Tag: College Football

Noonan: An Exciting Finish Awaits Numerous Small College Football Teams

Jack Maguire and the Salve Regina University football team scored an important win last weekend against Endicott College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway/TAMMY MCMANAWAY SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY)

By Matt Noonan

To say the next three weeks of the small college New England football season will be fun – and yes, exciting, too – would be an understatement.

For starters, we have quite a few conference races to watch these next few weeks, including one that currently features four teams in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league.  

Endicott College appeared to be a lock to win their first-ever conference crown since 2013 when they, along with other members of the CCC, competed in the New England Football Conference (NEFC). But unfortunately, things changed this past weekend as their three-game conference winning streak was snapped with a 21-14 setback to Salve Regina University.

Luckily, it is just one loss – Endicott currently holds the head-to-head tiebreakers over Husson University and Western New England, who are also in the mix for the league crown. But to win the conference, the Gulls will need to beat their two remaining foes – Nichols College and the University of New England – as well as get some help from their rivals: Salve Regina and Western New England.

Salve Regina has beaten Nichols and UNE but needs to win their final two contests against Curry College and Husson.

Western New England beat Salve Regina in their first conference meeting of the 2021 season earlier this month before falling to Endicott one week later. The Golden Bears will be idle this weekend but conclude their regular-season slate with back-to-back contests in November against Husson and UNE.

And while all the attention is currently on Salve Regina following an exciting win this past weekend against Endicott, one should certainly not overlook Husson, which has won two of three league matchups, as well as scored some impressive non-league wins against Plymouth State and Springfield College.

As of now, it is hard to project a winner of the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league, but we should have a better gauge this Saturday.

Speaking of Springfield College, they are also in the mix for their conference crown in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) but need to win their remaining three contests, including their matchup this weekend with the University of Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).

The Mariners have been a great story this fall, winning seven consecutive contests to match their best start in program history. They scored an exciting 44-34 win this past weekend against Catholic University, thanks to both Ian Blankenship and Brian McGovern, who combined for five touchdowns, including three on the ground.

Springfield has beaten USMMA in two of their last three outings, including twice at home in 2017 and 2019.

Like the Mariners, the Pride has also become a team to watch over the last few weeks after rebounding from a 1-3 start by winning their last three contests to bump their overall record to 4-3.

David Wells and Isaiah Cashwell-Doe headlined Springfield’s most recent win against WPI.

Saturday’s matchup between the Pride and Mariners is scheduled for 1 p.m. – the contest will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts.

South of Springfield – West Haven, Connecticut, to be exact – will feature another important matchup to follow as Assumption College visits the University of New Haven on Saturday, October 30 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Both teams enter the ninth week of the Division II season in contention for the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown – UNH has not lost a single conference game this fall while Assumption has won four of five league meetings. Assumption could win the conference, but they need to win their final three outings, including two against the top two squads in the league.

Bentley University was idle this past weekend but has been a great story as they have not lost a game since October 12, 2019, and head into the final three weeks with a great deal of momentum.

The Falcons will be at home this weekend against Franklin Pierce before visiting New Haven next Saturday, November 6. It is possible the Falcons and Chargers could enter the week ten matchup without a single conference loss.  

Player Perspective: David Estevez (Wesleyan University)

Wesleyan University senior quarterback David Estevez recorded a school record 474 yards of total offense last week in his team’s win against Tufts University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Steve McLaughlin)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for Wesleyan University senior quarterback David Estevez, who has been named the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Offensive Player of the Week twice in the last three weeks.

In addition to being recognized by his conference, Estevez, a native of River Edge, New Jersey, was one of two recipients of this week’s New England Football Writers Association Gold Helmet Award after he broke a 32-year school record last weekend with 474 yards of total offense in his team’s come-from-behind win against Tufts University.

Against the Jumbos, Estevez completed 13 of 23 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown while adding 204 yards on 22 carries and two scores. His final touchdown of the afternoon – a four-yard rushing score with 4:54 remaining in the fourth quarter – capped his team’s comeback to extend the Cardinals’ current winning streak to five games.

Wesleyan, which has won its last eight contests dating back to their final three outings in 2019, will look to continue its recent momentum on Saturday when they host Middlebury College.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with David Estevez to discuss his record-setting day with the Cardinals, as well as what he and his teammates must do this week to earn their sixth straight win of the 2021 season.

