D3 Football: Maher, Johnston Secure Spots On AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America Teams

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Framingham State’s Jacob Maher concluded his initial season with the Rams as an AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America First Teamer. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

A pair of New England D-III Football student-athletes were recently named to the 2019 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America Teams.

Jacob Maher of Framingham State secured a spot on the first team, while Kyle Johnston of Massachusetts Maritime Academy earned a spot on the second team.

Maher wrapped up his first and final season of college football with the Rams this fall by catching a team-high 56 receptions for 819 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior tight end from Marshfield, Massachusetts averaged 5.1 receptions and 74.5 yards per contest. He caught a season-high three touchdowns in his team’s 39-33 win over UMass Dartmouth in October before hauling in two touchdowns in his team’s regular-season finale against Worcester State.

Prior to earning an end of season honor from the AFCA, Maher earned and All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) first-team honor and a spot on the New England Football Writers (NEFW) Division II/III team.

Johnston, who also appeared on the NEFW D-II/III team, enjoyed his best season with the Buccaneers by recording a career-best 57.0 total tackles, including 37 solo stops and 20 assists in 10 contests. The defensive lineman from Raynham, Massachusetts tallied career-highs in sacks (12.5), tackles for a loss (19.5), and forced fumbles (three) in 10 games this fall and was also named to the All-MASCAC first team. 

In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Johnston tallied 164.0 total tackles, including 121 solo stops to go along with 49.5 tackles for a loss and 25.5 sacks. He also recorded eight forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and seven pass breakups, including three last season.

Chad Shade Named Jerry Nason Award Winner

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Springfield College’s Chad Shade was recently named the Jerry Nason Award winner. (PHOTO COURTESY: Springfield College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation

Following an impressive senior season with the Springfield College football team, quarterback Chad Shade was named the Jerry Nason Award winner by the New England Football Writers.

The award, as noted on the NEFW website, “is presented to a graduating senior football player from a college in the New England region who succeeds in football against all odds.”

Shade, who became the second Springfield football player to receive the award, received a media redshirt last fall after sustaining a season-ending injury after his team’s fourth contest.

“I think he’s such a competitive kid, and his nature is that whatever the obstacle, and he’s such a positive influence — not only within the team, but in his own mindset — I don’t think he ever doubted his ability to come back and perform the way he did,” Springfield College coach Mike Cerasuolo said, via The Berkshire Eagle.

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts native concluded his final season with the Pride by recording career-highs in touchdown passes (seven), passing yards (456), rushing yards (771) and rushing touchdowns (eight).

Shade, who competed in all 10 contests this season, helped Springfield have the best rushing offense in Division III college football. Springfield averaged 405.0 yards per game, including 357.4 rushing yards, which was the most since the 2017 squad averaged 435.2 rushing yards per contest.

NCAA D3 Football Tournament: Inside The Framingham State-Wesley Matchup

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Framingham State quarterback Adam Wojenski will be one of a few players to watch on the Rams this Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It’s time to highlight the second New England D-III football team that will be competing this weekend in the NCAA Division III Tournament. And that squad is the Framingham State University Rams, which enter the postseason on an eight-game winning streak.

The Rams, who captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall with some important late wins over Bridgewater StateMassachusetts Maritime Academy, and Western Connecticut, will be making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as well as their second-straight trip as Framingham State competed last season against The College of Brockport.

Below are a few notes about Saturday’s match-up, including some stats (and numbers) on both teams, as well as players to watch.


Framingham State (8-2) at Wesley College (9-1) 

Gametime/Location: Saturday, November 23rd at Wesley College, Dover, Delaware. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Rankings: Wesley is currently the tenth best team in D-III, according to the latest D3Football.com Top 25 Poll. Framingham State was not ranked nor receiving votes in this week’s poll.

Conference Affiliation: Framingham State competes in the MASCAC, while Wesley is a member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

Last Appearance in the NCAA Tournament: The Rams’ 2018 season concluded in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament with a 40-27 setback to Brockport. The Golden Eagles secured a 24-0 lead at the break before the Rams trimmed the deficit in the second half by outscoring the hosts, 27-16.

Quarterback Adam Wojenski concluded the contest 28 of 58 for 450 yards and two touchdowns – he did have three interceptions – while Brockport’s Joe Germinerio completed 19 of 40 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns.

Wesley did not compete in the NCAA Tournament last season but did advance to the second round in 2017 following a 45-27 win over RPI. The Wolverines’ run toward a national championship concluded with a 49-28 setback to Brockport.

Inside the Numbers with Framingham State: The Rams have produced 346 points this season while allowing 176 … The 346 points are the most any MASCAC team produced this fall. They also led the conference in points per game (34.6), touchdowns (51), rushing yards (1,728), rushing yards per game (172.8), few yards allowed per game (274,8), interceptions (14), and fewest rushing yards allowed per contest (90.5) … Framingham State will be making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament – they have never won a postseason contest. Saturday’s meeting with Wesley will be the team’s second in the postseason as the two squads met in 2015 with the Wolverines winning by a score of 42-22.

Inside the Numbers with Wesley College: Wesley is currently second in the NJAC with 337 points – Salisbury University is first with 417 points. The Wolverines are averaging 33.7 points per game … Wesley is second in the NJAC in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 157 points (15.7 points per game) … Wesley is second in the conference in total offense – they are averaging 441.7 yards per game … The Wolverines are first in total defense in the NJAC, yielding an average of 249.7 yards per game … Wesley boasts the second-best rushing offense in the NJAC behind Salisbury and is first in the conference in passing offense .. Saturday’s postseason contest will be coach Chip Knapp‘s first as the team’s head coach since taking over for coach Mike Drass last season.

Framingham State Players to Watch: 

  • Andrew Fennelly (O-Line): Named the MASCAC Football Offensive Lineman of the Year.
  • Devaun Ford (RB): Named the MASCAC Offensive Rookie of the Year. Ford rushed for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games. He is averaging 100.3 yards per contest.
  • Joshua Onujiogu (DE): Named the MASCAC Defensive Player of the Year. He has recorded 44.0 total tackles and eight sacks in nine contests this season.
  • Adam Wojenski (QB): The senior signal-caller has completed 184 of 303 passes for 2,455 yards and 27 touchdowns (eight interceptions). He has also rushed for 429 yards on 88 carries and four touchdowns.
  • Jacob Maher (TE): The Worcester State transfer leads the Rams in receptions (54), receptions per game (5.4), receiving yards (792) and touchdowns (eight).
  • Cully Curran (DB): Leads the defense with 67.0 total tackles … has recorded 39 solo tackles, including seven-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 22 yards, one fumble recovery, one interception, and five pass break-ups.
  • Anthony Behonick (LB): Second on the team in total tackles (49.0) … the junior linebacker has recorded 37 solo stops, including eight-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 16 yards, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three interceptions, and one pass break-up.

Wesley College Players to Watch:

  • Drew Fry (QB): The first-year signal-caller will get the start on Saturday, as noted (and confirmed) by WDEL 1150AM/101.7FM. Fry, who was a three-year starter for Middletown in Delaware, was named the 2018 offensive player of the year.
  • Marcellus Pack (RB): The senior tailback has rushed for 595 yards on 102 carries and seven touchdowns.
  • Ruhann Peele (WR): The senior wide-out leads the team in receptions (81), receptions per game (8.1), receiving yards (1,141), and receiving touchdowns (12).
  • Corterris Simpson (WR): Second on the team in receptions (45), receptions per game (4.5), receiving yards (522), and touchdowns (five).
  • Nick Bruhn (PK/P): Has recorded 63 points on nine field goals and 36 extra points. His longest field goal was a 31-yard kick.
  • Dante Daniel (LB): The third-year linebacker leads the defense in total tackles (83.0) … Daniel has recorded 43 solo tackles, including eight-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 23 yards, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, one interception, and seven pass break-ups.
  • Shymere Vessels (DE): Vessels has recorded 57.0 total tackles, including 26 solo stops, 10 tackles for a loss of 29 yards and one sack for a loss of six yards.

D3 Football: Zelos Players of The Week

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

With the eleventh (and final) week of the New England Division III Football regular season in the books, it is time to unveil our offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week, which is powered by Zelos Athletics.


Our Noontime Sports ‘Players of the Week’ post is powered by Zelos Athletics, which uses FusionSport Technology to track athletes’ performance metrics during speed, agility, and plyometric drills. Zelos Athletics also provides individual and team speed and agility training, combined with strength & conditioning training, too


This season, Noontime Sports will select at least one player for our three weekly honors: offensive, defensive and special teamer of the week.

