Football Friday: Revisiting Framingham State’s 2012 Campaign

Endicott Football

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.

D3 Football: Maher, Johnston Secure Spots On AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America Teams

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Framingham State’s Jacob Maher concluded his initial season with the Rams as an AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America First Teamer. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

A pair of New England D-III Football student-athletes were recently named to the 2019 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America Teams.

Jacob Maher of Framingham State secured a spot on the first team, while Kyle Johnston of Massachusetts Maritime Academy earned a spot on the second team.

Maher wrapped up his first and final season of college football with the Rams this fall by catching a team-high 56 receptions for 819 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior tight end from Marshfield, Massachusetts averaged 5.1 receptions and 74.5 yards per contest. He caught a season-high three touchdowns in his team’s 39-33 win over UMass Dartmouth in October before hauling in two touchdowns in his team’s regular-season finale against Worcester State.

Prior to earning an end of season honor from the AFCA, Maher earned and All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) first-team honor and a spot on the New England Football Writers (NEFW) Division II/III team.

Johnston, who also appeared on the NEFW D-II/III team, enjoyed his best season with the Buccaneers by recording a career-best 57.0 total tackles, including 37 solo stops and 20 assists in 10 contests. The defensive lineman from Raynham, Massachusetts tallied career-highs in sacks (12.5), tackles for a loss (19.5), and forced fumbles (three) in 10 games this fall and was also named to the All-MASCAC first team. 

In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Johnston tallied 164.0 total tackles, including 121 solo stops to go along with 49.5 tackles for a loss and 25.5 sacks. He also recorded eight forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and seven pass breakups, including three last season.

Chad Shade Named Jerry Nason Award Winner

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Springfield College’s Chad Shade was recently named the Jerry Nason Award winner. (PHOTO COURTESY: Springfield College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation

Following an impressive senior season with the Springfield College football team, quarterback Chad Shade was named the Jerry Nason Award winner by the New England Football Writers.

The award, as noted on the NEFW website, “is presented to a graduating senior football player from a college in the New England region who succeeds in football against all odds.”

Shade, who became the second Springfield football player to receive the award, received a media redshirt last fall after sustaining a season-ending injury after his team’s fourth contest.

“I think he’s such a competitive kid, and his nature is that whatever the obstacle, and he’s such a positive influence — not only within the team, but in his own mindset — I don’t think he ever doubted his ability to come back and perform the way he did,” Springfield College coach Mike Cerasuolo said, via The Berkshire Eagle.

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts native concluded his final season with the Pride by recording career-highs in touchdown passes (seven), passing yards (456), rushing yards (771) and rushing touchdowns (eight).

Shade, who competed in all 10 contests this season, helped Springfield have the best rushing offense in Division III college football. Springfield averaged 405.0 yards per game, including 357.4 rushing yards, which was the most since the 2017 squad averaged 435.2 rushing yards per contest.

Player Perspective: Alec Coleman (Western New England)

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Alec Coleman is ready to lead the Western New England Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY:

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

We’re another day closer to a brand new season of New England Division III football, which means it’s time for our second preseason ‘Player Perspective’ post featuring Alec Coleman of Western New England.

The Arlington, Massachusetts native enjoyed a very successful junior season last fall, tallying 40 touchdowns in 11 games, including 21 on the ground.

Coleman rushed for 867 yards on 113 carries for an average of 78.8 yards per contest while completing 167 of 286 passes for 1,964 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The veteran signal-caller is optimistic about his final season with the Golden Bears, who commence their 2019 campaign with a visit from Springfield College on Saturday, September 7th at 1 p.m. Coleman loves the local rivalry between both schools and considers each meeting a “battle for every inch on the field.”

What did you do this summer to prepare yourself for a successful final season with the Golden Bears? 

I trained seven days a week – I followed our summer workout program, which focused on two things: weight-lifting and conditioning. Additionally, I trained multiple times a week with my quarterback coach, too, while watching game film and studying the playbook.

Lastly, I tried to do my best to stay in contact with my coaches and teammates to make sure we kept a bond that will continue into the (upcoming) season.

You enjoyed your best season with WNE last fall, so how did your first two seasons prepare you for a successful junior year?  

Our head coach, Jason Lebeau, was our team’s offensive coordinator my first two seasons – he focused not just on our offense, but quarterbacks, too, so this allowed me to (build a relationship) with him.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to sit behind (and learn from) Anthony Service, who was our team’s quarterback my first two seasons. Anthony was an unbelievable resource for me. I learned a lot from simply watching him play, but also asking him questions about plays or reads, too.

I also want to credit the other two quarterbacks in my class (Brendan Smith and Jack Priester), who have competed with me every day. The competition between the three of us has made us better. We all have a love for each other and want the best for one another. 

What do you feel was your most productive (and successful) game last season? 

The Nichols College game (last October). I received the New England Football Writers (NEFW) Golden Helmet Award for Division II/III (following our team’s 49-14 win). I finished the game with five touchdowns (four rushing scores) and 306 total yards of offense.

How will the Frostburg State contest from last November in the NCAA Division III Tournament help both you and the team this upcoming season? 

Frostburg State is an unbelievable football program. Playing against a team of that caliber certainly made us better. We gave them a good game that provided us with the confidence that we can play against any team.

However, (the loss) left a sour taste in our mouths, which will (certainly) motivate this team to be bigger and better than one year ago.

Finally, being a senior, how do you want to end your time with the Golden Bears? I presume winning a championship, right? 

Of course, I would like to end my time (in Springfield) with a championship, but I have learned over time it is better to leave a place in a better situation than when you found it (or arrived at it. So, my biggest goal) is to make sure I help my teammates, who will be the future of this program, by coaching them and making sure they are ready to continue the tradition of this program, both next season and beyond.

The Western New England football program has given more to me than I could have asked for, so I want to make sure I do everything I can to give back to this program.


Stay connected with our New England football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB today! 

Springfield’s Shade Honored By New England Football Writers (NEFW) as D2/D3 Gold Helmet Recipient

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Springfield College junior quarterback Chad Shade was honored by the New England Football Writers (NEFW) on Wednesday as this week’s D2/D3 Golden Helmet Recipient. (PHOTO CREDIT: Springfield College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11 

It has been an exciting few days for Springfield College‘s Chad Shade, who has earned multiple awards for his six-touchdown performance last Friday evening in his team’s season-opening 42-21 win over Western New England.

The Pittsfield, Massachusetts native was tabbed this week’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Offensive of Player of the Week, while being selected to the D3Football.com National Team.

Additionally, he earned our initial Noontime Sports Offensive Player of the Week honor before collecting the first New England Football Writers (NEFW) D2/D3 Gold Helmet award of the season this afternoon at Harvard University.

Shade shattered multiple career-bests last Friday, including a career-high six rushing touchdowns and 247 yards on the ground. He accounted for 32 of his team’s 42 points – also a career-high, too – while ripping off a career-best 75 yard burst in the third quarter, which helped the Pride push ahead for good.

Springfield (1-0) will look to continue its week one momentum this Saturday, September 8th when they visit Kean for a 1 p.m. kick-off. The Cougars were idle this past weekend, but lost to the Pride last season, 28-8, in Springfield.


Stay connected with our New England football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB today!