Tag: Merrimack College

Five New England College Football Teams to Watch In Week Two

Lorenzo Valencia and the Assumption University defense will be a unit to watch this week against Merrimack College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Gil Talbot/Assumption Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

The second week of the New England college football season technically began Sunday, but before we kick off another busy weekend of games, how about we highlight five teams fans should watch (or keep an eye on) this week?

Like we did last year, we will be highlighting five teams from the New England region that fans should keep an eye on every week. This year, we will include all three divisions, not just NCAA Division III teams, and schools.

So, without further ado, here are five teams I’ll be watching on Friday and Saturday.

Anna Maria College (0-0, 0-0 ECFC): When we last saw the AMCATs on the gridiron, their exciting season concluded in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Anna Maria enjoyed its best season in program history last fall, winning its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) crown while also setting a program record for wins in a single season: seven.

As expected, the AMCATs were picked to win the conference crown again this season, but face a challenging non-conference slate, which begins with a home date this Saturday with the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs. Neither team has met before on the gridiron, but this will certainly be a good measuring stick for Steve Croce, who begins his first season as the program’s head coach.

Croce was named the fourth head coach in program history, succeeding Dan Mulrooney, who stepped down earlier this year to accept the head coaching role with Lock Haven University.

Assumption University (1-0, 0-0 NE10): They say defense win championships.

Last Saturday, the Greyhounds’ defense shined in their season-opener, helping the Greyhounds score an impressive 3-0 win over Kutztown University, which entered last week’s tilt as the 13th best team in NCAA Division II.

Assumption’s defense concluded the game with three interceptions and five sacks.

Jael Feliz led the Greyhounds’ defense with 12 total tackles, including nine solo stops and two-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 10 yards. Lorenzo Valencia, who was named the Northeast-10 (NE10) Conference Defensive Player of the Week, chipped in eight total tackles, including four solo stops and two tackles for a loss of 22 yards.

Larsen Wilson led the team with two interceptions while Isaiah Huff recorded two solo stops, three pass breakups, and one interception.

Assumption’s defense will be a unit to watch on Friday evening when they visit Merrimack College.

Holy Cross (1-0, 0-0 Patriot League): The Crusaders scored their initial win of the 2022 season last Friday by defeating Merrimack, 31-17.  

This week, the Crusaders face an early-season test against the Buffalo Bulls, a Football Bowl Subdivision squad that dropped its season-opener on Saturday to Maryland.

Buffalo and Holy Cross have not met since 1970 – additionally, the Crusaders’ last win against the Bulls came in 1963.

Holy Cross currently leads the all-time series, 6-3-1, but is 2-3 against the Bulls in Buffalo.

A win over the Bulls would certainly provide the Purple and White with some additional momentum heading into its Homecoming contest next Saturday with Yale University.

Coach Bob Chesney’s squad scored a win over an FBS squad last season when they defeated Connecticut by a score of 38-28.

Quarterback Matthew Sluka will be a player to watch against the Bison after being named this week’s Golden Helmet Award by the New England Football Writers.

Saint Anselm College (1-0, 0-0 NE10): Quarterback Drew Willoughby was the player to watch last Thursday as the Austin, Texas native led the Hawks to an exciting opening day win over Millersville University.

The Hawks’ 18-point win provided the program with its first win in the opening week since 2014, along with its most recent victory against a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) since 2012.

Willoughby finished his team’s season-opener with 30 completions and 349 passing yards. He connected with three different receivers for touchdowns and became the seventh signal-caller in program history to reach 3,000 career passing yards.

For his effort, he was named the NE10 Offensive Players of the Week and earned the D-II/D-III Golden Helmet Award from the New England Football Writers.

Willoughby will again be a player to watch on Saturday when they host American International College (AIC).

Springfield College (1-0, 0-0 NEWMAC): It was an impressive start for the Pride last Friday night against Western New England.

Six players rushed for a touchdown while the offense concluded the non-conference meeting with 506 yards of total offense.

The team’s impressive ground game led to the entire offensive line – Lou Cocozza, Cam Borges, Vinny Ruggiero, Jon Weber, and Chris Eichler – being named to this week’s D3Football.com Team of the Week.

While it’s only one game, this Springfield team looked pretty good – their momentum will be tested against Rowan University on Saturday.

Like Springfield, Rowan enjoyed a successful debut by defeating Widener University, 42-20.

Rowan lost to Springfield last fall – the Profs defense struggled to contain the Pride’s rushing attack, which was led by Tim Callahan (151 rushing yards and three touchdowns) and Patrick Ladas (115 rushing yards and one touchdown).

Noontime’s 10 Games to Watch (Week One)

Connor Degenhardt and the New Haven Chargers face Bowie State hoping to win their first game against the Bulldogs since 1995. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)

By NoontimeSports.com

A brand new season of college football has arrived — let’s celebrate!

In honor of the opening weekend of college football, it’s time to share our first installment of Noontime’s 10 Games to Watch.

This season, we will pick games from all three levels, including New England FCS and Division II schools for our weekly post. Last year — and yes, previously — we focused on Division III football, not D-I or D-II.

So, before a busy weekend of games begins, allow us to share our initial picks for the 2022 college football season.

Noontime’s Games to Watch for Week One (Friday, September 2 and Saturday, September 3)

Bentley at West Chester (Friday, Sept. 2 @ 6 p.m.): A new era of Falcons football begins this evening with first-year coach Alvin Reynolds guiding Bentley against a Golden Rams squad they beat last year by a score of 41-17. PREDICTION: Bentley over West Chester

Holy Cross at Merrimack (Friday, Sept. 2 @ 7 p.m.): Last year, Dan Curran’s Warriors scored an upset win, defeating the Crusaders on the road, thanks to a three-score effort in the second quarter. Can they duplicate their effort this evening in from of their home crowd? PREDICTION: Holy Cross over Merrimack  

Western New England at Springfield (Friday, Sept. 2 @ 7 p.m.): Springfield was picked to capture its third conference crown this fall – tonight, look for the Pride’s defense to lead them past the Golden Bears in the “Battle of Springfield.” PREDICTION: Springfield over Western New England

Framingham State at Brockport (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 12 p.m.): The Rams’ conference title defense begins with some challenging foes, including tomorrow’s foe, which beat Framingham State last season, 31-0. PREDICTION: Brockport over Framingham State

Husson at UMass Dartmouth (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 12 p.m.): This is truly a toss-up – I can see both teams winning this contest. But in the end, Husson’s Nic Visser will throw one more touchdown than UMass Dartmouth’s Dante Aviles-Santos to lead the Eagles to a thrilling opening day win. PREDICTION: Husson over UMass Dartmouth

Endicott at St. Lawrence (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 12 p.m.): The Gulls overcame a slow start to beat the Saints last season. They’ll use a faster start to score an opening-day win this year. PREDICTION: Endicott over St. Lawrence

Ithaca at Bridgewater State (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 12 p.m.): A challenging opening day matchup awaits the Bears of Bridgewater, which should be in the mix for the MASCAC crown this fall. PREDICTION: Ithaca over Bridgewater State

Sacred Heart at Lafayette (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 12:30 p.m.): The Pioneers have been quite successful against the Leopards in previous meetings with Sacred Heart winning their last five meetings. PREDICTION: Sacred Heart over Lafayette   

New Haven at Bowie State (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 1 p.m.): If the Chargers want to advance deep in the NCAA Division II postseason, they will need to beat teams like Bowie State, which advanced to the quarterfinals last fall for the first time in program history. New Haven has won three of four meetings with Bowie State – last year, the Bulldogs outlasted the Chargers, 21-13. PREDICTION: Bowie State over New Haven  

Stonehill at Bloomsburg (Saturday, Sept. 3 @ 2 p.m.): A new chapter of Stonehill football begins on Saturday – the Skyhawks moved up to Division I this year and will compete in the Northeast Conference. But before they compete against any conference foe, they should be able to score their initial win as an FCS program against a squad they defeated last year by a score of 35-13.

Noontime’s New England D-I Preseason Football Team

By NoontimeSports.com

As we inch closer to a brand new season of New England college football, Noontime Sports is excited to unveil its first-ever NCAA Division I preseason football team — we will release preseason squads for D-II and D-III in a few weeks.

Without further ado, here is our first-ever New England Preseason D-I Team — offense, defense, and special teams — and as usual, please let us know your thoughts by engaging with us on social media!

