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.