Tag: NCAA Division III

Leftover CCC Football Thoughts: Can Endicott win a third-straight crown?

Endicott College quarterback Clayton Marengi will be a player to watch on the Gulls in 2023. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

Another season of New England small college football has concluded, which means it is time to look back and reflect on what we learned from covering not one, but five NCAA Division III conferences.

Our 2022 rewind – well, more leftover thoughts, to be exact – begins with a simple question: Can Endicott College win its third-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)?

My initial answer is yes – expect the Gulls to contend for another CCC title next fall.

The Gulls clinched their first-ever undefeated regular season (10-0) in program history this fall, thanks to a defense that pitched four shutouts.

Entering their initial postseason contest with Springfield College earlier this month, Endicott’s defense had yielded 6.5 points per game in 10 contests – sure, they allowed more than a touchdown in their final two contests to the Pride and Western New England, but this unit has potential to be even better next season.

Endicott’s defense will look different next fall but expect Hector Johnson to continue his success from this season, which saw the Worcester, Massachusetts native tally 21.5 tackles for a loss, including 14.5 sacks. Johnson will lead a unit that will feature linebacker Matthew Licciardi, strong safety Zachariah Twardosky, and defensive lineman Colin Meropoulos.

Halfback Yavier Cosme-Diaz and quarterback Clayton Marengi will be two players to watch on offense next fall with the duo combining for 12 rushing touchdowns in 11 contests this season. Marengi added 15 passing touchdowns while completing 146 of 230 passes for 1,667 yards with four of those scores landing in the hands of wide receiver Shane Aylward.

The Endicott offense averaged 355.2 yards per game, which was the third best average amongst the seven CCC squads.

With some key returners expected to return, along with some new recruits, Endicott should be able to contend for a third-straight conference title. But don’t be surprised if Husson University or Western New England provide the Blue and Green with some challenges along the way.

Additionally, one should not count out the University of New England, which has certainly improved every season since its initial campaign in 2018.

One other team to watch next fall in the CCC is Curry College. Can the Colonels begin to make the climb under soon-to-be second-year coach Todd Parsons?

Finally, one team that won’t stand in the way of potential three-peat is Salve Regina University, which is joining the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) next school year as a full-time member.

Noontime’s New England D3 Top 10 Poll (Nov. 21, 2022)

The Springfield College football team clinched its first postseason win in 16 years this past weekend against Endicott College. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

Another season of New England small college football is slowly winding down.

Springfield College highlighted the 12th week of the season, winning its first NCAA Division III playoff game since 2006 with a hard-fought 17-14 win over Endicott College.

The Pride secured a spot in the second round of this year’s national playoffs. Springfield will travel to Ithaca College on Saturday, November 26 with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m.

Springfield and Endicott secured the top two spots in our end-of-season poll followed by Trinity College, which checked-in third with a 9-0 record.

UMass Dartmouth and Plymouth State rounded out the top five.

Noontime’s End of Season Top 10 Poll: Monday, November 21, 2022

1. Springfield College (9-2, 6-0 NEWMAC): The Pride clinched their second-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown with a 6-0 record, as well as won their first postseason contest in 16 years this past weekend against Endicott. Springfield will compete in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament this Saturday, November 26 against Ithaca.

2. Endicott College (10-1, 6-0 CCC): Despite ending its season with an opening-round postseason setback, the Gulls were the team to watch this fall. Endicott produced its first perfect season (10-0) in program history, as well as claimed its second-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown. Additionally, Endicott’s defense limited opposing offenses to just 6.5 points per game in 10 contests.

3. Trinity College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): The Bantams became the third-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) squad to clinch a perfect 9-0 season. Trinity’s defense was a unit to watch this season, yielding just 98 points in nine games while the Bantams’ offense ranked second in touchdowns (40) and points (301).  

4. UMass Dartmouth (9-2, 8-0 MASCAC): UMass Dartmouth made its first appearance in the national tournament in 20 years by winning its first Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown earlier this month. The Corsairs have won 14 of their last 16 conference tilts, dating back to last season’s initial league clash with Worcester State.

