A Father-Son Duo Leads The Way At Bridgewater State University

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Ryan Verria has enjoyed reuniting with his father on the gridiron at Bridgewater State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bridgewater State University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

Ryan Verria had a few thoughts on his mind during his initial practice with the Bridgewater State University football team in August of 2018. 

His main focus was impressing the coaching staff, as well as a few friends he knew from growing up three miles away from campus. But he was also thinking about how he would tell his teammates that his father, Joe Verria, was the team’s head coach. 

“In the back of my head (while going through our conditioning test) I was thinking about how to bring up the topic that my dad is the coach,” said Verria, who was recently elected one of the team’s captains last month for the upcoming season.  

“You don’t always see (a father-son duo) at the collegiate level,” he added. 

The team would eventually learn both Ryan and Joe were related. In fact, Verria said his teammates embraced the father-son relationship, claiming it was “pretty cool” that Ryan was able to play for his father, who had coached him previously through various youth sports leagues while growing up in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. 

“I (have come) to realize how unique and special this experience is because not many people get to say they played for their dad at the collegiate level,” said Verria, who plays wide receiver for the Bears

Verria didn’t plan to compete for his father initially after graduating from Boston College High School in 2017. Instead, he elected to leave the area to play football at John Carroll University in Ohio where he competed for the Blue Streak’s junior varsity program. Ryan made some impressive plays, according to his father, who recalls watching clips of his son’s games that the JCU coaching staff provided him. 

But watching plays of Ryan on a phone or computer was only temporary as Joe would soon see his son make similar plays in person one year later when he transferred home to compete for the Bridgewater State football team as an incoming sophomore.

“It didn’t dawn on me that he would come back,” said Joe Verria when asked about his son deciding to return home to play football at Bridgewater State. “But when it happened, I thought this is going to be great.”

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Bridgewater State University football coach (and alum) Joe Verria has thoroughly enjoyed coaching his son, Ryan Verria, the past two seasons. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bridgewater State University Athletics)

And so far, it seems the experience for both Joe and Ryan has been great as the father-son duo has celebrated a pair of Cranberry Bowl wins against Massachusetts Maritime Academy, including a dramatic come-from-behind win last season, along with a New England Bowl victory in 2018 against Salve Regina University.

Ryan credits his teammates for helping him grow and improve these past two years, as well as his father, who he is constantly conversing with about strategy both in-person and through text messages. The conversations, both after games and on Sundays also include offensive and defensive breakdowns to new routes the receivers could run during practice to some motivational tactics both Verria’s could use to inspire the team for a successful game day.

But as much as Joe enjoys these dialogues about the x’s and o’s with his son, it is truly the opportunity he has, both currently and in the past, to teach his favorite sport to Ryan while cracking a smile on game days when he makes a play on offense or special teams.

“You know, you’re sitting out there at practice and I am watching the offense execute and (Ryan) is running around and making plays, and you say to yourself, ‘man, I can’t believe he is out there,’ but it is kind of cool,” said Joe Verria.

Joe – just like any parent – is proud of his son’s growth and improvement over the past few years, as well as the leader he has become both on and off the field. He admires Ryan’s leadership – he considers his son someone that leads by his actions, not words, which is certainly one of many reasons why his teammates voted him captain for the upcoming season.

Ryan is honored to be a captain – he knows he is representing a well-respected program that his father competed for from 1976 to 1979. But excluding discussing his current captain duties, which currently pertains to staying in touch with his classmates and teammates this summer, Ryan lights up when chatting about the impact his father – and yes, his mother, too – have made on his life. Both parents have shared some important words of wisdom, along with some important advice that will continue to allow Ryan to thrive both on the playing field and perhaps as a future coach like his father.

“Yeah, coaching is definitely a possibility,” Ryan said with a smile.

But for now, Ryan will focus on being the best receiver he can be while enjoying one final season with his Joe as his head coach.

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.

Noontime’s Top 10 Men’s Lacrosse Poll (Monday, February 17th, 2020)

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

A brand new Massachusetts D-III Lacrosse season began this past weekend with Clark University competing against Salve Regina University in an overtime clash, which saw the Seahawks edge the Cougars, 14-13.

