Bridgewater State Picked First In MASCAC Preseason Poll

Garrett_MMA03
Malik Garrett and the Bridgewater State Bears will look to defend their 2016 MASCAC crown when they kick-off the 2017 season against Buffalo State. (PHOTO CREDIT: Bridgewater State University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

The Bridgewater State Bears football team was selected to repeat as Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions, according to the conference’s release from earlier today.

The Bears captured the league’s crown last fall after winning eight-straight games, including a dramatic 28-27 overtime victory over Framingham State. BSU’s win over the Rams was followed-up with a 37-14 win over Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the annual Cranberry Bowl, which is presented by Ocean Spray.

Bridgewater State returns 11 starters from last season’s squad, including tailback Alex McLaughlin and running back/wide receiver Malik Garrett. Fans should also keep an eye on wide-receiver Jack Lavanchy, who led the conference with seven touchdown receptions.

Framingham State and Western Connecticut State checked-in second and third, respectively, while UMass Dartmouth (fourth) and Plymouth State (fifth) rounded out the top five.

The Rams of Framingham captured the inaugural New England Bowl last season by defeating Salve Regina, 37-34. Quarterback Adam Wojenski and halfback Quron Wright combined for four touchdowns in their team’s final game of the season. Both student-athletes will be competing for the Rams this fall.

Fitchburg State, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy checked-in sixth and seventh, respectively, while Worcester State (eighth) and Westfield State (ninth) rounded out the final two spots in the preseason poll.

The New England Division III Football officially begins next week with teams from the MASCAC competing on either Friday or Saturday.

New England D3 Football: Players To Watch In The MASCAC In 2017

Players to Watch Noontime

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

We’re inching closer to a brand new season of New England D3 Football and to get you even more excited for kick-off, we’re introducing a brand new Wednesday series where we highlight players to watch this upcoming season.

We’ll get things started with the players we’ll be watching this season in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well as subscribe to our YouTube channel, too! 

OFFENSE

Malik Garrett 

Bridgewater State 

Running Back 

Alex McLaughlin

Bridgewater State 

Running Back 

Travis Bassett 

Bridgewater State 

Wide Receiver 

Jesse Brown

Fitchburg State 

Wide Receiver 

Adam Wojenski

Framingham State 

Quarterback 

Quron Wright

Framingham State 

Running Back 

Napoleon Miller

Framingham State 

Wide Receiver 

Stephen Beahn

Framingham State 

Wide Receiver 

Richie Phillips 

Mass. Maritime 

Running Back 

Eddie Sheridan

UMass Dartmouth 

Running Back 

Abbi Bamgbose

UMass Dartmouth 

Wide Receiver 

Mitch Banuskevich

Plymouth State 

Running Back 

Quinn Fleeting

Western Conn. 

Quarterback 

Kyle McKinnon

Western Conn.

Running Back 

Jawad Chisholm

Western Conn.

Wide Receiver 

Travon Holder

Westfield State 

Running Back

DEFENSE

Charles McCarthy

Bridgewater State 

Linebacker 

Olubiyi Ojo

Bridgewater State 

Linebacker

Cyrick Watford

Fitchburg State 

Defensive End 

Anthony Bednarz

Fitchburg State 

Defensive End 

Thomas Burns 

Framingham State 

Defensive Back 

Svenn Jacobson

Framingham State 

Linebacker 

Campbell Marchant

Framingham State 

Defensive Line

Brian Donahue 

Framingham State 

Linebacker 

Kenny Kern

Mass. Maritime 

Linebacker 

Marvey Mathurin

UMass Dartmouth

Linebacker

Tony Slaughter 

UMass Dartmouth

Defensive Back 

Joe Esposito

Plymouth State 

Defensive Tackle 

Kevin Maxen

Western Conn.

Linebacker 

Kenneth Marshall

Westfield State 

Defensive End 

John Ollari

Westfield State 

Linebacker 

Samuel Weeks

Worcester State 

Defensive Line

Previewing The 2017 Bridgewater State Football Schedule

Bridgewater State College
Bridgewater State head coach Joe Verria and the Bears will begin their 2017 campaign on Saturday, September 2nd at Buffalo State. (PHOTO CREDIT: Bridgewater State University Office of Sports Information)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The defending Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions will host five games this season at Bridgewater State University, while making the trek to five institutions, including Buffalo State in week one.

Bridgewater State, which has unveiled its 2017 slate on its athletic department’s website, will play its initial home game on Saturday, September 9th when the Bears entertain Endicott College with kickoff scheduled for 12:00 p.m.