5. Plymouth State (9-2, 6-2 MASCAC): The Panthers concluded their 2022 campaign by winning their first-ever New England Bowl on Saturday with a come-from-behind victory over Husson University. Plymouth State won nine games for the first time since sharing the MASCAC crown in 2017 with Framingham State.

6. Middlebury College (7-2, 7-2 NESCAC): Coach Bob Ritter’s tenure may have concluded with a setback to Tufts University, but the Panthers exceeded our expectations, winning seven of nine contests, including an impressive late September win over Wesleyan University. Middlebury has recorded five wins or more in its last five seasons, including a 9-0 campaign in 2019.

7. Western Connecticut (7-3, 6-2 MASCAC): The Wolves were the biggest surprise of the 2022 season, winning seven games after concluding the 2021 season with five wins. Western Connecticut was one of the top three offenses in the MASCAC, averaging 383.7 yards per contest.

8. Tufts University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): Like Western Connecticut, Tufts was a pleasant surprise, as well, thanks to an impressive quarterback-wide receiver duo of Michael Berluti and Phil Lutz that helped the Jumbos offense conclude its nine-game season with a league-best 306 points.

9. Wesleyan University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): The Cardinals’ season ended with a difficult setback to rival Trinity – Wesleyan did lead Trinity, 14-10, at the break before the momentum shifted to the Bantams in the second half. Wesleyan’s biggest victory of the season occurred in mid-October when they beat Tufts under the lights by a score of 26-24.

10. Bridgewater State University (7-4, 6-2 MASCAC): The Bears closed out their 2022 campaign with a three-game winning streak, which culminated with their second New England Bowl victory in program history this past weekend. Bridgewater State was one of three MASCAC teams to post a 6-2 conference record – additionally, the Red and White ranked second in the conference in yards per game (415.1).

D3 Football Roundup: Springfield Tops Endicott In The NCAA D3 Tournament

Arsen Shtefan and the Springfield College football team won its first postseason contests since 2006 as the Pride topped Endicott College.
Arsen Shtefan powered the Springfield College football team to an exciting 17-14 postseason win on Saturday over Endicott College. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

For the second-straight week, Arsen Shtefan eclipsed the century mark, rushing for a season-high 156 yards and one touchdown as Springfield College raced past Endicott College, 17-14, in the opening round of the 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament.

With the win, Springfield clinched its first playoff win since beating Curry College in 2006 to secure a second-round date with Ithaca College next Saturday, November 26.

Ithaca advanced to the second round with a 63-20 win over UMass Dartmouth.

Shtefan’s lone touchdown came midway through the opening session before Springfield tacked on two more scores in the second half to provide the Pride with their ninth win of the season.

Blane Hart rushed for a seven-yard touchdown in the third quarter before Christian Hutra capped his team’s offensive output with a 33-yard field goal with 7:25 remaining in the final stanza.

Endicott’s Clayton Marengi completed 14 of 25 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns with his final score landing in the arms of Jaeden Baxter. Shane Aylward, who caught Marengi’s first touchdown early in the third quarter, led all receivers with three catches for 68 yards.

Saturday marked the first time Endicott and Springfield have squared off on the gridiron – additionally, the three-point win over the Gulls provided coach Mike Cerasuolo with his initial postseason with his alma mater.

Endicott entered the game riding a 10-game winning streak – the Gulls clinched their second-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown two weeks earlier with a win over Salve Regina University before concluding their regular season with a come-from-behind win against Western New England.

Ithaca 63, UMass Dartmouth 20: Max Perry completed five of six passes for 95 yards and one touchdown to go with 83 rushing yards and two scores as the Bombers cruised past the Corsairs in the opening round of the postseason.

Dante Aviles-Santos, who has been the player to watch on the Corsairs this fall, tossed two touchdowns while JP Mason tallied a team-high 15 total tackles.

