Under The Helmet With WPI’s Dereck Pacheco

Dereck Pacheco 3
WPI’s Dereck Pacheco (94) recorded six solo stops last week in the Engineers’ season-opening win over Anna Maria College. (PHOTO CREDIT: WPI Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Earlier today, WPI senior defensive lineman Dereck Pacheco was tabbed this week’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Defensive Player of the Week for his effort in the Engineers’ week one victory over Anna Maria.

Pacheco paced the Engineers’ defense with six solo stops, including four tackles for a loss for 29 yard, while recording a pair of sacks. He also recorded two of quarterback hurries, too.

This week, Pacheco and the Engineers host RPI during WPI’s Homecoming with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m on Saturday, September 9. Last season, Pachecho helped WPI defeat RPI, 19-7, thanks to 10 total stops, including two-and-a-half tackles for a loss and a safety. The win provided the Engineers of Worcester with the Transit Trophy for the first time in two seasons.

Noontime Sports caught-up with Pachecho earlier today to discuss his team’s week two contest against RPI, as well as his goals for the team this season.

What are your goals for a successful senior season with WPI? 

Obviously, the big the goal for the season is to get that championship ring, but as long as we keep plugging away game-by-game, week-by-week (then we will be successful). My goal by the end of the year is to have this team’s chemistry get stronger and stronger, so we have a legacy to leave behind (as seniors). We did lose a lot of big-time seniors (from) last year’s team, but I feel this new group of guys we have can really give these (young) guys a chance to develop and get better as a team.

One of the players who graduated this past spring was linebacker Brian Murtagh, who you had a chance to play with the past three seasons. How did he help you improve your game over the past few seasons? 

He was always very vocal, while getting the guys excited for practice. Brian did a good job getting the guys geared up to be on the field and that’s what he passed down to the rest of the captains. He wanted to make sure that the energy was always there and when you step on the football field that you’re only thinking about football.

This week, your team faces RPI in the Transit Trophy game. Tell me more about being a part of this rivalry.  

When I think of RPI-WPI, I think of Ohio State-Michigan because of that rivalry there. We’re both competitive engineering schools, guys are similar (on both sides of the ball),   so it is nice to have a team with equal caliber (student-athletes) on the other side.

Dereck Pacheco 5
Dereck Pacheco was tabbed the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday, September 5. (PHOTO COURTESY: WPI Athletics)

This game is also a Homecoming Game, so what’s that atmosphere like as a student-athlete? 

It is very humbling because you’re looking at guys in the stands that have been in your shoes – all of my friends and family come to the game each week, but when you have the alumni there you’re trying to play for them and get that win for them because they were in your shoes (years ago). Playing for the alumni, families, coaches and friends is really (what this game) is about at the end of the day.

What’s it like to compete in a new conference this season? 

I was playing (against) some friends in the Liberty League, but in this conference – the NEWMAC – I am playing against some new friends. It is nice to get a new group of guys out there to battle against, but at the same time I am going to miss the Liberty League.

Have you always played defensive line? Did you happen to play another position growing up? 

Growing up and playing Pop Warner, while being the biggest guy out there, they had me play running back, quarterback and other positions, but as I (got older) I was still the biggest guy out there, so they put me on the line in high school. At first, it was offensive line and I didn’t really like it, so the next day (my coach) put me on the defensive line and I have been there ever since.

Are you still following your former high school’s football team? 

Oh yeah. Barnstable has been doing alright after (I) graduated, but I think eventually they’re going to be (a team) that’s back up there (with the top teams in the state).

What is your major? 

I am majoring in civil engineer. I grew up helping my dad – he owns a small and local construction company, so at a young age I would be out there helping him pick up nails and lumber, and then basically that feeling of building (something) from bottom to top stuck with me and I grew a passion for it. I feel like civil engineering is kind of the same deal, but my focus is project management.

Being from Barnstable, what’s your favorite type of sea food? 

Definitely the cod fish.

What are three songs do you listen to on a game day? 

