Tag: Framingham State University

Mass. High School Football Notebook: Early Optimism for Somerville; Week One Picks

A new chapter of Somerville’s high school football program begins Saturday under first-year coach David Pereira. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

A brand-new season of Massachusetts high school football begins this week – one game to watch this evening is Georgetown visiting Boston Latin Academy in Jamaica Plain at 6 p.m.

Tomorrow – and yes, Saturday, too – will feature more games to watch (and follow).

With a new season comes hope and optimism – one team that appears both excited and eager for a new season is Somerville.

The Highlanders begin a new chapter this fall with first-year coach David Pereira, who previously oversaw the Belmont defense. Pereira is a Somerville native and has enjoyed teaching a sport he has played most of his life, including in college with Framingham State University.

Pereira and I connected earlier this summer for a podcast interview – feel free to jump back into the podcast portal to hear our chat – but I recently visited with him, along with the team last week. I also saw Somerville compete against the Boston Latin School last Friday – the Highlanders allowed an early touchdown in their non-league scrimmage with the Wolfpack before responding with a few scores before halftime.

Somerville’s defense improved every series against the Wolfpack with their biggest play coming before intermission: a key fourth down stop.

Making key third (and fourth) down stops will be critical for a unit that struggled to slow down both conference and non-conference foes last fall. But with a coach that knows a thing (or two) about defense, don’t be surprised if this unit gradually improves week-by-week.

“We just have to go out there and worry about ourselves, and that’s all that really matters (at this time),” said Pereira when discussing the early outlook for the Highlanders.

The Highlanders face North Quincy in their season-opener on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m.

Staying within the Greater Boston League (GBL), one game worth watching (or following on social media) tomorrow is a non-conference tilt between Everett and Xaverian Brothers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the game taking place at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Everett and Xaverian met last year with the Crimson Tide scoring an opening day win in Westwood. The victory would be followed by a few more – Everett advanced to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Division I Tournament but saw its bid for a state title conclude with an opening round setback to Methuen.

The early-season expectation is that Everett will be one of 16 teams vying for a D-I state title this fall – the same could be said for Franklin, Central Catholic, St. John’s Prep, Xaverian, and Springfield Central.

Another GBL squad to watch this fall is Lynn Classical.

Coach Brian Vaughn begins his sixth season with the Rams, who have certainly challenged themselves this summer with back-to-back scrimmages against St. John’s Prep and Reading.

The Green and White begin their campaign tomorrow against Lexington, a team they defeated last year in their season-opener by a score of 38-7.

Brian Vaughn Jr. won’t be under center this fall for Lynn Classical, so all eyes will be on the team’s former slot receiver, Robert Faessler, who be tasked with leading an offense that was able to produce 32 points or more in a few early season contests last year.

Lastly, GBL fans should keep an eye on Revere, a squad that concluded its 2021 campaign with six wins and two losses.

Sadly, the 6-2 record did not translate to a postseason appearance for the Patriots, which will certainly be determined to do whatever it takes to secure a spot in the Division III playoffs.

Coach Lou Cicatelli will lean on a few key members of last year’s squad, including Max Doucette, who anchored Revere’s Wing T offensive line.

Revere visits Peabody on Friday with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

Noontime’s High School Football Picks for Week One

  • Revere over Peabody: The Patriots begin their 2022 campaign with an opening day win against the Tanners to earn some much-needed momentum for their home-opener next week against Plymouth South.
  • North Reading over Northeast: Quarterback Alex Carucci begins his senior season with the Hornets by throwing a few touchdowns in North Reading’s season-opener.
  • Dedham over Westwood: Hard to pick against my hometown Wolverines — yes, I am a Westwood High School alum — but I expect coach Mike Cloutier to begin his second season with a win over the Green and White.
  • Arlington over Medford: The Spy Ponders are young, but will lean on quarterback Jake Schiano and running back Kayden Mills to score an opening day victory against the Mustangs.
  • Wilmington over Arlington Catholic: Coach Craig Turner and the Wildcats will be a squad to watch in the Middlesex League this fall — look for the Blue and White to score an early season win to provide them with some momentum for next week’s matchup with Greater Lowell Tech.

Noontime’s New England D3 Football Top 20 Poll (Week 10)

By NoontimeSports.com

The ninth week of the 2021 New England NCAA Division III football season was quite exciting — there were some really interesting outcomes, including Williams College rolling past Trinity College and Springfield College outlasting the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

With today (Sunday, October 31) marking the official start of the tenth week of the season, allow us to share a brand new New England Top 20 Poll, which finds Salve Regina University in the top spot for the second straight week.

A quick program note: our New England Division III Top 20 Poll will be posted for the remainder of the season on Sundays due to our New England Division III Basketball Polls — our week one poll will be posted tomorrow, Monday, November 1, 2021.

