Tag: Liberty League

Noontime Football: 10 Games to Watch (Week One)

Sam Opont and the Endicott College Gulls begin their 2021 season at home against St. Lawrence University. (PHOTO COURTESY: David Le ’10 | Endicott College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to the opening week of the New England (and Northeast) college football season — yes, we know some teams have already competed on Wednesday and Thursday, but we’ll highlight (and pick) ten games to watch today and tomorrow (and maybe Sunday?). 

Anywho, we’re excited for a busy slate of games and hope you are, as well — let’s dish out and share some picks! 

Have a great weekend, everyone!


FEATURED GAME: St. Lawrence Univ. at Endicott College (Saturday, September 4 @ 12 p.m.): We’ll be in Beverly tomorrow to see the Gulls and Saints square-off in what should be an exciting week one tilt — make sure to check out our preview of the game, which was posted earlier today. We think Endicott will find a way to squeak out an exciting win with a last-minute touchdown drive. Prediction: Endicott 28, St. Lawrence 27


Westfield State at Nichols College (Friday, September 3 @ 6 p.m.): The Bison are a team to watch this fall, both in Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) and New England, and should be able to pick up an opening night win against an Owls squad that might surprise some this fall. Prediction: Nichols 30, Westfield State 13 

Salve Regina at Norwich University (Friday, September 3 @ 6 p.m.): Both teams are expected to be in the mix for their respective conference crown, but look for the Seahawks to lean on its running game — well, hand the ball off to Joey Mauriello a few times to squeak out an important road win. Prediction: Salve Regina 24, Norwich 20

Worcester State at WPI (Friday, September 3 @ 7 p.m.): When we last saw the Engineers of Worcester, they produced a 10 win season, which is the most wins they have tallied since winning nine games in 2017. This squad is a mix of first-years and veterans but look for Lou Duh (defensive line) and Phillip Durgin (fullback) to lead WPI to an opening night win. Prediction: WPI 24, Worcester State 10    

Merchant Marine at FDU-Florham (Friday, September 3 @ 7 p.m.): The Mariners won their only game of 2020 — they beat their rival Coast Guard Academy last November — and returned some key pieces from that squad, including quarterback Ian Blankenship, who will be a player to watch this fall. Prediction: USMMA 28, FDU-Florham 14  

Brockport at Framingham State (Saturday, Sept. 4 @ 12 p.m.): The Golden Eagles are 2-0 all-time against the Rams — they enter the 2021 season as one of the best teams in NCAA Division III and will certainly provide some challenges for Tom Kelley’s unit. Prediction: Brockport 35, Framingham State 14

Fitchburg State at Dean College (Saturday, September 4 @ 12 p.m.): Scott Sperone has waited quite some time to coach his first game since being named the new head coach at Fitchburg State in 2020. So Saturday’s contest with the Bulldogs will be a special day for the second-year coach, who is keeping the focus on building a culture with the Falcons. Dean is the favorite in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) and may have the edge being at home. PREDICTION: Dean 29, Fitchburg State 26

Springfield College at Western New England (Saturday, September 4 @ 1 p.m.): Bragging rights for the City of Springfield are on the lines when these two local rivals square off on Saturday. The Golden Bears return some key pieces from its 2019 squad, including wide receivers Steven Fedorchak and Adam Razza while Bailey Devine-Scott and Erich Keutmann are back to oversee a defensive unit that limited the Pride to 17 points in their previous meeting. Prediction: WNE 30, Springfield 16

Bridgewater State at Ithaca College (Saturday, September 4 @ 1 p.m.): The Bears are one of four teams — maybe five? — that we expect will be in the mix for the conference crown. And the same could be said for the Bombers of Ithaca, who compete in the Liberty League (LL). Both squads welcome some new members to their offense, defense, and special teams, which makes this contest a toss-up. Prediction: Ithaca 29, Bridgewater State 24

UMass Dartmouth at Husson (Saturday, September 4 @ 1 p.m.): On paper, this has the making for a really intriguing non-conference clash that should result in a back and forth affair. We believe the Corsairs have the edge in this one, but don’t be surprised if the Eagles score an exciting opening day victory. Prediction: UMass Dartmouth 30, Husson 28

Game of the Week Preview: St. Lawrence at Endicott (Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021)

Jamie Battaglia and the Saint Lawrence football team begin their 2021 season on the road Saturday, September 4 against Endicott College. (Tara Freeman – St. Lawrence University)

By Matt Noonan

The first official weekend of the New England (and northeast) college football season has finally arrived, which means it is time to preview our first “Game of the Week,” which pits Endicott College and Saint Lawrence University.

