Tag: New England Small College Athletic Conference

The Early Outlook for the NFL’s Wild Card Matchups

Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders secured a spot in the 2021 NFL Playoffs with an end-of-season victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images | New York Post)

By Matt Noonan

The 2021 National Football League’s (NFL) regular season concluded last night.

Now, it is time for the playoffsare you ready?

The 2021 season came down to the final day, as well as its last matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

In some way, this season mirrored the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) from the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) where every matchup and week was needed to determine not just divisional winners, but overall seeding for the 14-team playoff.  

Saturday cannot come soon enough – I am eager for yesterday’s excitement to continue. Does anyone know how to hit fast forward in the next few days?

Either way, I am excited – and I hope you are, as well – for some playoff football!

Over the next few days and weeks, Noontime Sports will be keeping its focus on football – consider this some “overtime” coverage from last summer and fall. We will have some op-eds and commentary pieces to previews, along with a piece about quarterback progression (I guess I can thank those armchair quarterbacks calling Boston radio stations!) over the next few days.

Let’s jumpstart the week with some early thoughts on all six Wild Card matchups — have a great day, everyone!

AFC Wild Card Matchups

Los Angeles Raiders (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-7): The Raiders concluded their 2021 campaign by winning four-straight contests, including back-to-back games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Silver and Black have been quite the story this season – sure, there was some negative press over the first few weeks, but somehow, they managed to go on a late run to secure an opening round meeting with the Bengals. Don’t overlook the Raiders in this matchup.

New England Patriots (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6): The Patriots ended their season with a disappointing setback to the Miami Dolphins – they also lost two other games before their divisional meeting with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. But something tells me this was the matchup coach Bill Belichick and his team wanted. They beat Buffalo last month by running the ball and attempting three passes. But a few weeks later, New England struggled to contain quarterback Josh Allen. The rubber match between the Bills and Patriots should be fun!  

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5): The Chiefs may not be the explosive offense they once were – in fact, it seems as if their defense has played better, especially down the stretch. But here’s my question: will this unit be able to stop a Steelers squad that has averaged 17.75 points in their last four outings? My initial answer: yes, but I also wonder if the Pittsburgh defense is good enough to stop Patrick Mahomes?

NFC Wild Card Matchups

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4): With a big win on Sunday over the Carolina Panthers, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were able to move up to the second seed, thanks to some help from the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Tampa Bay is not the same team as last year – they have some issues on both sides of the ball, which makes them vulnerable. Yet, the Buccaneers should be able to win this game, however, they must find a way to stop an impressive Eagles rushing attack led by quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts concluded the regular season with 784 rushing yards on 139 carries and 10 touchdowns while completing 265 of 432 passes for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5): This is a classic matchup – go ahead and break out those Steve Young and Troy Aikman jerseys. Neither signal-caller will be spotted under center next Sunday, but the 49ers’ offense will provide some challenges for a Cowboys defense that struggled initially at slowing down Philadelphia’s Gardner Minshew and Kenneth Gainwell this past weekend. But while the 49ers’ come-from-behind win yesterday against the Los Angeles Rams was impressive, the question I have heading into this contest is can this defense — San Franciscos’s, to be exact — slow down Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense? This game presents some interesting storylines, as well as features two coaches that used to work together: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) and Dan Quinn (Dallas).  

Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (12-5): Arizona and Los Angeles both scored one win against each other, so like Buffalo-New England, this is a rubber match. To be honest, I did not anticipate this would be a first-round match-up – in fact, I thought Arizona or Los Angeles would be heading to Dallas this weekend. But instead, the Cardinals and Rams will square off once more this season – I am not confident in the Rams’ defense, which struggled to contain the San Francisco offense yesterday, especially in the final minutes. Additionally, will we see a great or subpar Kyler Murray against the Rams? Similar to Dallas-San Francisco, this game also presents some unique storylines.