Believe it or not, I am not a big song guy because I have the self-motivation drilled into me from my father, but if I were to choose what I am listening to in the weight room, I am usually listening to Metallica and classic rock because when I was in high school and that was all we would be allowed to listen to (while working out in the gym).

Finally, what is your all-time favorite movie? 

It’s kind of cliche, but Friday Night Lights. I like that movie a lot because my high school team somewhat resembled that whole movie. My junior year, we made it to the Division 1A Super Bowl (against Everett) and we played at Gillette Stadium, but lost by one point.

New England D3 Football: Nichols, Mount Ida & Tufts Highlight Week 8 (LINKS)

The Nichols College Bison earned their first-ever win over Coast Guard Academy on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Nichols College Athletics)
The Nichols College Bison earned their first-ever win over Coast Guard Academy on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Nichols College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The eighth week of the New England D3 Football season is in the books.

We saw some exciting outcomes yesterday, including a dramatic come-from-behind win by Mount Ida College, Nichols College claiming their initial win over Coast Guard Academy, Tufts University’s Chance Brady re-writing the record book and much more.

Catching Up With WPI Defensive Back Jason Lamb

WPI's Jason Lamb (No. 24) recorded a career-best 17 total tackles last Saturday. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/Noontime Sports)
WPI’s Jason Lamb (No. 24) recorded a career-best 17 total tackles last Saturday. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/Noontime Sports)

By NoontimeSports.com 

WPI defensive back Jason Lamb concluded last Saturday’s contest against U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a career-best 17 tackles, including 13 solo stops. Additionally, Lamb registered a tackle for a loss, an interception and a pass breakup.

Lamb’s impressive performance earned him the Robert Pritchard Award for most outstanding defensive player during WPI’s Homecoming Weekend. In addition to the accolade, Lamb secured a spot on this week’s D3Football.com Team of the Week, too.

Following his team’s Liberty League clash with the Mariners, Noontime Sports caught up with the Plymouth, Massachusetts’s native to talk some football, movies, music, and a unique pregame ritual.

This past week, you were all over the field on defense. You recorded a pair of season-highs of 13 solo stops and 17 total tackles – what was working for you against Merchant Marine?

Our defensive coordinator – Dan Mulrooney – had a really good game plan that allowed me to move freely in the box. Coach Chris Robertson also did an amazing job during the week preparing me to have the best pre-snap reads and eye control possible. The defensive line and linebackers did a great job taking up blocks and allowing me to make plays.

Earlier this season, you had a big performance against Worcester State where you recorded a pair of interceptions, including an interception returned for a touchdown. What do you remember from that particular game and how were you so successful at intercepting the quarterback that evening not once, but twice?

It was due to the great schemes of our defensive coordinator and defensive back coaches. I remember being able to read the quarterbacks’ eyes and that helped me get good jumps on the ball. It also helped that our middle linebacker, Brian Murtagh, was great in coverage and forced tons of air under the ball, too.

You’re currently on pace to match some of your totals from two seasons ago (2014-15), so what did you do prior to this season to prepare yourself for a successful season on defense?

When Coach Robertson told me I was moving to safety, I knew I had to change how I was going to train this past offseason. Instead of focusing on gaining more size and strength like I had previously done as a linebacker, I focused instead on speed and footwork. The offseason work helped me to cover the field faster and be more involved in plays.

Since arriving at WPI you have played both linebacker and defensive back. How has each position helped you progress as a football player?

Each position has offered me a different angle to see the football field. Combining my knowledge from these two positions has helped me to understand the defense better as a whole and ultimately helped me progress as a football player.

What’s the biggest goal facing the Engineers for the remainder of the season?

Winning our next game against our rival RPI. This game next week is (very important) and will set the tone for the remainder of the season.

Who is your favorite professional football player – either current or past? And why?

Lawrence Taylor is my all-time favorite NFL player. His playing style on the field is something I tried to mimic when I played outside linebacker.

Tell me about your major – why did you choose it and what do you hope to do with it after graduation?

