There is nothing better than a rivalry, especially on the gridiron. And we have quite a few here in New England, but which one is the best?
Well, we think this list features the best rivalries – 10 to be exact – but if you feel we missed a game (or two), let us know by leaving a comment below. All ideas are welcome!
1. Harvard University vs. Yale University: Hands down, this is the best New England college football rivalry. And while some may think Amherst-Williams belongs in this spot, Harvard-Yale is just as important as The Biggest Little Game in America. The Bulldogs needed two extra sessions this past year to edge the Crimson, 50-43, to claim the 136th edition of The Game. Harvard captured the 2018 meeting, which was played at Fenway Park.
2. Amherst College vs. Williams College: As mentioned above, Harvard-Yale, Amherst-Williams are the two of the best rivalries in New England, but there is nothing better than being in the stands in Amherst or Williamstown in early November to watch this game. The Ephs won their last meeting against the Mammoths by a score of 31-9 and finished their 2019 campaign with their best record under head coach Mark Raymond.
4. Maine vs. New Hampshire: The Black Bears may have won the first-ever meeting between these two programs, but the Wildcats have been rather successful since that initial games, especially these past few years. New Hampshire beat Maine twice in the last three seasons, including last fall in their season finale. The winner of each matchup claims the Brice-Cowell Musket, which is named after the former head coaches of the two programs.
6. Coast Guard Academy vs. Norwich University: “The Little Army-Navy Game” is always a must-see, must-watch affair in September, October, or November. The two teams, who entered their previous meeting with identical 2-0 records, first met in 1929. The winner claims “The Mug,” which was donated by The Day with the first award being presented at the conclusion of the third meeting in 1931. Coast Guard currently leads the all-time series, but the Cadets won the most recent contest last September, thanks to an impressive second-half comeback.
7. Dartmouth College vs. New Hampshire: This may not be the most well-known rivalry to current football fans (and players), but the Big Green and Wildcats have met quite a few times over the past few decades. In fact, the first-ever meeting between Dartmouth and New Hampshire occurred in 1901 with the Green and White claiming a 51-0 victory. The two teams last met in 2016 but will meet again in 2021.
8. MIT-WPI: Sure, WPI’s longstanding rivalry may be RPI, but from an in-state (or in-region) opponent, it has to be MIT, right? The Engineers of Cambridge won the first six meetings – both MIT and WPI initially met in 1888 – but since 2001, the Engineers of Worcester have won six of seven contests. The two teams began playing against each other every year since 2015. Last fall, MIT snapped WPI’s six-game winning streak by securing a hard-fought win in double-overtime. The victory was MIT’s first against WPI since 1900.
9. Endicott College vs. Western New England: This always seems to be a must-see, must-follow contest, no matter the records. But for the past few years, this has been the de-facto conference championship game. The Golden Bears have won two of the last three meetings while Endicott captured the 2018 meeting. The win over WNE in 2018 provided Endicott with its sixth victory at home against its rival while snapping the Golden Bears’ 25-game conference winning streak.
10. Southern Connecticut vs. University of New Haven: The Elm City Trophy has resided in New Haven these past few seasons, but the Owls did make things interesting last October. The Chargers have won 24 of the 31 meetings in this series and will attempt to continue its recent momentum against the Owls when they visit West Haven, Connecticut later this year.
Coast Guard Academy senior Packy Witkowski, who is from Melrose, Massachusetts, averaged a career-best 17.7 points this past season with the Bears. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy Athletics)
Packy Witkowski has always been a player to watch on the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team, but perhaps this was a season both he and fans of the program will remember the most.
The Melrose, Massachusetts native, who played high school basketball at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut, averaged a career-best 17.7 points per game. He scored a career-high 477 points in 27 contests to go with 120 rebounds, 34 assists, 20 steals, and five blocks.
Witkowski registered 20 points or more in nine games this past winter while sinking a season-best 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting in his team’s 80-69 win over Merchant Marine Academy. He scored 10 points or more in 21 contests while averaging 17.6 points for the Bears in three New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament games.
The senior guard concludes an impressive four-year run with the Bears, which saw him record 1,518 points in 93 games to go with 502 rebounds, 150 assists, 61 steals, and 15 blocks.
We recently spoke with Witkowski to discuss his final season with the Bears, as well as his future plans with the Coast Guard beyond graduation.
What will you remember most about your senior year with the Bears?
It’s hard to narrow down to a single event from this past season, but I would say our team’s journey is what I will remember the most.
From starting out in Anchorage, Alaska to finishing in Brockport, New York, it was a journey made by a group of brothers. We did not start well but we kept at it. By the end, we were operating on all cylinders when we needed it most and founds a way through. This culminated in winning three road playoff games in five days to become NEWMACTournament Champions to earning an automatic bid into the NCAA D-III Tournament.
The journey was special and an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Looking back on the 2019-20 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games?
Our NEWMAC Championship game against WPI. To be down 24 points at the break and comeback and win was nothing short of incredible. I am very grateful to have been part of a win like that, but more importantly, on a team that was so resilient. It is difficult to put that one game into words but that is a memory that will bond us forever.
What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team (and program) these past four years?
Being able to compete (on a daily basis), but really just being a part of this team for four years. Having that competitive outlet and support network from the team and coaching staff has made my experience here at the Coast Guard Academy that much more rewarding and worthwhile. Having the privilege to go to the Academy and represent it while playing a sport that I love has truly been amazing. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have been afforded and the experiences I have had during my time both here at the Academy and on this team.
Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with your sport in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future?
I will always love this game and do what I can to keep up with the team going forward. I can see myself getting involved in coaching to some degree down the road because I am passionate about helping and developing others. Coaching would allow me to continue that passion after graduation.
Tell me about your major. How did you choose it? Also, what are your future plans beyond graduation?
I am finishing up my degree in civil engineering. I have always wanted to have a technical background that would allow me to develop real-world problem-solving skills and that is exactly what this major has provided me.
I believe studying civil engineering has set me up for future success, beginning as an officer with the Coast Guard. School has always been something that has meant a lot to me and I have worked really hard to be successful at it while balancing both my military and basketball commitments.
I will be serving aboard USCGC Reliance as a Deck Watch Officer in June and am very excited to begin my career with the Coast Guard. Beyond that, I am working towards making my dream of being a Coast Guard aviator come true, as well.
Coast Guard Academy quarterback Ryan Jones guided the Bears to a 5-5 record this past season, including a pair of overtime wins. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy)
Coast Guard Academy quarterback Ryan Jones enjoyed a successful final season with the Bears, throwing for a career-high 13 touchdowns while recording a career-best 1,930 passing yards.
Jones, who competed in all 10 contests last season, became the fourth signal-caller in program history to throw for more than 4,000 yards when he guided the Bears to a 33-8 victory over Maine Maritime Academy. He also led the Bears to a pair of overtime victories last fall, too, including an early-season one-point win over Nichols College. The win against Nichols was the team’s first extra session victory since Coast Guard Academy edged Worcester State University in 2012.
In 2018, Jones and the Bears celebrated their first win over archrival Merchant Marine since 1996 to cap their campaign with seven wins. The seven wins were the most any Coast Guard Academy team has won in a single-season since winning the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division in 2007 with an 8-2 record.
We recently spoke with Ryan Jones about his final season with the Bears, but also his future plans beyond graduation.
What will you remember most about your senior year?
Looking back on the 2019 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games?
Both of our overtime wins were really exciting, but beyond that, our win over Maine Maritime sticks in my mind. That day, I (recorded) 4,000 passing yards (in my career) while Justin Moffatt broke a school’s single-game receiving record with 256 yards. That was a fun day.
What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy football team these past four years?
The people here at Coast Guard Academy are just different. They’re the best kind of friends and teammates. I’ll miss the camaraderie more than anything, on and off the field.
Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with the sport of football in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future?
Definitely. Maybe not right away as my career will likely demand quite a bit of my time for the first few years (beyond graduation), but I can definitely see myself coaching middle school or high school ball in the future.
Tell me about your major – how did you choose it? – and what are your future plans beyond graduation?
I’m a marine and environmental science major. I chose it because I want to get into the medical field someday, most likely the physician’s assistant route. MES was the only major here at the Coast Guard Academy that gave me a solid background in advanced chemistry and other sciences that will be important for allowing me to continue my education in a medical graduate program.
After graduation, I’m headed to Mississippi for my first assignment as an officer, but hope to one day be selected for either a
Down the road, I hope to be selected for one of our Tactical Law Enforcement or Counter-Terrorism team.
Our Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) All-Decade Week continues with a brand new team: The Connecticut & Rhode Island D3 Football Team from 2010-2019.
This was a fun walk down memory lane, highlighting a slew of student-athletes we covered and interviewed over the past ten years that earned a variety of end of season honors, including D3Football.com All-American honors to first or second-team nods to program record-holders to the final Gold Helmet Recipients from the New England Football Writers (NEFW). And as usual, we did our very best to highlight as many student-athletes from across both Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The All-Decade Noontime Sports Conn. & R.I. D3 Football Team (Offense)
Will Arndt (QB)
Sandy Hook, Conn.
Octavias McKoy (RB)
Max Chipouras (RB)
Sam Pascale (RB)
Salve Regina University
Shea Dwyer (RB)
Christopher Hunt (TE)
Austin Baiardi (OT)
Nick Seara (OT)
South Ozone Park, N.Y.
Adam Iskra (OT)
Salve Regina University
North Haven, Conn.
Floyd Shaffer (OT)
Salve Regina University
Joe Magardino (OT)
The All-Decade Noontime Sports Conn. & R.I. D3 Football Team (Defense)
Hayden Stanton (DL)
Salve Regina University
Taj Gooden (DL)
John Salute (DL)
Salve Regina University
Walter Fallas (LB)
Joe Rizzardi (DB)
Coast Guard Academy
Ben Thaw (CB)
Jake Bussani (CB)
Phil Terio (CB)
Salve Regina University
Harry Melendez (CB)
Spencer Donahue (S)
Rae Haynes (S)
The All-Decade Noontime Sports Conn. & R.I. D3 Football Team (Special Teams)