Noontime’s Final D3 Football Top 20 Poll (Nov. 22, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s hard to believe, but another season of New England NCAA Division III football has officially concluded — that was fast, eh?

Luckily, we still have plenty of end-of-season wrap-up content coming your way, so stay tuned for future posts and podcasts. But in the meantime, enjoy our end-of-season poll, which finds Williams College, Endicott College, and Framingham State in the top three spots.

1. Williams College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): The only New England team to finish without a setback, the Ephs concluded the 2021 season as the first team in program history to win nine games in a single season.

2. Endicott College (8-3, 5-1 CCC): Despite seeing its season conclude in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division III Tournament, the future is very bright for a squad that features a slew of rising seniors and juniors.

3. Framingham State (8-3, 6-0 MASCAC): The Rams were a pleasant surprise this fall, rebounding from an 0-2 start to win their third outright conference crown.

4. Trinity College (8-1, 8-1 NESCAC): The Bantams could be the “team to beat” next fall in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) after ending its season with back-to-back wins over Amherst College and Wesleyan University.

5. Western New England (7-4, 5-1 CCC): The Golden Bears may have ended with a difficult setback to the United States Merchant Marine Academy, but this team was resilient, especially after a midseason loss to Endicott College.

6. UMass Dartmouth (9-2, 6-2 MASCAC): The Corsairs matched their win total from 2003 by winning their final six contests, including their first-ever New England Bowl.

7. Husson University (7-3, 4-2 CCC): These Eagles provided a lot of challenges for non-conference and conference foes this fall.

8. Salve Regina University (8-2, 4-2): The 2021 Seahawks looked somewhat like the 2016 Seahawks that won eight games.

9. Springfield College (7-4, 6-0 NEWMAC): “The Brotherhood” bounced back from a 1-3 start with a six-game winning streak that resulted in a conference crown, along with an impressive showing against SUNY Cortland in the opening round of the postseason.

10. Bridgewater State (6-4, 6-2): The Bears concluded their season with a Cranberry Bowl win over Massachusetts Maritime Academy, which should provide the Red and White with some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.

11. Anna Maria College (7-3, 5-1 ECFC): The AMCATs were a tremendous story this fall as they not only captured their initial conference crown but also competed in their first national postseason.

12. Wesleyan University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): These Cardinals provided a great deal of excitement with some dramatic come-from-behind wins this fall.

13. Castleton University (6-4, 4-2 ECFC): The Spartans were a fun team to watch down the stretch as they finished with six wins for the first time since posting an identical 6-4 record in 2017.

14. Plymouth State (5-5, 5-3 MASCAC): These Panthers were a team to watch during the second half of the season, especially mid-October.

15. MIT (5-4, 3-3 NEWMAC): Coach Brian Bubna’s squad ended its 2021 campaign with a much-needed win over the Engineers of WPI.

16. Amherst College (5-4, 5-4 NESCAC): These Mammoths exceeded our expectations and will certainly be a team to keep an eye on next fall.

17. University of New England (4-5, 2-4 CCC): The future is very bright for the Nor’easters, who concluded their season early this month with a dramatic win over Curry College.

18. Western Connecticut (5-5, 4-4 MASCAC): The Colonials head into the offseason with some momentum after ending its campaign with back-to-back wins over Fitchburg State and Worcester State.

19. Tufts University (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): The Jumbos ended their season with a four-game winning streak – they were certainly competitive with some of the top teams in the NESCAC this fall.

20. Colby College (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): The Mules concluded their season with the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown.

Player Perspective: Bobby Maimaron (Williams College)

Bobby Maimaron and the Williams College Ephs capped a perfect season last Saturday, November 13 with a 24-19 win over Amherst College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Last Saturday was a special day for the Williams College football team.

The Ephs capped their 2021 campaign with a hard-fought 24-19 victory over Amherst College to clinch a perfect season and become the first squad in program history to win nine contests in a single season.  

