It’s that time of the week when we highlight five teams to watch this weekend in New England Division III. And with the tenth week quickly approaching, that means we better press the publish button … NOW!
Amherst College (5-2, 5-2 NESCAC): The Mammoths head into their final road game of the 2021 season with a great deal of momentum.
Last weekend, Amherst overcame a two-score deficit to edge Wesleyan University in four overtimes.
Can they continue that momentum this week against Trinity College? We think so.
Amherst has won two of their last five meetings with the Bantams, who have captured back-to-back contests in 2018 (27-16) and 2019 (21-7). When Amherst has beaten Trinity, it has been by at least a touchdown — in some games, it has been eight or nine points.
Like Wesleyan, Amherst is a resilient bunch — they bounced back from a 21-14 setback last month to Bowdoin College by scoring a pair of wins over Hamilton College and Wesleyan to put themselves in a position to conclude their 2021 campaign with possibly six or seven wins.
Trinity will enter Saturday’s contest looking to bounce back from a 42-3 setback to Williams College.
Anna Maria College (5-2, 3-1 ECFC): For the past few weeks, the AMCATs of Anna Maria appeared destined to win their first-ever conference crown. But after seeing their five-game winning streak was snapped last weekend to Castleton University, their hopes of winning an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title were somewhat derailed — well, at least for one day.
The AMCATs head into the final two weeks of the regular season in a four-way tie for first place in the conference. And this week’s contest with Gallaudet University is an important one as the Bison are also in the position to win the ECFC crown.
Under the direction of coach Dan Mulrooney, the AMCATs have beaten the Bison once when they ended their 2019 campaign with a 53-14 victory.
A win against the Bison would keep the team’s conference title hopes alive while a loss would result in some scoreboard watching next weekend.
Bridgewater State (5-3, 5-1 MASCAC): Despite losing to UMass Dartmouth last weekend, the Bears of Bridgewater State are still in the mix for the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown. However, for the Red and White to win their first title since 2016, they will need to score two more wins against Framingham State and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Wins against the Rams and Buccaneers are possible, but coach Joe Verria’s squad needs to play their best football, both this week and next week. Additionally, the Bears will need to lean on halfback Adam Couch, who leads the conference with 125.4 rushing yards per game.
Couch recently became the ninth running back in Bridgewater State’s program history to eclipse 1,000 yards last weekend — he has currently rushed for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns in eight contests.
Bridgewater State has won four of six contests this fall when Couch rushes for 100 yards or more.
Castleton University (5-3, 3-1 ECFC): The Spartans head into their final two contests with a great deal of momentum, thanks to three-straight wins, including an impressive 38-31 victory last Saturday against Anna Maria.
Like the AMCATs, the Spartans are one of four teams in first place with hopes of winning the conference crown.
This week, the Green and White will head to New York to compete against an Alfred State squad that has also won three of four conference matchups this season. For Castleton to be successful, they will need to find a way to slow down quarterback Aaron Jenkins, who rushed for three touchdowns last weekend against Keystone College while completing 8 of 12 passes for 126 yards.
Castleton should be able to come away with a hard-fought win to keep momentum on their side for next week’s home date with Gallaudet.
Salve Regina University (8-1, 4-1 CCC): The Seahawks are one win away from matching their 9-2 record from 2012 when they captured the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division crown and competed in the league’s final championship game against Framingham State.
If the Seahawks are going to enter their upcoming bye week with nine wins, then they must play perhaps their best football of the season against a Husson University squad that outlasted them in their previous meeting in 2019.
Like Salve Regina, Husson is in the mix for the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title but needs to win their last two contests against the Seahawks and Western New England. Neither matchup is going to be easy, but these Eagles must find a way to contain an impressive Salve Regina passing attack that produced five touchdowns last weekend against Curry College. In addition to an impressive showing by quarterback Jack Maguire, Nicholas Lane rushed for a season-high 102 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown.