By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)
Earlier this season, we unveiled our Noontime Sports 2017 Team of the Year, but now it is time to re-visit the New England Division III season once more!
That’s right, it’s time for a Noontime 2017 Rewind as we look back on the past few months of coverage, while slowly looking ahead to what we can expect from the New England Division III Football world in 2018.
It was a great year of coverage and we certainly look forward to doing it again next season, so stay tuned, New England Division III football fans and friends!
Teams of the Year: For starters, we must begin with Husson University, which was led by senior tailback John Smith, who rushed for 31 touchdowns this season and 2,242 yards on 340 carries.
Smith, who was tabbed our Offensive Player of the Year, guided the Eagles to an exciting postseason victory over Springfield College before putting a scare into Delaware Valley in round two – the win over the Pride was the Eagles’ first-ever playoff win.
Despite falling short to the Aggies, the Eagles left a serious impression on us for the upcoming season and will certainly be one of our top teams to watch in 2018.
Springfield College also enjoyed an impressive 2017 campaign, winning 10-straight regular season contests, as well as the first-ever New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown. The Pride scored an exciting opening day win against Western New England, which was followed-up with another impressive victory against Kean (28-8) in week two.
The Pride concluded their season with an impressive 435.2 rushing yards per game, while the defense held opponents to roughly 12 points per game. Senior halfback Jordan Wilcox was one of four nominees for this year’s Gagliardi Trophy.
Trinity College and Williams College are two other schools that deserve this particular honor – the Bantams captured another New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown this fall, while the Ephs enjoyed a bounce-back season under second-year coach Mark Raymond. The Ephs received a boost from first-year (and NESCAC Rookie of the Year) quarterback Bobby Maimaron, who led the Purple and Gold past Amherst College in the final game of the year – it was an overtime thriller!
Let’s not forget about Curry College or Framingham State – both teams met in the New England Bowl last month and will certainly be teams to watch in 2018. Additionally, we cannot overlook WPI, which won its first-ever postseason game against SUNY Maritime in the New England Bowl, too. The Engineers could certainly be a team that challenges the Pride for the top seed in the NEWMAC last year, so let the countdown to Springfield-WPI begin! Another team to watch in the NEWMAC next season … MIT!
Finally, a tip of the cap is due to Plymouth State, which again enjoyed another winning season – the Panthers captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown en route to a first-round playoff match-up against Brockport.
The NESCAC Nine Game Schedule was … AWESOME: The nine-game schedule in the NESCAC this season was awesome … seriously, we really enjoyed it!
Every week was must-see, must-follow and must-watch football – everyone had a chance to contend for the crown and a new storyline always unfolded after the final game concluded.
Trinity College may have been the team to beat again this season, but watching Amherst College, Middlebury College and Williams College compete with them for the top spot was extremely exciting. Additionally, let’s not overlook Tufts University and Wesleyan University, which also provided the Bantams with some challenges along the way to another league crown, too.
Outside the race for the crown, it was awesome to see the Maine triangle (Bates College, Bowdoin College and Colby College) continue their CBB rivalry.
We are really excited to see what happens next year, but all in all, the nine-game schedule was awesome!
The Football Friday Podcast: As sports media evolves, so does Noontime Sports and it seems like our weekly – and yes, sometimes bi-weekly – podcast on New England Division III football worked, so thank you all for tuning in/listening to our various conversations with coaches, student-athletes and media members.
We’ll continue it again next season, but certainly open to additional ideas or thoughts – maybe we should do a special segment like a ‘lightening round?’ Luckily, we have time to figure out some additional content ideas before a new season kicks-off, so keep your eyes out for season two of Football Friday, which will most likely begin next August.
ESPN D3 Coverage … MORE PLEASE: It was great to see the Coast Guard-Merchant Marine game streamed on ESPN3 last month – we need to see more games like this one on the four-letter network next year and beyond. Perhaps we could see more Division III (and some Division II games, too) on a new streaming service/platform, which ESPN plans to roll out next year? It is possible, so let’s see what happens, but that would be a great place for fans to go to watch and stream games.
Closing Thoughts: It was a great season – seriously, it was a tremendous year with some great stories and outcomes, which means 2018 should be even more exciting. We’re counting down the days to camp – yep, the clock is ticking in our office – and will look forward to bringing you coverage of New England Division III Football in 2018, so see you all on the gridiron soon!