Noontime’s New England Preseason D-I Offense

QB: Phil Jurkovec | Boston College | Pittsburgh, Pa.

QB: EJ Perry | Brown University | Andover, Mass.

RB: Kevin Mensah | UConn | Worcester, Mass.

RB: Julius Chestnut | Sacred Heart | Bowie, Md.

WR: Zay Flowers | Boston College | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

WR: Cameron Ross | UConn | Newark, Del.

WR: Andre Miller | Maine | Old Town, Maine

WR: Tyshaun James | Central Conn. | Middletown, Conn.

TE: Trae Barry | Boston College | Summerdale, Ala.

OL: Zion Johnson | Boston College) | Bowie, Md.

OL: Alec Lindstrom | Boston College | Dudley, Mass.

OL: J’Von Brown | Central Conn. | Norwich, Conn.

OL: J.D. DiRenzo | Sacred Heart | Hammonton, N.J.

OL: Josh Sokol | Sacred Heart | Hopkinton, Mass.

OL: Nick Olsofka | Holy Cross | Louisville, Ky.


Noontime’s New England Preseason D-I Defense

DL: Benton Whitley | Holy Cross | Springfield, Mass.

DL: Truman Jones | Harvard University | Atlanta, Ga.

DL: Anthony Nelson | Harvard University | Tampa, Fla.

DL: Jack Daly | Bryant University | South Glastonbury, Conn.

DL: Kevin Peprah | Sacred Heart | Woodbridge, Va.

LB: Jacob Dobbs | Holy Cross | Macomb, Mich.

LB: Jordan Hill | Harvard University | Silver Spring, Md.

LB: Tre Jones | Central Conn. | Providence, R.I.

LB: Foday Jalloh | Central Conn. | West Lawn, Pa.

LB: Chris Outterbridge | Sacred Heart | Long Beach, N. J.

DB: Evan Horn | New Hampshire | Lebanon, Pa.

DB: John Smith | Holy Cross | Lake Worth, Fla.

DB: Niko Mermigas | Dartmouth College | Wexford, Pa.

DB: Andre Brackett | Bryant University | East Windsor, Conn.

DB: Darion McKenzie | Merrimack College | Berlin, Md.


Noontime’s New England Preseason D-I Special Teams

PK: Derek Ng | Holy Cross | Las Vegas, Nev.

P: Jon Sot | Harvard University | Clark, N.J.

LS: Evan Deckers | UMass | Avon, Conn.


Honorable Mentions: RB: Zane Dudek (Yale), RB: Peter Oliver (Holy Cross), RB: Joey Kenny (Rhode Island), TE: Joey Luchetti (Boston College), TE: Tyler Roberts (Merrimack College), TE: Jihad Edmond (Bryant University), TE: JJ Howland (Yale University), OL: Chad Broome-Webster (Brown University), OL: Spencer Rolland (Harvard University), OL: Nick Gargiulo (Yale University), OL: Clay Legault (Merrimack College), P: Patrick Haughney (Holy Cross), DB: Dexter Lawson, Jr. (Central Conn.), DB: Melvin Rouse II (Yale University), and P: Noah Gettman (Sacred Heart)

Decisions On The 2020 College Football Could Come This Week

21557537218_cede0f7394_c
The question of if and when college football returns should be answered in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Ken Lund on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)

By Matt Noonan 

The debate about if and how college football could be played during a pandemic may be answered this week, especially after a flurry of activity this past weekend between Power 5 conferences convening remotely, per reports, to the Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC) becoming the first F.B.S. league to cancel its 2020 season.

Last night – Sunday, August 9, to be exact – we learned the Big Ten conference, which met twice this weekend, is leaning toward canceling its football season. And if football is canceled, it is likely both the presidents and chancellors of each institution would pull the plug on other fall sports, too.

An announcement from the Big Ten is expected if not today definitely this week, and pending the league’s final decision on the 2020 fall sports season, it is possible other Power 5 conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) could cancel their respective fall sports seasons or perhaps make tweaks to their newly updated schedules.

