Football Notebook: What Are The Best New England D3 Football Rivalries?

NS Football Notebook Logo

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11

What are some of the best New England D3 Football rivalries?

That is a tough one, eh?

You know the list includes a fair number of contests, including Amherst-Williams to Framingham State-Bridgewater State to Endicott-WNE.

But are there others? Of course!

Here are some of my favorite New England D3 Football rivalries (below!) – let me know what you think of my list by sending either a tweet to @MattNoonan11 or an email to MattNoonan@NoontimeSports.com.


Amherst vs. Williams: This has to be atop the list, right? This is one of the games to circle, no matter each team’s record. Last season, we saw the Ephs score an exciting win in overtime, thanks to an 11-yard burst by quarterback Bobby Maimaron. Amherst forced the extra session midway through the fourth quarter by scoring a pair of touchdowns in a span of 25 seconds. Both teams enjoyed successful 2017 campaigns, which means this year’s game in Amherst will be one to follow.

Framingham State vs. Endicott: This game has always been my welcome back to college football contest. Sure, they’re two different teams that are headed in different directions at the moment, but you know this is a game both players circle when schedules are released. Framingham State has dominated the series most recently, but this year could be different with Paul McGonagle pacing the Endicott sidelines.

Framingham State vs. Bridgewater State: This is has always been a go-to game in the MASCAC. A lot of the players on both rosters played either with or against each other in high school. So there is some bragging rights on the line. Bridgewater State needed some late heroics in 2016 to beat Framingham State – the win provided the Bears with the conference crown, along with an automatic invite into the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Jaquan Harris clinched the victory for the Rams with a late fourth quarter interception. Framingham State escaped Bridgewater with a six-point (19-13) win.

MIT-WPI: This has become a classic NEWMAC matchup – crazy to think it is a young rivalry, but it keeps getting better every season. Last fall, WPI managed to recover a crucial onside kick with with 20 seconds remaining to secure a 24-21 win over MIT. In 2016, Blaine Bursey kicked a 19-yard game-winning field goal in overtime to send WPI past the Engineers of MIT, 37-34. Bursey was also the difference in 2015 when the two teams met in Worcester as he booted a 26-yard field goal midway through the fourth to provide WPI with a 31-28 win.

Springfield-Western New England: Who will win this year’s Pynchon SAW? Springfield captured it last season, downing Western New England, 35-21. Perhaps this year’s game will be different – it is scheduled for Friday evening of Labor Day Weekend. Both programs are expected to be in the hunt for their respective conference crowns, so this is a great way to begin a new campaign with a solid win against a talented opponent.

Trinity vs. Wesleyan: It’s the battle of Connecticut! These two teams will once again be in the mix for a NESCAC crown this fall, so you know how important this game is, especially since it is the final contest for both squads. Trinity scored a convincing 28-3 victory last fall, so you have to wonder how the Cardinals of Wesleyan will respond this November.


Other Rivalries to Watch in New England D3 Football 

  • Salve Regina-Western New England: This game has often decided the conference championship.
  • Husson-Western New England: The Eagles of Husson proved they are a team to keep an eye on in New England last year with an impressive win over Springfield. These two teams met last year with WNE winning the game by a touchdown (21-14)
  • Becker-Nichols: If you’re looking for another ‘battle of Worcester’ then look no further than Becker-Nichols.
  • Bates-Bowdoin, Bates-Colby & Bowdoin-Colby (CBB Trophy): Bates captured last season’s CBB (Colby, Bates & Bowdoin) trophy with victories over Bowdoin and Colby. Can they do it against this fall?
  • Castleton-Norwich: It’s the battle for the Sap Bucket! Castleton won it last season, so can Norwich win it this year?
  • Coast Guard-Merchant Marine: This game was on ESPN last year and will continue to be a game to circle with both teams playing in the NEWMAC.
  • Fitchburg State-Worcester State: Looking for another Worcester rivalry? Then look no further than Falcons-Lancers.

Stay connected with our Noontime Sports Football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB

Football Friday Notebook: 10 Weeks Away From A Brand New D3 Football Season

NS Football Notebook Logo

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Welcome to Football Friday Notebook, fans and friends!