Saturday’s game marked the second time UMass Dartmouth has competed in the NCAA Tournament.

Plymouth State 21, Husson University 20: Manny Sanchez rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown as the Panthers rallied to beat the Eagles and win their first-ever New England Bowl.

Husson’s Nic Visser completed 24 of 32 passes for 227 yards to go with a team-high 56 rushing yards and one touchdown. Elijah Garnett rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown.

Bridgewater State 34, Catholic University 24: Quarterback James Cahoon completed 24 of 33 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns while Isaiah Wright added 120 rushing yards on 23 carries as the Bears topped the Cardinals to clinch their second New England Bowl.

Catholic’s Nico Casares completed 25 of 44 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

Inside The Matchup: Springfield College at Endicott College

Hector Johnson and the Endicott College defense will look to continue their success this fall against Springfield College on Saturday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Endicott College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Springfield College has competed against multiple New England football teams but has never squared off against Endicott College.

On Saturday, the Pride will visit the Gulls in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Both teams are making their second-straight appearance in the national postseason – Springfield won the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) for the second consecutive season while Endicott claimed another Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown.

Let’s “go inside” this in-state matchup with the victor advancing to next weekend’s second round against the winner of Ithaca College vs. UMass Dartmouth.

Game Time & Location: Springfield will make the trek to Beverly, Massachusetts on Saturday, November 19 to compete against Endicott at 12 p.m.

Endicott College’s 2022 Season Review: The Gulls clinched their first-ever 10-0 season in program history, thanks to a come-from-behind victory last weekend against Western New England.

Endicott has been the team to watch in the CCC this year, thanks to a defense that pitched four shutouts, including a pair at the beginning of the season against St. Lawrence University (27-0) and WPI (24-0).

The Gulls’ defense yielded its first touchdown in week three against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).

Endicott’s defense has limited opponents to 6.5 points per game with Western New England’s 21 points being the most the Gulls have yielded in 10 contests.

In addition to its defense, the Gulls’ rushing attack has been impressive – five student-athletes have rushed for at least one touchdown this fall, including quarterback Clayton Marengi, who has located the end zone with his feet eight times.

Springfield College’s 2022 Season Review: For the second-straight season, the Pride overcame a slow start – well, more a 1-2 start, to be exact, by winning its last seven contests.

In a way, Springfield has been in “playoff mode” for the last three weeks, needing to beat Merchant Marine, MIT, and Catholic University to secure its third NEWMAC crown since 2017.

As expected, the Pride have leaned on its rushing attack to score some important wins this fall, along with senior quarterback Armando Torres, who stepped in for David Wells last week to guide the Pride to an end-of-season win against the Cardinals.

Torres operated the team’s triple-option offense quite well against Catholic – he completed two of three passes for 17 yards and one touchdown to go with 62 rushing yards on seven carries and one score.

Springfield’s win against Catholic, along with their come-from-behind victory against MIT, could provide the Maroon and White with enough momentum to win its first national postseason contest in 16 years (the Pride’s last postseason win came in 2006 when they beat Curry College in the opening round).

Common Foes: Endicott and Springfield both scored wins this fall against Husson University, Norwich University, Western New England, and WPI.

The Matchup within the Matchup: The biggest question heading into Saturday’s contest is will Endicott’s rushing defense be able to stop Springfield’s triple-option offense?

Endicott has limited opposing rushing attacks to 81.9 yards per game but will need to find a way to stop a Springfield rushing attack that is averaging 357 yards per game.

Additionally, Springfield’s offense has been on the field for an average of 35:02, which is something to watch, as well – what happens if the offense is on the field for less than 35 minutes on Saturday? Does that mean Endicott will win this matchup?

With the way Endicott’s defense has been playing these last few weeks, don’t be surprised if this turns into a low-scoring affair.

