Tag: Michael Landers

New England D3 Football: 10 Games To Watch In Week One

Another season of New England D3 Football is right around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s never too early to start marking the calendar with Division III football games, especially with the opening kickoff just two weeks away.

In anticipation of the first kickoff of the 2016 season, which happens to be two weeks from today – Anna Maria vs. Coast Guard Academy – we have provided a list (and some quick thoughts) on what games you should keep an eye on (or attend) in week one.

Thursday, Sept. 1 – Coast Guard Academy at Anna Maria, 7 p.m. – We have been counting the days and weeks for this game, so when the Bears and AMCATs take the field, it will mean a new season of college football has begun. Keep an eye on Coast Guard Academy senior co-captain and quarterback Derek Victory, who enjoyed an impressive junior season under center.

Friday, Sept. 2 – UMass Dartmouth at Mount Ida, 6 p.m. – This is always a must-see game, according to Mount Ida head coach Michael Landers. Keep an eye on Mount Ida sophomore quarterback Jack Sheehan, who enjoyed an impressive first season, while also watching UMass Dartmouth junior linebacker Brandon Miller. Miller should be a focal point of the Corsairs’ defense this season.

Friday, Sept. 2 – Western New England at Springfield College, 7 p.m. – This has become a true rivalry game – basically, the winner becomes the so-called king of Springfield. The Golden Bears were picked to capture the New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown, but will be tested by a new-look Pride squad, which will be led by first-year head coach Mike Cerasuolo.

Friday, Sept. 2 – WPI at MIT, 7 p.m. – Both schools are rivals in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), so this game will certainly live up to its hype. WPI escaped last year’s meeting thanks to a fourth quarter field goal by senior Blaine Bursey.

Friday, Sept. 2 – Bridgewater State at Curry, 7 p.m. – A new era has begun in Bridgewater as long-time assistant and defensive coordinator Joe Verria will lead the Bears as the program’s interim head coach. The Bears beat Curry last year in their season opener, but the Colonels rebounded, capping their 2015 campaign by winning three of five contests.

Friday, Sept. 2 – Fitchburg State at Becker, 7 p.m. – After an impressive 7-3 campaign, the Hawks of Becker will look to prove 2015 wasn’t a fluke. First-year head coach Frank Forcucci, who spent the previous three seasons as the program’s Associate Head Coach and defensive coordinator, will lead Becker this fall. Fitchburg State – on the other hand – has high aspirations for this season and will be led by senior quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie, who tossed 26 touchdowns for the second-straight season.

 Friday, Sept. 2 – Salve Regina at Worcester St., 7 p.m. – The Seahawks of Salve Regina were picked to finish second the New England Football Conference (NEFC). They also appeared in our Noontime Sports Top 10 Preseason poll, too. Worcester State is one of our ‘Teams on the Rise,’ and this has always been an intriguing matchup, especially when each offense gets into a groove.

 Saturday, Sept. 3 – Endicott at Framingham State, 12 p.m. – Under second year head coach Kevin DeWall, the Gulls of Endicott will look to commence their season with an opening day road win against a Framingham State squad that will feature some new names on both sides of the ball. The Rams won last season’s opener in Beverly, defeating Endicott, 42-6. Endicott’s last win in Framingham came in 2012 with the Gulls claiming a 34-7 victory.

 Saturday, Sept. 3 – Plymouth State at Castleton, 1 p.m. – Castleton sophomore Mitchell Caron is expected to be spotted under center in the Spartans’ season opener. Quarterback George Busharis graduated this past spring, so it will be fun to watch Caron lead the Spartans. As for Plymouth State, they enter 2016 a year older and with more experience.

Saturday, Sept. 3 – Hartwick at West Conn., 5 p.m. – Senior halfback Michael Nicol will be expected to carry the load this year, and help Western Connecticut State kick-off its season with a win against a talented Hartwick squad. Nicol will be one of many players to watch on Joe Loth’s squad, especially if they want to make a run toward winning the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown.

Mass. College Football: Mount Ida Season Outlook (VIDEO)

By NoontimeSports.com 

A few weeks ago, we traveled to Mount Ida College’s training camp to catch up with Head Coach Michael Landers and senior co-captains Frank Greene, Frank Civitello and Ned Cassidy to chat about the Mustangs new motto for the season, “The Ninth Round.”

The Mustangs are coming off their first Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) championship and NCAA Division III tournament appearance.

Mount Ida will begin their season this evening as they travel to UMass Dartmouth for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Mass. College Football: Mount Ida Prepares For Wesley College

The Mustangs will look to earn their first NCAA tournament victory on Saturday against Wesley College! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth for NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

CAMBRIDGE, MA – For the first time in school history, the Mount Ida College Mustangs football team is heading to the NCAA Div. III tournament.

The Mustangs earned an automatic bid following last weekend’s victory against Castleton State in New Hampshire.

This week, Mount Ida will face Wesley College, a squad that defeated the Mustangs 13 years ago.

Following the final New England Football Writers’ luncheon on Wednesday, Noontime Sports caught up with head coach Michael Landers to chat about their first round matchup, as well as the season, too.