First off, tell me about breaking a 32-year school record last weekend against Tufts University. When did you find out that your total yards of offense (474) established a new program record?

I really had no idea at the time – I don’t pay attention to that stuff during the game. After the game, our Director of Athletics, Mike Whalen, shook my hand and shared the news with me. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of Wesleyan Football history.

It sounds cliché, but what worked for you (and the offense) last Saturday against Tufts? Additionally, how can you duplicate this performance this week against Middlebury College?

The offense was clicking against Tufts. The offensive line did a great job protecting me in the pocket while allowing me to make throws. From there, the skill guys did the rest, making spectacular plays all throughout the game. We have a tough opponent this week so the only way to duplicate these performances is to trust the guys alongside me, believe in the scheme, and execute. 

Tell me about this season. Your team has won five games, but the past three weeks have seen the squad somehow find a way to walk away with a victory or perhaps rally to beat Tufts. So, what’s the secret to these exciting wins?

I think these gritty wins speak to our strength as a team. A lot of teams in the NESCAC have great talent but that only gets you so far in this league. I think our team has a toughness and desire to win that only comes from experience. In 2019, we were put in a lot of similar situations so now we are ready. 

From your perspective, how have you improved your individual game from earlier this fall against Colby to last week against Tufts? Also, what are some things you hope to improve on between now and the end of the 2021 season?

With every week in the season comes new opportunities. The coaches do a tremendous job of motivating the team., I’ve been doing my best to improve in areas where I need to improve on a weekly basis. And since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team has encountered numerous roadblocks, but we have done a tremendous job of staying focused.

Tell me about your major. How did you choose it? And what do you hope to do with it beyond Wesleyan?

I am an economics major. I chose this major because although there isn’t a business school here at Wesleyan, economics gives you the analytical skills along with the quantitative and computer skills valued in business and finance. After Wesleyan, I intend to get into investment banking.

Finally, do you plan to stay involved with football after graduation? If so, would you like to coach or do something else with the sport?

I’m not sure if I want to get into coaching – Wesleyan has already produced one of the greatest coaches of all time in Bill Belichick, but it’s definitely a possibility. 

Player Perspective: Steven Fedorchak (Western New England)

Steven Fedorchak became the all-time leader in touchdown receptions last weekend during the Golden Bears’ first conference clash of the 2021 season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)

By NoontimeSports.com

Last Saturday was an exciting day for wide receiver Steven Fedorchak.

The Guilderland, New York native became the all-time leader in Western New England’s football program history in touchdown receptions during the Golden Bear’s 41-3 victory over Salve Regina University.

It means a lot to me,” said Fedorchak, who has caught 23 touchdowns in four seasons with the Golden Bears. “But ultimately, it shows how successful our offense has been since my first season with the team in 2017.

“The coaches have done a great job with putting me in the best position to be successful – we also have another great receiver, Adam Razza, who helps us challenge opposing defensive secondaries.”

Fedorchak concluded last week’s initial conference tilt with the Seahawks by catching six passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. He has caught one touchdown in four of five contests this season while producing a season-high seven receptions for 90 yards in a non-conference setback to Utica College last month (he also caught seven passes for 89 yards two weeks ago against Salisbury University).

This week, Fedorchak and the Golden Bears will look to earn their second conference win of the 2021 season when they visit Endicott College on Saturday, October 9 with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m.

Noontime Sports recently caught up with Steven Fedorchak to discuss his record-breaking day against the Seahawks, as well as what he and the team must do to win their second-straight league tilt against the Gulls.

Did you ever imagine when you joined the Western New England football program that you would break the touchdown reception record?

I had the opportunity to play under Mark Dietrich as a freshman and watch him break the original record with 22 touchdowns in 2017. I learned a lot from him and strive to be the best receiver I can be so I can match his effort with what he did with the Western New England football program.

It sounds cliché, but you have been fortunate to compete with some talented quarterbacks over the past few seasons. How have each of the previous (and yes, current) signal-callers helped you improve as a wide receiver?

Anthony Service, Alec Coleman, and Bryce Karstetter are all talented quarterbacks. I credit Anthony for helping me during my sophomore season as the receiver’s coach. I had always thought about my routes from the perspective of a receiver, but he opened my eyes and taught both myself and other receivers how to think like a quarterback.