As see on Twitter earlier today, our good friends from In The (D3FB) Huddle tweeted that we are 10 weeks away from some major week one games.

What games are we most excited for? Hmm … well everyone, duh! We actually dished out some games to watch the first week earlier this month. And yes, we included one of our favorite Labor Day Weekend games between Springfield College and Western New England, along with Endicott College and Framingham State.

Yesterday, the National Football Foundation tweeted Maine Maritime Academy‘s Cody O’Brien was the NFF Scholar-Athlete of the Day. As noted in the tweet, O’Brien is a marine engineering technology major. Way to go, Cody!

Good news from Pro Football Talk regarding Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. As noted in this morning’s blog post, the former Bills signal-caller is doing well following his latest surgery, per an Instagram post. Jim’s wife Jill Kelly wrote that he is doing well under the circumstances.

Kelly announced five years ago that he had been diagnosed with cancer in his jaw, but has undergone numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We wish the best for both Jim and Jill, as well as their families – stay strong, Jim!


New England D3 Football Posts from earlier this week: 

Malik Grove to join the Amherst College football coaching staff as their running backs coach. 

Malik Hall tabbed the next coach at Bates College


We’re still a few weeks away from the start of New England Patriots Training Camp, but Patriots Wire has a few blockbuster trades the team could do to shake-up the roster for the upcoming season. One of the potential trades includes sending Rob Gronkowski to another team like the Houston Texans or San Francisco 49ers for two first-round picks.

As noted in the New Canaan AdvertisersZach Allen of Boston College was named to to Athlon’s Preseason All-America teams on Tuesday. Allen, who is from Connecticut, decided to forgo this year’s NFL Draft to stay with the Eagles for his senior season.

In addition to Allen, AJ DillonLukas DenisChris Lindstrom and Michael Walker were also named to the Athlon’s Preseason All-America teams. Dillon was selected to the second team – he will certainly be a running back to watch this fall.

Speaking of the Eagles’ football team, they recently announced their theme days for the 2018 season, which includes Senior Day, Youth & High School Football Day when they host Syracuse University on Saturday, November 24th.

Finally, Sports Illustrated highlighted five true freshmen that could make an impact this fall, including Georgia‘s James Cook.

Stay connected with Noontime Sports’ football coverage by following us at @Noontime_FB

Catching Up with Danny Lawson of Emmanuel College Men’s Basketball

ECMBBvsColby124
Danny Lawson (middle) was recently named earlier this month the third men’s basketball coach at Emmanuel College. (PHOTO CREDIT: David Le ’10/ Endicott College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It was announced earlier this month that Danny Lawson had been named the third head coach of the Emmanuel College men’s basketball team.

Lawson arrives in Boston, Massachusetts after a successful assistant coaching stint last winter with the Endicott College men’s basketball team. He helped coach Kevin Bettencourt and the Gulls to a 19-9 record, as well as a return trip to the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship against Nichols College.

No stranger to New England basketball, Lawson played at Lexington High School before continuing his career at nearby Bentley University where he guided the Falcons to an impressive 101-27 record in four years, which included a number one and two national rankings, along with an NCAA Elite Eight appearance (2007) and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance (2005).

Since graduating Bentley, Lawson has enjoyed a great deal of success in the basketball world, working for numerous programs at all three levels in the college world, while assisting the Boston Celtics during their 2008 NBA Championship run.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Lawson to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season with the Emmanuel men’s basketball team.

What interested you in becoming the program’s third head coach? And just to confirm, this is your first-time head coaching position, right?

When the job opened up, I was very excited to apply. Being from the Boston area, I knew a little bit about the history of Emmanuel’s academics and how it is has really exploded as an institution within the last decade. To me, it represented a college with great leadership and continuity. Combined with a tremendous location in the city of Boston – we are next to Fenway Park – I felt it could be a great opportunity for student-athletes academically, athletically and socially. Also, it certainly has always been a goal of mine throughout my coaching career to run my own program.

What did you know prior to accepting to the head coaching position about the Emmanuel men’s basketball program? 

