won just three of nine contests.

For the Panthers to cap Ritter’s time on the sidelines with some hardware, they will need to score wins over Trinity, Wesleyan, and Williams, along with Amherst, Colby, and Tufts. Additionally, they will want to beat Bates, Bowdoin, and Hamilton College.

Linebacker Jack Pistorius has graduated, which means the Middlebury defense will need to lean on Tomas Kenary (defensive line), who was named Co-Rookie of the Year last fall with Andre Eden of Bowdoin, and wide receiver Donovan Wood, who earned a spot on the All-NESCAC Second Offense.

Cole Crider returns as the team’s punter – he represented Middlebury on the All-NESCAC First team Special Teams.

Noontime’s NESCAC Champion Prediction: Trinity College. As much as I would like to pick Williams to repeat, Trinity seems like the safe pick, as well as the early favorite by many that observe or cover the NESCAC. Sure, you could make the case for Wesleyan, but in the end, coach Jeff Devanney’s squad will score a few late-season wins over Bates, Bowdoin, and Wesleyan to secure the team’s first NESCAC crown in four years.

Noontime’s Five D3 Football Teams to Watch in Week Three

Willie Lombard and the Plymouth State Panthers will attempt to continue their early-season momentum on Saturday against Bridgewater State. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kim Bownes/Plymouth State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

It may be Tuesday, but it’s never too early to look ahead to this weekend’s slate of small college football games.

Like we did last week – and yes, last season, too – it is time to highlight this week’s five New England NCAA Division III football teams to watch on Friday and Saturday.

Anna Maria College: Quarterback Alex Cohen highlighted his team’s season-opener by recording eight touchdowns.

No, the “eight touchdowns” was not a typo.

The AMCATs’ win over UMass Dartmouth certainly proves this squad can defend its Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title from last fall.

While it’s only one game, Cohen has been a player to watch on Anna Maria, dating back to his initial season with the Maroon and White in 2018 when he recorded 13 touchdowns, including five scores on the ground. The veteran signal-caller has thrown for 5,562 yards and 43 touchdowns in 30 contests with Anna Maria – expect his impressive debut from last week to continue this weekend against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Endicott College: The Gulls’ defense has been the story through two contests.

Entering this week’s non-conference matchup with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Endicott’s defense has limited its first two opponents – St. Lawrence University and WPI – to zero points. Additionally, the unit is yielding 61.0 rushing yards per game.

Hector Johnson was named to this week’s D3Football.com Team of the Week after establishing a career-high for tackles (six), sacks (four), and tackles for a loss (four) last Friday against WPI. Johnson is currently third on the team in total tackles (11.0) and has complemented linebacker Matthew Licciardi (15 total tackles) and defensive back Tyler Davis (13.0 total tackles).

Framingham State: Last season, it took the Rams three weeks to score their first win.

This season, the Rams needed just two weeks to secure a victory as they earned their first non-conference win in four years this past weekend.

Beating St. John Fisher, a team that produced 62 points in its season-opener against Buffalo State, should provide coach Tom Kelley’s squad with some much-needed momentum heading into Saturday’s conference clash with UMass Dartmouth. Framingham State has won its last four meetings with UMass Dartmouth while averaging 40.5 points.

The Corsairs’ last win over the Rams came in 2016 in overtime.

For the Rams to score its initial conference win, they will need to lean on their defense, specifically Cully Curran, Michael Brooks, and Chase Buono, to slow down a high-powered UMass Dartmouth offense that is led by quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos and halfback Marvens Jean.

Plymouth State: It’s been a good start for coach Paul Castonia’s Panthers.

Plymouth State has won back-to-back games over Castleton University (20-7) and Husson University (17-0), thanks to both its rushing attack and defense.

Manny Sanchez and Willie Lombard have been two players to watch on offense this fall with the duo combining for 325 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Lombard has been Braden Lynn’s go-to receiver with five catches for a team-high 66 receiving yards.

Lombard, along with Sanchez and Lynn, will be players to watch against a Bridgewater State squad that appears eager to snap its two-game losing streak. The Bears beat the Panthers last season, thanks to halfback Adam Couch, who rushed for a game-high 150 yards and one touchdown.

Couch will be on the field Saturday and will certainly be a player the Panthers’ defense will need to stop if the Green and White would like to extend its current winning streak.

Trinity College: The wait for a brand-new season of Trinity College football has concluded.

The Bantams return to the gridiron this Saturday with hopes of continuing its previous success from a year ago when the Blue and Gold concluded their campaign with eight wins and one loss.

The Bantams return some key members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, wide receiver DeVante Reid, and linebacker Brian Casagrande. Of course, other first and second-team all-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) players return with hopes of winning its first conference crown since 2018.

Trinity will visit Tufts University on Saturday – last year, the Bantams beat the Jumbos in their season-opener, thanks to Spencer Fetter and Will Kirby, who combined for six touchdowns.

Noontime’s New England D3 Football Conference Predictions

The early expectation is that Trinity College will begin the 2022 season as the de-facto favorite to win the NESCAC. (PHOTO COURTESY: Trinity College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

We’re less than 30 days from the start of a brand-new New England NCAA Division III Football season.

