Another season of New England small college football has concluded, which means it is time to look back and reflect on what we learned from covering not one, but five NCAA Division III conferences.
Our 2022 rewind – well, more leftover thoughts, to be exact – begins with a simple question: Can Endicott College win its third-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)?
My initial answer is yes – expect the Gulls to contend for another CCC title next fall.
The Gulls clinched their first-ever undefeated regular season (10-0) in program history this fall, thanks to a defense that pitched four shutouts.
Entering their initial postseason contest with Springfield College earlier this month, Endicott’s defense had yielded 6.5 points per game in 10 contests – sure, they allowed more than a touchdown in their final two contests to the Pride and Western New England, but this unit has potential to be even better next season.
Endicott’s defense will look different next fall but expect Hector Johnson to continue his success from this season, which saw the Worcester, Massachusetts native tally 21.5 tackles for a loss, including 14.5 sacks. Johnson will lead a unit that will feature linebacker Matthew Licciardi, strong safety Zachariah Twardosky, and defensive lineman Colin Meropoulos.
Halfback Yavier Cosme-Diaz and quarterback Clayton Marengi will be two players to watch on offense next fall with the duo combining for 12 rushing touchdowns in 11 contests this season. Marengi added 15 passing touchdowns while completing 146 of 230 passes for 1,667 yards with four of those scores landing in the hands of wide receiver Shane Aylward.
The Endicott offense averaged 355.2 yards per game, which was the third best average amongst the seven CCC squads.
With some key returners expected to return, along with some new recruits, Endicott should be able to contend for a third-straight conference title. But don’t be surprised if Husson University or Western New England provide the Blue and Green with some challenges along the way.
Additionally, one should not count out the University of New England, which has certainly improved every season since its initial campaign in 2018.
One other team to watch next fall in the CCC is Curry College. Can the Colonels begin to make the climb under soon-to-be second-year coach Todd Parsons?
Finally, one team that won’t stand in the way of potential three-peat is Salve Regina University, which is joining the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) next school year as a full-time member.
With the win, Springfield clinched its first playoff win since beating Curry College in 2006 to secure a second-round date with Ithaca College next Saturday, November 26.
Ithaca advanced to the second round with a 63-20 win over UMass Dartmouth.
Shtefan’s lone touchdown came midway through the opening session before Springfield tacked on two more scores in the second half to provide the Pride with their ninth win of the season.
Blane Hart rushed for a seven-yard touchdown in the third quarter before Christian Hutra capped his team’s offensive output with a 33-yard field goal with 7:25 remaining in the final stanza.
Endicott’s Clayton Marengi completed 14 of 25 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns with his final score landing in the arms of Jaeden Baxter. Shane Aylward, who caught Marengi’s first touchdown early in the third quarter, led all receivers with three catches for 68 yards.
Saturday marked the first time Endicott and Springfield have squared off on the gridiron – additionally, the three-point win over the Gulls provided coach Mike Cerasuolo with his initial postseason with his alma mater.
Endicott entered the game riding a 10-game winning streak – the Gulls clinched their second-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown two weeks earlier with a win over Salve Regina University before concluding their regular season with a come-from-behind win against Western New England.
Ithaca 63, UMass Dartmouth 20: Max Perry completed five of six passes for 95 yards and one touchdown to go with 83 rushing yards and two scores as the Bombers cruised past the Corsairs in the opening round of the postseason.
Dante Aviles-Santos, who has been the player to watch on the Corsairs this fall, tossed two touchdowns while JP Mason tallied a team-high 15 total tackles.
Saturday’s game marked the second time UMass Dartmouth has competed in the NCAA Tournament.
Plymouth State 21, Husson University 20: Manny Sanchez rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown as the Panthers rallied to beat the Eagles and win their first-ever New England Bowl.
Husson’s Nic Visser completed 24 of 32 passes for 227 yards to go with a team-high 56 rushing yards and one touchdown. Elijah Garnett rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown.
Bridgewater State 34, Catholic University 24: Quarterback James Cahoon completed 24 of 33 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns while Isaiah Wright added 120 rushing yards on 23 carries as the Bears topped the Cardinals to clinch their second New England Bowl.
Catholic’s Nico Casares completed 25 of 44 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
Springfield College has competed against multiple New England football teams but has never squared off against Endicott College.
On Saturday, the Pride will visit the Gulls in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Both teams are making their second-straight appearance in the national postseason – Springfield won the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) for the second consecutive season while Endicott claimed another Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown.
Game Time & Location: Springfield will make the trek to Beverly, Massachusetts on Saturday, November 19 to compete against Endicott at 12 p.m.
Endicott College’s 2022 Season Review: The Gulls clinched their first-ever 10-0 season in program history, thanks to a come-from-behind victory last weekend against Western New England.
Endicott has been the team to watch in the CCC this year, thanks to a defense that pitched four shutouts, including a pair at the beginning of the season against St. Lawrence University (27-0) and WPI (24-0).