My major is Management Engineering with a concentration in Operations. It is a blend of a business and engineering. I chose it because I’ve always loved business, but still wanted to learn some aspects of engineering. What’s great about my major is that I can pursue various professions, but I would like to do something involving system analytics or sales engineering.

Three favorite movies?

Star Wars Episode VI, Interstellar and Fight Club

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil

Three songs you listen to on a game day?

‘Dreams and Nightmares’ by Meek Mill

‘Long Live ASAP’ by ASAP Rocky

‘WDYW’ by Carnage

Do you have any pre-game traditions? If so, what are they (or is it?) and when did this pre-game tradition begin?

One of my pre-game rituals is to drink a jar of pickle juice. It began my sophomore year. It started because my roommate, Brandon Eccher, has been doing it since high school and he said it prevents cramps. Since I’ve started it I haven’t cramped once.

What is your favorite non-football activity?

I’ve always loved to ski in my free time, so I plan to (hit the slopes) after football season concludes.

Mass. College Football: Five Game To Watch (Week Two)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The second week of the college football season is upon us, so let’s pick a few games to watch – five to be exact – and predictions.

Best of luck to all teams competing this evening and tomorrow – make sure to check-back every Friday of the season for our ‘Five Games to Watch’ post.

UMass (0-0) at Colorado (0-1): The Minutemen commence its 2015 season on the road (Saturday, Sept. 12 at 2:00 p.m.), competing against a Buffaloes squad that fell to Hawai’i last Thursday. UMass will look to continue its turnaround from last season, which saw the offensive unit post 45 scores compared to 13 touchdowns in 2013. Second-year graduate student Blake Frohnapfel will be the team’s signal-caller and was recently named to four watch lists, including the Dave O’Brien Award, which is given to the top quarterbacks across college football by Davey O’Brien, according to the UMass Athletic website. He is also in the running for the Manning Award, an accolade that is handed out by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top signal-caller in the country. Expect the quarterback to have a big game and lead his team to victory. PREDICTION: UMass 24, Colorado 21

Stonehill College (1-0) at Merrimack College (0-1): On Wednesday, Stonehill head coach Robert Talley described this matchup as a ‘good rivalry.’ This rivalry will be played under the lights in North Andover (Friday, September 11, 7:00 p.m.) as both teams open Northeast-10 Conference play following an interesting first week. The Skyhawks defeated Bloomsburg (originally No. 11 in the country), while the Warriors fell to Bowie State by just three points (35-32). Stonehill is now receiving votes in the national poll.

Matt Clifford highlighted the Warriors’ defensive outing, posting five solo tackles; two pass-breakups and one fumble recovery, while Brian Carroll paced the unit with eight total tackles – all eight tackles were solo stops. Stonehill quarterback Matt Foltz completed 13 of 19 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, running back Colin Markus rushed for one score and 122 yards on 27 carries, and Donovan Phanor, who was tabbed the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week, registered seven total tackles, one interception, one pass-breakup and one fumble recovery. This has the making of a great game, but expect defense to be the focal point. PREDICTION: Stonehill 31, Merrimack 27

New Haven (0-1) at Bentley University (0-1): Last weekend, the Falcons fell behind early, but showed great fight down the stretch in a 35-20 setback to Mercyhurst. Martin Bannerman rushed for a pair of touchdowns, while Michael Baron finished two-for-two on field goals and extra points, respectively. Bryan Hardy had an impressive outing on defense, finishing with seven total tackles – five solo stops – one tackle for a loss and one fumble recovery. Bentley will look to utilize its strong finish from a week ago to get off to a good start this evening (Friday, September 11) when they commence NE-10 play against New Haven, which fell to Slippery Rock, 39-13. Bentley anticipates a good crowd this evening that will assist the squad in picking up its initial victory of the season. PREDICTION: Bentley 27, New Haven 21

