Noontime’s Way Too Early D-III Football Conference Predictions

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Frank Stola and the Williams College football team will be one of the favorites in the NESCAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Our WAY too early New England D-III football preseason coverage rolls on with some predictions on who we think will win their respective conference this season.

Yes, we know these are VERY early predictions and they will certainly change once we get closer to kick-off, but for now, enjoy some way too early thoughts (from your friends at Noontime Sports) on who we think will celebrate a conference championship in November.



Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC)

  • Predicted Winner(s): Endicott College or Western New England
  • Teams to Watch: Husson UniversityNichols College, and Salve Regina University
  • Quick Synopsis: Yes, we know the Gulls and Golden Bears will be the teams to watch this fall, but don’t overlook Husson, Nichols, and Salve Regina as these three teams that will certainly challenge Endicott and Western New England for the CCC crown. Western New England has won the conference the last three years while Endicott has come close the past two seasons to snatching the title from its rival.

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)

  • Predicted Winner: Dean College
  • Teams to Watch: Maritime (N.Y.) 
  • Quick Synopsis: With a 4-1 conference mark, the Bulldogs were able to win their first-ever ECFC title last fall, so expect that momentum to continue one year later. Maritime (N.Y.) will also be a team to watch this season, while the other ECFC teams should provide challenges to both the Bulldogs and Privateers.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

  • Predicted Winner(s): Framingham State or UMass Dartmouth 
  • Teams to Watch: Bridgewater State and Western Connecticut 
  • Quick Synopsis: The Rams of Framingham State have enjoyed a great deal of success the past few years, but could this be the year of the Corsairs? With quarterback Stephen Gacioch leading the UMass Dartmouth offense this fall, expect the Corsairs to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the MASCAC.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

  • Predicted Winner(s): Wesleyan University or Williams College
  • Teams to Watch: Middlebury CollegeTrinity College, and Tufts University
  • Quick Synopsis: As of now it seems as if this conference could be a two-team or five-team race for the NESCAC crown. Williams will welcome back an impressive senior class that should help them overcome the challenges to secure their first outright title since 2008. Keep your eyes on Trinity and Tufts – these two teams could play spoiler – and, of course, don’t overlook the Cardinals of Wesleyan, who will return some impressive talent on both sides of the ball.

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

  • Predicted Winner: MIT
  • Teams to Watch: Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, and Springfield College  
  • Quick Synopsis: Coach Brian Bubna and the Engineers have won back-to-back NEWMAC championships so it is hard to pick against MIT, which will once again be one of a few teams to watch in this conference. The Bears of Coast Guard Academy could also be a team that takes that next step, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine and Springfield College. Also, let’s not count out WPI, which did graduate a big senior class, but will carry over some momentum from its 10 win season.

Catching Up With Mass. Maritime Academy’s Kyle Johnston

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Massachusetts Maritime Academy senior Kyle Johnston was recently named the MASCAC Men’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mass. Maritime Academy Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Last week, Kyle Johnston received some exciting news.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy senior, who has been spotted on the gridiron for the past four years, was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Scholar-Athlete of the YearFramingham State University senior Mary Kate O’Day was also honored by the conference, being named the female scholar-athlete of the year.

“I feel grateful to be honored,” said Johnston, who was nominated for the award by Mike Kelley, who is the director of athletics at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

“It is a great honor and I am grateful for it. And I am glad I can represent Massachusetts Maritime Academy.”

Johnston became the first Buccaneer to receive this award since Jonathan White, who played soccer at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, in 2011.

For student-athletes to receive this honor, they must be nominated by their school’s director of athletics, be a senior, and achieve at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average. Recipients are selected by the MASCAC Athletic Directors.

Johnston enjoyed a successful senior season with the Buccaneers, registering career-bests in total tackles (57.0), solo stops (37), sacks (12.5), and tackles for a loss (19.5). Additionally, he recorded a career-high three forced fumbles along with two break-ups. The 12.5 sacks were the most recorded by a defender in the conference – it was also the fifth-highest total in Division III.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Johnston about his career with the Buccaneers, as well as where he is headed after graduation next month.