The Gulls’ defense yielded its first touchdown in week three against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
Endicott’s defense has limited opponents to 6.5 points per game with Western New England’s 21 points being the most the Gulls have yielded in 10 contests.
In addition to its defense, the Gulls’ rushing attack has been impressive – five student-athletes have rushed for at least one touchdown this fall, including quarterback Clayton Marengi, who has located the end zone with his feet eight times.
Springfield College’s 2022 Season Review: For the second-straight season, the Pride overcame a slow start – well, more a 1-2 start, to be exact, by winning its last seven contests.
In a way, Springfield has been in “playoff mode” for the last three weeks, needing to beat Merchant Marine, MIT, and Catholic University to secure its third NEWMAC crown since 2017.
As expected, the Pride have leaned on its rushing attack to score some important wins this fall, along with senior quarterback Armando Torres, who stepped in for David Wells last week to guide the Pride to an end-of-season win against the Cardinals.
Torres operated the team’s triple-option offense quite well against Catholic – he completed two of three passes for 17 yards and one touchdown to go with 62 rushing yards on seven carries and one score.
Springfield’s win against Catholic, along with their come-from-behind victory against MIT, could provide the Maroon and White with enough momentum to win its first national postseason contest in 16 years (the Pride’s last postseason win came in 2006 when they beat Curry College in the opening round).
Common Foes: Endicott and Springfield both scored wins this fall against Husson University, Norwich University, Western New England, and WPI.
The Matchup within the Matchup: The biggest question heading into Saturday’s contest is will Endicott’s rushing defense be able to stop Springfield’s triple-option offense?
Endicott has limited opposing rushing attacks to 81.9 yards per game but will need to find a way to stop a Springfield rushing attack that is averaging 357 yards per game.
Additionally, Springfield’s offense has been on the field for an average of 35:02, which is something to watch, as well – what happens if the offense is on the field for less than 35 minutes on Saturday? Does that mean Endicott will win this matchup?
With the way Endicott’s defense has been playing these last few weeks, don’t be surprised if this turns into a low-scoring affair.
Players to Watch on Endicott: Clayton Marengi (QB), Tyler Bridge (RB), Anthony Caggianelli (RB), Yavier Cosme-Diaz (RB), Anthony Bracamonte (WR), Shane Aylward (WR), Everett Knowlton III (TE), Quinten Fox (P), Matthew Licciardi (LB), Jackson DeAngelo (LB), Tyler Davis (DB), Colin Meropoulos (DL), and Hector Johnson (DL).
Players to Watch on Springfield: David Wells (QB), Armando Torres (QB), Joseph Cannizzaro (FB), Arsen Shtefan (FB), Dante Vasquez (HB), Jacob Silvester (HB), Noah Wagnblas (WR), Christian Hutra (K), DJ Brown (LB), Tyler Pohlman (DB), Billy Carr (LB), and Aiden Lewin (LB).
Nine weeks of New England NCAA Division III football have concluded – that was fast!
Before we officially turn the page to the tenth week, let’s see where things stand with all five New England D-III conferences.
Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC): The Gulls of Endicott College inched closer to winning their second-straight conference crown today with a 48-7 victory over Curry College.
In addition to capturing their eighth contest of the season, along with their fourth-straight conference matchup, the Gulls received some help today from two conference foes: Husson University and the University of New England. Both teams scored week nine victories with Husson topping Western New England, 27-17, and UNE beating Salve Regina University, 30-12.
With two conference losses, Salve Regina, UNE, and Western New England will most likely not win the CCC this fall – sure, there is a slight chance one of the three could still win it if Endicott and Husson both lose their final two matchups.
Husson remains in the mix for the league crown, despite losing to Endicott earlier this month. The Eagles need to win their final two games against Nichols College and Salve Regina, as well as hope the Seahawks or Golden Bears beat the Gulls.
It’s possible Endicott losses one of its final two contests, but it seems hard to fathom, especially with a defense that has pitched four shutouts this fall.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): Two teams remain in contention for the ECFC crown.
Castleton University and Gallaudet University each recorded important week nine wins this afternoon – the Spartans topped Alfred State, 37-13, while the Bison topped Anna Maria College, 27-13.
Alfred State entered the ninth week needing a win to remain in the mix for a league crown, but with two conference losses, the Pioneers find themselves on the outside heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Gallaudet has the inside track to win the crown, thanks to a 20-17 win earlier this month against Castleton. The Bison can increase their chances of winning the league crown with a week 10 victory at Alfred State (Gallaudet has won all three of its road games this season).
Castleton is idle next week but will certainly be keeping its eyes on Gallaudet-Alfred State.
An Alfred State win over the Bison would allow Castleton an opportunity to clinch the crown by beating Anna Maria in week 11.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): UMass Dartmouth is inching closer to winning its first league title since they were a member of the New England Football Conference (NEFC).
The Corsairs sailed past Bridgewater State this afternoon by a score of 48-7, to secure their seventh-straight win, dating back to a week three victory over Framingham State.
Bridgewater State needed to win this afternoon’s contest, along with its final two contests to keep its title hopes alive.