Williams has finished previous campaigns with 8-0 records — seven, to be exact — but to win nine New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) games is no easy feat.

“Being the first Williams team to finish 9-0 is a testament to not only how hard our team has worked these last two years, but also to the leadership and growth of our program under coach Mark Raymond,” explained senior quarterback Bobby Maimaron, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday.

“Coach Raymond is truly one of the greatest coaches I have played for, and I am so happy that my teammates and I were able to clinch a perfect season for both him and the assistant coaches.”

Maimaron, who has played for Raymond since his first season in 2017, has guided the Ephs to at least five wins or more in all four seasons under center. Williams won six games during his initial season in 2017 after concluding their 2016 campaign with an 0-8 record, including their final contest against Amherst in overtime.

We recently caught-up with Maimaron to discuss his final season with the Ephs, as well as what he will remember from his time in Williamstown.

How exciting was it to take a knee and celebrate a hard-fought win against one of your rivals last week?  

I still don’t think it has sunk in yet, but I just couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved. Every single player and coach have worked so hard so I’m just happy we were able to finish it off the right way last weekend. 

We know you (and your teammates) will have time to reflect on this particular season over the next few days, weeks, and months, but what will you remember most from the 2021 season? And we presume it was worth it to come back for one more season to compete with your friends and classmates, right? 

More than anything, I’ll remember all the hard work that went into our championship season. So many people sacrificed a lot for us to win the league and I’ll forever be grateful for that. To work so hard on a goal that’s been in our minds for five years and to finally achieve it is something special. 

From a personal perspective, tell us how you improved from game one against Middlebury College to your team’s final contest against Amherst.

Coach Raymond asked every member of this team to give six seconds of relentless focus and effort at a time. Our focus was on one play — not the next, but the one we were executing — and we never looked past our opponents each week. To go 9-0, you must be at your best every week, and even though our team endured some injuries during the final few weeks, we received some tremendous effort from different players on both sides of the ball that filled those voids by making some important plays when needed.

With this being your final season with the Ephs, tell us one – maybe two? – memories you will always have from competing for Williams since your first season in 2017?  

Talking “The Walk” at the conclusion of my freshman season in 2017 after our team beat Amherst in overtime – the win allowed us to cap the season with a 6-3 record. And my second memory is from last week when I took a knee at the end of the game – again, against Amherst – to complete the 9-0 season. Once the game with Amherst was final, I sprinted to the sidelines, hugged my coach, and thanked him for everything.  

Finally, do you plan to return to campus next fall to support the team as an alum? 

Yes. I can’t wait to come back and see some of my best friends play and coach next season. 

Williams Captures The NESCAC Crown with a 24-19 win over Amherst

Bobby Maimaron capped his impressive career with Williams College on Saturday by leading the Ephs to a 24-19 win over Amherst College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College)

By Matt Noonan

For the first time in school history, the Williams College football team finished its campaign with a 9-0 record.

The Ephs topped Amherst College, 24-19, this afternoon to clinch its first perfect season since finishing its 2010 campaign with an 8-0 record, which was the last time Williams captured the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown.  

Saturday’s win marks the third time in five seasons that Williams has beaten Amherst in “The Biggest Little Game in America.”

Bobby Maimaron capped his impressive career with the Purple and Yellow by completing 11 of 14 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns while Mario Fischetti led all rushers with 84 yards on six carries while catching two passes for 31 yards and one score.

Williams dominated the first two quarters, outscoring the hosts, 17-6, thanks to a pair of touchdowns to go with a 23-yard field goal by Ivan Shuran late in the opening stanza.

The Ephs’ 11-point lead would increase to an 18-point advantage (24-6) in the opening minutes of the second half when Bobby Maimaron connected with Justin Burke for a seven-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play, 93-yard drive.  

Amherst would respond with a late third-quarter touchdown pass from Chad Peterson to Joe Masterson before locating the end zone once more early in the fourth quarter when Carson Ochsenhirt capped a six-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard score. Peterson attempted a two-point conversion, which would have made it a three-score game, but his attempt failed.