1. Salve Regina University (8-1, 4-1 CCC | LW: No. 1): The Seahawks flew past Curry College on Saturday, thanks to five touchdown passes from Jack Maguire.  

2. Williams College (7-0, 7-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 5): The Ephs scored a statement win against Trinity College this past weekend.

3. Endicott College (7-2, 4-1 CCC | LW: No. 3): Ryan Smith’s game-winning field goal helped the Gulls edge the University of New England.

4. Western New England (5-3, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 4): The Golden Bears return from their bye as a team to watch in the final two weeks.

5. Framingham State (6-2, 6-0 MASCAC | LW: No. 6): The Rams moved up two spots after winning the Kelley Cup against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

6. UMass Dartmouth (7-2, 5-2 MASCAC | No. 9): The Corsairs won their first game against Bridgewater State this past weekend since 2014.

7. Husson University (6-2, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 10): The Eagles head into the final two weeks of the 2021 regular season with some momentum, which will be tested against Salve Regina and Western New England.

8. Bridgewater State (5-3, 5-1 MASCAC | No. 7): The Bears tumble one spot after seeing their five-game winning streak snapped at home. Despite the loss to the Corsairs, Bridgewater State is still in the mix for the conference crown.

9. Springfield College (5-3, 4-0 NEWMAC | No. 11): The Pride head into their final two contests with a great deal of momentum following a big win against the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

10. Trinity College (6-1, 6-1 NESCAC | LW: No. 2): The Bantams were held to just three points last Saturday against Williams but will attempt to bounce back this week against Amherst College, which handed Wesleyan University its first loss of the 2021 season.

11. Amherst College (5-2, 5-2 NESCAC | LW: No. 15): The Mammoths moved up four spots after outlasting Wesleyan University in overtime.

12. Wesleyan University (6-1, 6-1 NESCAC | LW: No. 8): The Cardinals tumble four spots following a difficult setback to Amherst College in the pouring rain. This week, they head to Williamstown.

13. Plymouth State (4-4, 4-2 MASCAC | LW: No. 13): Make it four straight wins for the Green and White as the Panthers topped Westfield State on the road.

14. MIT (4-3, 2-2 NEWMAC | LW: No. 14): The Engineers scored their second straight conference win with a 21-7 victory over Coast Guard Academy.

15. Castleton University (5-3, 3-1 ECFC | LW: Not Ranked): The Spartans make their initial appearance on the poll this week after a big win over Anna Maria College this past weekend. Like the AMCATs, the Spartans are in the mix for their conference crown.

16. Anna Maria College (5-2, 3-1 ECFC | LW: No. 12): The AMCATs saw their five-game winning streak snapped this past weekend but will look to bounce back this Saturday in Paxton when they host Gallaudet University.

17. Massachusetts Maritime Academy (4-4, 3-3 MASCAC | LW: No.16): The Buccaneers lost the Kelley Cup but will attempt to bounce back with a win on the road this week at Plymouth State.

18. Western Connecticut (4-5, 3-4 MASCAC | LW: No. 18): The Colonials snapped a three-game losing streak with a big win against Worcester State.  

19. Colby College (3-4, 3-4 NESCAC | LW: No. 19): The Mules are one win away from winning the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) trophy.

20. University of New England (3-4, 1-3 CCC | LW: No. 17): The Nor’easters came close to upsetting Endicott this past weekend.

Noontime’s Teams To Watch In NCAA D-III Region 1

MIT will be one of a few teams to watch in the NEWMAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

A brand new season of NCAA Division III football is quickly approaching. And we’re excited about the upcoming season. Are you?

As a part of our early preseason coverage, we will be producing a list of 10 to 12 teams we will be watching this fall in regions one and two — yes, the NCAA has divided 239 teams into six regions for the upcoming season compared to previous years, which saw programs listed in the North, South, East, and West. These changes were highlighted on D3Football.com earlier this month.

So, without further ado, let’s begin our early preseason watch with our teams to watch in Region 1 this fall!

Delaware Valley: As noted last week on our podcast — well, we need to give some credit to James Baker of In The D3FB Huddle — the Aggies will most likely be the top team this fall in this particular region. DelVal did not play last fall or earlier this spring, but posted an 11-2 record in 2019, which included eight conference wins in Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). The Aggies will begin their 2021 campaign at Kean University on Friday, September 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Endicott College: The Gulls improved from 2018 to 2019. And despite not appearing on the gridiron last fall, it is expected the trend will continue this season when coach Paul McGonagle leads the Blue and Green onto the field on Saturday, September 4 against St. Lawrence University.

Framingham State University: Aynsley Rosenbaum will make his head coaching debut on Labor Day Weekend — Saturday, September 4 at 12 p.m., to be exact — when the Rams welcome Brockport to Bowditch Field. Rosenbaum spent 12 seasons with the Black and Gold as the offensive coordinator, and has helped the Rams win nine conference championships.

