By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11
It’s time to highlight some New England Division III football teams that will be ‘the contenders’ this season in their respective conference.
These contenders are teams that could win their respective conference, but also squads that will challenge the top teams (and favorites) this upcoming season.
As usual, let us know if you agree (or disagree) with the teams highlighted below that we consider ‘the contenders’ for the 2019 New England Division III football season.
Amherst College: After finishing 8-1 last season, the Mammoths enter 2019 as not just a team to watch in New England D-III football, but also a potential contender in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). With 18 players gone to graduation, the Mammoths will need to rely on its upperclassmen, including quarterback Ollie Eberth, wide receiver James O’Regan and defensive back Avery Saffold to lead the Purple and White to victory.
Bridgewater State: The Bears will definitely challenge Framingham State for the top spot in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall despite some key graduation losses from last year’s squad, which capped its 2018 campaign with a New England Bowl victory. The New England Bowl win has seemed to provide the Red and White with some much-needed momentum heading into this season.
Coast Guard Academy: The Bears will challenge Springfield College for the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown. Coast Guard will lean on its seniors and juniors this fall to continue their momentum from one year ago, which saw the Bears finish 7-3, including 5-2 in conference play.
Endicott College: After finishing with seven wins – the most an Endicott squad has recorded since posting an 8-3 mark in 2013 – the Gulls will attempt to continue that momentum this fall, but it certainly won’t be easy. Western New England should once again be the favorite in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) followed by Salve Regina. The Gulls will need to play their best football against both squads to have a chance to finish the season with some hardware.
Husson University: It will be interesting to see how the Eagles’ transition from the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) to the CCC goes this fall – they will certainly be competitive against Endicott, Salve Regina, and Western New England. However, with some key graduation losses, especially at quarterback, I am not sure if the Eagles will finish 2019 with some hardware or an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
MIT: Similar to the Eagles, the Engineers will also need to find a replacement for their quarterback, along with a few new linebackers, too. Coach Brian Bubna‘s squad will certainly be competitive this fall in the NEWMAC, but most likely deal with some challenges when they face Coast Guard, Springfield, and WPI.
Plymouth State: After advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, the Panthers took a step back last season, but still finished with a winning record. They almost beat Western Connecticut but did score an exciting win over Framingham State. Despite some key graduation losses, the Panthers should still be competitive in a conference that may be a two-team race for the top spot.
Salve Regina: The Seahawks’ five-game winning streak last fall proved it’s not how you start, but how you finish. Salve Regina did end its season with a setback to the Bears of Bridgewater State in the New England Bowl but do return a majority of last year’s squad that ended its regular-season slate with an exciting win over Endicott. Salve Regina will be tested immediately with early-season tilts against Dean College, Montclair State, and Norwich University.
Williams College: Despite somewhat of a down year, these Ephs certainly have what it takes to challenge Amherst and Trinity College for the top spot in the NESCAC. Look for the Ephs to lean heavily on their junior class to lead them to important conference wins. Quarterback Bobby Maimaron, who is a dual-threat signal-caller, will once again be a player to watch this fall for Williams.
WPI: After a down year the Engineers are poised to bounce back this season – they will be led by a very talented senior class, which will hope to cap their time Institute Road in Worcester with a conference championship. WPI will lean heavily on its run game this fall – look for a big year from halfbacks Sean McAllen and Connor Field.
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