Before the Gulls and Saints square off on Saturday, September 4 at 12 p.m., let’s learn a bit more about each team, as well as make a prediction for who wins (and why?).

Stay Connected with Endicott-St. Lawrence Football: Watch the Game | Live Stats

The early outlook for Endicott College: The Gulls enter their first game of the 2021 season as our second-ranked team in this week’s New England Top 20 Poll (for week one) — Endicott is certainly one of many teams I (and others) in the area/region believe will be in the mix for their conference crown.

Coach Paul McGonagle has led the Gulls to eight wins or more in two seasons — in 2019, Endicott matched its win total from 2012 with nine wins while capping their campaign with a New England Bowl victory over Dean College.

The early outlook for Saint Lawrence: After posting a 9-1 record in 2016, the Saints have averaged three wins in their last three seasons — they did, however, finish 5-5 in 2019, including 3-3 in the Liberty League (LL).

When we last saw the Saints compete, they finished their 2019 season with back-to-back wins after starting their campaign with a pair of losses to Norwich University and Utica College.

Like the Gulls, the Saints enter 2021 with some believing they can challenge the top teams in the conference, including Union College, which checked in 15th in the most recent D3Football.com poll.

The Last Meeting (September 17, 2016): The Saints defeated the Gulls, 38-0 to clinch their third win of the 2016 season.

Quarterback Sean Richardson highlighted his team’s third win by completing 24 of 32 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns while halfback Rodrick Payne rushed for a game-high 114 yards on 21 carries.

The game was played at Hempstead Stadium in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Players to Watch on Endicott: RB John Kenney (Wilmington, Mass), WR Anthony Bracamonte (Saco, Maine), WR Shea McManaway (Lisbon, Conn.), DL Sam Opont (Bridgeport, Conn.), LB Tim Russell (Stoneham, Mass.) and LB Mehdi Squalli (Rochester, N.Y.)

Players to Watch on Saint Lawrence: QB Tyler Grochot (Ottawa, Ontario), RB Jamie Battaglia (Brewerton, N.Y.), WR Andrew Murphy (Glens Falls, N.Y.), OL Max Warden (Potsdam, N.Y.), DL Caleb Null (Carthage, N.Y.), DL Ryan Reinke (Schenectady, N.Y.), LB Kyle Frimel (Cream Ridge, N.J), and DB Max Gilbert (Newburyport, Mass.)

Prediction: Endicott 28, St. Lawrence 27: As I said on this week’s podcast when discussing the first week of games with James Baker, I like the Gulls in this one – I think they will feed off their home crowd to score a late touchdown and squeak out a win. However, I do think the Gulls defense will be challenged by an up-tempo offense led by quarterback Tyler Grochot.

All in all, Saturday will be an exciting day for everyone as we celebrate the return to the field.

Noontime’s Teams To Watch in NCAA D-III Region 2

Michael Hnatkowsky and the Muhlenberg College football team will be a team to watch this fall in NCAA Division III Region 2. (PHOTO COURTESY: Muhlenberg College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

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.

D3 Football: WNE, WPI Appear On East Regional Rankings

WNEWPI

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

A pair of New England D-III Football teams appeared on today’s NCAA East Regional Rankings, which were unveiled for the first time this season.

Western New England, which leads the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), checked-in fifth on the ten-team list, while WPI, which is currently in a three-way tie for first place in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), secured the ninth position.

Salisbury University was the top team – the Sea Gulls boast a 7-0 record heading into the tenth week of the 2019 season, while Wesley College and Delaware Valley checked-in second and third, respectively. Union College, which currently sits atop the Liberty League (LL) with an 8-0 record and 5-0 conference mark, secured the fourth position.

Ithaca College, the College at Brockport, and SUNY Cortland checked-in sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively, while WPI and Wilkes University rounded out the poll.

Western New England, which has won all five conference games this fall, including a 42-31 win last weekend against Endicott College, can clinch its conference crown this Saturday, November 9th with a win over Becker College.

WPI, which saw its seven-game winning streak snapped last Saturday against MIT, will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Coast Guard Academy.

Catching Up With Brandon Linton (Nichols College Men’s Basketball)

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Brandon Linton was recently named the 20th men’s basketball coach in Nichols College program history. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

Last month, Nichols College announced the hiring of Brandon Linton, who becomes the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.

Linton arrived at the Dudley, Massachusetts campus after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Army West Point where he helped the Cadets with numerous tasks, including scouting reports to working with the wing players at practice to assisting with in-game strategy.