Merchant Marine: The Mariners competed one last fall — they defeated their rival Coast Guard Academy in the Secretaries Cup. Quarterback Ian Blankenship highlighted his team’s lone win of the 2020 season and will certainly be a player to watch this fall.

Middlebury College: In 2019, the Panthers were perfect, winning all nine New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups to become just the fourth team in league history to record an undefeated season.

Misericordia University: First-year coach John Davis and the Cougars will be a team you certainly will want to keep your eyes on this fall — Davis arrives in Dallas, Pennsylvania after three successful seasons with The Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia. Under Davis, the Builders posted back-to-back winning seasons in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, Davis and the Builders beat Oakland University in the NCFA National Championship.

MIT: The Engineers have averaged 7.66 wins in their last three seasons — they have also represented the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. MIT’s previous success should continue this fall, but like previous years, they will face some challenges against two local conference foes: Springfield College and WPI.

Stevenson University: Similar to the Aggies, the Mustangs will also be a team to watch in this particular region — they open their season against Johns Hopkins, which finished its 2019 campaign with an 8-3 record, including a 6-3 mark in the Centennial Conference (CC). Their matchup with the Blue Jays will be followed by two VERY iroad trips at RPI and Delaware Valley.

Trinity College: Look for the Bantams to bounce back this fall after posting a 5-4 record in 2019. Prior to their five-win season, the Bantams produced three eight-win seasons, including a perfect 8-0 mark in 2016.

UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch is back to quarterback the Corsairs for one more season — in 2019, he led the Blue and Gold to a 7-3 season. UMass Dartmouth last recorded seven wins in 2004 when they were a member of the New England Football Conference (NEFC).

Western New England: The Golden Bears have won eight games or more since 2014, and will once again be one of a few teams to watch in New England this fall. And like most teams, they did graduate some talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Alec Coleman, but expect Jason Lebeau‘s squad to be ready come week one when they host Springfield College on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

Wilkes University: Coach Jonathan Drach and the Colonels enjoyed a successful 2019 season, which saw the team post eight wins for the first time since finishing 8-3 in 2005. Despite losing to Susquehanna University in the Centennial/MAC Bowl, the Colonels should be able to continue to their momentum this fall when they kickoff their season at Schmidt Stadium against Keystone College on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

Noontime’s ‘What If’ D3 Football Conference Champion Predictions

Bobby Maimaron and the Williams College football team would have been one of our teams to watch this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College)

By Matt Noonan

Like many of our fans and friends, I miss New England D-III football. But as an optimist, I believe we’ll see our favorite teams and student-athletes back on the gridiron at this time next year vying for conference crowns, along with at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.

And speaking of conference crowns – and yes, the national postseason, too – I thought it would be fun to produce a special Noontime’s ‘What If‘ post on which teams I believe would have won their respective conference this fall.

As expected, these predictions were not easy as there are a slew of teams and programs capable of winning their respective conference, but here are my predictions. And as usual, you can share your thoughts with me on social media, as well as send a note to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.

Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC): Western New England

For the past few seasons, the Golden Bears have been the team to watch and beat in this conference. And once again, Western New England would be the squad to watch in the CCC this fall. They would most likely enter their final game of the regular season with two important wins against Endicott College and Salve Regina University. And like most teams highlighted in this post, the 2020 Golden Bears would look a bit different than previous years, especially on offense as they would have a new quarterback, but their defense would be be a unit to watch – it would be led by linebacker Erich Keutmann, who was named a D3Football.com Preseason All-America second-teamer in September.

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): Dean College

The Bulldogs captured their first-ever conference crown last season, thanks to quarterback Terrell Watts, who was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, along with wide receiver Errol Breaux and safety Tyzohn Poole. Of course, there would be other student-athletes to watch as the season progressed, but at this point of the 2020 season, the Bulldogs would have claimed some important wins against Castleton University and SUNY Maritime. They would have also beaten a new D-III football team: Keystone College.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State University

Like Western New England, it is hard to pick against the Rams, which would be starting a new chapter in its program history with first-year coach Aynsley Rosenbaum, who spent the past 12 seasons overseeing the Framingham State offense. But like prior years, this would be the team to watch in the MASCAC. Sure, they would look a bit different on offense without quarterback Adam Wojenski, who graduated last spring, but the Rams would welcome back some key pieces from that unit, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the 2019 MASCAC Rookie of the Year. Framingham State would be challenged for the top spot by Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Williams College

The Ephs of Williams College suffered just two setbacks last season, including an opening day loss to Middlebury College, which would be a game circled on their calendar this season. Williams would somehow find a way to beat the Panthers at home, along with Wesleyan University, which tripped up the Ephs prior to their season-ending win over Amherst College last November. But for the Ephs to win the NESCAC, they would not only need to beat Amherst, Middlebury, and Wesleyan, but also Trinity College and Tufts University. Additionally, let’s not overlook Colby College and Hamilton College, which would challenge the Purple and Yellow, but in the end, quarterback Bobby Maimaron, along with the rest of the Ephs would make just a few more plays in all nine contests to secure the NESCAC title.