Before the season began, did you think that earning a spot in the NCAA tournament was attainable?

“I think it was a goal of ours to win the conference championship and then go onto the NCAA’s. I don’t think we doubted that at all, but what we did was set that as a long-term goal for us and we set up a bunch of short term goals of how to hunt that down, and obviously our philosophy has been 1-0 every single week. And we haven’t looked at the big picture, but now we’re at the big picture. Although, I think it’s still apropos for us to try to go 1-0 today, try go 1-0 tomorrow, try to go 1-0 this week. We said to the kids four years ago, [and again] we started with 17 kids on the team four and a half years ago that those who stay will be champions. And now they’ve won that conference championship, but we’ve got another week to play. It was a long-term goal for us, but we don’t really concentrate on the long game, we’re trying to concentrate on the short game very week.”

Your team has been apart of some rather close games this season. How have those particular contests helped the Mustangs progress?

“I think your character is defined in moments in adversity and our guys have shown time and time again that they are a team of great character. It’s pretty obvious if you look at our track record, as far as games are concerned. Last minutes, difficult situations and this is a unique group of kids and after that UMass Dartmouth game, we sat down and we talked about [how this squad] isn’t the most talented team we’ve ever had, but they have the intangibles, so that means if you’re willing to work really hard and go 1-0 every day, you can do something special, so that’s kind of where we are right now.”

Has the conference championship officially set in? Do you feel your players have been able to move on and focus on the next task?

“This is a different team because we get focused and get on task pretty quickly. We talked [on Tuesday] as a team before practice that there is no more conference championships, and if that’s what you wanted to sit back on then you don’t need to make the trip with us, so we got back to work pretty quickly, and if you’re not working as hard as you can this week, you don’t even get a chance to make the bus.”

Looking at your opponent this week, what have you noticed from the film? What makes Wesley such a tough first round opponent?

“They have tremendous team speed. They have team speed that we haven’t ever seen and we have good team speed, so we’re outgunned and they’re a complete team. They’re a championship caliber team; they go out and play the best competition that they can possibly find. They fly out to California and out to Texas, they play Mount Union and the White Waters and they’ve been to the playoffs before. They’ve gone deep into the playoffs and they’re going to be a challenge for us and I don’t want to say that we have to play perfect football because I don’t think there is such a thing, but we have to play together, we have to play smart and we have to fight for the things that we want.”

Have you or your team experienced any pre-game nerves or jitters?

“Last Wednesday our offensive coordinator had a baby and that’s something you can get nervous about, but this is a football game and this is an opportunity for us to play together for at least one more time, and now it is truly a 1-0 situation and it’s football life or death. You either get to win and play again together or you lose and that’s the end of the season. So, I don’t think it’s something to be nervous about because it is something to get excited about and we’ve always said since [our first day of practice] that anytime we get to play together it’s a reason to be excited. I don’t see nerves playing into this at all because it is just who we are and if we get nervous then we don’t beat Norwich with 30 seconds left.”

Have you faced an opponent this season that compares to Wesley?

“No. They are a different entity for us. They’re something different.”

If you look at the record books, you’ll notice Massachusetts’s teams have struggled in the tournament. Is that something you’ve thought about this week? 

“I think a lot of people have conversations about that and I think you can find those conversations just about anyway you look, but if we were to believe those things then why go and play the football game? I think for a team that is seen as a kind of Cinderella team and, as an underdog it really starts as a couple things and they are the following: has your team gone through adversity? Yes, we have, and it starts with believing. I don’t concentrate on those things, I don’t coach those other teams, I haven’t coached those other teams, I haven’t been apart of those things because this is my team. This is the situation that we’re in and we’re getting prepared to go and try and win a football game.”

You’ve mentioned that this is one of your favorite teams you’ve coached. Can you elaborate on that statement?

“We have a tradition that we dance after we win. We go off somewhere and we dance, and it’s getting off the bus and dancing because that was the moment that we talked about with a lot of these guys that hadn’t experienced a lot of success. If you’re willing to work as hard as you can and give effort then just about anything is possible. Watching the joy, the elation that [my team exhibited last weekend was great, but] they did it because it wasn’t about winning a trophy, it wasn’t winning a conference championship, but instead learning about achievement and how to go after your dreams. I think that was it and they did it.”

Finally, once this season has officially concluded, do you feel your young men are ready to take what they learned on the gridiron and apply it toward their future?

“This group definitely knows how to throw rocks. I think they have the blueprint now, I think they believe, I think they have tremendous self-confidence that no matter what they face, they can face it head on with integrity and honor and with great honesty, so I’m confident in these guys.”

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Championship Preview

Castleton State and Mount Ida College will compete on Saturday for the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Crown! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth

By Matt Noonan 

We’re less than 24 hours away until Championship Saturday commences, and excluding AIC-New Haven and Framingham State-Salve Regina, another key matchup to watch tomorrow will be the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Championship between Castleton State and Mount Ida College.

The winner of this particular match will win the conference and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Div. III Championship.

Here is a preview of this particular contest.