While nothing official has been announced by the Big Ten or any Power 5 conference as of this morning, Bob Bowlsby, who is the commissioner of the Big 12, did provide some insight into what leagues might take into consideration when deciding to cancel games this fall: players enduring longlasting cardiac issues from contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) that may prohibit them from future competition.

As noted in a recent story from Sports Illustrated, team doctors and physicians are worried that youth athletes, who are healthy and may be asymptomatic, could develop life-long heart problems, including myocardial, which causes damage to the heart muscle. It appears this issue is just one of many both presidents and chancellors are grappling with when it comes to making a decision on the 2020 fall sports season.

Here in New England, it appears as if both Boston College and the University of Massachusetts will play football this fall, but it is not a given that either program will play or perhaps complete its entire schedule. It is possible, pending future announcements from the Big Ten and other leagues, that both seasons could be canceled or punted to next spring.

Merrimack College, which competes in the Northeastern Conference (NEC), will have to wait and see if their football team will be allowed to play games this fall. According to last month’s update, the NEC President’s council will reconvene on Thursday, October 1 to assess the ongoing pandemic and see if it’s possible to provide not just the Warriors, but every team in the conference with some form of competition.

Other New England schools, including those that compete at both the Division II and III levels, will not be competing this fall, despite some athletic departments still not announcing that fall sports are canceled. But it is likely those announcements could come if not this week later this month once students return to campus.

At the end of the day, these are not easy decisions, so fans and football fanatics need to respect whatever is announced either today or over the next few days. Yes, no college football in the fall would seem strange, but if these decisions result in keeping the student-athletes safe, along with everyone else involved with college athletics safe and healthy, then we should applaud both the presidents and chancellors for making the right call.

NCAA President Mark Emmert Is Concerned About Fall Sports

cd610910-e87f-11e9-afbe-ce3a51e72174
NCAA President Mark Emmert said no games will be played this fall without students back on campus. (PHOTO COURTESY: Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

By Matt Noonan

As we continue to inch closer toward a brand new college sports season, specifically college football, there seems to be some concern from NCAA President Mark Emmert regarding what various seasons will look like this fall during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

In a recent podcast appearance on The Comeback: COVID-19 and the Return of Sports from The Athletic, Emmert told host Seth Davis that the current situation is “very, very fluid,” and that whatever happens with fall sports will certainly be different than prior years.

“What we do know for sure is whatever occurs it’s going to be different,” said Emmert, who previously stated during an NCAA Social Series last month on Twitter that college athletics could not occur if students were not on campus.

As for what the upcoming football season looks like, including here in New England, Emmert told Davis that it won’t be what “we’re custom to seeing it year in and year out.”

Earlier this week, we learned Bowdoin College would not be playing football this fall – maybe this spring? – while Morehouse College announced today that its cross country nor football teams would not be competing for Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championships this fall. 

The Patriot League announced its plans for the upcoming fall sports season on Monday, which included guidelines for its seven members that play football. Teams will not be allowed to fly to away games while the league stated that “with rare exceptions, the regular-season competition will exclude overnight travel.” 

Holy Cross, which captured the Patriot League crown last fall with a 24-0 victory over Georgetown University, shouldn’t have to fly too many games this fall as eight of its current contests, including three conference matchups, are scheduled to take place in either Massachusetts or Connecticut. However, the Crusaders’ season-opener against Merrimack College on Thursday, September 3 could be canceled due to the league not allowing its members to compete against non-conference foes until Friday, September 4. 

As of today, we are 10 weeks away from the first official weekend of college football in New England as well as 69 days away from watching a slew of teams kick-off their respective campaigns on Thursday, September 3, including Bentley University, University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts Amherst

Will games begin on time or be pushed back to later in September? Could we see games moved to October, November, or even December? What about pushing back the season until next spring? 

No matter what, Emmert knows the upcoming college sports season will look so much different than it has previously and may only feature conference or in-state contests along with a slew of regional games.

“Nobody can predict anything with certainty and so therefore you shouldn’t rule anything out,” said Emmert. 

“I certainly think that sitting here today that there will be football in the fall. I think it will be different in many respects whether it’s the audiences in attendance or not in attendance, whether it’s the nature of the schedule, whether it’s the length of the season – you know, all of those things will be different and certainly the protocol and the way the games are played and the healthcare that surrounding that has got to be different.”