Tag: Central Connecticut State University

Five New England D2 Teams To Watch This Fall

Khyon Fitzpatrick and the New Haven Chargers will once again be a squad to watch in the Northeast-10 this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)

By NoontimeSports.com

Our preseason college football coverage continues by highlighting five New England NCAA Division II teams to watch this fall – all the teams listed below compete in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10).

In case you missed it, make sure to check out our New England FCS and Division III teams to watch, as well.

American International College (AIC): After beginning their 2021 campaign with three-straight wins, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory against Pace University, the Yellow Jackets’ winning ways vanished with a hard-fought loss to Bentley. AIC would lose its next five contests before ending its season with a 14-7 victory over the Setters.

The hope for the Yellow Jacket is they can use their final contest from 2021 as motivation – perhaps a learning lesson? – for what they must do to contend for a conference title.

AIC was competitive last fall – they certainly provided challenges for the top teams in the league but look for coach Kris Kulzer’s squad to finish with a few more wins this fall.

Wide receivers Jaheim McGuire and Jaxon Ramsay return after combining for 64 catches, 1,079 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns.

Bentley University: A new signal-caller will be spotted under center this fall – quarterback Stephen Sturm graduated following an impressive career with the Falcons, which saw him throw for 7,166 yards and 58 touchdowns in four seasons.

Additionally, Bentley will have a new coach as Alvin Reynolds takes over for Bill Kavanaugh, who stepped down as the head football coach in March. Reynolds has been with the Falcons since 2018 – prior to arriving in Waltham, he spent time with a slew of NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and Jacksonville Jaguars

Reynolds will guide a Falcons squad that finished 9-2 overall last year, as well as secured a bid to the NCAA Division II postseason for the first time since 2004.

Halfback Nathaniel Larkins, who finished second on the team with 558 rushing yards, returns, along with wide receiver Noah Neville (32 catches for 555 yards and six touchdowns). Linebacker Salvatore Lupoli Jr. also returns – he placed second on the team in total tackles with 90.0.

Saint Anselm College: Quarterback Drew Willoughby will be the player to watch on the Hawks this fall.

Named the NE10 Rookie of the Year last November, Willoughby enjoyed an impressive debut with the Royal Blue and White by completing 251 of 431 passing attempts for 2,803 yards and 22 touchdowns. Additionally, he added three scores on the ground.

Willoughby led Saint Anselm’s to three conference wins last year – the hope is he can continue his impressive play this fall, beginning in the opening week against Millersville University.

Halfback Vincent Wagner returns, as well, along with wide receiver Anthony Brown, who led the Hawks with nine touchdown receptions.

Southern Connecticut State University: The Owls won four of 10 contests last fall, including a non-league victory over Central Connecticut State University in the opening week (the Blue Devils, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) squad, compete in the Northeast Conference (NEC)).

As a team, SCSU averaged 332.4 yards per game – most of their offensive yards came through the air, thanks to wide receivers Tylon Papallo and Izaiah Sanders, who represented the program on the league’s second team. Papallo and Sanders combined for 10 touchdown receptions to go with 76 catches for 1,196.

The expectation is both student-athletes will return this fall, which will certainly pose problems for opposing defenses.

Linebacker Robert Nunez, who earned NE10 All-Rookie honors, will also be a player to watch on the Owls. He finished second on the team in total tackles

 (63.0) and solo stops (29.0).

University of New Haven: 27 graduate students helped the Chargers not only finish atop the NE10 final standings last fall with 10 victories but also advance to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament (UNH beat Bentley in the opening round before falling to Kutztown University).

It’s possible a few of these student-athletes will return this fall, but UNH will return some underclassmen, including defensive back Khyon Fitzpatrick, who finished second on the team with 62.0 total tackles.

Fitzpatrick was recently named a preseason first-teamer by The College Football Network (TCFN) – he, along with Bentley’s Cedie Dashiell II, was the only two student-athletes from the NE10 on the list.  

New Haven has been the team to watch (and follow) these last few years in the NE10 so the expectation is they will once again be in the hunt for a league crown.

Sacred Heart Picked To Capture NEC Crown

Julius Chestnut and the Sacred Heart football team were picked to win the Northeastern Conference. (PHOTO COURTESY: The College Sports Journal/Chuck Burton)

By NoontimeSports.com

The Pioneers of Sacred Heart University will enter the upcoming fall 2021 football season as the team to beat in the Northeastern Conference (NEC).

Sacred Heart, which finished its spring campaign with a 3-2 record, secured four of seven first-place votes in the league’s preseason poll. Duquesne University (two first-place votes) and Central Connecticut State University (one first-place vote) secured a two-way tie for second place while Bryan University checked in fourth on the poll.

“The NEC is an outstanding conference and any team can win the championship in any given season,” Coach Mark Nofri said in a statement. “Our league is competitive from top to bottom and there are no easy games.”

Sacred Heart, which will begin its upcoming season at home against Bucknell University on Saturday, September 4 at 6 p.m., will be led by halfback Julius Chestnut, who led the country this past spring in rushing-yards, all-purpose yards, and touchdowns. Chestnut was one of eight Pioneers to secure a spot on the conference’s preseason team — joining him on the offensive team were Naseim Brantley (wide receiver), JD DiRenzo (offensive line) and Josh Sokol (offensive line).

Following the team’s season-opener against the Bison, the Pioneers will visit Bryant University on Saturday, September 11 for their initial league tilt, which will then be followed by three consecitive non-conference matchups against Morgan State (Sept. 18), Dartmouth College (Sept. 25), and Howard University (Oct. 2).

“It’s an honor to be picked to win the conference by your peers, but all that matters is who is the top team come the end of November,” said Nofri. “We had a very good spring season, earning the NEC Championship, and we look forward to defending our championship this fall.”

Sacred Heart, which has won the NEC outright twice (2001 and 2020-21), has shared the league crown three times, including twice with Duquesne in 2013 and 2018.

Football Friday Notebook (Jan. 29, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

Happy Football Friday, everyone!

We’re excited to start a weekly football notebook that will feature a slew of news (and links) from the gridiron.

And don’t forget, you can listen to our weekly Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

Alright, let’s share some football stories (and links) – have a great weekend, everyone!


Professional Football


College Football

  • Two days ago, Central Connecticut State University announced that they would not participate in the 2021 Northeastern Conference (NEC) spring football season.

    CCSU interim Director of Athletics Tom Pincine said Wednesday’s decision is in “the best interest of our University and football program,” while Ryan McCarthy, who is the coach of the Blue Devils, echoed the statement but also added that the team can “focus solely on returning to spring practice and preparing for the Fall 2021 season.”

    The Blue Devils have not competed since 2019 when they posted a school-record 11 victories and secured a spot in the opening round of the NCAA FCS postseason.
  • While CCSU won’t play football this spring, a Sacred Heart official told the New Haven Register that the Pioneers are planning to compete, despite no games listed on the team’s current schedule.
  • The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) unveiled its 2021 fall schedules with plans to “return to its Atlantic and Coastal divisions” later this year.

    While Notre Dame did compete under the ACC umbrella last fall, the Fighting Irish will return to being an independent for the 2021 college football season.
  • The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) held its ‘digital media day‘ today ahead of the league’s spring football season, which is scheduled to commence – or should we say kickoff? – Saturday, February 20, 2021.
  • The ASUN Conference announced earlier today that football will be the league’s 20th sport.

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