Records: Both teams are 7-2 overall. Castleton is 6-0 in the conference, while Mount Ida is 5-1.

Last Meeting: The last time these two squads met was during the final week of the 2011 season. The Mustangs defeated the Spartans in Newton, 54-34.

Biggest Win: The Spartans biggest win occurred in week one when they defeated non-conference foe Plymouth State, 35-7. Senior quarterback Shane Brozowski tossed four touchdowns and recorded 400 yards through the air.

The Mustangs biggest win came against conference foe Maritime (N.Y). Senior kicker Bobby Hemmann kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to secure a 24-21 victory.

Biggest Setback: Castleton’s biggest loss came a week after their first win in Beverley, Massachusetts against Endicott College. The Gulls soared past the Spartans, 66-14. Castleton held a lead midway through the first quarter, but Endicott managed to erase the deficit and go onto earn their second win.

As for Mount Ida, their worst loss came in week three against Springfield College. The Mustangs held a 14-point advantage in the third quarter, but the Pride rallied to defeat the visitors, 49-42. Senior quarterback Scott Drosendahl tossed five touchdowns in the loss, while sophomore Chris McNally rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries.

Castleton’s New Quarterback: Last week, Brozowski suffered a season ending injury in his team’s win against Husson. So, without their starting gunslinger, the Spartans will rely on freshman George Busharis. The former Mansfield High School quarterback has appeared in six games this season and completed 11-of-22 passes for 152 yards. He’s recorded one touchdown and one interception, too.

The Mustang Way: Throughout the season, head coach Michael Landers has preached his team’s new motto: 1-0. It’s a theory that forces players to be discipline, but also focus on the task at hand. And ever since Landers first muttered the words of “going 1-0,” Mount Ida has been a different team.

Overview: Both these teams are evenly matched, but without Brozowski in the lineup, it could be a long day for Castleton State’s offense. However, the Spartans passing attack ranks second in the nation so don’t expect Busharis to struggle too much, especially if he’s able to connect with junior Brandon Boyle.

Drosendahl will be the main focal point for Mount Ida. The Mustangs senior quarterback ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency and is second in the conference in touchdown passes (26).

Castleton’s defense is the top squad in the conference when it comes to defending the pass, so Drosendahl will have to be at his best against an impressive Spartans secondary.

Prediction: Mount Ida College 31, Castleton State 28

Mount Ida Looks To Overcome Penalties, Seeks Win Against Husson

Mount Ida College recorded 23 penalties last weekend against Anna Maria, but hopes to overcome their miscues this week against Husson! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

By Matt Noonan 

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Following Saturday’s win against Anna Maria College, Mount Ida College currently finds itself atop the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference with a 4-1 overall record.

However, the Mustangs aren’t the only squad in their conference with an impressive mark through six weeks, as Castleton and Gallaudet each have three or more wins, as well as two victories in conference play.

“We only have four wins right now, so we just have to attack every week and try to get a little bit better,” explained Mount Ida head coach Michael Landers.

Landers’ crew adopted a mentality at the beginning of the year of going undefeated in practices, film sessions and games, which maybe the secret behind their current success.

Although, Landers knows his team has a great deal of work to do, especially after they were whistled 23 times last weekend against Anna Maria.

“[Players] need to concentrate on [their] job, do [their] job as hard as [they] can and there is some negative reinforcement that goes with that too, so we’ll build in a system from here on out to make sure that those things don’t happen again and that we’re clear with our guys,” explained the head coach.

According to the league statistics, Mount Ida ranks last in the conference with 57 penalties and 500 penalty yards.

Yet, despite the numerous errors, Landers knows his team will rebound and continue look to senior quarterback Scott Drosendahl to guide the Mustangs to victory.

“It’s a matter of all 11 guys doing their job, but he is the leader, he’s the captain, he’s the guy that steers the ship for us,” said Landers.

“Scott has done a tremendous job of understanding what we need to do to win football games and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve survived the last four wins.”

Drosendahl has accounted for 16 touchdowns through the air and five scores on the ground, but excluding his effort, the Mustangs have also received some help from freshman running back Melquan Pinkney, who ranks second on the team in rushing touchdowns.

This week, Mount Ida will travel to Bangor, Maine to face Husson, a squad that hasn’t earned a victory since September. And while it maybe easy for the Mustangs to overlook their opponent, Landers and his coaching staff know that in order for their squad to be successful, they need to execute properly.

“We’ve found ways to pull it out in the end, we found ways to kind of learn the lessons from week-to-week,” Landers stated.

“We really just have to concentrate on us and the things that we do and eliminate penalties, execute better,[and play] better assignment football.”

Mount Ida has been impressive this season, but as any good coach knows, one can’t assume they’re great until they finish the season with a championship. And while the Mustangs coaches and players would love to earn an ECFC crown, they know they need to focus on their current tasks and do their jobs in order to claim some hardware.

Championships aren’t earned after six weeks, so if Mount Ida wants to achieve greatness prior to the conclusion of their season then they’ll need to keep the flags off the gridiron and play fundamental football each week.