By Matt Noonan
Happy Monday, everyone — I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend, but also enjoyed seeing football games played, both in-person or on television over the past few days.
Starting today and every week throughout the remainder of the New England D-III college football season, I’ll be producing a weekly post called “Noontime’s Teams to Watch,” which will highlight some programs fans should watch (and yes, keep their eyes on) heading into the upcoming week.
So, without further ado, let’s highlight some teams to watch this week.
MIT: The Engineers scored an opening day win against Curry College — the offense really kicked into gear in the second half as they outscored the Colonels by a score of 27-0. Quarterback Chris Mauck was one of a few players to watch as the Wellington, Florida native completed 17 of 29 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
Halfback Jay Theriault, who played high school football at Masconomet, led the Engineers with 58 yards on ten carries and one touchdown while linebacker Paul Calvetti paced the MIT defense with 13 total tackles.
The Engineers, who moved up three spots in our week two poll, certainly proved they’re going to be a team to watch this fall, but we should get a better gauge on this MIT squad, especially the defensive unit this weekend when they visit Salve Regina University. MIT limited the Curry rushing attack to just 96 yards, but will certainly be challenged this week against a Seahawks squad that is led by halfback Joey Mauriello.
WPI: Despite a slow start to their first game since November of 2019, the Engineers of Worcester found their groove in the second half against Worcester State by outscoring the visitors, 35-7. Coach Chris Robertson‘s squad leaned heavily on its ground game as Hunter Carey and Brandon Winn combined for 240 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Nica Hesel highlighted the WPI defensive effort with four total tackles, including two tackles for a loss of 20 yards, one sack for a loss of 17 yards, and one forced fumble. Of course, Hesel wasn’t the only one providing challenges for the Lancer’s offense as Derrick Doncaster and Evan Wertz combined for 15 total tackles, one fumble recovery, and one tackle for a loss of 17 yards.
WPI faces a challenging test on Friday evening against second-ranked Endicott College — the Gulls rallied to beat St. Lawrence University on Saturday after trailing the Saints, 14-6, at the break.
Dean College: Wide receiver Errol Breaux was a player to watch last Saturday as the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native tallied six touchdowns (five receiving, one rushing) against Fitchburg State. The senior wideout concluded the game with 251 yards of total offense — he averaged 30.9 yards per reception.
Quarterback David Curry concluded Saturday’s outing with the Falcons by completing 18 of 30 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns — I’ll certainly be watching him and Breaux on Saturday when they visit the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs.
In addition to the dynamic duo on offense, keep your eyes on Dre Kidd this Saturday — the Manassas, Virginia native was the only member of the Bulldogs defense to record double-digits in total tackles: 13.
Castleton University: Noah Crossman was the player to watch in the Spartans’ initial contest of 2021 against Plymouth State as the North Chittenden, Vermont native booted a pair of field goals in the opening half before Devin Wollner capped a four-play, 62 yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter to secure the victory.
Chris Rice led the Castleton defense with nine total tackles, including three solo stops, three-and-a-half tackles for loss of 16 yards and two-and-a-half sacks for a loss of 13 yards. Rice was a player to watch in 2019 and will certainly be someone all New England D-III fans will want to watch as the season progresses.
The Spartans will travel to Fitchburg State on Saturday — Castleton lost to the Falcons by a score of 12-10 in 2019 but defeated the Gold and Green in 2018.
University of New England: Despite an opening day loss to Coast Guard Academy, the Nor’easters defense was the story as Keegan Stanton-Meas led all defenders with 12 total stops, including seven solo tackles and one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of four yards.
UNE, which secured the final spot on today’s poll, is certainly trending in the right direction — the Nor’easters under coach Mike Lichten have shown improvements since their first varsity contest in 2018, and could surprise some squads this fall with a defense that combined for eight tackles for a loss of 20 yards, two quarterback hurries, and one interception returned for 38 yards last Saturday against the Bears.