New England D3 Football: 10 Games To Watch In Week One

Another season of New England D3 Football is right around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s never too early to start marking the calendar with Division III football games, especially with the opening kickoff just two weeks away.

In anticipation of the first kickoff of the 2016 season, which happens to be two weeks from today – Anna Maria vs. Coast Guard Academy – we have provided a list (and some quick thoughts) on what games you should keep an eye on (or attend) in week one.

Thursday, Sept. 1 – Coast Guard Academy at Anna Maria, 7 p.m. – We have been counting the days and weeks for this game, so when the Bears and AMCATs take the field, it will mean a new season of college football has begun. Keep an eye on Coast Guard Academy senior co-captain and quarterback Derek Victory, who enjoyed an impressive junior season under center.

Friday, Sept. 2 – UMass Dartmouth at Mount Ida, 6 p.m. – This is always a must-see game, according to Mount Ida head coach Michael Landers. Keep an eye on Mount Ida sophomore quarterback Jack Sheehan, who enjoyed an impressive first season, while also watching UMass Dartmouth junior linebacker Brandon Miller. Miller should be a focal point of the Corsairs’ defense this season.

Friday, Sept. 2 – Western New England at Springfield College, 7 p.m. – This has become a true rivalry game – basically, the winner becomes the so-called king of Springfield. The Golden Bears were picked to capture the New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown, but will be tested by a new-look Pride squad, which will be led by first-year head coach Mike Cerasuolo.

Friday, Sept. 2 – WPI at MIT, 7 p.m. – Both schools are rivals in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), so this game will certainly live up to its hype. WPI escaped last year’s meeting thanks to a fourth quarter field goal by senior Blaine Bursey.

Friday, Sept. 2 – Bridgewater State at Curry, 7 p.m. – A new era has begun in Bridgewater as long-time assistant and defensive coordinator Joe Verria will lead the Bears as the program’s interim head coach. The Bears beat Curry last year in their season opener, but the Colonels rebounded, capping their 2015 campaign by winning three of five contests.

Friday, Sept. 2 – Fitchburg State at Becker, 7 p.m. – After an impressive 7-3 campaign, the Hawks of Becker will look to prove 2015 wasn’t a fluke. First-year head coach Frank Forcucci, who spent the previous three seasons as the program’s Associate Head Coach and defensive coordinator, will lead Becker this fall. Fitchburg State – on the other hand – has high aspirations for this season and will be led by senior quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie, who tossed 26 touchdowns for the second-straight season.

 Friday, Sept. 2 – Salve Regina at Worcester St., 7 p.m. – The Seahawks of Salve Regina were picked to finish second the New England Football Conference (NEFC). They also appeared in our Noontime Sports Top 10 Preseason poll, too. Worcester State is one of our ‘Teams on the Rise,’ and this has always been an intriguing matchup, especially when each offense gets into a groove.

 Saturday, Sept. 3 – Endicott at Framingham State, 12 p.m. – Under second year head coach Kevin DeWall, the Gulls of Endicott will look to commence their season with an opening day road win against a Framingham State squad that will feature some new names on both sides of the ball. The Rams won last season’s opener in Beverly, defeating Endicott, 42-6. Endicott’s last win in Framingham came in 2012 with the Gulls claiming a 34-7 victory.

 Saturday, Sept. 3 – Plymouth State at Castleton, 1 p.m. – Castleton sophomore Mitchell Caron is expected to be spotted under center in the Spartans’ season opener. Quarterback George Busharis graduated this past spring, so it will be fun to watch Caron lead the Spartans. As for Plymouth State, they enter 2016 a year older and with more experience.

Saturday, Sept. 3 – Hartwick at West Conn., 5 p.m. – Senior halfback Michael Nicol will be expected to carry the load this year, and help Western Connecticut State kick-off its season with a win against a talented Hartwick squad. Nicol will be one of many players to watch on Joe Loth’s squad, especially if they want to make a run toward winning the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown.

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Championship Preview

Castleton State and Mount Ida College will compete on Saturday for the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Crown! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth

By Matt Noonan 

We’re less than 24 hours away until Championship Saturday commences, and excluding AIC-New Haven and Framingham State-Salve Regina, another key matchup to watch tomorrow will be the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Championship between Castleton State and Mount Ida College.

The winner of this particular match will win the conference and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Div. III Championship.

Here is a preview of this particular contest.

Records: Both teams are 7-2 overall. Castleton is 6-0 in the conference, while Mount Ida is 5-1.

Last Meeting: The last time these two squads met was during the final week of the 2011 season. The Mustangs defeated the Spartans in Newton, 54-34.

Biggest Win: The Spartans biggest win occurred in week one when they defeated non-conference foe Plymouth State, 35-7. Senior quarterback Shane Brozowski tossed four touchdowns and recorded 400 yards through the air.

The Mustangs biggest win came against conference foe Maritime (N.Y). Senior kicker Bobby Hemmann kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to secure a 24-21 victory.

Biggest Setback: Castleton’s biggest loss came a week after their first win in Beverley, Massachusetts against Endicott College. The Gulls soared past the Spartans, 66-14. Castleton held a lead midway through the first quarter, but Endicott managed to erase the deficit and go onto earn their second win.

As for Mount Ida, their worst loss came in week three against Springfield College. The Mustangs held a 14-point advantage in the third quarter, but the Pride rallied to defeat the visitors, 49-42. Senior quarterback Scott Drosendahl tossed five touchdowns in the loss, while sophomore Chris McNally rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries.

Castleton’s New Quarterback: Last week, Brozowski suffered a season ending injury in his team’s win against Husson. So, without their starting gunslinger, the Spartans will rely on freshman George Busharis. The former Mansfield High School quarterback has appeared in six games this season and completed 11-of-22 passes for 152 yards. He’s recorded one touchdown and one interception, too.

The Mustang Way: Throughout the season, head coach Michael Landers has preached his team’s new motto: 1-0. It’s a theory that forces players to be discipline, but also focus on the task at hand. And ever since Landers first muttered the words of “going 1-0,” Mount Ida has been a different team.

Overview: Both these teams are evenly matched, but without Brozowski in the lineup, it could be a long day for Castleton State’s offense. However, the Spartans passing attack ranks second in the nation so don’t expect Busharis to struggle too much, especially if he’s able to connect with junior Brandon Boyle.

Drosendahl will be the main focal point for Mount Ida. The Mustangs senior quarterback ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency and is second in the conference in touchdown passes (26).

Castleton’s defense is the top squad in the conference when it comes to defending the pass, so Drosendahl will have to be at his best against an impressive Spartans secondary.

Prediction: Mount Ida College 31, Castleton State 28