New England D3 Football Notebook: Framingham State Begins New Era

Framingham State Football head coach Tom Kelley says the Rams have started a new era. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

Framingham State Football head coach Tom Kelley says the Rams have started a new era. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

“It’s a new era,” Framingham State football head coach Tom Kelley said. “We just can’t roll out the footballs anymore.”

Kelley – the successful sideline boss of a Framingham State football program, which has won three straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) titles – knows the road to a fourth consecutive crown won’t be easy.

Unlike past seasons where the Rams have entered a new campaign with some household names like Matt Silva, Matt Mangano, Nick Stanfield, Kevin Donahue, Pat McGrath and Melikke Van Alstyne, Framingham State’s current roster features a plethora of young players.

“They’re working hard,” Kelley said of his first and second-year players. “They are not cutting corners, but it certainly is going to be an interesting year.”

Framingham State graduated 22 players from last season’s squad, including Silva, Mangano and Stanfield, but Kelley is confident his returners will fill the void.

“Out of the 22 guys (that graduated this past spring), we like the guys behind them,” said Kelley, “and now it’s their turn to step-up.”

Some of the returners Kelley and his coaching staff will ask to ‘step-up’ are seniors Chris Dagg (linebacker/safety), Jalen Wingard (defensive back), and juniors Jalen Green (halfback), Svenn Jacobson (linebacker) and Joe Wilder (offensive line).

Framingham State will conclude its training camp this weekend with a scrimmage before turning the page to their initial game of the season against Endicott College at home on Saturday, September 3.

Following a visit from the Gulls, Framingham State hits the road two important games, including a visit to Cortland State – both teams played last season and combined for 110 points and 1,071 yards of total offense.

The Rams’ final game of the month is against Western Connecticut State at home (Homecoming & Family Weekend) – the Colonials were picked third in the conference’s preseason poll.

“Our first four games will be tough,” said Kelley.

Rams occupy top spot in MASCAC preseason poll: Framingham State collected eight of nine first-place votes in the MASCAC preseason poll, which was released on Wednesday.

Bridgewater State collected the final first-place vote, checking in fourth overall.

Behind the Rams is Fitchburg State and Western Connecticut State, while Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Worcester State tied for fifth. UMass Dartmouth, Westfield State and Plymouth State rounded out the final three spots, checking in seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.

Eight of the nine teams are in action next Friday or Saturday, while Massachusetts Maritime Academy kicks-off its 2016 campaign on Friday, September 9 when they visit Maritime (N.Y.) for the Ninth-Annual Chowder Bowl.

Mass. College Football: Locals Named To D3Football.com All-East Regional Team

By Matt Noonan 

D3Football.com recently released its All-Regional teams, including their 2013 All-East Region squad, which featured a variety of local players that earned spots on either the first, second or third offensive or defensive units.

Below are the various players that were named to these three units.

Second Team Offense

* Running Back Melikke Van Alstyne (Framingham State/ Salem, Mass.)

* Wide Receiver Matthew Green (Bridgewater State/ Stoughton, Mass.)

* Tight End Casey Hippert (Worcester State/ Douglas, Mass.)

* Kicker Dylan Rushe (Endicott College/ Palos Verdes, Calif.)

Third Team Offense

* Wide Receiver Alec Matys (Endicott College/Woburn, Mass.)

* Tackle Tim Grupp (WPI/ Highland Mills, N.Y.)

* Guard Frank Civitello (Mount Ida/ West Haven, Conn.)

* Guard Mike McDonald (Springfield College/ North Dighton, Mass.)

* Tackle John Moriarty (Mass. Maritime/ Willmington, Mass.)

Third Team Defense

* Defensive End Rob Ruggiero (Bridgewater State/ Acton, Mass.)

* Defensive End James Howe (Williams College/ Charlotte, N.C.)

* Punter Dylan Rushe (Endicott College/ Palos Verdes, Calif.)

* Special Teams D’Andre Smith (Mount Ida/ Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)

Mass. College Football: Afternoon Roundup

By Matt Noonan 

Here are the scores and highlights from this afternoon’s contests.

