New England D3 Football: It’s All About Having A Great Day At Amherst College

Amherst College's football team is focused on having a great day every day. (Photo Credit: Amherst College)

Amherst College’s football team is focused on having a great day every day. (Photo Credit: Amherst College)

By Matt Noonan 

E.J. Mills has one goal for his Amherst College football team: have a great day.

Having a ‘great day’ maybe the rallying cry behind the Purple and White’s recent success as Amherst has won a quartet of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crowns since 2009.

In 2013, the Purple and White shared the crown with Middlebury College and Wesleyan University.

Two years later – last season to be exact – Amherst clinched its seventh perfect season in program history, finishing its slate 8-0 for the second consecutive season. Their win against rival Williams College – a 17-7 victory – extended the Purple and White’s winning streak to 19 games, which dates back to October 26, 2013.

“The biggest goal (for us) is to win the day and if we spend time worrying about Hamilton or Trinity (College) … that won’t help us, so we just have to stay focused and have a great day,” said Mills, who is a three-time NESCAC Coach of the Year honoree.

Mills and his staff have been hard at work since their final contest of 2015 and eager to lead the Purple and White onto the field this Saturday when they host Hamilton College for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off.

Amherst and Hamilton last met in 2013 with the Purple and White claiming a 23-7 win in Clinton, New York. Amherst defeated Hamilton one year earlier at home behind a pair of touchdown passes by Max Lippe.

If the Purple and White are going to be successful this season, they’ll need to lean on their defense, which limited opponents to roughly 10 points per game last fall.

Additionally, Amherst will need its rushing attack to be at its best too.

Last season, the Purple and White led the conference in rushing yards (1,612), thanks to Kenny Adinkra, who caped his four-year career with a career-best 504 yards on the ground.

Sophomore Jack Hickey enjoyed an impressive first-season at tailback, rushing for 319 yards on 47 carries and two touchdowns.

In front of Hickey and the halfbacks will be senior quarterback Alex Berluti, who will be tasked with leading an offense that converted 27 of 31 red zone opportunities last fall. Berluti appeared in one game last season, but has tossed four touchdowns in his career, while rushing for one score during his initial season in 2013.

“Alex has worked hard,” said Mills. “I have seen tremendous growth (since he arrived on campus) and I think he’s going to take advantage of this opportunity.

“The ball has been thrown in his court and I am confident that he will be able to do to lead this football team.”

One of Berluti’s top targets this season could be his brother Bo Berluti, who appeared in four games last season.

In addition to Bo, keep an eye on senior wide-out Devin Boehm, who led the Purple and White last season in receptions (41) and yards (555).

On defense, Amherst returns five of their front seven from a year ago, including seniors Evan Boynton (56 total tackles, 33 solo stops, 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for a loss) and Parker Chapman (44 total tackles, 24 solo stops, one sack and one tackle for a loss.).

Behind the front seven will be a young secondary, however, Mills anticipates his linemen and linebackers should assist them, especially with getting to the quarterback, stopping the run or dropping back in coverage.

“I think we have a chance to be pretty good back there,” Mills said of his secondary. “They’re just going to be young, so hopefully those guys up front can take some of the pressure off the guys on the back end … Our philosophy is don’t bend, don’t break and don’t give up big plays.”

While Mills knows every player on both sides of the ball will need to execute properly to help Amherst contend for a NESCAC title, he also believes everyone must have a great day too.

“That is really the consistent message,” Mills said of his team’s so-called rallying cry. “We have preached it around here (for a while) and the kids have bought into it.”

So, what exactly is Mills’ outlook for today?

“Today is all about Thursday,” said Mills, “so let’s have a great Thursday.”

New England D3 Football: Noontime Sports Preseason Team



For the first-time in Noontime Sports (and history, we are pleased to unveil our first-ever preseason Noontime Sports Team for New England Division III Football.

Quarterbacks: Brandon Basil (Salve Regina)| Cory Burnham (UMass Dartmouth) | Garrett Dellechiaie (Fitchburg State) | Nas Sinkfield-Shelton (Becker) | Derek Victory (Coast Guard Bears)

Backfield: Chance Brady (Tufts) | Nick Connell (Western New England) | Moe Harris (Castleton) | Michael Nicol (West Conn.) | Adis Ojeda (MIT) | Kenny Pierce (Mass. Maritime Academy)

Receiving Core:  Abbi Bamgbose (UMass Dartmouth) | Travis Bassett (Bridgewater State) | Pierre Noel (Norwich) | Jake Pelletier (Endicott) | Soren Pelz-Walsh (Castleton) | Devin Summiel (Fitchburg State) | Nick Vailas (Bowdoin) | Bryan Vieira (Trinity) | Derrick Warren (Nichols) | Deon Wiggins (Husson)

Offensive Line (as a unit): Mass. Maritime Academy | Middlebury College | Springfield College | Western New England | Worcester State

Defensive Line: Craig Anderson (Endicott) | Bryan Ballenilla (West Conn.) | Christopher Ford (Maine Maritime Academy) | Raoul Khouri (MIT) | Campbell Marchant (Framingham State) | Emmanuel Omere (Bridgewater State) | Dereck Pacheco (WPI) | Luke Washburn (Husson)

Linebackers: Darren Callan (Castleton) | Sean Chinova (Mount Ida) | Svenn Jacobson (Framingham State) | Marshall McCarthy (Mass. Maritime Academy) | Brian Murtagh (WPI) | John Ollari (Westfield State) | Mamour Samb (Fitchburg State) | Zach Thomas (Tufts)

Secondary: Obi Etuka (Western New England) | Tyler Higley (Castleton) | Kevin Hopsicker (Middlebury) | Paul McCarthy (Trinity) | Paul Sances (Mass. Maritime Academy) | Tim Preston (Tufts) | Brandon Williams (Bates)

Kickers & Punters: Willie Holmquist (Tufts) | Stefano Marziale (Anna Maria) | Wesley Medeiros (Norwich) | Charlie Wall (Amherst) | Bobby Webster (Williams)

New England D3 Football Notebook: Quick Takes And Thoughts On 2016 Season

Another season of New England D3 Football is right around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/

Another season of New England D3 Football is right around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/

By Matt Noonan 

It is never too early to start thinking about New England Division III football.

The countdown to training camp – and the first game – is on!

Below are some quick pre-season takes on each conference. As the season gets closer, we’ll have team and conference previews, so stay tuned!

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): After a successful 7-3 campaign last season, Becker will be a team to watch this fall. Can they continue their success under first-year head coach Frank Forcucci?

Absolutely, but they will need to play their best football against Husson, Norwich and Castleton State.

Keep an eye on Castleton State – the Spartans ended their season by capturing the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy with a 31-13 win over the Cadets. Rising sophomore Moe Harris will be one of many players to watch this season after he concluded his initial season with the Green and White by leading the rushing attack in yards (1,065), touchdowns (14) and yards per game (106.5).

Liberty League (Springfield & WPI): The Engineers of WPI enjoyed one of their best seasons under head coach Chris Robertson, finishing 7-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play.

WPI earned some impressive wins, defeating MIT (31-28), Norwich (27-10) and Springfield (19-17). They will look to keep their momentum going this season, but the biggest question facing the squad is who will be their number one halfback? Zach Grasis graduated, so that could open the door for rising sophomore Connor Sakowich.

Springfield will have a new head coach this season as Mike Cerasuolo was tabbed the program’s head coach earlier this year. A former player, Cerasuolo will look to continue his former head coach Mike DeLong’s success. DeLong retired last fall after an impressive 32-year run with the Pride.

Cerasuolo has been the program’s offensive coordinator for the past 15 seasons.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State will remain the favorite, but don’t overlook Bridgewater State and Fitchburg State.