SUNY Cortland (1-0) at Framingham State University (1-0): Following a week one victory against Endicott College, Tom Kelley and the Rams turn the page to another difficult opponent: The Red Dragons. In 2012, Cortland and Framingham State met in the NCAA Division III Tournament with the Red Dragons prevailing by just one point. Saturday’s game (September 12, 12:00 p.m.) could be a potential playoff preview, however, the Rams will need another strong outing from quarterback Matt Silva, who tossed five touchdowns last weekend against the Gulls. Framingham State will also rely heavily on Svenn Jacobson, who paced the defense with 11 total tackles – five solo stops – and one forced fumble. The Red Dragons rallied to win their first game, posting 13 points in the final frame to overcome a 17-13 deficit at the break. Carson Lassiter led the Red Dragons defense with 13 total tackles, while recording a trio of pass-breakups and one forced fumble. PREDICTION: Framingham State 20, Cortland 17

WPI (1-0) at Worcester State University (0-1): One week after an exciting three-point victory against MIT, the Engineers of WPI will look to continue its momentum on Friday evening (September 11, 7:00 p.m.) when they make the short trip to Worcester State University. WPI’s defense came up with some important stops down the stretch, including a fumble recovery by Brian Murtagh with 3:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. Defense will again be the focal point against a talented Worcester State offense, but so will special teams. WPI will need to contain Terrence Gibson, who recorded 187 yards on three kickoff returns last week. Gibson also hauled in a pair of touchdown receptions from quarterback Trevor Vassey, who completed 16 of 36 pass attempts for 315 yards. Vassey also tossed three touchdowns in his team’s setback to Salve Regina University. This has the making for a classic ‘Friday Night Lights’ contest, but the question is which defense or player will make ‘the play’ to seal the win? PREDICTION: WPI 35, Worcester State 34

Mass. College Football: Week 11 Teams Of The Week

By NoontimeSports.com 

With the second to last week of the regular season in the books, it is now time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Teams of the Week.

Division 1 – Boston College: The Eagles matched their longest winning streak of the season (two games) with a 48-34 win over New Mexico State. The Eagles outscored the Aggies, 28-17 in the second half to earn their fifth win.

Andre Williams, who is currently the leading rusher in the ACC and No. 2 in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), rushed for 295 yards on 30 carries and two scores, while quarterback Chase Rettig tossed three touchdowns.

The Eagles finished with 550 yards of total offense, along with 18 first downs. They converted on 5-of-13 third downs and were 1-for-1 on fourth down.

BC will return to conference play next weekend when they host North Carolina State, which will be their final home game of the 2013 season.

Division 2 – Stonehill College: For the first time since 1996, the Skyhawks won their fifth straight game by defeating Merrimack College, 26-14.

Brian Harrington led Stonehill’s defense with 16 tackles, as well as established a new single-season record with 134 stops.

Colin Markus rushed for 185 yards on 31 carries and Nate Robitaille caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Stonehill raced out to a 13-0 lead thanks to two Steve Grzywacz field goals and a touchdown pass from Joe Della Vecchia to Robitaille. Merrimack did comeback in the third, but the Skyhawks padded their lead with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Paul Piccirillo.

The Skyhawk, who earned a share of the Northeast-10 Conference regular season crown, will travel to Springfield on Saturday to face AIC in the title game. A win for the Skyhawks would most likely secure them a spot in the NCAA Division 2 tournament.

Division 3 – WPI: The Engineers snapped a four-game losing streaking on “Senior Day” with a 31-21 victory over Rochester.

Halfback Zach Grasis rushed for 155 yards on 22 carries and two scores, while quarterback John Antonopoulos amassed 179 yards of total offense. He also tossed one touchdown in the opening quarter to Gallagher Hogan, which evened the score at 7-7.

Defensively, Sean Murphy led the unit with two interceptions, along with five solo stops, one fumble recover and two pass break-ups. Brian Murtagh finished with a team-high nine total tackles and two pass break-ups.

The Engineers, who improved to 3-6 overall, will conclude their season on Saturday when they travel to Springfield to face the Pride.