Harvard 34, Yale 7: For the seventh straight season the Crimson capped their campaign with a victory over the Bulldogs. Paul Stanton Jr. rushed for two scores on 27 carries for 118 yards, as well as hauled in two touchdowns, while quarterback Conner Hempel completed 19 of 26 passes for 209 yards. With the win, along with a Princeton loss to Dartmouth, Harvard claimed a share of the 2013 Ivy League title.

Boston College 29, Maryland 26: Nate Freese‘s 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation propelled the Eagles to their seventh victory of the season. Andre Williams rushed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Chase Rettig completed 6 of 14 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown.

Cent. Michigan 37, UMass 0: The Chippewas earned the lead for good on a three-yard touchdown run by Zurlon Tipton as Central Michigan defeated Massachusetts in Michigan.

Georgetown 28, Holy Cross 21: Peter Pujals tossed two touchdowns and rushed for one more, but that wasn’t enough to lift the Crusaders past the Hoyas.

West Chester 38, AIC 7: Kevin Arduino‘s one-yard touchdown plunge in the opening quarter tied the game, but that was the only score the Yellow Jackets recorded as the Rams defeated AIC in the first round of the Division 2 NCAA tournament.

Springfield 28, Norwich 27: Jonathan Marrero amassed 121 yards on 19 touches (three passes) and rushed for one score as the Pride defeated the Cadets in the ECAC Div. 3 North Atlantic Bowl.

Ithaca 20, Framingham State 17: Trailing 17-3, the Bomber rallied to score 17 unanswered points during the final two quarters, which helped them defeat the Rams in the first round of the NCAA Div. 3 tournament. Melikke Van Alstyne rushed for 120 yards and one score in the loss.

Rowan 24, Endicott 0: Darren Dungee’s 46-yard pick-six provided the Profs with the lead for good as Rowan defeated the Gulls in the first round of the NCAA Div. 3 tournament. Jason Silva led Endicott’s defense with 18 total tackles.

Mass. College Football: NCAA Tourney Predictions

By Matt Noonan 

Three local teams will be competing this weekend in the first round of the NCAA Division 2 and 3 tournaments, and below are game previews and predictions.

NCAA Div. 2 Tournament

American International College at West Chester University: The Yellow Jackets, who captured the Northeast-10 Conference crown last weekend with a victory over Stonehill College will look to keep their momentum going against an impressive Rams unit. AIC, which returns to the tournament for the first time since 2008, enters their first round contest with a seven-game winning streak. AIC is headed by junior quarterback Kevin Arduino, who led the NE-10 with 20 rushing scores, while passing for 13 touchdowns.

WCU, who’ll be tomorrow’s host, won 9 of 10 contests this season. Their only loss came against Bloomsburg, the second seed in the region, which will face the winner of this matchup.

Keep an eye on WCU’s running back Rondell White, a senior tailback that rushed for 1,683 yards and 19 touchdowns. Also, don’t overlook quarterback Sean McCartney, who concluded the regular season with 24 touchdowns and 2,483 passing yards.

Prediction: AIC 24, WCU 22 – Stopping Arduino won’t be an easy task. He’s guided the Yellow Jackets to some impressive conference wins this season and will certainly look to beat the Rams with both his legs, as well as his arm. The Rams offense will certainly challenge the Yellow Jackets defense, especially with their ground game, but AIC should pull this out with possibly a late touchdown or defensive stop.

NCAA Div. 3 Tournament:

Endicott College at Rowan University: Both teams earned a spot in the tournament following conference championship wins as the Gulls topped Salve Regina last weekend, while the Profs defeated TCNJ.

Against the Seahawks, the Gulls defense held their opponent to 325 total yards of offense, while quarterback Drew Frenette completed 14 of 30 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Spencer Walsh rushed for 118 yard on 37 carries. Look for both players to step up in this contest, especially Walsh, who will assist with opening up his team’s passing game.

