Yesterday, we kicked off our Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) All-Decade Week, and it continues today with our Massachusetts D3 Football Team from 2010-2019.
This was a fun walk down memory lane, highlighting a slew of student-athletes we covered and interviewed over the past ten years that earned a variety of end of season honors, including D3Football.com All-American honors to first or second-team nods to program record-holders to the final Gold Helmet Recipients from the New England Football Writers (NEFW). And as usual, we did our very best to highlight as many student-athletes from across the Bay State.
The All-Decade Noontime Sports Massachusetts D3 Football Team (Offense)
Pat Moffitt (QB)
Melikke Van Alstyne (RB)
Chance Brady (RB)
Jordan Wilcox (FB)
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Jack Lavanchy (WR)
Jacob Maher (TE)
Framingham State/Worcester State
Elliot Tobin (OL)
Pat Sullivan (OL)
Nick Bainter (OL)
East Bridgewater, Mass.
Nick Stanfield (OL)
Ken Vollaro (OL)
Western New England
The All-Decade Noontime Sports Massachusetts D3 Football Team (Defense)
James Muirhead (DL)
Nick Giorgio (DE)
West Hartford, Conn.
Bryan Narcisse (DE)
Max Nacewicz (LB)
Sandy Hook, Conn.
Brian Murtagh (LB)
Erich Keutmann (LB)
Western New England
Obi Etuka (DB)
Western New England
Clifford Oratokhai (DB)
Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn (S)
Old Lyme, Conn.
Sam Casey (S)
The All-Decade Noontime Sports Massachusetts D3 Football Team (Special Teams)
It’s ‘game week’ for the Springfield College Pride, and in just a few days they’ll travel a few miles down the road to take on Western New England for the first time in program history.
Earlier today, we caught up with Coach Mike DeLong to preview the team’s matchup, as well as talk about what he saw during the Pride’s training camp.
On kicking off the season this weekend: “We’ve had a film exchange with Western New England, so we’ve had a chance to look at what they did last year, but obviously things change from year-to-year, so you’re always preparing for what you think is going to happen and hopefully you can be sound against what might have changed. We’re hoping that our offense matures early in this first game. Again, we do have some new faces, but a lot of returners and some guys with a lot of game experience, but the starters are going to have to step up.
“We expect Jonathan Marrero to get into a good game flow, our quarterback, hopefully we can establish a little more with our fullbacks and go from there on offense. Defensively what we hope is our team’s speed is really able to be used from the beginning of the game until the end, so those are just a few things, but we need to come out with great pursuit for the ball and offensively we still have to come out and sort out what they’re doing and establish a run.”
On Jonathan Marrero’s progress: “At this point he’s (our starter). As we get ready to load this thing up we fully anticipate him starting and like everybody he’s a little bit sore right now, but we’re bringing him back. We had a very good preseason, but it’s been grueling, the weather the past few days – the air has been heavy, but the guys will be ready to go on Saturday. Jon is certainly more mature, he has a better feel for the big picture of the game and athletically he’s had a year in the weigh room, he’s explosive, he’s a very sound leader and the team will look to him to set a pace.”
On Max Nacewicz’s leadership and experience: “Max is a tremendous athlete, both strength wise and speed wise, and he’s in tremendous shape, but what he’s done to help this team is he gets other people around him better. He’s a solid kid, he just loves to play football, but we expect to a very strong and consistent performance each week.”
On preparing the defense for WNE’s offense: “Well, they have a very experience quarterback over there and I believe he’s a senior and he’s been around, so whenever there is a senior leadership (on the opposite side) and a kid with a lot of experience in that position, you’ve got to try and get him out of rhythm. You have to be able to provide pressure and I am sure that Western New England’s skill group this year is very, very good and has a lot of experience, but I think the key thing for our guys is to disrupt (our opponent’s) offensive rhythm with a strong pass rush. We’re also still hoping that speed will be what we do best on defense, too.”
On facing WNE for the first time: “It used to be the Springfield-AIC game and that was certainly a highlight battle, but now AIC is gone a different direction with a strong Division II program and we’re Division III, so this will be a certainly a high interest game in Springfield. It’s our first time playing them, I know (other teams) play them in other sports and it’s very competitive, so I am sure both teams are looking forward to establishing this as a traditional game. We’re looking forward to playing Western New England and I am sure they’re looking forward to playing us.”