Yet, despite falling to the Seahawks last Saturday, the Cougars still secured a spot in our initial Noontime Sports Massachusetts D-III Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 Poll, which is powered by Zelos Athletics.

Amherst CollegeWilliams College, and Tufts University secured the top three spots – all three teams will begin their respective campaigns later this month. Amherst was the national runner-up from one year ago, while Williams saw its national postseason run conclude against the Mammoths in the semifinals of the D-III Tournament.

Springfield College and Western New England rounded out the top five, checking in fourth and fifth, respectively, while Endicott CollegeMIT, and Babson College secured the sixth, seventh, and eighth positions.

Curry College earned the final spot on this week’s poll – the Colonels, who were picked to finish fourth in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) will commence their 2020 campaign at the end of the month against Norwich University.


Mass. D-III Lax Top 10 Poll | Monday, February 17th, 2020 

1. Amherst College

0-0, 0-0 (NESCAC)

2. Williams College

0-0, 0-0 (NESCAC)

3. Tufts University

0-0, 0-0 (NESCAC)

4. Springfield College 

0-0, 0-0 (NEWMAC)

5. Western New England 

0-0, 0-0 (CCC)

6. Endicott College 

0-0, 0-0 (CCC)

7. MIT 

0-0, 0-0 (NEWMAC)

8. Babson College 

0-0, 0-0 (NEWMAC)

9. Clark University 

0-1, 0-0 (NEWMAC)

10. Curry College 

0-0, 0-0 (CCC)

On The Rise: Lasell University, Mass. Maritime Academy, Nichols College, UMass Boston, and Wheaton College

D3 Football: Maher, Johnston Secure Spots On AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America Teams

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Framingham State’s Jacob Maher concluded his initial season with the Rams as an AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America First Teamer. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

A pair of New England D-III Football student-athletes were recently named to the 2019 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America Teams.

Jacob Maher of Framingham State secured a spot on the first team, while Kyle Johnston of Massachusetts Maritime Academy earned a spot on the second team.

Maher wrapped up his first and final season of college football with the Rams this fall by catching a team-high 56 receptions for 819 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior tight end from Marshfield, Massachusetts averaged 5.1 receptions and 74.5 yards per contest. He caught a season-high three touchdowns in his team’s 39-33 win over UMass Dartmouth in October before hauling in two touchdowns in his team’s regular-season finale against Worcester State.

Prior to earning an end of season honor from the AFCA, Maher earned and All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) first-team honor and a spot on the New England Football Writers (NEFW) Division II/III team.

Johnston, who also appeared on the NEFW D-II/III team, enjoyed his best season with the Buccaneers by recording a career-best 57.0 total tackles, including 37 solo stops and 20 assists in 10 contests. The defensive lineman from Raynham, Massachusetts tallied career-highs in sacks (12.5), tackles for a loss (19.5), and forced fumbles (three) in 10 games this fall and was also named to the All-MASCAC first team. 

In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Johnston tallied 164.0 total tackles, including 121 solo stops to go along with 49.5 tackles for a loss and 25.5 sacks. He also recorded eight forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and seven pass breakups, including three last season.

NCAA D3 Football Tournament: Inside The Framingham State-Wesley Matchup

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Framingham State quarterback Adam Wojenski will be one of a few players to watch on the Rams this Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It’s time to highlight the second New England D-III football team that will be competing this weekend in the NCAA Division III Tournament. And that squad is the Framingham State University Rams, which enter the postseason on an eight-game winning streak.

The Rams, who captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall with some important late wins over Bridgewater StateMassachusetts Maritime Academy, and Western Connecticut, will be making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as well as their second-straight trip as Framingham State competed last season against The College of Brockport.

Below are a few notes about Saturday’s match-up, including some stats (and numbers) on both teams, as well as players to watch.


Framingham State (8-2) at Wesley College (9-1) 

Gametime/Location: Saturday, November 23rd at Wesley College, Dover, Delaware. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Rankings: Wesley is currently the tenth best team in D-III, according to the latest D3Football.com Top 25 Poll. Framingham State was not ranked nor receiving votes in this week’s poll.

