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)
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 University, Nichols 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 College, Trinity 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.
Coast Guard Academy senior Packy Witkowski, who is from Melrose, Massachusetts, averaged a career-best 17.7 points this past season with the Bears. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy Athletics)
Packy Witkowski has always been a player to watch on the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team, but perhaps this was a season both he and fans of the program will remember the most.
The Melrose, Massachusetts native, who played high school basketball at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut, averaged a career-best 17.7 points per game. He scored a career-high 477 points in 27 contests to go with 120 rebounds, 34 assists, 20 steals, and five blocks.
Witkowski registered 20 points or more in nine games this past winter while sinking a season-best 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting in his team’s 80-69 win over Merchant Marine Academy. He scored 10 points or more in 21 contests while averaging 17.6 points for the Bears in three New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament games.
The senior guard concludes an impressive four-year run with the Bears, which saw him record 1,518 points in 93 games to go with 502 rebounds, 150 assists, 61 steals, and 15 blocks.
We recently spoke with Witkowski to discuss his final season with the Bears, as well as his future plans with the Coast Guard beyond graduation.
What will you remember most about your senior year with the Bears?
It’s hard to narrow down to a single event from this past season, but I would say our team’s journey is what I will remember the most.
From starting out in Anchorage, Alaska to finishing in Brockport, New York, it was a journey made by a group of brothers. We did not start well but we kept at it. By the end, we were operating on all cylinders when we needed it most and founds a way through. This culminated in winning three road playoff games in five days to become NEWMACTournament Champions to earning an automatic bid into the NCAA D-III Tournament.
The journey was special and an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Looking back on the 2019-20 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games?
Our NEWMAC Championship game against WPI. To be down 24 points at the break and comeback and win was nothing short of incredible. I am very grateful to have been part of a win like that, but more importantly, on a team that was so resilient. It is difficult to put that one game into words but that is a memory that will bond us forever.
What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team (and program) these past four years?
Being able to compete (on a daily basis), but really just being a part of this team for four years. Having that competitive outlet and support network from the team and coaching staff has made my experience here at the Coast Guard Academy that much more rewarding and worthwhile. Having the privilege to go to the Academy and represent it while playing a sport that I love has truly been amazing. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have been afforded and the experiences I have had during my time both here at the Academy and on this team.
Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with your sport in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future?
I will always love this game and do what I can to keep up with the team going forward. I can see myself getting involved in coaching to some degree down the road because I am passionate about helping and developing others. Coaching would allow me to continue that passion after graduation.
Tell me about your major. How did you choose it? Also, what are your future plans beyond graduation?
I am finishing up my degree in civil engineering. I have always wanted to have a technical background that would allow me to develop real-world problem-solving skills and that is exactly what this major has provided me.
I believe studying civil engineering has set me up for future success, beginning as an officer with the Coast Guard. School has always been something that has meant a lot to me and I have worked really hard to be successful at it while balancing both my military and basketball commitments.
I will be serving aboard USCGC Reliance as a Deck Watch Officer in June and am very excited to begin my career with the Coast Guard. Beyond that, I am working towards making my dream of being a Coast Guard aviator come true, as well.
With the eleventh (and final) week of the New England Division III Football regular season in the books, it is time to unveil our offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week, which is powered by Zelos Athletics.
Our Noontime Sports ‘Players of the Week’ post is powered by Zelos Athletics, which uses FusionSport Technology to track athletes’ performance metrics during speed, agility, and plyometric drills. Zelos Athletics also provides individual and team speed and agility training, combined with strength & conditioning training, too
This season, Noontime Sports will select at least one player for our three weekly honors: offensive, defensive and special teamer of the week.
The ‘Players of the Week’ post will be published every Monday throughout the season and shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
As usual, stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB.
Quarterback Ryan Jones accounted for five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) in his final game on Saturday with the Coast Guard Academy football team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
Offensive Player of the Week:Ryan Jones (Coast Guard Academy | Quarterback | Punxsutawney, Pa.): In his final game with the Bears, Jones completed 12 of 27 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns while adding 36 yards on 16 carries and two scores against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday. Despite the season-ending loss to the Mariners in the Secretaries Cup, Jones rushed for a season-best two touchdowns – he had only rushed for one score in two games earlier this season. Additionally, he threw for 300 yards (or more) for just the second time this fall after throwing for a career-high (and season-best) 353 yards last month in his team’s win over Maine Maritime Academy.
Tony Slaughter led the Corsairs’ defense with 11.0 total tackles in its season-finale against Westfield State. (PHOTO COURTESY: UMass Dartmouth Athletics)
Defensive Player of the Week: Tony Slaughter (UMass Dartmouth |Defensive Back | Springfield, Mass.): In his final game with the Corsairs, Slaughter recorded 11.0 total tackles, including seven solo stops and two-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 11 yards, which helped UMass Dartmouth defeat Westfield State, 19-13. Slaughter also recorded two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry, too. The 11.0 total tackles were two stops shy of his season-high of 13.0, which he registered earlier this month in his team’s 28-12 win over Western Connecticut.
Mark Wright drilled a 36-yard field goal last Saturday, which helped MIT edge Springfield College in its season finale. (PHOTO COURTESY: Robert Krawitz)
Special Teamer of the Week: Mark Wright (MIT | Kicker | Fort Worth, Texas): Wright booted a 36-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining to send the Engineers past the Pride of Springfield College, 43-40, in a wild season finale that helped MIT clinch its second-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown. Additionally, Saturday’s win over Springfield secured MIT a spot in this weekend’s NCAA Tournament. MIT will be competing in the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, as well as the third time since its initial appearance in 2014. Wright ended the game with nine points off five kicks, including two field goals.
The Coast Guard Academy football team will begin its 2017 campaign on Thursday, August 31 against Alfred State. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
The Coast Guard Academy football team unveiled its 2017 schedule yesterday, which includes six home contests, including the annual battle for the Secretaries’ Cup against Merchant Marine Academy – the game will be broadcasted by the ESPN Family of Networks, according to Tuesday’s release.
This season, the Bears will be competing in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) after spending the past 11 seasons as a member of the New England Football Conference (NEFC).
Coast Guard will officially begin NEWMAC play Saturday, September 23 when they visit Norwich University before hosting Catholic University a week later on Saturday, September 30th (Parents’ Weekend).
Coach Bill George will lead the Bears into action on Thursday, August 31st when they host Alfred State with kick-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The Bears will then travel to Union College on Saturday, September 9 for a 1:00 p.m. start before hosting Nichols College on Saturday, September 16th at 1:30 p.m.
Weeks after their final non-conference tilt against Nichols, the Bears will compete in a trio of games in October, beginning with a Saturday, October 7th clash with Springfield College. The Bears will then visit Maine Maritime Academy (Oct. 14th) before closing out the month with a ‘Homecoming Game’ against MIT on Saturday, October 21st.
Coast Guard will conclude its regular season slate with a pair of November tilts against WPI (Nov, 4th) and Merchant Marine (Nov. 11th).
Last season, the Bears finished 3-7 overall and 2-5 in league play.
We’ll have more on the Bears’ 2017 outlook once the season gets closer!