Players to Watch on Endicott: Clayton Marengi (QB), Tyler Bridge (RB), Anthony Caggianelli (RB), Yavier Cosme-Diaz (RB), Anthony Bracamonte (WR), Shane Aylward (WR), Everett Knowlton III (TE), Quinten Fox (P), Matthew Licciardi (LB), Jackson DeAngelo (LB), Tyler Davis (DB), Colin Meropoulos (DL), and Hector Johnson (DL).      

Players to Watch on Springfield: David Wells (QB), Armando Torres (QB), Joseph Cannizzaro (FB), Arsen Shtefan (FB), Dante Vasquez (HB), Jacob Silvester (HB), Noah Wagnblas (WR), Christian Hutra (K), DJ Brown (LB), Tyler Pohlman (DB), Billy Carr (LB), and Aiden Lewin (LB).         

Inside The Matchup: Plymouth State at Husson University

Quarterback Braden Lynn and the Plymouth State Panthers will compete against Husson University on Saturday in the New England Bowl. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Kilmer/Plymouth State University Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Our small college football postseason coverage rolls on with “going inside” another New England Bowl matchup: Plymouth State at Husson University.

Game Time & Location: Plymouth State will make the trek to Husson for the second time this fall on Saturday, November 19 with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. (LIVE STATS || VIDEO)

Husson’s 2022 Season Review: For the third consecutive season, the Eagles won four of six Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) contests to go with a non-league win against Alfred State.

Husson concluded its regular season slate with five wins, matching its total from 2013 when the Eagles competed in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC).

The Eagles scored some exciting wins this fall, including a 27-17 victory over Western New England last month, which provided Husson with its first-ever win against the Golden Bears.  

Quarterback Nic Visser was recently named the CCC Offensive Player of the Year after ending the regular season with 14 passing touchdowns to go with a league-best 2,200 passing yards.

Plymouth State’s 2022 Season Review: The Panthers’ regular season concluded with a disappointing setback last Saturday to UMass Dartmouth in a win-or-go-home matchup.

Despite losing to the Corsairs, Plymouth State enjoyed a successful season, producing eight wins in 10 contests, which was one less than the Green and White produced in 2017 when they shared the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown with Framingham State.

The Panthers began their campaign with four-straight wins, including a week two victory over Husson. Manny Sanchez highlighted the win, rushing for a game-high 131 yards on 21 carries while quarterback Braden Lynn completed 12 of 17 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.

New England Bowl History (for both teams): Saturday’s clash between the Eagles and Panthers will be the first time either school competed in the New England Bowl.

Series History: Plymouth State has won three of its five meetings with Husson, dating back to the first contest between the Panthers and Eagles in 2004. Husson beat Plymouth State in 2018 and 2021.

Husson’s Last Postseason Appearance: It’s been four years since the Eagles last appeared in a postseason (or a bowl) contest – Husson lost to RPI in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Tournament.

Prior to their meeting with the Engineers, Husson competed in five NCAA Tournament games, along with two Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Bowl games.

Their lone postseason win occurred in 2017 when they beat Springfield College in the opening round of the national postseason.

Plymouth State’s Last Postseason Appearance: The Panthers previously advanced to the opening round of the national postseason in 2017 where they lost to Brockport by a score of 66-0.

The Green and White have competed in the postseason six times in program history, dating back to their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1984 (Plymouth lost to Union College in the quarterfinals by a score of 26-14).

Plymouth State’s lone postseason win occurred in 1994 when the Panthers edged Merchant Marine, 19-18, in the first round.

Players to Watch on Husson: Nic Visser (QB), Elijah Garnett (RB), Jon Bell (WR), Russ Walker (WR), Tucker Buzzell (LB), Adam Bertrand (LB), Alex Brown (DB), and Sean Savage (LB).       

Players to Watch on Plymouth State: Braden Lynn (QB), Manny Sanchez (RB), Willie Lombard (RB), Jake Donahue (WR), Conner Sheehan (K/P), Evan Wilson (LB), Quinn Girard (DB), Bryce Wronski (LB), and Luc Normandeau (DB).