Conference Affiliation: Framingham State competes in the MASCAC, while Wesley is a member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

Last Appearance in the NCAA Tournament: The Rams’ 2018 season concluded in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament with a 40-27 setback to Brockport. The Golden Eagles secured a 24-0 lead at the break before the Rams trimmed the deficit in the second half by outscoring the hosts, 27-16.

Quarterback Adam Wojenski concluded the contest 28 of 58 for 450 yards and two touchdowns – he did have three interceptions – while Brockport’s Joe Germinerio completed 19 of 40 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns.

Wesley did not compete in the NCAA Tournament last season but did advance to the second round in 2017 following a 45-27 win over RPI. The Wolverines’ run toward a national championship concluded with a 49-28 setback to Brockport.

Inside the Numbers with Framingham State: The Rams have produced 346 points this season while allowing 176 … The 346 points are the most any MASCAC team produced this fall. They also led the conference in points per game (34.6), touchdowns (51), rushing yards (1,728), rushing yards per game (172.8), few yards allowed per game (274,8), interceptions (14), and fewest rushing yards allowed per contest (90.5) … Framingham State will be making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament – they have never won a postseason contest. Saturday’s meeting with Wesley will be the team’s second in the postseason as the two squads met in 2015 with the Wolverines winning by a score of 42-22.

Inside the Numbers with Wesley College: Wesley is currently second in the NJAC with 337 points – Salisbury University is first with 417 points. The Wolverines are averaging 33.7 points per game … Wesley is second in the NJAC in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 157 points (15.7 points per game) … Wesley is second in the conference in total offense – they are averaging 441.7 yards per game … The Wolverines are first in total defense in the NJAC, yielding an average of 249.7 yards per game … Wesley boasts the second-best rushing offense in the NJAC behind Salisbury and is first in the conference in passing offense .. Saturday’s postseason contest will be coach Chip Knapp‘s first as the team’s head coach since taking over for coach Mike Drass last season.

Framingham State Players to Watch: 

  • Andrew Fennelly (O-Line): Named the MASCAC Football Offensive Lineman of the Year.
  • Devaun Ford (RB): Named the MASCAC Offensive Rookie of the Year. Ford rushed for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games. He is averaging 100.3 yards per contest.
  • Joshua Onujiogu (DE): Named the MASCAC Defensive Player of the Year. He has recorded 44.0 total tackles and eight sacks in nine contests this season.
  • Adam Wojenski (QB): The senior signal-caller has completed 184 of 303 passes for 2,455 yards and 27 touchdowns (eight interceptions). He has also rushed for 429 yards on 88 carries and four touchdowns.
  • Jacob Maher (TE): The Worcester State transfer leads the Rams in receptions (54), receptions per game (5.4), receiving yards (792) and touchdowns (eight).
  • Cully Curran (DB): Leads the defense with 67.0 total tackles … has recorded 39 solo tackles, including seven-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 22 yards, one fumble recovery, one interception, and five pass break-ups.
  • Anthony Behonick (LB): Second on the team in total tackles (49.0) … the junior linebacker has recorded 37 solo stops, including eight-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 16 yards, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, three interceptions, and one pass break-up.

Wesley College Players to Watch:

  • Drew Fry (QB): The first-year signal-caller will get the start on Saturday, as noted (and confirmed) by WDEL 1150AM/101.7FM. Fry, who was a three-year starter for Middletown in Delaware, was named the 2018 offensive player of the year.
  • Marcellus Pack (RB): The senior tailback has rushed for 595 yards on 102 carries and seven touchdowns.
  • Ruhann Peele (WR): The senior wide-out leads the team in receptions (81), receptions per game (8.1), receiving yards (1,141), and receiving touchdowns (12).
  • Corterris Simpson (WR): Second on the team in receptions (45), receptions per game (4.5), receiving yards (522), and touchdowns (five).
  • Nick Bruhn (PK/P): Has recorded 63 points on nine field goals and 36 extra points. His longest field goal was a 31-yard kick.
  • Dante Daniel (LB): The third-year linebacker leads the defense in total tackles (83.0) … Daniel has recorded 43 solo tackles, including eight-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 23 yards, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, one interception, and seven pass break-ups.
  • Shymere Vessels (DE): Vessels has recorded 57.0 total tackles, including 26 solo stops, 10 tackles for a loss of 29 yards and one sack for a loss of six yards.