Tag: New England Football Conference

Noontime’s Teams To Watch In NCAA D-III Region 1

MIT will be one of a few teams to watch in the NEWMAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

A brand new season of NCAA Division III football is quickly approaching. And we’re excited about the upcoming season. Are you?

As a part of our early preseason coverage, we will be producing a list of 10 to 12 teams we will be watching this fall in regions one and two — yes, the NCAA has divided 239 teams into six regions for the upcoming season compared to previous years, which saw programs listed in the North, South, East, and West. These changes were highlighted on D3Football.com earlier this month.

So, without further ado, let’s begin our early preseason watch with our teams to watch in Region 1 this fall!

Delaware Valley: As noted last week on our podcast — well, we need to give some credit to James Baker of In The D3FB Huddle — the Aggies will most likely be the top team this fall in this particular region. DelVal did not play last fall or earlier this spring, but posted an 11-2 record in 2019, which included eight conference wins in Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC). The Aggies will begin their 2021 campaign at Kean University on Friday, September 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Endicott College: The Gulls improved from 2018 to 2019. And despite not appearing on the gridiron last fall, it is expected the trend will continue this season when coach Paul McGonagle leads the Blue and Green onto the field on Saturday, September 4 against St. Lawrence University.

Framingham State University: Aynsley Rosenbaum will make his head coaching debut on Labor Day Weekend — Saturday, September 4 at 12 p.m., to be exact — when the Rams welcome Brockport to Bowditch Field. Rosenbaum spent 12 seasons with the Black and Gold as the offensive coordinator, and has helped the Rams win nine conference championships.

Merchant Marine: The Mariners competed one last fall — they defeated their rival Coast Guard Academy in the Secretaries Cup. Quarterback Ian Blankenship highlighted his team’s lone win of the 2020 season and will certainly be a player to watch this fall.

Middlebury College: In 2019, the Panthers were perfect, winning all nine New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups to become just the fourth team in league history to record an undefeated season.

Misericordia University: First-year coach John Davis and the Cougars will be a team you certainly will want to keep your eyes on this fall — Davis arrives in Dallas, Pennsylvania after three successful seasons with The Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia. Under Davis, the Builders posted back-to-back winning seasons in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, Davis and the Builders beat Oakland University in the NCFA National Championship.

MIT: The Engineers have averaged 7.66 wins in their last three seasons — they have also represented the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. MIT’s previous success should continue this fall, but like previous years, they will face some challenges against two local conference foes: Springfield College and WPI.

Stevenson University: Similar to the Aggies, the Mustangs will also be a team to watch in this particular region — they open their season against Johns Hopkins, which finished its 2019 campaign with an 8-3 record, including a 6-3 mark in the Centennial Conference (CC). Their matchup with the Blue Jays will be followed by two VERY iroad trips at RPI and Delaware Valley.

Trinity College: Look for the Bantams to bounce back this fall after posting a 5-4 record in 2019. Prior to their five-win season, the Bantams produced three eight-win seasons, including a perfect 8-0 mark in 2016.

UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch is back to quarterback the Corsairs for one more season — in 2019, he led the Blue and Gold to a 7-3 season. UMass Dartmouth last recorded seven wins in 2004 when they were a member of the New England Football Conference (NEFC).

Western New England: The Golden Bears have won eight games or more since 2014, and will once again be one of a few teams to watch in New England this fall. And like most teams, they did graduate some talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Alec Coleman, but expect Jason Lebeau‘s squad to be ready come week one when they host Springfield College on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

Wilkes University: Coach Jonathan Drach and the Colonels enjoyed a successful 2019 season, which saw the team post eight wins for the first time since finishing 8-3 in 2005. Despite losing to Susquehanna University in the Centennial/MAC Bowl, the Colonels should be able to continue to their momentum this fall when they kickoff their season at Schmidt Stadium against Keystone College on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

Football Friday: Revisiting Framingham State’s 2012 Campaign

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Framingham State’s Melikke Van Alstyne chases Endicott College’s PJ Bandini after an interception in the second half. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Happy Friday, everyone!

And welcome to our second installment of ‘Football Friday,’ a post where we revisit stories, teams, coaches, and student-athletes that we have covered over the past decade.

Today, we’re jumping back to 2012 to highlight a Framingham State University football team that not only won the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship against Salve Regina University but also advanced to its first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament.

The Rams’ run toward a national championship, unfortunately, concluded in the opening round against SUNY Cortland – the Red Dragons edged Framingham State, 20-19, despite a fourth-quarter rally by the Black and Gold.

Yet, despite a one-point setback in the national tournament, the 2012 season was quite a memorable one for the Rams, which captured the program’s first and only NEFC title, while four members of the squad, including coach Tom Kelley, garnered major postseason awards from the conference. Additionally, Framingham State won 10 games for the first time in program history and only lost once in the regular season to Endicott College, which defeated the 2011 NEFC Bogan Division and Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champions on the opening day of the 2012 season.

