By Matt Noonan
With 2022 quickly approaching, I thought we could do one more look back — maybe a reflection? — of some of our most read and viewed stories from 2021.
The biggest story in my opinion was the return to the field for so many colleges and high schools in the New England region — yes, I know some teams or programs competed during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic — but there was a euphoric sense from so many seeing their local teams back on the field or in the gymnasium.
Let’s share some other stories we enjoyed producing over the last 12 months.
- At the conclusion of the 2021 small college football season — New England NCAA Division III, to be exact — we created (and shared) our first-ever All-Noontime Sports Team. Our fans enjoyed it — well, we enjoyed producing it! — and look forward to doing more of these in the future. (We also created a preseason team, too!)
- In late June, I, along with many in this region, was eager for the college football season to begin. So, I decided to produce our Way Too Early Top 20 D3 Poll, which had Williams College in the top spot.
Perhaps I knew this year’s squad would finish 9-0?
- Speaking of Williams — yes, I know the Ephs were mentioned above! — but they finished their 2021 campaign by completing a perfect season with an end-of-season win over Amherst College. Their 24-19 victory clinched their first-ever 9-0 record in program history.
- A new piece of content we created was ‘Inside the Matchup,’ which highlighted a few NCAA Division III playoff games. And one of our most-read playoff previews, according to our stats, was Endicott College hosting RPI in the opening round of the national tournament.
- Sometimes, a sound bite — yes, a quote or a few words — can be used to create a post.
In early June, I produced a short piece about Chris Hogan telling NBC‘s Paul Burmeister that he thought Paul Rabil could compete in the National Football League (NFL).
Rabil, a long-time and well-respected lacrosse player, retired at the conclusion of the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), but apparently did ponder the idea of playing football when he was 23.
- Speaking of Chris Hogan, did you know the former New England Patriots wide receiver competed for the Cannons Lacrosse Club earlier this year?
Indeed, he did — the Cannons, who used to play outside of Boston, were one of the newest members of the PLL.
- Let’s go back to football where not one, but two Northeast football teams — the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and UMass Dartmouth — captured their respective New England Bowls.
- We know football has been a major theme of this post, so why not share our first high school football story from early September, which saw Malden Catholic roll past Weymouth in its season-opener. And you can watch our interviews and highlights from our initial high school football coverage below:
- Another great story from 2021: Anna Maria College captured its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) crown.
The AMCATs crusied to an impressive 31-7 victory over SUNY Maritime to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Anna Maria will certainly be a team to watch in 2022 — can they win their conference again? We’ll have to wait and see!
- We conclude this post with one more historical memory from New England: the Holy Cross football team won its first-ever postseason game by rallying to beat Sacred Heart University, 13-10.
The three-point win over the Pioneers was certainly an exciting one — sadly, it did not translate into additional postseason wins, but it certainly provided the team with some momentum heading into the offseason. And like Anna Maria, Holy Cross will also be a team to watch in 2022.
Thanks for a great year, everyone — we wish all our fans, friends, and readers a very Happy New Year!