By Matt Noonan
The first official weekend of the New England (and northeast) college football season has finally arrived, which means it is time to preview our first “Game of the Week,” which pits Endicott College and Saint Lawrence University.
Before the Gulls and Saints square off on Saturday, September 4 at 12 p.m., let’s learn a bit more about each team, as well as make a prediction for who wins (and why?).
The early outlook for Endicott College: The Gulls enter their first game of the 2021 season as our second-ranked team in this week’s New England Top 20 Poll (for week one) — Endicott is certainly one of many teams I (and others) in the area/region believe will be in the mix for their conference crown.
Coach Paul McGonagle has led the Gulls to eight wins or more in two seasons — in 2019, Endicott matched its win total from 2012 with nine wins while capping their campaign with a New England Bowl victory over Dean College.
The early outlook for Saint Lawrence: After posting a 9-1 record in 2016, the Saints have averaged three wins in their last three seasons — they did, however, finish 5-5 in 2019, including 3-3 in the Liberty League (LL).
When we last saw the Saints compete, they finished their 2019 season with back-to-back wins after starting their campaign with a pair of losses to Norwich University and Utica College.
Like the Gulls, the Saints enter 2021 with some believing they can challenge the top teams in the conference, including Union College, which checked in 15th in the most recent D3Football.com poll.
The Last Meeting (September 17, 2016): The Saints defeated the Gulls, 38-0 to clinch their third win of the 2016 season.
Quarterback Sean Richardson highlighted his team’s third win by completing 24 of 32 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns while halfback Rodrick Payne rushed for a game-high 114 yards on 21 carries.
The game was played at Hempstead Stadium in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Players to Watch on Endicott: RB John Kenney (Wilmington, Mass), WR Anthony Bracamonte (Saco, Maine), WR Shea McManaway (Lisbon, Conn.), DL Sam Opont (Bridgeport, Conn.), LB Tim Russell (Stoneham, Mass.) and LB Mehdi Squalli (Rochester, N.Y.)
Players to Watch on Saint Lawrence: QB Tyler Grochot (Ottawa, Ontario), RB Jamie Battaglia (Brewerton, N.Y.), WR Andrew Murphy (Glens Falls, N.Y.), OL Max Warden (Potsdam, N.Y.), DL Caleb Null (Carthage, N.Y.), DL Ryan Reinke (Schenectady, N.Y.), LB Kyle Frimel (Cream Ridge, N.J), and DB Max Gilbert (Newburyport, Mass.)
Prediction: Endicott 28, St. Lawrence 27: As I said on this week’s podcast when discussing the first week of games with James Baker, I like the Gulls in this one – I think they will feed off their home crowd to score a late touchdown and squeak out a win. However, I do think the Gulls defense will be challenged by an up-tempo offense led by quarterback Tyler Grochot.
All in all, Saturday will be an exciting day for everyone as we celebrate the return to the field.