Our early preseason college football coverage continues by highlighting 10 teams we will be watching this fall in the NCAA Division III’s second region.
Yesterday — Tuesday, July 20, to be exact — we highlighted the first region, which included teams in our backyard here in New England, along with a few squads in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.
Alright, without further ado, let’s share our list (below) with teams from Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Brockport: Since 2016, Jason Mangone and the Golden Eagles have tallied seven wins or more — they posted a 13-1 record in 2017 and advanced to the second round of the 2019 NCAA Division III postseason after edging Western New England, 33-28. Brockport did graduate some key pieces from its 2019 squad, including linebacker Alex West, but should certainly be a team to watch in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference.
Cortland: It’s hard to rule out the Red Dragons on a yearly basis, which have averaged 7.2 wins since 2015. They produced an eight-win season in 2019 but ended with a setback in the New York Bowl to Hobart. The two teams are not scheduled to compete in the regular season, but could perhaps see each other later this year in the postseason.
Franklin & Marshall: The Diplomats have produced seven wins or more since 2016, as well as finished atop the Centennial Conference (CC) in 2017 with a 10-1 overall record. They will look to continue their momentum two years after posting a 7-4 mark in 2019, which was capped by a bowl victory against Misericordia University.
Hobart: After posting a 5-4 record in 2018, the Statesmen bounced back with a nine-win season in 2019, which was capped with a New York Bowl victory. One should expect the Purple and Orange to continue their momentum from two years ago when they commence their 2021 campaign at Alfred University on Friday, September 3 at 7 p.m.
Ithaca College: The Bombers have produced a trio of eight-win seasons in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and will look to continue that momentum this fall when they commence their 2021 campaign against Bridgewater State on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m. 2019 was a special season for the Blue and White as they not only won the 60th Cortaca Jug Game against Cortland at MetLife Stadium, but saw Will Gladney become the program’s all-time leading receiver in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays capped their 2019 campaign with a 51-28 Centennial-MAC Bowl game victory over Stevenson University — quarterback David Tammaro highlighted the win by completing 22 of 33 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a career-high 101 yards on 11 carries and concluded his career as the program’s record holder in total offense (11,369 yards), touchdown passes (85), 200-yard passing games (34), and 300-yard passing games (13). He also recorded three 400-yard passing games, too — crazy, right? — but this season, fans of the Blue Jays will see someone different under center, but expect the program’s recent success to continue.
Muhlenberg College: Quarterback Michael Hnatkowsky will be spotted under center this fall — the Philadelphia Pennsylvania native, who was named the Centennial Conference (CC) offensive player in the year in 2019, will look to continue his previous success after an impressive third season with the Mules that saw him record career-bests in completions (270), touchdown passes (46), passing yards (3,640), and efficiency (175.81).
Salisbury University: The Sea Gulls competed twice this year, beating Christopher Newport and Wesley College in back-to-back contests in March to gain some momentum heading into their 2021 season-opener at Albright College on Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m. Quarterback Jack Lanham accounted for three touchdowns in both spring games, including a pair of rushing scores, and will once again be a player to watch this fall after being named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) co-offensive player of the year with Ruhann Peele of Wesley.
Susquehanna University: The River Hawks concluded their 2019 campaign by capturing their third consecutive Centennial-MAC Bowl with a 88-24 win over Wilkes University. Susquehanna was one of two teams in the Centennial Conference to post 10 wins or more in 2019, and will once again be in the hunt for a league title as quarterback Michael Ruisch returns after finishing third in the conference in passing yards per game (215.9). Halfback Da’Avian Ellington is also back this season — the New Jersey native led all CC rushers with 112.3 yards per game in 2019.
Union College: 2019 was a very successful season for Jeff Behrman‘s Dutchmen — the sixth-year head coach guided the Maroon and White to an 11-1 season, which included a 33-0 shutout against RPI in their regular-season finale. Despite not playing last season, Union will once again be a team to watch this fall in the Liberty League (LL) as quarterback William Bellamy returns for his final season — he will be joined by a slew of other key pieces from the 2019 squad, including halfbacks Ike Irabor, who played locally at Xaverian Brothers High School, and Joseph Ferreira, a Rocky Hill, Connecticut native that rushed for a career-high nine touchdowns in 2019.