I knew the program was relatively new since the college went co-ed in 2001. The athletic administration structure and support was very evident and crucial for me (throughout the interview process). Also, the program enjoyed success in the early-to-mid 2000s, winning between 17-to-20 games each season. As I prepared for my interviews,  I saw the roster was filled with some talented and young student-athletes, which will be returning this upcoming season. Throughout the interview process I also gained a lot of valuable information about the character of our returning players that are eager to be successful.

You were an integral part of Endicott College’s run to the CCC Championship last winter, so what were some things you learned from that experience, whih will help you in your new role with the Saints? 

I got to work alongside three excellent coaches and close friends in Kevin Bettencourt, Luke Richards and Lance Greene. I have known all three coaches for quite some time – I grew up and played basketball with Kevin, competing on the same AAU team since seventh grade. All three coaches helped me gain an understanding of the D3 landscape, including what it takes to coach at this level to recruiting. I had only coached in Division 1 and 2 levels, so last year’s experience was really instrumental in gaining an understanding of D3 basketball, but also how to be successful at this level, too. The group of players I had a chance to coach at Endicott was a really special group that made my experience at Endicott a lot of fun.

It sounds cliche, but looking back to both your playing career (at Bentley) and other stops, both in college and with the Boston Celtics, who have been some of the coaches and people that have molded you into the coach you are today? 

Like most coaches, I’ve been molded by every coach that I have played and worked for, beginning with my high school coach at Lexington, Bob Farias. Coach Farias had a legendary hall of fame career – he was the best motivator and developer of confidence that I have ever experienced.

Certainly the biggest influence has been my father, Jay Lawson. It is indescribable how much of an impact he has made on my coaching career, specifically in teaching and leading players.

I was fortunate to work for Jim Ferry for seven seasons – he is the former head coach at Duquesne, LIU Brooklyn, Adelphi and Plymouth State. The various opportunities he provided helped me become the coach I am today.

Jack Perri, who I worked with at LIU-Brooklyn – he would eventually become the team’s head coach and lead them to the NCAA Tournament. Jack was one of my assistant coaches when I played at Bentley and is someone I consider a true mentor.

I also spent a great season learning under Steve Evans at LeMoyne College. Steve had a lot of success at LeMoyne from a recruiting and coaching – he is one of the best teachers of the zone defense.

Finally, my season with the Boston Celtics was about as great first basketball coaching experience. Learning and watching from guys like Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau, Danny Ainge, Mike Longabardi and Ryan McDonough, as well as the players really helped shape my daily work ethic and approach.

Speaking of the Celtics, you were a member of the team’s 17th championship run, so how much do you think about that experience and being able to celebrate a title with a group that certainly seemed to buy-in from the get-go? 

I was very fortunate to be a part of the Celtics organization during their 17th championship season. To say it was an unbelievable experience would probably be an understatement. One of the biggest things I took away from the experience was how important an unselfish mentality and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the team is to a program’s success. Boston’s big three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen only cared about winning. They became totally invested in the team’s success right from the start when the team began its season training in Italy. And they had a great veteran bench presence combined with some young talent, as well. They also had a high level coaching staff and management team, but it all just came together at the right time and at the right point in their careers. It was really special.

Are you a Celtics fan or root for another team? 

Yes, absolutely. I grew up here and have always been a Celtics fan.

What does a new coach need to do to get prepared for a new season with a new program? How will you use the next few weeks and months to make sure the team will be ready to go come mid-October? 

Obviously there are a million things you need to accomplish when you take over a new program, but my focus this summer is all about building relationships, beginning with the current players in our program. Additionally, I look forward to meeting and building relationships on campus with other coaches, administrators, faculty and staff, too. I’m currently working on hiring the rest of our coaching staff for the upcoming season, while building and fostering recruiting relationships, as well. I am also working on completing and finalizing our game and practice schedule, while establishing our program’s identity.

Talk about building relationships with your players – how important is to begin those relationships now? 

It’s huge (and) has definitely been a primary focus for me the last two weeks. I have been able to meet with about half the team in-person, while conversing multiple times by phone or text with others. We need to build that mutual trust and respect on both sides, and then we can get on the court.

 

What is your all-time favorite basketball (or sports) movie?  

“Above the Rim” is definitely my favorite. I like others, as well, including “Blue Chips,” “Hoop Dreams” and more.  “Above The Rim” was ahead of its time with Kyle Lee Watson, Tommy Shepard, Birdie, and a lot of great actors and characters.

Finally, when you were growing up, who was a player or two that you idled? What did you like about their game? 

Like most people my age, I was a big Michael Jordan guy growing up. Also, Larry Bird, too. I loved their skill packages and competitiveness, as well as Bird’s passing ability, too.

Football Notebook: Early Thoughts On What Games To Watch In Week One In D3

NS Football Notebook LogoBy Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

A few days ago, some of the major sports outlets announced a few marquee college football games they will be broadcasting during weeks one, two and three.

Awful Announcing did a solid breakdown of who has the best and worst games – make sure to check it out!

So, that had me thinking the following question: what games will I be eyeballing come week one of the D3 football season?

Well, here are a few ideas – again, mind you this is a June post, so you can certainly expect more in-depth thought as we inch closer to the start of the 2018 season.


*  Season two of Football Friday the Podcast officially began last week with myself and James Baker discussing some offseason D3 football topics. 

Want more D3 football offseason interviews and analysis? Then check-out the In The (D3fB) Huddle offseason show, featuring Baker and Frank Rossi


Week One Games To Watch 

UNE at Coast Guard Academy (Aug. 30th): UNE will play its first-ever NCAA Division III football game on the road against a Bears squad that will look to be in the mix for a NEWMAC crown this fall.

Frostburg State at Stevenson (Aug. 30th): The Bobcats will attempt to win at least 10 games (or more!) again this season – if they accomplish that feat it would be three-straight seasons of winning 10 games or more. They registered 33 points last year in their opener against Stevenson.

Western New England at Springfield (Aug. 31st): Always a must-see game in the Springfield area. Plus, this year’s rivalry game marks a new era for the Golden Bears, who will be led by first-year coach (and alum) Jason Lebeau.

Delaware Valley at Wesley (Aug. 31st): Two of the best teams in the East Region will meet on a Friday evening to kick-off the season. Make sure to add this game to your calendar now!

Endicott at Framingham State (Sept. 1st): This has always been my ‘welcome back to football’ game every season. I will be on the PA mic for this game and will be keeping an eye on two storylines: Can the Rams get off to a strong start and what does the new era of Gulls football look like under first-year coach Paul McGonagle?

Hobart at Brockport (Sept. 1st): The Golden Eagles will once again be a team to watch this fall – can they make a return trip to the national semifinals? They kick-off their 2018 campaign against a Hobart squad that will be led by an alum named Kevin DeWall.

Plymouth State at Castleton (Sept. 1st): The Panthers captured the MASCAC crown, thanks to a dramatic win over Framingham State. They will look to commence a new campaign with by winning its season-opener for the third-straight year against Castleton.

SUNY Cortland at Fitchburg State (Sept. 1st): The Red Dragons will play back-to-back MASCAC games to start the season – do they begin their 2018 season with a win over the Falcons?

Husson at Union (Sept. 1st): The Eagles made believers out of all of us last season with an impressive win over Springfield in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Their postseason run concluded the following weekend against DelVal, however, they did score 15 points against them. The post-John Smith era will begin in New York – I will be keeping an eye on this game.

McDaniel at Catholic (Sept. 1st): The Cardinals will look to commence its new season with its second win over McDaniel in three years. Last year, Catholic fell to McDaniel, 30-10, but the Cardinals managed to overcome the early setback with back-to-back wins over Randolph-Macon and Utica.

Rochester at Case Western (Sept. 1st): The Yellow Jackets begin a new era as first-year coach Chad Martinovich takes over a Yellow Jackets squad that will look to be in the mix for a Liberty League (LL) crown this fall.

Stay connected with Noontime Sports Football by following us at @Noontime_FB on Twitter! 

Endicott Football Announces Captains For 2018 Season

wJ9T-Ymn_400x400By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Endicott College first-year football coach Paul McGonagle announced earlier today his team’s captains for the upcoming season:

As noted in today’s release, McGonagle said the quartet represents “the qualities that we are developing as a team.”

McGonagle and the Gulls commence their 2018 campaign on Saturday, September 1 when they travel to Framingham to face the Rams of Framingham State.