The Bears won five of their final seven contests last season, including a 64-42 win over Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the 37th Annual Cranberry Bowl. Rising junior Alex McLaughlin will look lead the rushing attack – he rushed for 16 touchdowns last season – while rising senior Danny Higgins should navigate the unit’s air attack after tossing 13 touchdowns.

Fitchburg State graduated some key defensive players, but return rising seniors Mamour Samb (linebacker) and Ousame Samb (cornerback). Mamour Samb finished second on the team in total tackles (67) and tackles per game (7.4), while Ousame Samb led the unit with eight pass breakups. Rising senior Garrett Dellechiaie is back under center after an impressive junior season, which saw him toss 26 touchdowns. He also rushed for a career-high four touchdowns, too.

Framingham State graduates some key pieces, including quarterback Matt Silva, but again, don’t overlook a Rams team that has depth on both sides of the ball.

 New England Football Conference (NEFC): The Golden Bears won 10 consecutive regular season games last fall thanks to an impressive defensive unit that registered 22 sacks (third in NEFC), 15 interceptions (first in NEFC) and 282.2 yards per game (first in NEFC).

The Golden Bears maybe the favorite heading into the 2016 season, but don’t overlook Endicott, MIT, Salve Regina or U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The Seahawks capped their season by defeating Husson in the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl Championship thanks to an impressive performance by quarterback Brandon Basil, who tossed five touchdowns, while completing 25 of 49 passes for 421 yards.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Amherst College will certainly be the favorite heading into the 2016 season, but let’s not forget about Tufts, which finished its 2015 campaign 6-2 following a 31-28 win over Middlebury.

The Jumbos return a pair of rising seniors – quarterback Alex Snyder and running back Chance Brady – while rising junior Steve DiCenzo and rising senior Shane Thomas should lead the defense.

Other teams to watch in the NESCAC include Middlebury and Trinity – the Bantams finished second last season and yielded the second fewest points in the conference (81 points).

Amherst’s 17-7 win last fall over Williams marked the second straight season the Purple and White finished their campaign undefeated (8-0). Can they make it three years in a row? We’ll find out!

New England D3 Notebook: NCAA Tournament Basketball, Hockey Weekend Roundup

Johnny McCarthy and the Amherst College men's basketball team advanced to the semifinals following a sectional final victory over Tufts. (Photo Credit: Amherst College Athletics)

Johnny McCarthy and the Amherst College men’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals following a sectional final victory over Tufts. (Photo Credit: Amherst College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

Amherst College’s Connor Green netted a game-high 25 points to lift the Purple and White past Tufts University in last night’s Sectional Final in Medford, Massachusetts.

With the win, the Purple and White advance to its third NCAA Final Four appearance in four seasons, and seventh appearance in program history. Amherst will face Benedictine University on Friday, March 18 at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia.

David George and Johnny McCarthy combined for 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Michael Riopel came off the bench and netted 12 points.

Tom Palleschi and Stephen Haladyna paced Tufts, netting 20 points, respectively. Ryan Spadaford registered 11 rebounds, while pouring in seven points.

Amherst led by five points (40-35) at the break before outscoring the host Jumbos, 46-38, during the final 20 minutes.

George hit one of two free throws late in the second session to provide the visitors with the lead before Green converted a three-point play (layup and free throw) with 2:41 remaining to push Amherst ahead for good.

Tufts ended its season at 23-7 following a trio of NCAA Tournament victories, which all occurred in Cousen’s Gymnasium.

Amherst, Tufts advance to Women’s Semifinals: The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) will have a pair of teams vying for the national championship. Both Amherst and Tufts captured their respective sectional finals yesterday with the Purple and White defeating Rochester (78-50) while the Jumbos beat Scranton (57-48).

Amherst will now face Thomas More, while Tufts takes on Wartburg with both contests scheduled for Saturday, March 19.

Michela North highlighted the Jumbos’ effort, recording a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win, while Melissa Baptista netted a team-high 23 points.

All five starters netted double-figures for Amherst with Meredith Doswell pouring in 24 points, including six trifectas. She also recorded six rebounds, three blocks and one assist.

NCAA Division III Hockey Tournament: Williams College and UMass Boston extended its respective seasons, winning first round contests yesterday. The Ephs defeated Salem State, 7-1, while the Beacons dislodged the defending champion Bantams by a score of 4-0.

Both teams will compete in this upcoming weekend’s quarterfinals with Williams taking on SUNY Geneseo, while UMass Boston will head to Hobart for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

SUNY Geneseo advanced to the quarterfinals following a 7-1 win over Salve Regina.

The Middlebury College women’s ice hockey team advanced to the semifinals after defeating UMass Boston in the quarterfinal round by a score of 4-0. The Panthers will face Plattsburgh State, which blanked Amherst College, 5-0.

The semifinals are scheduled for Friday, March 18 with the championship taking place on Saturday, March 19.

D3 New England Notebook: NESCAC Tournament Starts Saturday, Brandeis Baseball Sweeps First Series

Luke Westman and the Colby men's basketball team travels to Trinity for a first round NESCAC Tournament matchup on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Colby College)

Luke Westman and the Colby men’s basketball team travels to Trinity for a first round NESCAC Tournament matchup on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Colby College)

By Matt Noonan

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) basketball tournaments commence this Saturday, February 20 with eight games – four men’s and four women’s contests – with the winners advancing to next weekend’s semifinals.

Trinity and Amherst earned the first and second spots, respectively, on the men’s side, while Tufts and Amherst secured the top two positions on the women’s side.

Trinity men’s basketball – the top seed for the second straight season – faces a Colby squad that ranks first in the conference in field goal percentage. Luke Westman leads all scorers in field goal percentage, while placing ninth in assists.

As a team, Colby is third in the league in points per game, while Trinity is sixth. Trinity’s Ed Ogundeko is the top rebounder in the conference, averaging 10.7 caroms per contest.

Trinity finished its conference slate winning nine of 10 league games, while registering an 18-6 overall record. Colby won four conference tilts and recorded a 16-8 overall ledger.

Last season, Trinity edged Colby, 66-63, in the opening round before going onto capture the conference title. Sam Wilson – a current senior on the Colby men’s basketball team – led all scorers with 24 points.

NESCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Schedule: Trinity-Colby is just one of four games to follow on the men’s side, but below is the entire Saturday quarterfinal lineup:

* Wesleyan at Middlebury, 2 p.m.

* Colby at Trinity, 3 p.m.

* Bowdoin at Amherst, 4 p.m.

* Williams at Tufts, 4 p.m.

Connecticut College hosts first-ever NESCAC Tournament game: As noted in the conference release, tomorrow marks the first-time the Camels will be hosting a NESCAC Tournament contest in program history. The Camels will entertain Colby with tip-off scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

Connecticut earned the fourth seed thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Mules as they defeated Colby earlier this month, 69-63.

A win for the Camels would send the program to its first-ever semifinal tilt.

Top seed Tufts will entertain Middlebury at 2:00 p.m., Amherst will welcome Bates for a 2:00 p.m. tip-off, while Williams visits Bowdoin for a 3:00 p.m. start.

Emmanuel, Salve Regina kick-off 2016 D3Lax Season in New England: The Division III lacrosse season returns to New England tomorrow as the Saints of Emmanuel College begin its Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) title defense when they visit Salve Regina – the Seahawks were picked to finish fourth in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) preseason poll.

Emmanuel was picked to capture their conference crown again, but their road to a GNAC title won’t be easy. The Saints will have to contend with Johnson & Wales, Mount Ida, Lasell and Rivier – four teams that will certainly challenge Brendan McWilliams’ squad.