Are you excited?

I am, which is why I am ready to share my early predictions for which team will win their respective conference this fall.

Like most of our early season content, these picks are educated guesses. It’s possible these picks will be right while some could be wrong.

Anywho, allow me to share my early predictions for all five New England D-III football conferences.

Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC): From top to bottom, this might be the most competitive conference in the region.

As of early August – and yes, a few weeks back – I was pretty sure Endicott College would be the favorite to win its second-straight title this fall. But from doing some additional research, I will change my mind and go with another team: Salve Regina University.

To me, the Seahawks might be the best team on paper in this conference heading into the upcoming season. They will return some key members of last year’s offense that averaged 199.2 rushing yards per game.

But while Salve Regina might be the squad receiving some early-season praise for its key returners, do not overlook Endicott, along with Husson University, Western New England, and the University of New England. All four squads, along with Curry College and Nichols College will provide the Seahawks with plenty of challenges this season.  

Noontime’s CCC Champion Prediction: Salve Regina University

Noontime’s Surprise CCC Team of 2022: University of New England

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): A new chapter of Anna Maria College football will begin this fall with first-year coach Steve Croce.

Croce, who was on the staff last year, will be tasked with continuing the squad’s momentum, which saw the AMCATs win their first-ever conference crown, as well as appear in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Like Salve Regina, Anna Maria will return some key members of last year’s squad on both offense and defense, including quarterback Alex Cohen, who concluded the 2021 season with 23 touchdown passes.

While Anna Maria appears to be the team to beat in the ECFC, don’t overlook Alfred State College, a squad that appeared in its first-ever postseason contest last November. Additionally, the Pioneers set a new program record for wins with six victories. For the Blue and Yellow to continue its success this fall, they will need to do it without quarterback Aaron Jenkins, who will be competing for Adrian College this season.

One team to keep an eye on this fall is Keystone College, a squad that concluded its inaugural season winless but could pose problems for both its non-conference and conference foes.

Noontime’s ECFC Champion Prediction: Anna Maria College

Noontime’s Surprise ECFC Team of 2022: Keystone College

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State has been the team to beat over the last decade or so and should be the squad with a target on its back heading into training camp this month.

But don’t rule out the Corsairs of UMass Dartmouth, which concluded the 2021 season with a league-best nine wins (that’s nine wins in 11 contests).

UMass Dartmouth earned some much-needed momentum heading into the postseason by capturing its first-ever New England Bowl Game last November – the Corsairs rolled past Alfred State, 42-16, thanks to a six-touchdown effort (four passing and two rushing scores) by Dante Aviles-Santos.

Aviles-Santos returns this fall hoping to lead the Corsairs to their first-ever conference crown. UMass Dartmouth has never won a MASCAC title and appears to be the team to beat on paper.

While UMass Dartmouth might be equipped to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the conference, don’t overlook Bridgewater State, which finished its 2021 campaign with six wins and a Cranberry Bowl victory over Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Plymouth State, which ended its previous season with a 5-5 overall record, will also be in the mix for the conference crown.

Noontime’s MASCAC Champion Prediction: Framingham State  

Noontime’s Surprise MASCAC Team of 2022: Plymouth State  

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): The Bantams of Trinity College won eight games last season. They also lost one contest to Williams College, which captured the NESCAC crown with a perfect 9-0 record.

The loss to the Ephs should fuel a conference championship run for the Bantams this fall – Trinity, like other New England squads, will welcome back some key members of its 2021 squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, and wide receiver DeVante Reid. Linebacker Brian Casagrande, who led the Bantams’ defense with 46.0 total tackles, is also expected to return.

While Trinity will be the squad to watch in the NESCAC heading into their initial contest, the same could be said for others such as Amherst College, Colby College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University.

Williams College could also pose threats to Trinity’s title run with the Ephs representing the region on last month’s D3Football Preseason Poll. Williams is one of many teams receiving votes.

Noontime’s NESCAC Champion Prediction: Trinity College  

Noontime’s Surprise CCC Team of 2022: Tufts University  

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): After starting their season with one win and three losses, Springfield College responded with a six-game winning streak that helped the Pride capture its second NEWMAC crown, as well as advance to the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

The early expectation is that Springfield will be the de-facto favorite to win the NEWMAC this fall, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine, which finished its 2021 season with a 9-1 overall record.

The Mariners won their final two contests against Coast Guard Academy and Western New England – the win over the Golden Bears provided Merchant Marine with its second New England Bowl victory since beating Endicott in 2018. Additionally, the team’s final win was an ideal sendoff for longtime head coach Mike Toop, who guided the Silver and Blue to 70 wins in 17 seasons.

Toop announced he would be retiring last November.

Merchant Marine should be able to compete for the top spot with Springfield – sure, both teams will need to fill some graduation holes, but the same could be said for every team in college football.

A few other teams to watch in the NEWMAC include Catholic University, MIT, and WPI.

Noontime’s NEWMAC Champion Prediction: Springfield College  

Noontime’s Surprise NEWMAC Team of 2022: WPI