UMass Dartmouth will be idle next week but can clinch the conference crown on the second Saturday of November with a win over Plymouth State.
Speaking of the Panthers, they remain in the conference race, despite losing earlier this month to Western Connecticut. The Green and White have won their last three contests and need to beat Massachusetts Maritime Academy next Saturday to make their week 11 tilt with the Corsairs a win-or-go-home game.
A loss to the Buccaneers next Saturday would provide the Corsairs with the crown on their bye week.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): Get ready for an exciting two weeks of NEWMAC football.
The league crown will be awarded to either Catholic University or Springfield College – both teams have won four conference meetings, respectively.
Catholic outlasted Merchant Marine last weekend while Springfield relied on David Wells’ arm (three passing touchdowns) to beat the Mariners in Kings Point, New York this afternoon.
Springfield has not dropped a conference meeting since 2019. Additionally, the Pride has not lost a game since week four of the current season.
Catholic was idle this week but returns to the gridiron next Saturday when they visit Norwich University. Springfield will entertain MIT.
If both teams win their respective week 10 matchup then their week 11 meeting will determine which squad will represent the NEWMAC in the national postseason.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Trinity College is two wins away from clinching its first-ever 9-0 season.
Trinity has finished previous campaigns without a loss but has never won nine-straight contests.
The NESCAC began playing a nine-game season in 2017.
Trinity rolled past Bowdoin College this afternoon to secure its seventh win of the season.
Next week, the Bantams will visit Bates College, a team they beat last year by 38 points. The Bantams should be able to beat the Bobcats again this year – Bates has produced just two wins under first-year coach Matt Coyne.
The Bantams can win the conference crown outright by beating Bates, along with Wesleyan University in its season finale. However, a loss to Bates or Wesleyan would open the door for a two-way tie with Middlebury College.
Since losing to Trinity earlier this month, Middlebury has scored back-to-back wins over Bates and Colby College to keep pace with the Bantams.
For the Panthers to have a chance to share the crown, they must beat Hamilton College and Tufts University, two teams Trinity has already beaten both teams this season.
Wesleyan’s title hopes are slim, but they can share the crown with two more wins, along with a Trinity and Middlebury setback – maybe two setbacks, to be exact.
All in all, Trinity seems destined to win the NESCAC crown, as well as become the second team in conference history to finish its respective campaign with a 9-0 record.
Before a single New England NCAA Division III football game was recorded this fall, many, including myself, did not know who Montie Quinn was or what he could do.
Through eight contests, it’s fair to say Quinn has become the spark for a Curry College football team that has won three games this fall, including a Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) victory against Salve Regina University.
Curry’s 37-20 win over Salve Regina was the team’s first victory over the Seahawks in Milton, Massachusetts since 2009.
Quinn has registered 944 rushing yards (fourth in D-III) on 169 carries to go with 13 touchdowns (second in D-III).
His best performance of the season occurred last month when he rushed for both a career and season-high 203 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns against Dean College.
His effort against the Bulldogs helped the Colonels provide first-year coach Todd Parsons with his initial victory.
The 203 rushing yards are the most Quinn has tallied in a single game this season – one week later against Hilbert College, he reached the end zone four times. Had he rushed for five touchdowns against the Hawks, he would have matched Michael Waithe’s single-game record for five scores against Western New England in 1987.
With two games remaining, Quinn has a chance to etch his name in the Curry record book – perhaps he could tie Raphael Zammit with 18 rushing touchdowns, pending he is able to locate the end zone five more times in his team’s final two contests against Endicott College and Nichols College.
Whether he ties or establishes new single-season records, Quinn is certainly a player to watch in Curry’s final two contests.
In addition to Quinn, there are a few more halfbacks to watch in New England, including two Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) student-athletes thank rank in the top 10 in rushing yards in D-III: Chad Blasky (Western Connecticut) and Adam Couch (Bridgewater State).
Like Quinn, Blasky ranks in the top five in Division III with 946 rushing yards on 197 carries and five touchdowns.
All three statistical categories – attempts, yards, and touchdowns – are both career and season-bests for Blasky, who concluded the 2021 season with 713 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Blasky recorded four rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games this fall against Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth while locating the end zone three times against Bridgewater State. Additionally, he completed a pair of passing attempts last Saturday for 20 yards and one touchdown. His effort, both through the air and ground, helped the Wolves beat Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 24-3.
Adam Couch enters Saturday’s marquee matchup with UMass Dartmouth with the ninth most rushing yards (841) in Division III. He has located the end zone nine times and is inching closer to matching his rushing totals from last season, which saw the Assumption College transfer record 1,020 yards on 167 carries and 13 touchdowns.
Couch has registered 100 rushing yards or more in his team’s last five outings – additionally, he has located the end zone either once, twice or three times in each contest.
Last week against Westfield State, Couch rushed for a season-high 167 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, which helped the Bears clinch their fourth-straight win.
With three games remaining, it seems likely that Couch will either match or establish a few career bests in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns.