Tag: Northeastern Conference

Noontime’s High School Football Notebook (Monday, Oct. 11, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Five weeks of the Massachusetts high school football season are in the books – it went by fast, eh?

Luckily, there is still so much football left to play. Plus, the postseason is on the horizon, so these next few weeks will certainly be interesting, but also a lot of fun.

Last week, I had the privilege of covering Watertown versus Wilmington – the Wildcats departed Victory Field with a 35-14 win, thanks to quarterback Pedro Germano, who finished the game with four touchdowns, including one on the ground.

Wilmington entered the game with some momentum following a 31-22 victory over Melrose – Pedro Germano recorded two scores (one throwing, one rushing) in his team’s win over the Red Raiders – but really took over last Friday’s contest with a lengthy drive to start the second half, which included three fourth-down conversions.

Germano concluded his team’s 14-play, 77-yard drive with a 15-yard bootleg to the left side to provide the visitors with a 28-14 advantage that would eventually morph into a three-score lead on the initial play of the fourth quarter when the senior signal-caller connected with Mike Lawler for a 41-yard touchdown.  

While Germano and the offense were fun to watch, so was the defense, which was tasked with slowing down Watertown halfback Mason Andrade, who rushed for two scores in his team’s second setback.

Wilmington certainly has the capability of going on a deep playoff run, but as I learned after the contest concluded, they must play a complete four quarters, which they certainly can do.

The Wildcats visit Burlington on Friday, October 15 – kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. – while Watertown will head to Stoneham for a 6:30 p.m. start.

Since dropping their season-opener to Chelsea, Salem has been a team to watch, winning four straight, including a 12-6 victory over Saugus last weekend. Michael Ready recorded two scores in the win, including a 90-yard pick-six in the final frame to help the Witches break open a 6-6 tie and move to 4-1 in the Northeastern (South) Conference.

This week, Salem will visit Masconomet, which boasts an identical 4-1 record.

Heading into the sixth week of the 2021 season, there are only two teams unbeaten in the Tri-Valley League (TVL): Ashland and Norton.

The Clockers have scored some impressive wins this fall against Holliston (20-14) and Wayland (24-20) and will host Westwood this week in a TVL Large meeting.  The Wolverines defeated Medfield last week, 13-7, to secure a two-way tie with Ashland in the Large Division – both teams trail Norwood, which has won a pair of divisional meetings.

Look for Ashland to lean on Matt Gillis this week against Westwood, who concluded his team’s game last week against Holliston with an eight-yard touchdown reception from Luke Herter to go with two extra points.

Norton is one of two teams in TVL Small that has captured at least one divisional game thus far – Bellingham has always won a divisional matchup against Dover-Sherborn. The Lancers scored a 33-27 victory last week against Medway for their second-straight home win and will attempt to make it three consecutive victories in Norton this Friday when they host Millis.

Keep your eyes on Dedham, which bounced back last week against Millis after falling to Dover-Sherborn one week earlier by a score of 27-13.

This week, the Marauders host Bellingham in an important game for the Maroon and White.

Cathedral returned to the win column last week as they pitched a shutout against O’Bryant (35-0). Kyree Egerton rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns in the win to bump the team’s overall record to 3-2.

This week, Cathedral will look to capture another important contest when they travel to St. John Paul II on Saturday, October 16 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

One last thought: Natick and Wellesley have been two teams I have been keeping an eye on this fall (from afar, of course!) – the two teams met last weekend with Natick rolling past Wellesley, 42-21.

Jake Adelmann scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help the Redhawks score their fourth win of the season.

I expect Wellesley to bounce back this week against Brookline while Natick should pick up its fifth win against Newton North.

Pending how things shake out with the upcoming postseason, I expect Natick to make a deep postseason run while Wellesley should win at least one, maybe two rounds.

Sacred Heart Picked To Capture NEC Crown

Julius Chestnut and the Sacred Heart football team were picked to win the Northeastern Conference. (PHOTO COURTESY: The College Sports Journal/Chuck Burton)

By NoontimeSports.com

The Pioneers of Sacred Heart University will enter the upcoming fall 2021 football season as the team to beat in the Northeastern Conference (NEC).

Sacred Heart, which finished its spring campaign with a 3-2 record, secured four of seven first-place votes in the league’s preseason poll. Duquesne University (two first-place votes) and Central Connecticut State University (one first-place vote) secured a two-way tie for second place while Bryan University checked in fourth on the poll.

“The NEC is an outstanding conference and any team can win the championship in any given season,” Coach Mark Nofri said in a statement. “Our league is competitive from top to bottom and there are no easy games.”

Sacred Heart, which will begin its upcoming season at home against Bucknell University on Saturday, September 4 at 6 p.m., will be led by halfback Julius Chestnut, who led the country this past spring in rushing-yards, all-purpose yards, and touchdowns. Chestnut was one of eight Pioneers to secure a spot on the conference’s preseason team — joining him on the offensive team were Naseim Brantley (wide receiver), JD DiRenzo (offensive line) and Josh Sokol (offensive line).

Following the team’s season-opener against the Bison, the Pioneers will visit Bryant University on Saturday, September 11 for their initial league tilt, which will then be followed by three consecitive non-conference matchups against Morgan State (Sept. 18), Dartmouth College (Sept. 25), and Howard University (Oct. 2).

“It’s an honor to be picked to win the conference by your peers, but all that matters is who is the top team come the end of November,” said Nofri. “We had a very good spring season, earning the NEC Championship, and we look forward to defending our championship this fall.”