Rowan is averaging 21 points per game, and as a team, they’ve rushed for 1,600 yards and held their opponents to 1,096 total rushing yards. Withler Marcelin leads the unit with 1,174 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns (nine touchdowns on the ground). Defensively, keep an eye on Chris Alvarez, who’s recorded 14 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks in 10 games.   

Prediction: Endicott 28, Rowan 27 – Both teams can run the ball, but the biggest question will be who can stop it? Obviously Endicott’s defense will look to repeat their performance from a week ago where they stopped one of the better New England offenses, while Rowan will look to their offense, which registered four touchdowns against TCNJ. Similar to AIC-WCU, look for a big defensive stop to shift the momentum to the eventual winner.

Framingham State at Ithaca College: For the second straight season, the Rams are headed back to the postseason after capturing the inaugural MASCAC crown. Yet, their run toward a championship won’t be easy, as they’ll face the winner of the Empire-8.

FSU is led by running back Melikke Van Alstyne, who recently eclipsed the 6,000-yard mark against Worcester State. He also registered three scores against the Lancers, too.

Van Alstyne considers this week’s opponent a mix of Endicott and Westfield State; two teams Framingham State defeated this year.

“I’d say (they’re) like Endicott, but tough like Westfield,” said the senior halfback. “They’re definitely a big and physical team, so we’ve got to bring our A-game.”

Tom Kelley, who is in his seventh year on the sidelines, know his team will need to play its best football of the season in order to advance to the second round.

“We have a lot of guys who remember (losing to in the tournament last year), they remember that feeling,” said Kelley. “The one thing we learned was that we can stand up to the rest of the country and that we can play with the NJAC teams and Empire-8, so we’re going to find that out this week.

“Ithaca is a very good football team. They don’t score a lot, but they don’t give up a lot. They’re very consistent, they don’t make a lot of mistakes, and they have a very good special teams, a very good defense and a very good offense, but our kids (feel) that we can play (with these teams), so we just to play our best game and see what happens.”

As Kelley mentioned, the Bombers defense finished first in their conference in points allowed (151), while their offense ranked seventh in points (220).

Prediction: FSU 21, Ithaca College 14 – This has the possibility of being an upset, especially if the Rams can get their running game going against an impressive defense. FSU’s defense stepped up down the stretch, especially against Bridgewater State. Their win against the Bears maybe their signature victory of the season, so look for a low scoring affair and possibly a late Van Alstyne touchdown to seal the win.

Mass. College Football: Van Alstyne Reflects On His Golden Helmet Award

By Matt Noonan 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Melikke Van Alstyne had nothing, but praise for his Framingham State teammates, especially his offensive line yesterday at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon, which was held at Harvard University. The senior tailback, who eclipsed the 6,000-yard mark in his career on Saturday against Worcester State, was one of two recipients of this week’s Ray Gallant Insurance Golden Helmet award.

“It’s definitely an honor,” said Van Alstyne, who collected his second Golden Helmet. “I know great players that have won this award (before me), so it’s definitely an honor to be here and (be around players like Harvard quarterback) Conner Hempel, so it’s obviously a pleasure.”

Framingham State's Melikke Van Alstyne eclipsed the 6,000-yard mark last weekend against Worcester State. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

Framingham State’s Melikke Van Alstyne eclipsed the 6,000-yard mark last weekend against Worcester State. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

Van Alstyne registered 146 yards on 35 carries with three touchdowns in his team’s final regular season contest against the Lancers, and now holds the record for most rushing yards in his team’s program history with 6,025 yards.

“It was just an awesome feeling,” Van Alstyne said of eclipsing the 6,000-yard mark.

“When he gets an award like that it’s a team award,” said head coach Tom Kelley. “When you bring in a player like (Melikke), he represents the team, institution and his family most importantly. We’re real proud of him and I am real proud of what we’ve accomplished over his four years.”

Maine Maritime’s Steve Tardif (6,093 yards) and Jim Bower (6,060 yards) were the only two rushers to register 6,000-yards before Van Alstyne surpassed the mark.

“(This achievement) was in the far distance,” Van Alstyne said when asked about reaching this milestone. “I was definitely just trying to get better every year, so hopefully I did so to reach this award.”