Face-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Newport, Rhode Island. This is the first-ever meeting between the Seahawks and Saints.

Brandeis Baseball completes a three-game sweep: An 8-2 win on Friday afternoon secured a three-game sweep of St. Joe’s (Brooklyn) as the Brandeis baseball team commenced its season with three straight victories.

According to the school’s release, the Judges improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2008. This was also the third consecutive win for Derek Carlson, who is in his first season with Brandeis.

Greg Heineman finished Friday’s contest 3-for-4 with a double. He drove in four of the team’s eight runs with a pair of RBI, while crossing the plate twice.

Brandeis returns to the diamond on Sunday, March 6 when they take on Case in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Tournament. Brandeis will host its initial home contest of the season on Tuesday, March 15 when they entertain Bridgewater State with first pitch scheduled for 3:00 p.m.


D3 Hoops Weekend Notebook: Tufts Snaps Amherst’s Home Winning Streak, Flannery Leads Babson Past WPI In Double OT

Tufts University junior Michaela North netted a three-pointer with 49 seconds left to lift the eighth ranked Jumbos past No. 2 Amherst on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Boston Globe)

Tufts University junior Michaela North netted a three-pointer with 49 seconds left to lift the eighth ranked Jumbos past No. 2 Amherst on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Boston Globe)

By Matt Noonan

Saturday was yet another exciting day in the NCAA Division III college basketball world as eighth ranked Tufts University snapped second-ranked Amherst College’s 121-game home winning streak. The loss was Amherst’s first defeat on their home court since January 31, 2009.

Amherst entered yesterday’s New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) clash eight victories away for tying the NCAA record for all divisions with 129 home wins – a mark that was established by the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team from 1943 to 1955.

With yesterday’s 52-51 victory over the Purple and White, Tufts slides into first place in the conference, improving to 20-2 overall and 9-0 in league play.

Josie Lee helped the Jumbos pick-up a critical road win with a late fourth quarter layup that extended the Powder Blue and White’s lead to three-points (50-47). Michaela North drained a three-pointer minutes later – 49 seconds to be exact – to secure the team’s 20th victory of the season.

Joey Flannery and the Babson College men’s basketball team extended its current winning streak to five games as the Beavers outlasted 19th ranked WPI in Babson Park in double-overtime. Flannery, who played all 50 minutes, netted a game-high 41 points, while pulling down 12 rebounds. Clyde Niba paced the Engineers with 23 points, while Sean Doncaster added 20 points.

Jashanti Allen‘s trifecta with five seconds remaining helped WPI force an extra session before Flannery and Charlie Rice each converted one free throw during the final seconds of the second overtime to secure a win for the Green and White.

Babson currently sits atop the NEWMAC with a 9-1 league record, MIT is in second at 8-2, while WPI checks in third at 6-4.

In Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play, the 17th ranked Johnson & Wales men’s basketball team ran its winning streak to 20 games as the Wildcats defeated Anna Maria in Providence, Rhode Island by a score of 98-63.

Johnson & Wales – now 20-1 overall and 14-0 in league play – had a trio of players post 20 points or more in the win. Quarry Greenaway netted 24 points and registered 10 rebounds, while Tom Garrick chipped in 22 points, 13 caroms and a three blocks.

Trinity College’s Jaquann Starks registered 14 points, four assists and a pair of blocks to lead the Bantams to a 78-66 victory over Bates College. With the win, Trinity improves to 16-6 overall and takes over first place in the NESCAC with a 7-1 league mark with two games remaining.

Nina Davenport totaled 22 points and 15 rebounds, while converting six of her 11 attempts from beyond the arc to lead the Bates College women’s basketball team to a 77-61 road victory against Trinity.

UMass Boston’s Quadry Allen scored the game-winning layup with 0.9 left to provide the Beacons with an exciting 64-63 win over Rhode Island College. The was was also head coach Jason Harris‘ initial victory against his alma mater. (Allen’s layup is below – courtesy of UMass Boston Athletics).