Before assisting the Army West Point men’s basketball program, Linton spent time as an assistant at both his alma mater, Clarkson University, and Bowdoin College.

Coaching a program like Nichols certainly intrigued Linton, who is excited “to continue building on what has already been established” with the Nichols men’s basketball program.

“The chance to take over a program that represents excellence, both on and off of the basketball court was important to me,” said Linton when asked about becoming the new men’s basketball coach at Nichols. “Also, the growth potential of the program was equally intriguing, (as well).”

Nichols concluded its 2018-19 season with an impressive 28-3 mark. The Bison advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament earlier this year, thanks to postseason victories against Amherst CollegeMiddlebury College, and Rowan University.

Additionally, Nichols also captured the 2019 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title with a 105-90 victory over Gordon College.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Coach Linton to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season.

As a former Division III, men’s basketball player did you always want to coach or become a head coach at this particular level? 

Absolutely.  I had the great fortune to play for Adam Stockwell during my first three years at Clarkson. I remember sitting in his office as a freshman and sophomore, and him telling me that I would be a college basketball coach one day.  Prior to that, I had casually thought about the idea of it, but after (those conversations) I began to own that reality. Everything I’ve done since was aimed at this goal of becoming a Division III head coach.

What do you know about the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)? Are you excited to coach in a very competitive league? 

I’m extremely excited to coach in this league.  I know that it is made up of high-level coaches that have built some of the best and most competitive programs in New England.  The talent across the board is impressive and something that I notice has improved since my departure from Division III.  This is a conference that I believe should be a multiple bid league to the NCAA tournament (every season). I look forward to the challenge of being in that mix.

How did your experience with Army West Point shape you into the coach you are today? 

I couldn’t be more grateful for my time at Army.  The development that I was able to take part in both on and off of the basketball court was truly remarkable.  It is the preeminent leadership development institution in the world. From the faculty to the cadets and all the variety of guest speakers that came through West Point, it truly was a hub for leadership development.

Basketball-wise, being able to coach at the Division I level just provides an amazing amount of time that you get to spend coaching and teaching the game to your players.  We also fielded a junior varsity team at West Point, which allowed us as (to gain experience) being a head coach as assistants to the varsity. More than anything, being around the people day in and day out was the number one takeaway that I believe will shape me into the coach I am and hope to be.

Great coaches are great leaders. And great leaders are great people first.

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Coach Brandon Linton inherits a Nichols College men’s basketball team that finished the 2018-19 season with an impressive 28-3 record. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

What are some of the biggest goals/objectives you (and the men’s basketball program) hope to accomplish between now and the team’s first practice? 

The biggest thing will be developing the framework for meaningful relationships with each other. That is from new staff to players and vice versa. It will also be amongst the current players as well. Acclimating the newcomers into the fold, while also continuing to develop even stronger bonds with your returning teammates (will be a must, as well). That will be our biggest focus prior to our first practice on October 15th.

A few quick-hitters, beginning with your all-time favorite memory of playing basketball. 

Without a doubt, it has to be back in 2008 when I was a part of Clarkson’s first-ever Liberty League (LL) championship. We advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a fourth-seed in our conference’s tournament, which made it even sweeter.

Legitimately, no one believed we could get it done because there was honestly no prior reason to think so, but only the individuals in our locker room believed (we could win a conference championship) and that’s all that mattered. It’s something that has stuck with me ever since (and proves what) the power of belief can accomplish.

Who was a player you idolized growing up? 

Tracy McGrady. Unfortunately for me, my teammates and coaches, however, I played nothing like McGrady, but when I got to college, I really enjoyed watching Rajon Rondo when he first started playing for the Boston Celtics. I enjoyed watching Rondo as a student-athlete with the Celtics – he was a big part of their resurgence. I played the point for Clarkson and I really respected how he played that position. And that’s probably why my three-point percentage was what it was, too.

Finally, if you could coach any basketball player, both current or past, who would it be and why? 

Growing up in New York City, I was and still am a big fan of the New York Knicks. We’ve fallen on hard times for a good 15-20 years, however, as a kid, there were some awesome teams for me to follow.

I fell in love with basketball by watching John Starks play.  I would always wear his number (three) whenever I could in youth tournaments and recreational leagues.  The passion and swag that he played with was everything to me. He embodied what it meant to be a New Yorker, as well. He was hard-nosed, did whatever it took for the greater good of the team, and took the challenge of guarding the best players on the other team. He also jacked three-pointers, too, which was still a newer thing for the game during the 1990s.

John Starks is definitely someone I would love to coach.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage by following @Noontime_Hoops on Twitter!