Endicott’s defense shined in its week one victory against the Rams as the unit finished the contest with five interceptions, five tackles for a loss, one fumble recovery, and a trio of pass break-ups.

“We stuffed them on first down (and) forced them (into) long second downs (and) that really got them out of their groove,” Endicott’s Andrew Holfinger said following his team’s initial win of its 2012 campaign.

Luckily, the loss to the Gulls was quickly forgotten six days later when Framingham State scored its first win of the 2012 season against Nichols College.

The Rams, who defeated the Bison by a score of 34-6, leaned on its ground game as both Matthew Mangano and Melikke Van Alstyne combined for four touchdowns and 393 rushing yards.

The victory over the Bison seemed to provide the Rams with a ton of momentum as they would go onto capture its next nine contests, including a 16-0 win over rival Bridgewater State University followed by an exciting overtime victory against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Not only did the Framingham State offense shine throughout the 2012 season, but so did  the defense, which limited its numerous foes to 12.8 points per game, along with 63.0 rushing yards per contest.

After registering just seven points in the opening week, the Rams concluded seven contests with 30 points or more. But during the team’s final regular-season contest against Worcester State University, all three units – offense, defense, and special teams – collaborated to produce a season-high 65 points.

The 65-21 win over the Lancers allowed the Rams to clinch its second-straight NEFC Bogan Division crown, as well as secure a spot in the conference’s championship round one week later against Salve Regina.

“We’re certainly going to be tested,” Kelley said when previewing his team’s contest against the Seahawks at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon, which was held at Harvard University.

Salve Regina entered the contest with an identical 9-1 record. The Seahawks averaged nearly 400 yards of offense while the defense limited opponents to roughly two touchdowns per game.

But despite scoring the first points of the 2012 NEFC title game, Salve Regina struggled to contain both Melikke Van Alstyne and Matthew Silva, who combined for three rushing touchdowns. 

James Muirhead led the Rams defense with eight total tackles, including three stops for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble.

Salve Regina, which trailed Framingham State by four points (14-10) at the break, attempted to mount a late comeback during the final minutes of the fourth quarter but saw its rally dashed when the Rams recovered its onside kick.

Moments after the final kickoff of the game was recorded, the Rams celebrated a hard-fought championship, which Muirhead considered “so surreal.”

“All the hard work paid off,” said Muirhead, who was named the Bull Mottola Championship Game Most Valuable Player Award following the final whistle.

“I don’t really have any words to explain it,” he would add.

The 28-16 win over the Seahawks was a culmination of the Rams’ commitment of hard work and determination that was fueled by an overtime setback one year earlier in the same contest to Western New England. And while the victory over the Seahawks did not spark a deep postseason run, it was certainly the beginning of many more conference titles and postseason appearances for a squad that has maintained its success over the past few years.

Watching – and yes, covering – this team truly made me fall in love more with small college football. The 2012 season truly marked the beginning of my tenure of producing content on various New England D-III athletic teams and programs, and I am thankful for the time both Tom Kelley and the players provided me throughout this exciting and historic campaign.

Noontime’s Senior Salute: Ryan Jones (Coast Guard Academy)

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Coast Guard Academy quarterback Ryan Jones guided the Bears to a 5-5 record this past season, including a pair of overtime wins. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy)

By NoontimeSports.com

Coast Guard Academy quarterback Ryan Jones enjoyed a successful final season with the Bears, throwing for a career-high 13 touchdowns while recording a career-best 1,930 passing yards.

Jones, who competed in all 10 contests last season, became the fourth signal-caller in program history to throw for more than 4,000 yards when he guided the Bears to a 33-8 victory over Maine Maritime Academy. He also led the Bears to a pair of overtime victories last fall, too, including an early-season one-point win over Nichols College. The win against Nichols was the team’s first extra session victory since Coast Guard Academy edged Worcester State University in 2012.

In 2018, Jones and the Bears celebrated their first win over archrival Merchant Marine since 1996 to cap their campaign with seven wins. The seven wins were the most any Coast Guard Academy team has won in a single-season since winning the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Bogan Division in 2007 with an 8-2 record.

We recently spoke with Ryan Jones about his final season with the Bears, but also his future plans beyond graduation.


What will you remember most about your senior year? 

Our double-overtime win against Catholic University on homecoming. 10,000 people went (in attendance and went) nuts. It was an awesome atmosphere.

Looking back on the 2019 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games? 

Both of our overtime wins were really exciting, but beyond that, our win over Maine Maritime sticks in my mind. That day, I (recorded) 4,000 passing yards (in my career) while Justin Moffatt broke a school’s single-game receiving record with 256 yards. That was a fun day.

What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy football team these past four years?

The people here at Coast Guard Academy are just different. They’re the best kind of friends and teammates. I’ll miss the camaraderie more than anything, on and off the field.

Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with the sport of football in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future?

Definitely. Maybe not right away as my career will likely demand quite a bit of my time for the first few years (beyond graduation), but I can definitely see myself coaching middle school or high school ball in the future.