Sacred Heart, which has won the NEC outright twice (2001 and 2020-21), has shared the league crown three times, including twice with Duquesne in 2013 and 2018.

Football Friday Notebook (Jan. 29, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

Happy Football Friday, everyone!

We’re excited to start a weekly football notebook that will feature a slew of news (and links) from the gridiron.

And don’t forget, you can listen to our weekly Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

Alright, let’s share some football stories (and links) – have a great weekend, everyone!


Professional Football


College Football

  • Two days ago, Central Connecticut State University announced that they would not participate in the 2021 Northeastern Conference (NEC) spring football season.

    CCSU interim Director of Athletics Tom Pincine said Wednesday’s decision is in “the best interest of our University and football program,” while Ryan McCarthy, who is the coach of the Blue Devils, echoed the statement but also added that the team can “focus solely on returning to spring practice and preparing for the Fall 2021 season.”

    The Blue Devils have not competed since 2019 when they posted a school-record 11 victories and secured a spot in the opening round of the NCAA FCS postseason.
  • While CCSU won’t play football this spring, a Sacred Heart official told the New Haven Register that the Pioneers are planning to compete, despite no games listed on the team’s current schedule.
  • The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) unveiled its 2021 fall schedules with plans to “return to its Atlantic and Coastal divisions” later this year.

    While Notre Dame did compete under the ACC umbrella last fall, the Fighting Irish will return to being an independent for the 2021 college football season.
  • The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) held its ‘digital media day‘ today ahead of the league’s spring football season, which is scheduled to commence – or should we say kickoff? – Saturday, February 20, 2021.
  • The ASUN Conference announced earlier today that football will be the league’s 20th sport.

High School Sports

Get Read For FCS New England Football This Spring

Most FCS New England football teams will compete in a few contests this spring. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

The thought of seeing spring football in New England is slowly becoming a reality, especially for a handful of NCAA Division I FCS programs.

Yesterday, the Patriot League announced plans to play a shortened season this spring, which means Holy Cross will have a chance to compete for its second-straight league title after securing the conference crown in 2019.

Maine and New Hampshire will also compete this spring – the two teams will compete against members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) North Division. The CAA’s spring season is slated to begin on Saturday, February 20 with Davidson visiting Elon and James Madison hosting Morehead State.

Rhode Island, which is one of seven teams that makes-up the CAA’s North Division, will also be in action this spring – the Rams are currently scheduled to compete against Bryant on Saturday, February 27.

The CAA will not have a championship game like the Patriot League. Instead, the team with “the best overcall conference record” will secure the league’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Football Championship, which will begin Saturday, April 24.

The Northeastern Conference (NEC) plans to play a four-game conference schedule, which is good news for fans of Bryant, Central Connecticut, Merrimack, and Sacred Heart. Games will be played on Sundays or midweek with a conference championship expected to take place on either Friday, April 16 or Saturday, April 17.

As noted on Twitter, by Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the FCS national title game will be played Sunday, May 16 in Frisco, Texas.

Decisions On The 2020 College Football Could Come This Week

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The question of if and when college football returns should be answered in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Ken Lund on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)

By Matt Noonan 

The debate about if and how college football could be played during a pandemic may be answered this week, especially after a flurry of activity this past weekend between Power 5 conferences convening remotely, per reports, to the Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC) becoming the first F.B.S. league to cancel its 2020 season.

Last night – Sunday, August 9, to be exact – we learned the Big Ten conference, which met twice this weekend, is leaning toward canceling its football season. And if football is canceled, it is likely both the presidents and chancellors of each institution would pull the plug on other fall sports, too.

An announcement from the Big Ten is expected if not today definitely this week, and pending the league’s final decision on the 2020 fall sports season, it is possible other Power 5 conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) could cancel their respective fall sports seasons or perhaps make tweaks to their newly updated schedules.

While nothing official has been announced by the Big Ten or any Power 5 conference as of this morning, Bob Bowlsby, who is the commissioner of the Big 12, did provide some insight into what leagues might take into consideration when deciding to cancel games this fall: players enduring longlasting cardiac issues from contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) that may prohibit them from future competition.

As noted in a recent story from Sports Illustrated, team doctors and physicians are worried that youth athletes, who are healthy and may be asymptomatic, could develop life-long heart problems, including myocardial, which causes damage to the heart muscle. It appears this issue is just one of many both presidents and chancellors are grappling with when it comes to making a decision on the 2020 fall sports season.

Here in New England, it appears as if both Boston College and the University of Massachusetts will play football this fall, but it is not a given that either program will play or perhaps complete its entire schedule. It is possible, pending future announcements from the Big Ten and other leagues, that both seasons could be canceled or punted to next spring.

Merrimack College, which competes in the Northeastern Conference (NEC), will have to wait and see if their football team will be allowed to play games this fall. According to last month’s update, the NEC President’s council will reconvene on Thursday, October 1 to assess the ongoing pandemic and see if it’s possible to provide not just the Warriors, but every team in the conference with some form of competition.

Other New England schools, including those that compete at both the Division II and III levels, will not be competing this fall, despite some athletic departments still not announcing that fall sports are canceled. But it is likely those announcements could come if not this week later this month once students return to campus.

At the end of the day, these are not easy decisions, so fans and football fanatics need to respect whatever is announced either today or over the next few days. Yes, no college football in the fall would seem strange, but if these decisions result in keeping the student-athletes safe, along with everyone else involved with college athletics safe and healthy, then we should applaud both the presidents and chancellors for making the right call.