Mass. College Football Notebook: Week Two Notes & Takeaways

Boston College's Troy Flutie registered one touchdown pass in his team's 76-0 win over Howard last Saturday. (Photo Credit:

Boston College’s Troy Flutie registered one touchdown pass in his team’s 76-0 win over Howard last Saturday. (Photo Credit:

By Matt Noonan 

The second week of the college football season in Massachusetts was a wild one. There were some interesting outcomes and upsets, along with numerous teams stretching its win total to two games.

Here are a few notes and takeaways from the second weekend of the season:

* Boston College made headlines this weekend, routing Howard, 76-0. The Eagles held the Bison to just 11 yards of total offense, while quarterback Troy Flutie – the former Natick High School signal-caller – completed seven of eight passes for 88 yards and one touchdown.

The Eagles, winners of back-to-back contests, host Florida State University on Friday, September 18 at 8:00 p.m. This will be Boston College’s first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) clash of the season.

* UMass head coach Mark Whipple wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance against Colorado, stating in a press release, “Give Colorado a lot of credit; they played better in all phases.”

The Minutemen dropped their season-opener to the Buffaloes by a score of 48-14. They registered one touchdown in the first and second quarter, respectively, while Colorado ended the game with 558 yards of total offense.

The Minutemen will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Temple at Gillette Stadium – the team’s home opener.

* As noted in the Northeast-10 Conference weekly report, Assumption College kicker Cole Tracy broke a pair of conference records this past weekend – most field goals in a game (six field goals) and most points by a kicker (19 points). Tracy is in his second season with the Greyhounds and has converted seven field goals this season.

* Sticking with special teams, the NE-10 weekly report also highlighted Bentley University’s Tyler Ford, who matched the Falcons’ program record for the longest punt, a 68-yard boot. Ford, who hails from Amherst, New Hampshire, registered five punts last Friday in his team’s heartbreaking defeat to New Haven. He did, however, record a quartet of punts that landed between the Chargers’ 20-yard-line and goal line.

* Stonehill College won its second consecutive contests, defeating Merrimack College, 24-20. Quarterback Matt Foltz, who was tabbed the NE-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Week, engineered his first career fourth quarter comeback, while finishing the contest 22-of-36 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Foltz also rushed for 25 yards on 11 attempts.

* Becker College’s Jacob Holmes was tabbed the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Offensive Player of the Week after an extremely impressive performance against MIT. Holmes set and tied eight program records, while averaging 13.6 yards per carry en rote to 232 rushing yards and 279 all-purpose yards. He rushed for a 93-yard touchdown in the third quarter – the longest run of the season by any collegiate football player in the country at any level, according to the ECFC weekly report.

Besides his impressive ground game, Holmes also made headlines by booting a trio of field goals and four extra points for a single-game record of 13 points.

* Nichols College quarterback Michael McCourt was tabbed New England Football Conference (NEFC) Offensive Player of the Week following his team’s initial win against Anna Maria College.

McCourt, who made is first collegiate start at quarterback, concluded the contest 21-of-26 for a school-record 444 yards and six touchdowns. According to the Nichols College Athletics website, McCourt concluded the first quarterback with five completions for 165 yards and three touchdowns.

* WPI picked up its second consecutive ‘Friday Night Lights’ victory, defeating cross-town rival Worcester State University, 27-13. Quarterback Dan Eckler completed 21-of-31 attempts for 381 yards and one touchdown – he did not toss an interception. Zach Grasis rumbled for 74 yards and Brandon Eccher recorded a season-high 168 receiving yards and one touchdown.


 * Harvard University kicks-off its season next Saturday, September 19 when they travel to URI for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off. The Crimson was picked to capture the Ancient Eight this season, as noted in the preseason poll.

* We’re two weeks away from starting another New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season. Amherst, Tufts and Williams each begin its campaign on the road, Saturday, September 26.