When you look back to your playing days with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football program, what will you remember most? 

The guys. I made some of my best friends through this program.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy football program consists of some great all-around guys and they deserve to get awards like this too because they are just as competitive and just as good as I am to receive this (type) of honor, if not, better.

My position coach for my first three seasons with the Buccaneers – Odell Jones, who currently oversees the defensive line at Assumption College – was probably one of the best coaches I ever had in my career. He pushed me to my limits and I give him full credit with how successful I am in football today. But I will definitely remember the people the most (because) those are the memories that will last the most for me.

You and your teammates enjoyed a successful 2019 campaign. Do you feel the team (and program) took a step forward this past season?  

Yeah, absolutely. I think it was a total success. My graduating class may have featured the most seniors this program has had in a while, but we stuck together through the ups and downs, and I give all credit to the players, including the grades below us.

I am hopeful the team can continue to build on what they did last year and continue to get better.

Your team competes in a few rivalry games each season. Which one is your favorite and why? 

The (rivalry) we have with both Maine Maritime Academy and Maritime (N.Y.) are important to us and they go through the same stuff we go through (during game weeks). But our rivalry with Framingham State is important – it is always a big game and so is Bridgewater State. Unfortunately, we did not beat Bridgewater State this past year, but I always feel we put forth a good effort against them, as well as Framingham State.

Where will you be headed after graduation next month? 

I just accepted a full-time position earlier this month with Travelers in Braintree, Massachusetts. I will be working in the ocean marine underwriters department.

Finally, do you plan to return to campus hopefully later this year or in the future to cheer on the Buccaneers? 

Absolutely. I would love to come back and cheer on my teammates.

Player Perspective: Matt Long (Mass. Maritime Academy)

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Massachusetts Maritime Academy senior Matt Long enjoyed a successful debut under center last week for the Buccaneers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Justin Reidy Photography)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

For the past three seasons, Matt Long has been tasked with carrying the ball for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football team.

But against Maritime (N.Y.) last Friday evening, the Weymouth, Massachusetts native was asked to throw the ball, too, which is something he hasn’t done since he was a senior in high school.

Long completed 7 of 11 passes for 114 yards – his longest heave was a 52-yard pass to classmate Will Bennett – while adding 141 yards on 16 carries for three touchdowns as the Buccaneers defeated the Privateers, 31-14, to claim the Chowder Cup trophy for the first time since 2016.

The seven completions were the most Long has recorded as a quarterback for the Buccaneers – he did throw four passes last fall – while the three touchdowns were the most he has recorded in a single game since he was a senior in high school.

Noontime Sports spoke with Long about his team’s first win and what they must do this weekend against Maine Maritime Academy. Long was one of four Buccaneers named to our week two ‘team of the week.’

Your team captured the Chowder Cup for the first time since 2016. How does an opening day win like this help the team moving forward?

I think an opening day win (will) help us tremendously moving forward. (The victory) showed off the hard work we put in every week (throughout the preseason and practices), and if we continue our current (hard-working) mentality than we can be very successful in upcoming games.

You were very successful with rushing the football against Maritime (N.Y.). It sounds cliché, but what worked for you? 

The offensive game plan (seemed to be) clicking. The offensive line did a great job in the run and pass game which created holes for the whoever had the ball. (The o-line) gave me plenty of time to throw the ball, too. The receivers worked hard to get open and give us a chance to move the ball downfield, which helped with opening up the run game even more.

When was the last time you scored three touchdowns in a game? 

I haven’t scored three times in a game since my senior year at Weymouth High School (Mass.).

You were a halfback for the Buccaneers the past few seasons so was it a difficult transition going from running back to the quarterback position? 

It was difficult getting used to (being a) quarterback again. I played quarterback in high school, and we ran a similar (style) offense (like we do with the Buccaneers) so it made it easier with re-learning the playbook.

I know it is early, but being one of 17 seniors on this squad, how do you hope this season plays out? I presume competing for a conference championship, right? 