The ‘Players of the Week’ post will be published every Monday throughout the season and shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

As usual, stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB


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Quarterback Ryan Jones accounted for five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) in his final game on Saturday with the Coast Guard Academy football team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

Offensive Player of the Week: Ryan Jones (Coast Guard Academy | Quarterback | Punxsutawney, Pa.): In his final game with the Bears, Jones completed 12 of 27 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns while adding 36 yards on 16 carries and two scores against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday. Despite the season-ending loss to the Mariners in the Secretaries Cup, Jones rushed for a season-best two touchdowns – he had only rushed for one score in two games earlier this season. Additionally, he threw for 300 yards (or more) for just the second time this fall after throwing for a career-high (and season-best) 353 yards last month in his team’s win over Maine Maritime Academy.


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Tony Slaughter led the Corsairs’ defense with 11.0 total tackles in its season-finale against Westfield State. (PHOTO COURTESY: UMass Dartmouth Athletics)

Defensive Player of the Week: Tony Slaughter (UMass Dartmouth |Defensive Back | Springfield, Mass.): In his final game with the Corsairs, Slaughter recorded 11.0 total tackles, including seven solo stops and two-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 11 yards, which helped UMass Dartmouth defeat Westfield State, 19-13. Slaughter also recorded two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry, too. The 11.0 total tackles were two stops shy of his season-high of 13.0, which he registered earlier this month in his team’s 28-12 win over Western Connecticut.


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Mark Wright drilled a 36-yard field goal last Saturday, which helped MIT edge Springfield College in its season finale. (PHOTO COURTESY: Robert Krawitz)

Special Teamer of the Week: Mark Wright (MIT | Kicker | Fort Worth, Texas): Wright booted a 36-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining to send the Engineers past the Pride of Springfield College, 43-40, in a wild season finale that helped MIT clinch its second-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown. Additionally, Saturday’s win over Springfield secured MIT a spot in this weekend’s NCAA Tournament. MIT will be competing in the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, as well as the third time since its initial appearance in 2014. Wright ended the game with nine points off five kicks, including two field goals.

Player Perspective: Brendan Costa (Bates College)

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Bates College quarterback Brendan Costa was a player to watch last weekend against Bowdoin College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brewster Burns for Bates College)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Brendan Costa credited his coaches, but also his teammates for last weekend’s win over rival Bowdoin College. It was what many would describe as a true team victory.

“Our guys did a great job of executing assignments, especially our big guys up front,” said the third-year signal-caller, who threw for a season-best three touchdowns against the Polar Bears.

“The offensive line really paved the way for our skill guys to make plays and the offense as a whole took a big step forward (last) week.” 

The win over Bowdoin has seemed to energize both Costa and his Bates College teammates heading into their final game of the 2019 season tomorrow (Saturday, November 9th) against Hamilton College. The hope it seems is for these Bobcats is to duplicate their performance against the Continentals, so they can head into the offseason with some much-needed momentum.

Prior to his team’s final contest, Noontime Sports caught-up with Costa to discuss the program’s first victory since 2017, but also what it meant to provide second-year coach Malik Hall with his initial win at Bates.

How important was it to rebound and score your first win of the 2019 season after falling short to Colby one week earlier? 

This was the first game we put together (a full) four quarters. Each phase of football we played at an exceptional level. We couldn’t let the Colby College game (from one week earlier) dictate our performance in the following games so we put it behind us quickly.

I am proud of us as a team to be able to bounce back in the way we did.

What was it like to celebrate Coach Hall’s first win with the program? Did he say anything to you/your teammates after the game concluded? 

 I was really happy for Coach Hall. He was long overdue for his first win as our coach (of the Bates football program). He works his butt off every day so we can be more successful as a program. Everything he does is for the “B.”

During his post-game speech, he just touched on how proud he was of us for putting together a complete game. You could tell he was just as happy for us, as we were for him.

How will this win help the team heading into the final game of the 2019 season against Hamilton College? Do you sense a different buzz in the air, especially at practice this week? 

There has been a different vibe in practice this week. We now know we can do it, so it is our expectation to put together great games from here on out.

Hamilton is a good squad with a lot of great players. This will be a test for our team to get a win on the road and to start stringing wins together heading into 2020. We are up for the challenge.

What would it mean for you (and your teammates) to cap your season with a win? Would it provide momentum (and some additional energy) heading into the 2020 season? 

It would mean a lot to close the year on a high note. There is no time for us to take steps back, we need to keep progressing and what better way to do that than grabbing a win on the road and gaining momentum for next year. We need to start taking big strides as a program so why not start now? I am very excited about our future.