Tell me about your major – how did you choose it? – and what are your future plans beyond graduation?  

I’m a marine and environmental science major. I chose it because I want to get into the medical field someday, most likely the physician’s assistant route. MES was the only major here at the Coast Guard Academy that gave me a solid background in advanced chemistry and other sciences that will be important for allowing me to continue my education in a medical graduate program.

After graduation, I’m headed to Mississippi for my first assignment as an officer, but hope to one day be selected for either a

Down the road, I hope to be selected for one of our Tactical Law Enforcement or Counter-Terrorism team.

Flashback Friday: Our Visit With MIT Football (Oct. 23, 2012)

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By NoontimeSports.com| @NoontimeNation 

Beginning today and every Friday going forward, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of our favorite memories of coverage, beginning with a trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts in October of 2012.

Our Flashback Friday visit date: October 24th, 2012

Who did we visit/cover: The MIT football team.

Previewing our visit: What prompted us to visit with the Engineers was an exciting Friday night victory over Salve Regina on October 19th, 2012.

Just six days after falling to Western New England by a score of 36-14, the Engineers regrouped and scored an exciting (and impressive) win over Salve Regina, which entered the contest riding a seven-game winning streak.

MIT, which was celebrating its ‘Senior Day’ on a rainy (and chilly) evening in Cambridge, outscored the hosts, 13-6, in the final session to secure their fourth win of the season.

Brad Goldsberry set-up the go-ahead (and game-winning) score with a 61-yard kick-off return which would be followed by a five-yard rushing touchdown a few plays later by Justin Wallace.

The Seahawks did have a chance to respond but their comeback hopes were dashed when MIT’s Jake Laux intercepted Steven Wilken‘s final throw of the contest.

MIT would take a knee on the ensuing possession before celebrating their biggest win of the 2012 season.

Revisiting MIT’s 2012 Season: The Engineers finished its 2012 campaign with five wins – it was the first time MIT had registered five victories in four years. Additionally, the win over the Seahawks seemed to provide the unit with some momentum that would help them win six games in 2013 and then 10 in 2014.

MIT’s 2014 season was certainly a magical one as the Engineers won their first-ever New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown while capturing the program’s initial NCAA victory, too.

Prior to their opening-round win over the Eagles of Husson University, Goldsberry, Wallace and other members of the 2012 team were featured on Fox Sports.

New England Football Offseason Notebook: FSU’s Kelley Announces Retirement

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

Weeks after guiding his team to a ninth Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) title, along with an appearance in the NCAA D-III Football Tournament, Framingham State University football coach Tom Kelley announced his retirement on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020.

Kelley, who is an alum of the program, coached the Rams for 13 seasons. He guided Framingham State to five NCAA Tournaments and four bowl victories, including a 3016 New England Bowl championship.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to have been the head coach of the football program at Framingham State for the past 13 seasons,” Kelley said via Wednesday’s announcement on the Framingham State athletics website.

“As a former player, I could not be more proud of our teams and all the fine student-athletes who have come through the program. I was lucky to be surrounded by great coaches on our staff throughout the years that helped lead our teams to so much success.

“At this point, it is time for me to step away from coaching with the program sitting in a great spot coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.  It’s time to put the horse in the barn.”

Framingham State won 107 games under the direction of Kelley, including 100 games in the last 13 seasons. Kelley has coached two AFCA All-Americans while being named the coach of the year eight times by five different organizations, including the New England Football Writers in 2012 when he led the Rams to a New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship, NEFC Bogan Division title, a MASCAC crown, and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Kelley will remain in his current role as the school’s Director of Athletics while an announcement of a new coach should be coming within the next few weeks.

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Endicott College’s Nick DiCairano will represent the Gulls in The Dream Bowl on Monday, January 21dt, 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nick Grace)

Endicott College senior kicker Nick DiCairano will be representing the Gulls’ football program next Monday, January 21st, 2020 at The Dream Bowl in Salem, Virginia at the Salem Football Stadium, as announced earlier this week on the athletic department’s website.

The Dream Bowl, which started seven years ago, “is a College Football All-Star Showcase of the best FCS, D-II, and D-III players from across the country.”

DiCairano will compete on the 2020 Crusaders team – he will be joined by a few other New England college football players, including Framingham State’s Dwayne Hunter-Parker.

Last month, DiCairano represented Endicott in the National Bowl College All-Star Game after producing an impressive senior season with the Gulls, which included career-bests in field goals (13), extra points made (57) and points (96). His longest field goal of the 2019 season was a 47-yard kick, which he recorded three times against Framingham State, Curry College, and Salve Regina University.

In addition to DiCairano, a few other New England college football players will be competing next Monday at The Dream Bowl, including Sacred Heart wide receiver Kezio Snelling, who was named to the Northeastern Conference (NEC) second team last November.

Also on the Crusaders is Derek Mountain and Corey Stefanik of Holy Cross and Momodou Mbye and Kevin Lawrence of Rhode Island College.