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): Springfield College

Sure, MIT maybe the favorite after winning the NEWMAC crown the past two years, but it would be hard to overlook Springfield College, which would be led by halfback Hunter Belzo and linebacker AJ Smith. The Pride, which finished with six wins last year, would win at least seven, maybe eight games this season, but their most important victory would occur during the final weekend of the regular season against the Engineers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Football Friday: Revisiting Framingham State’s 2012 Campaign

Endicott Football
Framingham State’s Melikke Van Alstyne chases Endicott College’s PJ Bandini after an interception in the second half. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Friday, everyone!

And welcome to our second installment of ‘Football Friday,’ a post where we revisit stories, teams, coaches, and student-athletes that we have covered over the past decade.

Today, we’re jumping back to 2012 to highlight a Framingham State University football team that not only won the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship against Salve Regina University but also advanced to its first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament.

The Rams’ run toward a national championship, unfortunately, concluded in the opening round against SUNY Cortland – the Red Dragons edged Framingham State, 20-19, despite a fourth-quarter rally by the Black and Gold.

Yet, despite a one-point setback in the national tournament, the 2012 season was quite a memorable one for the Rams, which captured the program’s first and only NEFC title, while four members of the squad, including coach Tom Kelley, garnered major postseason awards from the conference. Additionally, Framingham State won 10 games for the first time in program history and only lost once in the regular season to Endicott College, which defeated the 2011 NEFC Bogan Division and Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions on the opening day of the 2012 season.

Endicott’s defense shined in its week one victory against the Rams as the unit finished the contest with five interceptions, five tackles for a loss, one fumble recovery, and a trio of pass break-ups.

“We stuffed them on first down (and) forced them (into) long second downs (and) that really got them out of their groove,” Endicott’s Andrew Holfinger said following his team’s initial win of its 2012 campaign.

Luckily, the loss to the Gulls was quickly forgotten six days later when Framingham State scored its first win of the 2012 season against Nichols College.

The Rams, who defeated the Bison by a score of 34-6, leaned on its ground game as both Matthew Mangano and Melikke Van Alstyne combined for four touchdowns and 393 rushing yards.

The victory over the Bison seemed to provide the Rams with a ton of momentum as they would go onto capture its next nine contests, including a 16-0 win over rival Bridgewater State University followed by an exciting overtime victory against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Not only did the Framingham State offense shine throughout the 2012 season, but so did  the defense, which limited its numerous foes to 12.8 points per game, along with 63.0 rushing yards per contest.

After registering just seven points in the opening week, the Rams concluded seven contests with 30 points or more. But during the team’s final regular-season contest against Worcester State University, all three units – offense, defense, and special teams – collaborated to produce a season-high 65 points.

The 65-21 win over the Lancers allowed the Rams to clinch its second-straight NEFC Bogan Division crown, as well as secure a spot in the conference’s championship round one week later against Salve Regina.

“We’re certainly going to be tested,” Kelley said when previewing his team’s contest against the Seahawks at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon, which was held at Harvard University.

Salve Regina entered the contest with an identical 9-1 record. The Seahawks averaged nearly 400 yards of offense while the defense limited opponents to roughly two touchdowns per game.

But despite scoring the first points of the 2012 NEFC title game, Salve Regina struggled to contain both Melikke Van Alstyne and Matthew Silva, who combined for three rushing touchdowns. 

James Muirhead led the Rams defense with eight total tackles, including three stops for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble.

Salve Regina, which trailed Framingham State by four points (14-10) at the break, attempted to mount a late comeback during the final minutes of the fourth quarter but saw its rally dashed when the Rams recovered its onside kick.

Moments after the final kickoff of the game was recorded, the Rams celebrated a hard-fought championship, which Muirhead considered “so surreal.”

“All the hard work paid off,” said Muirhead, who was named the Bull Mottola Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award following the final whistle.

“I don’t really have any words to explain it,” he would add.

The 28-16 win over the Seahawks was a culmination of the Rams’ commitment of hard work and determination that was fueled by an overtime setback one year earlier in the same contest to Western New England. And while the victory over the Seahawks did not spark a deep postseason run, it was certainly the beginning of many more conference titles and postseason appearances for a squad that has maintained its success over the past few years.

Watching – and yes, covering – this team truly made me fall in love more with small college football. The 2012 season truly marked the beginning of my tenure of producing content on various New England D-III athletic teams and programs, and I am thankful for the time both Tom Kelley and the players provided me throughout this exciting and historic campaign.