A championship is always the end goal but it’s important to us to keep the focus on our upcoming opponent. We need to continue to put the work into our daily practices so we can get the results we want on Saturdays.

Your team heads to Maine Maritime on Saturday for the Admiral’s Cup. What must your team do to be successful for a second-straight week? 

We need to put in the effort and work, (both today and the rest of this week) to help us prepare for the game. We need to practice good habits and technique, transfer it over to our (gameplan) and keep (our current) momentum going.

D3 Football: 10 Games to Watch (Week 2)

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Jake Wood and the Nichols College Bison host Coast Guard Academy on Friday, September 13th. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Week two is ready to begin this afternoon and evening with some intriguing match-ups.

Last week, we didn’t do so well with our picks. In fact, we finished 2-8 – can we bounce back this week? We certainly hope so – we discussed our not-so-great picks on this week’s Noontime Sports Football Friday Podcast (Week Two Preview).

Anywho, let’s dish out some picks and enjoy another weekend of New England Division III Football.


Week Two | Friday, September 13th & Saturday, September 14th

Rankings based off of this week’s New England Division III Top 20 Football Poll

No. 9 Coast Guard Academy at No. 15 Nichols College (Friday, September 13th @ 5 p.m.): Both teams scored opening-day wins, but the Bison offense was very impressive against Dean College. Look for Jake Wood to add to his touchdown total this afternoon (and evening). PREDICTION: Nichols 28, Coast Guard 21 

No. 2 Western New England at Westfield State (Friday, September 13th @ 7 p.m.): The Golden Bears scored an impressive opening day win and should continue that momentum against the nearby Owls. PREDICTION: WNE 30, Westfield State 13 

SUNY Maritime at Mass. Maritime Academy (Friday, September 13th @ 7 p.m.): The Privateers needed a field goal as time expired to defeat Maine Maritime. Will they need a late score to edge the Buccaneers in Buzzards Bay? PREDICTION: Maritime (N.Y.) 21, Mass. Maritime 18

Becker College at Worcester State (Friday, September 13th @ 7 p.m.): First-year halfback Randy Morgan will be the player to watch in this Worcester area meeting. PREDICTION: Becker 28, Worcester State 14 

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Keyshaun Robinson and the Husson University Eagles begin their 2019 season in Dartmouth, Massachusetts against the Corsairs. (PHOTO COURTESY: Monty Rand Photography)

No. 8 Husson University at UMass Dartmouth (Saturday, Sept. 14th @ 12 p.m.): Coach Nat Clark and the Eagles will be tasked with slowing down an air attack that produced six touchdowns last week. Husson’s balanced offense should help the Green and Gold score an opening day win for their first-year head coach. PREDICTION: Husson 28, UMass Dartmouth 24 

Bates College at No. 4 Amherst College (Saturday, September 14th @ 1 p.m.): The Bobcats are ready to take the so-called ‘next-step,’ but will need their defense to jumpstart their offense against a tough Mammoths squad. PREDICTION: Amherst 28, Bates 17 

No. 1 Trinity College at No. 18 Tufts University (Saturday, Sept. 14th @ 1:30 p.m.): The Bantams begin their title defense and the start of a four-peat with an opening day win against the Jumbos. PREDICTION: Trinity 27, Tufts 14 

No. 14 Williams College at No. 17 Middlebury College (Saturday, September 14th @ 2 p.m.): Both teams are expected to challenge Trinity for the top spot in the conference this fall. This is not an easy start for the Ephs, who are determined to return to their 2017 form but look for a late field goal to be the difference in this must-watch NESCAC clash. PREDICTION: Williams 17, Middlebury 14 

RPI at No. 6 WPI (Saturday, September 14th at 2:30 p.m.): The Transit Trophy is on the line in this one, so look for both sides to be amped and ready to make an extra play when needed. PREDICTION: RPI 28, WPI 17 

No. 20 Dean College at No. 12 Western Connecticut (Saturday, September 14th @ 6 p.m.): The Colonials needed an extra session to edge William Patterson one week ago, while Dean fell to Nichols in its home-opener. This is an important contest for both teams, but in the end, we think the Colonials have a slight edge. PREDICTION: Western Conn. 28, Dean 14 

D3 Football Saturday: Roundup: Carnegie Mellon Tops MIT, WNE Rolls Past Springfield

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MIT’s Keithen Shepard was the lone Engineer to locate the end zone on Saturday afternoon. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

It was not the ideal second half for the MIT Engineers.