Alec was the best leader I have ever had the honor of playing with – he always made the right read and put us in the best position to be successful. He set the standard in my eyes for what a leader should be.

Bryce is quickly developing into a great quarterback. We have developed a good rapport, and his calm demeanor has helped both me and my teammates in various situations this season. Additionally, he has improved every week and has done a great job with overseeing our offense.

I know it has been a few days, but how important was it for you and the team to score that first conference win last weekend against Salve Regina?

Earning our first conference win was a great way to begin Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) play, but we have a big game tomorrow against Endicott College. Our goal as a team is always to win the conference, but to achieve that goal we are always looking ahead to what’s next and not becoming complacent with our past wins.

What must the offense do to continue its recent success on Saturday against Endicott College?

We have to keep running the ball and giving Bryce the time he needs to go through his progressions so he can be successful in the passing game. Every week we continue to grow as an offense, but also find ways to put points on the board.

Outside of football, you are majoring in accounting. What interested you in pursuing an accounting degree? Also, what do you plan to do with it after graduation?

Currently, I am attempting to get my Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) from Western New England and am working at Complete Payroll Solutions in the tax department. The company’s atmosphere is a great one, and I have really enjoyed my time with this company thus far.

Player Perspective: Mark Cheffers (Catholic University Football)

Mark Cheffers, who played high school football in Massachusetts, has been a player to watch on Catholic University this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Catholic University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Mark Cheffers has been a player to watch this fall on the Catholic University football team.

The Winchendon, Massachusetts native has recorded career-bests in receptions (21), receiving yards (262), and yards per game (65.5) through four contests while recording a season-high eight catches for 93 yards in the Cardinals’ season-opening win against McDaniel College last month. He caught his first touchdown last Saturday against Christopher Newport University after tallying three catches for 44 yards in his team’s exciting win one week earlier over Endicott College.    

Cheffers currently leads the team with 21 receptions heading into this Saturday’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) clash with MIT and will certainly be a player to keep an eye on, both against the Engineers and later this fall.

We recently caught up with Cheffers, who played high school football at Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, to discuss his senior season, as well as what interested him in going to school outside of New England.

From your perspective, how has your senior season with the Cardinals gone thus far?

I am proud of the way we have taken the field this year – I love the energy in the locker room.

There is a lot to be excited about, but we have even more to improve upon. As we start our conference schedule this Saturday, I think we will begin to show who we really are (and that is exciting).

How has your game evolved from your initial season in 2018 to this fall? What sort of changes have you made to become the receiver/student-athlete you are today?

I was somewhat undersized coming into my first season with the Cardinals program, but I have grown and gotten stronger over the past few years. I may have slowed down – maybe not entirely since that initial season? – but I have used the past few years to study the game more so I can recognize certain coverages to understanding my routes better to create space between myself and the defender.

How will your team’s non-league matchups/performances last month help you (and the team) heading into conference play this weekend against MIT?

I think we have really tested ourselves this season.

We began with a scrimmage against Johns Hopkins University to playing some challenging foes, including Randolph-Macon College, which was previously ranked last week in the D3Football.com Top 25 poll. We also played Endicott College and Christopher Newport University, so all three matchups have certainly been a challenge, but in a great way.

Heading into our first NEWMAC game on Saturday, we have learned where we need to improve to be competitive, both against MIT and other teams we will face later this fall.

Being a Massachusetts native, what interested you in playing football outside the state/region?

I was not recruited to play football anywhere else, so I was interested in going to school outside of the New England region. Coach Mike Gutelius made it clear that he wanted me on this team during the recruiting process, so I saw it as an opportunity to play football for the Cardinals, as well as gain new experiences in Washington D.C.

Sticking with the Massachusetts theme, how often are you checking-in on St. John’s Shrewsbury football program?

All the time. I had a great time playing for the Pioneers’ program and winning a state championship in 2017 against North Attleborough. I saw they just moved to a very tough conference, so I wish them luck this evening against Malden Catholic.

Tell me about your major. How did you choose it and what do you hope to do with it beyond graduation next spring?

There were quite a few majors that interested me, but in the end, I elected to pursue a degree that is allowing me to concentrate on sales and entrepreneurship – the professors have been incredible and super-helpful to me, so I am glad I elected to pursue this concentration.

Finally – and I know graduation is months away! – but do you see yourself staying involved with football after your final game with the Cardinals this fall?