On keys to a successful season: “Well, I think the fact that we were pretty young last year and we’ve got a lot of those guys back and they’ve had a strong offseason and they’re a little bit stronger and the team has developed a real solid work ethic, so I think that’s going to be a positive factor for us. These kids have all gotten a little bit stronger and a little bit faster, but with the experience we’ve gained last year we do have high expectations of the kids that are returning and we expect them to perform at a higher level like we did last year.”
On the remaining other non-league foes: “We expect Husson to be an improved team and Mount Ida had us right on the ropes last year, so we expect to go down there and have a battle with Mount Ida. What we hope to gain from these games is to the opportunity to build up to speed and (prepare ourselves) for the Liberty League, which is a strong conference. Rochester has an outstanding quarterback returning, they’re always tough on defense, but we hope to grow in these games. Again, early season games help develop confidence, so we hope to establish it and do a good job in these early season games, so we can get some confidence as we get ready to go into the league.”
The Beyond Sports Network (BSN), a sports media company that features students and student-athletes from various collegiate levels posted their preseason All-American Teams recently for FBS, FCS, D2, D3 and NAIA, and below is a list of local players that earned spots on these units:
Alex Amidon (Boston College) – FBS Second Team WR
Cameron Brate (Harvard) – FCS First Team TE
Zach Hodges (Harvard) – FCS Third Team DL
Jeff Hill (Bentley University) – Third Team WR – Division II
Scott Simonson (Assumption College) – Third Team TE – Division II
Mike Hubbard (Merrimack College) – Third Team OG – Division II
Melikke Van Alstyne (Framingham State) – First Team RB – Division III
Aaron Ferreira (Framingham State) – Third Team OG – Division III
Max Nacewicz (Springfield College) – Third Team LB/DE – Division III
Eddie Jewel (Bridgewater State) – Third Team S – Division III
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The squad, which features 28 players from 18 different institutions, will be honored on Thursday, Dec. 6 at the New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquet.
CENTERVILLE, Mass. – Twenty-eight players representing 18 different teams have been named to the 2012 New England Football Writers Division II/III All-New England team.
New England Small College Athletic Conference champions Trinity College, Northeast-10 Conference champion University of New Haven, and NESCAC runner-up Middlebury College lead the team with three selections each. New England Football Conference members Framingham State University and Salve Regina University have two picks, as do Merrimack College and Springfield College. Also named to the squad were players from American International College, Amherst College, Bentley University, Castleton State College, Endicott College, Husson College, MIT, Mount Ida College, Stonehill College, and Worcester State University
The Division II Northeast-10 Conference had eight players selected, while from Division III the New England Football Conference and the New England Small College Athletic Conference had seven picks. The Eastern Collegiate Football Conference had three selections. Three players came from teams not affiliated with New England Conferences.
The team will be honored at the New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquet on Thursday, December 6, at the Montvale Plaza, in Stoneham, Mass. People interested in attending should contact Dick Lipe at Bentley University at 781-891-2334.
And here is a list of the players that were named to this team:
Tom Herd (University of New Haven)
James Muirhead (Framingham State University)
Max Nacewicz (Springfield College)
Ernest Wiggins (Husson College)
Brett Cde Baca (Trinity College)
Jake Laux (MIT)
Blaine Hopwood (Bentley University)
Jaquawane Simpkins(American International College)
Springfield College Pride (Photo Credit: LaxJournal.com)
After four games this season, Springfield College currently finds itself in a four-way tie atop the Liberty League standings for first place.
The Pride have rebounded from their opening day contest against Bridgewater State with three straight wins, which head coach Mike DeLong hopes will boost his team’s morale going forward.
On Friday, Noontime Sports caught up with the Springfield College head coach to discuss the season thus far, as well as his game plan for Saturday against Union College.
How important was it to earn that first Liberty League victory last week?
“Rochester was an opponent that we were not familiar with because we’ve never played them, so it was [nice to get our first conference win], and we’re getting ready to play Union, who we’ve played a number of times and they’ll be tough up there on their home field.”