Miscues, penalties, and turnovers allowed Carnegie Mellon the opportunity to break-open a 7-7 tie in the second half with two touchdowns and one field goal for a 24-7 non-conference victory on Saturday afternoon in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Luke Bikulege and Michael Lohmeier each recorded third-quarter touchdowns, while Brandon Nguyen converted a 33-yard field goal in-between both scores.

MIT attempted to respond after Lohmeier pounced on a loose fumble in the end zone, but struggled to move the ball against a potent Tartans defense, which limited the Engineers to just 289 yards of total offense.

“Going into half (it was) 7-7, basically a 0-0 game, but then we came out in the third quarter and we just made too many mistakes,” said MIT coach Brian Bubna.

“Defensively, we were missing a lot of tackles (followed) by some special teams errors, which put us back in our own end and then a bad snap into the end zone.”

While MIT struggled in the second half, Bubna felt his team played well in the first half – the Engineers scored the game’s initial touchdown late in the first quarter when Chris Mauck connected with Keithen Shepard for a 72-yard score before Carnegie Mellon responded late in the second with a 78-yard strike from JD Dayhuff to Willie Richter.

MIT may have concluded the game with 14 more total yards than Carnegie Mellon, but the Engineers lost two fumbles and were flagged five times for 33 yards.

“(Carnegie Mellon) is a good team, we knew that coming in. We (also) knew they would be disciplined, and they are well-coached, too,” said Bubna.

“But when you make that many mistakes against a good team, that is what happens.”

Western New England 33, Springfield College 17: Alec Coleman recorded 351 yards of total offense, including 305 passing yards, while scoring two touchdowns as the Golden Bears captured the Pynchon SAW Game for the first time since 2016. WNE’s Kieran Lombard concluded the game by converting seven kicks, including four field goals.

Norwich University 22, Salve Regina 19: Matt Dunn completed 24-for-41 for 307 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 1:46 remaining in the fourth. Dunn connected with Manni Romero on a five-yard touchdown pass, which capped 11 plays, 64-yard drive.

Maritime (N.Y.) 24, Maine Maritime 21: Joseph Gagliardi converted on four kicks, including a game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired to send the Privateers past the Mariners in Throggs Neck, New York. Maine Maritime’s Nikolas Moquin concluded the game with three touchdown passes.

Western Connecticut 12, William Patterson 9 (OT): David James connected with Will Daniels for a game-winning 25-yard touchdown in overtime after Jordan D’Onofrio secured the extra session with his second field goal of the afternoon with 3:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Morrisville State 39, Bridgewater State 7: Bill Flatow tossed two touchdowns and ran for a score, too, as the Mustangs rolled over the Bears in Bridgewater. Stefano D’Emilia recorded Bridgewater State’s lone touchdown in the third quarter.


Week One Scoreboard 

  • Nichols College 37, Dean College 12
  • Stevenson 34, Curry College 0
  • Becker College 33, Anna Maria 19
  • Endicott College 55, Framingham State 27
  • Maritime (N.Y.) 24, Maine Maritime 21
  • UMass Dartmouth 54, Alfred State 7
  • Plymouth State 23, Castleton University 17
  • Morrisville State 39, Bridgwater State 7
  • Cortland 63, Fitchburg State 0
  • Western Connecticut 12, William Patterson 9 (OT)
  • Union College 42, Westfield State 7
  • Norwich University 22, Salve Regina 19
  • Carnegie Mellon 24, MIT 7
  • Western New England 33, Springfield College 17
  • Coast Guard Academy 27, University of New England 17

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