The Mammoths’ second touchdown, which brought the hosts within five points, did not spark an additional scoring drive as Amherst’s final three series concluded with a punt, turnover on downs, and an interception.

While Williams concludes its 2021 campaign with a perfect 9-0 record, along with its fifth NESCAC title, including its fourth outright championship, Amherst ends its season with a 5-4 mark.

Trinity College (8-1) finished the season in second place while Wesleyan University (6-3) placed third — the Bantams topped the Cardinals in their season finale by a score of 14-7.

Player Perspective: David Estevez (Wesleyan University)

Wesleyan University senior quarterback David Estevez recorded a school record 474 yards of total offense last week in his team’s win against Tufts University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Steve McLaughlin)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for Wesleyan University senior quarterback David Estevez, who has been named the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Offensive Player of the Week twice in the last three weeks.

In addition to being recognized by his conference, Estevez, a native of River Edge, New Jersey, was one of two recipients of this week’s New England Football Writers Association Gold Helmet Award after he broke a 32-year school record last weekend with 474 yards of total offense in his team’s come-from-behind win against Tufts University.

Against the Jumbos, Estevez completed 13 of 23 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown while adding 204 yards on 22 carries and two scores. His final touchdown of the afternoon – a four-yard rushing score with 4:54 remaining in the fourth quarter – capped his team’s comeback to extend the Cardinals’ current winning streak to five games.

Wesleyan, which has won its last eight contests dating back to their final three outings in 2019, will look to continue its recent momentum on Saturday when they host Middlebury College.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with David Estevez to discuss his record-setting day with the Cardinals, as well as what he and his teammates must do this week to earn their sixth straight win of the 2021 season.

First off, tell me about breaking a 32-year school record last weekend against Tufts University. When did you find out that your total yards of offense (474) established a new program record?

I really had no idea at the time – I don’t pay attention to that stuff during the game. After the game, our Director of Athletics, Mike Whalen, shook my hand and shared the news with me. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of Wesleyan Football history.

It sounds cliché, but what worked for you (and the offense) last Saturday against Tufts? Additionally, how can you duplicate this performance this week against Middlebury College?

The offense was clicking against Tufts. The offensive line did a great job protecting me in the pocket while allowing me to make throws. From there, the skill guys did the rest, making spectacular plays all throughout the game. We have a tough opponent this week so the only way to duplicate these performances is to trust the guys alongside me, believe in the scheme, and execute. 

Tell me about this season. Your team has won five games, but the past three weeks have seen the squad somehow find a way to walk away with a victory or perhaps rally to beat Tufts. So, what’s the secret to these exciting wins?

I think these gritty wins speak to our strength as a team. A lot of teams in the NESCAC have great talent but that only gets you so far in this league. I think our team has a toughness and desire to win that only comes from experience. In 2019, we were put in a lot of similar situations so now we are ready. 

From your perspective, how have you improved your individual game from earlier this fall against Colby to last week against Tufts? Also, what are some things you hope to improve on between now and the end of the 2021 season?

With every week in the season comes new opportunities. The coaches do a tremendous job of motivating the team., I’ve been doing my best to improve in areas where I need to improve on a weekly basis. And since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team has encountered numerous roadblocks, but we have done a tremendous job of staying focused.

Tell me about your major. How did you choose it? And what do you hope to do with it beyond Wesleyan?

I am an economics major. I chose this major because although there isn’t a business school here at Wesleyan, economics gives you the analytical skills along with the quantitative and computer skills valued in business and finance. After Wesleyan, I intend to get into investment banking.

Finally, do you plan to stay involved with football after graduation? If so, would you like to coach or do something else with the sport?

I’m not sure if I want to get into coaching – Wesleyan has already produced one of the greatest coaches of all time in Bill Belichick, but it’s definitely a possibility.