The Gulls and Bears last met in 2012 with Bridgewater State claiming a 20-14 win in BridgewaterMike McCarthy highlighted the contest with a pair of rushing scores – he concluded the game with 144 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Bridgewater State won nine games in 2012 and competed in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament against Widener.

Following a pair of non-conference clashes, the Bears will hop into league play with a ‘Friday Night’ clash with Framingham State University. Last season, Malik Garrett highlighted his team’s dramatic (and exciting) win over the Rams as he rushed for a pair of scores, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime, which helped the Bears lock-up the conference crown.

Bridgewater State will close out the opening month with a visit to Fitchburg State (Saturday, September 23rd) and a home date against Westfield State (Saturday, September 30th).

The Bears will visit a pair of squads in October, beginning with Plymouth State on Saturday, October 7th followed by a trip to UMass Dartmouth (Oct. 13th). Bridgewater State beat both squads last season, but needed two overtimes to top the Panthers in Bridgewater.

Bridgewater State will host Western Connecticut on Saturday, October 21st as part of the school’s ‘Homecoming Weekend’ before capping its regular season with back-to-back November tilts against Worcester State (Nov. 4th) and Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Nov. 11th).

For more on the Bears’ football team/program — HOP HERE

PROGRAM NOTE: We’ll have more on the Bears as we get closer to the start of the 2017 football season. 

Noontime Sports The Podcast: Episode 13 (Adam Turer | Editor & Around The Nation Columnist For D3Football.com)

Noontime Sports Podcast

By NoontimeSports.com 

Noontime Sports the Podcast returned to the air – well, technically the recorder – Thursday evening as host Matt Noonan caught up with Adam Turer, an editor at D3Football.com, as well as the Around the Nation Columnist, too.

Turer and Noonan discussed the final week, including some non-New England teams, as well as discussed covering the national scene – this is the first-year Turer has been the Around the Nation Columnists after spending the past four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

Make sure to check out Turer’s recent column and follow him on Twitter (@AdamTurer), too.

New England D3 Football: Resiliency Has Been The Key For Bridgewater State

Bridgewater State Interim Head Coach Joe Verria has guided the Bears to six-straight wins, dating back to a week three victory over Worcester State. (PHOTO CREDIT: Bridgewater State University Office of Sports Information)
Bridgewater State Interim Head Coach Joe Verria has guided the Bears to six-straight wins, dating back to a week three victory over Worcester State.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Bridgewater State University Office of Sports Information)

By Matt Noonan 

Resiliency has been the key for Bridgewater State’s football team this season.

Two weeks into their 2016 campaign, Joe Verria’s crew was starring at a possible third-straight setback when Worcester State commenced their contest with the Bears by scoring a first quarter touchdown. The advantage didn’t last long, however, as Bridgewater State overcame the one-score deficit to en route to their first of six-straight MASCAC victories with a 34-14 win over the Lancers.

“We got on a run (after losing) our first two games of the season, but now we have won six in a row,” said Verria, who was tabbed the program’s interim head coach in August.

“We have won games in all kinds of different ways. Close games, high scoring games, so these kids are very, very resilient and they are finding ways to close games out now.”

The Bears’ six-game winning streak hasn’t been a cakewalk – Bridgewater State has won four of their six contests by at least a touchdown, including a six-point victory over Plymouth State during a dramatic double-overtime win last month, which saw the Bears rally to force an extra session.

“The double-overtime win over Plymouth (State) was an amazing game and win for our team, especially being down 14-0 (at the start of the game),” said Verria.

While winning six-straight games is a testament to the resiliency and hard work this Bears squad has displayed over the past few weeks, Verria and his squad know their momentum will be tested this Saturday when they visit Framingham State in what could determine a possible MASCAC regular season champion.

Bridgewater State – currently first in the MASCAC with a 6-0 ledger – can lock-up their first conference crown in eight seasons with a win over the Rams. A victory for the Rams, however, would setup a scoreboard watch the following week – the last weekend of the regular season.

“They’re a very, very good football team,” Verria said of his team’s upcoming opponent.

“We have lost to Framingham State the past three years, so I think everyone from day one has been gunning for them. They have been the perennial champion and until they’re dethroned, they still are the perennial champion in my opinion.”

Verria knows his team will need to play their best football against a Rams squad that enters the contest winners of three-straight. Both teams posses strong offensive and defensive units – the defense has been key for both squad’s this season.

Framingham State overcame a three-point deficit at the break last season to defeat Bridgewater State, 27-17. The win provided the Rams with their sixth consecutive MASCAC title, along with an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“Coach (Tom) Kelley has done a tremendous job over there, (leading them) into the national playoffs … they’re a good football team, they’re a good team,” said Verria.

“(Our players) have been focused (this week), so you can just feel there is a difference.”