I have a hard time admitting that this is my last season, but I am trying to enjoy every moment. I want to continue to be involved in this game in some capacity as it has helped shape me into who I am today. I would love to coach in the future.

Noontime’s 10 Games to Watch (Week Five)

Devaun Ford and the Framingham State Rams will attempt to earn their third-straight conference win on Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin Photograph)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s time to get ready for another BUSY weekend of New England college football, including a slew of Division III games to watch.

Last weekend, we picked eight of ten games correctly, which is not bad, right?

We head into this weekend’s slate with 30-10 record when it comes to picks, so let’s see if we can continue our early season momentum (fingers crossed!).


FEATURED GAME: Salve Regina University (4-0, 0-0 CCC) at Western New England (2-2, 0-0 CCC) (Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m.): After rallying back from a 35-16 deficit at the break last week against Rowan University, Salve Regina enters its first conference game with a great deal of momentum. Sure, the Seahawks have not beaten the Golden Bears on the road since 2012, but we think their early season momentum will carry them to an exciting win in Springfield. PREDICTION: Salve Regina 30, Western New England 28

FEATURED GAME: Middlebury College (1-1, 1-1 NESCAC) at Trinity College (2-0, 2-0 NESCAC) (Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m.): The Bantams have looked pretty good through two weeks and should be able to make a few more plays down the stretch – or perhaps at the beginning of the game? – that will allow them to secure a third-straight conference victory. PREDICTION: Trinity 27, Middlebury 20

FEATURED GAME: UMass Dartmouth (3-1, 1-1 MASCAC) at Western Connecticut (2-2, 1-1 MASCAC) (Saturday, October 2 at 5 p.m.): This is a VERY important game for both squads as a loss could derail hopes of a conference crown. Western Connecticut almost beat Bridgewater State on the road last week while UMass Dartmouth bounced back with a 52-7 win over Worcester State. PREDICTION: UMass Dartmouth 35, Western Conn. 31  


Curry College (2-1, 0-0 CCC) at Endicott College (3-1, 0-0 CCC) (Saturday, October 2 at 12 p.m.): Both teams enter their initial conference clash with some momentum from some impressive non-league wins, but something tells us that these Gulls of Endicott will find a way in the end to score their fourth victory of the 2021 season. PREDICTION: Endicott 27, Curry 24

Anna Maria College (2-1, 0-0 ECFC) at Keystone College (0-4, 0-0 ECFC) (Saturday, October 2 at 12 p.m.): The AMCATs enter their initial conference tilt with a great deal of momentum that should carry them past the Giants in their first-ever meeting. PREDICTION: Anna Maria 30, Keystone 14

Dean College (1-3, 0-0 ECFC) at Gallaudet University (1-0, 0-0 ECFC) (Saturday, October 2 at 12 p.m.): Dean is seeking its first win since beating Fitchburg State in the opening weekend of the 2021 season — can the Bulldogs score an important (and early) conference win against a Bison squad that scored a BIG win one week ago? We think so (or believe they can!). PREDICTION: Dean 32, Gallaudet 22

Hamilton College (1-1, 1-1 NESCAC) at Colby College (1-1, 1-1 NESCAC) (Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m.): A 10-7 victory last week over Amherst College has us thinking the Colby defense will be the unit to watch in this one as they look to score their first win at home of the 2021 season. PREDICTION: Colby 17, Hamilton 14

Framingham State (2-2, 2-0 MASCAC) at Plymouth State (0-3, 0-1 MASCAC) (Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m.): The Rams enter their fifth contest of the 2021 season with a great deal of momentum, which will certainly be challenged against a Panthers squad that almost came back to beat Bridgewater State. Don’t expect too many touchdowns in this one. PREDICTION: Framingham State 13, Plymouth State 10

MIT (2-1, 0-0 NEWMAC) at Catholic University (2-2, 0-0 NEWMAC) (Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m.): MIT’s ground game, along with its defense shined last week against Dean College – we expect that to continue again this week against the Cardinals. PREDICTION: MIT 24, Catholic 17

WPI (1-3, 0-0 NEWMAC) at U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (3-0, 0-0 NEWMAC) (Saturday, October 2 at 1 p.m.): Coach Mike Toop’s Mariners have been quite impressive through three contests, averaging 53.67 points. Look for the early-season success to continue Saturday against the Engineers of Worcester. PREDICTION: USMMA 40, WPI 16