What sort of challenges does Union College present? How will your team overcome them?
“It’s a difficult trip because of the timing of the game at six o’clock on a Saturday night and obviously you’re playing against a team that’s traditionally been one of the strong teams in the East, so you just try to keep your players focused on what they have to do to win this game and what they have to do to be ready to play once kickoff goes at six o’clock, so you just try and deal with that with that tomorrow. [Hopefully] we’ll have them well fed and hopefully well rested and ready to go.”
Union College’s offensive line provided challenges for your defense last year. What will your defense have to do in order to be successful against their line tomorrow night?
“We felt that their offensive line really controlled the game last year against us, so we told our defensive linemen that this is a physical line, and you’ve guys [are going] to have to step up and put pressure on that quarterback and rise to the challenge of playing against their line. I think three of them are back from last year, but they were a very physical line and our defensive line has to continue to grow and improve. Those young guys [on the line continue to improve] every week and [become] more consistent with their play and they’re going to have to be consistent with their play against a very well coached Union team.”
Your defense is one of the top units in the conference. What’s the secret to their success this season?
“Well, we’re not real big, but one of the keys is that speed and that pursuit to the ball, so hopefully we’ll have that [against Union]. Danny Macalena’s in his second year and an inside linebacker, and Max Nacewicz is his second year, too. And their maturity and having more game experience is beginning to show even though those guys are just sophomores, but they’ve gotten a lot more playing time [this season] and last year they got thrown into the fire. Kashden Naraine has held up pretty well at defensive tackle as a freshman and so has Daniel King at defensive end, but I think the key thing is they make their mistakes, but they still hustle to the ball.”
How has your team’s speed and conditioning impacted the team’s overall performance this year?
“The most important thing in football these days is speed and the second most important thing is more speed. It doesn’t matter how big you are, but if you can’t get there you can’t play, and if you have a slow guy trying to block a fast guy that slow guy is going to be in trouble unless he gets help of some kind and you’ve got to be able to get to your block and that takes speed and athleticism or you have to be able to get to the ball on defense. And then that second piece is strength because you want guys that can run to the ball and that’s pretty much in any position.”
Earlier this season, your team rallied past Mount Ida College to earn an impressive 49-42 victory. What does a win like that do for your program?
“Hopefully it showed them that if you don’t give up and don’t get down on yourself you still have that ability to comeback and win a game and that was quite a shootout we had with Mount Ida. They came in and really, really played well, but our guys never doubted their ability and sooner or later two things were going to happen. We would score, but also eventually our defense finally started to play a lot better once we went into the third quarter and fourth quarter, but that ability and confidence to be able to comeback certainly didn’t hurt us.”
What does Joel Altavesta do to boost your offensive production? How has he helped your team’s offense thus far?
“He just gets better with his feel with the ball up into the congested areas where he runs and his option passes are all great, but once he’s getting the ball in his hands he’s starting to slide off to the piles a lot better as he gets more touches on the ball and last week he was able to get into the open field, so he’s just gained more and more experience running [where it’s mostly] congested and I just think his ability and how he’s seeing things better because he’s starting to slide off the piles instead of jamming himself in there.”
Similar to your defense, your offense has experienced some success this year, too. Talk about your offense and their willingness to improve each day.
“We had Josh Carter has a four-year starter at quarterback and then we were hoping that our offense and our offensive coordinator Mike Cerasuolo does a great job of bringing the offense along and hopefully every week getting those guys better and more aggressive. We’re still growing a great deal as an offense and we’ve been banged up a little. Coach Cerasuolo has done a great job, though, of still maintaining the mentality that we feel if we can execute at the speed we want to execute we’ll be OK on offense.”
Finally, what’s going on at the quarterback position? Is there a reason all three of your starters have played in every game this year?
“We lost Austin Bateman in the second game, he’s been out since Husson and Rob Merckling is now injured also, so Jonathan Marrero is going to start against Union and he came in against Rochester and really seemed really poised for a freshman, but this is his first true start and he’s excited to be ready to go. He hasn’t had an opportunity to be an understudy to anybody yet because he’s getting thrown right into the fire here.”