Player Perspective: Jacob Burke (Norwich University) On Saturday’s Game Against Coast Guard Academy

Jacob Burke

Jacob Burke (45) and the Norwich University football team look to continue their winning ways on Saturday against Coast Guard Academy. (PHOTO COURTESY: Norwich University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Saturday will be an exciting day at Norwich University.

The campus will be celebrating the institution’s 200th anniversary and will host Coast Guard Academy in a must-see, must-watch New England Division III football game, which is scheduled to commence at 2:00 p.m. (eastern time).

Both Coast Guard Academy and Norwich enter Saturday’s clash with identical 2-0 records and know a win would keep them atop the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) standings, as well as possibly tied with WPI, which also enters the third week with the same record.

One of the players that certainly hopes to continue the Cadets’ recent momentum is Jacob Burke. The senior linebacker, who has tallied 14 total tackles this fall, is hoping to help the Cadets snap a two-game losing streak to the Bears since the rivalry resumed in 2017.

Noontime Sports caught-up with Burke to discuss Saturday’s game against the Bears, as well as what he enjoys most about being a part of this rivalry.

What makes this game (and rivalry) so special and unique from your perspective?  

This game (and) rivalry are extremely special and unique because it is steeped in tradition. This year is especially important for a number of reasons.

This year, both teams are 2-0 and have a chance to start the season 3-0 and move into first place in the conference.

2019 marks Norwich’s Bicentennial and it is a privilege to be able to be a part of this game during homecoming (and) alumni weekend.

The winner of Norwich-Coast Guard also is awarded ‘The Mug,’ too, which is arguably the most important trophy to win throughout the season.

Finally, this is not just any college football game. This rivalry is known as the ‘Little Army-Navy Game’ and the name speaks for itself.  The singing of each team’s alma mater after the game concludes is the culmination of a very special college football Saturday.

This game is second to none and it is an honor to be involved with such a storied tradition.

What are a few memories you have from playing in this contest? 

My two most influential memories about this game include the excitement and anticipation during the week of this game last year. The week was more intense, and the entire program was more focused. The same can be said for this year, too.

My second memory of this game was losing on the final play to the Bears last year. That is a feeling you never want to repeat and that is exactly what our program promised each other.

What is the build-up to this game like on campus? Do people talk about this game outside the practice field?  

The build-up to this game is always exciting. Considering it is (our) alumni/homecoming weekend, the campus is quickly filling up and the buzz around the school is extremely high. Professors and peers are (also) there to support the team, too.

When preparing for this contest, does it have a different feel than other weeks of the season? 

We prepare for this week just like any other week. However, everyone in the program understands just how important this game is and how much this rivalry means so this week is more intense.

The team remains really focused despite all the distractions which allow us to prepare well.

What must your team do to be successful/score a win on Saturday? 

We must play together and stick together throughout the game. We must limit mistakes and be ready to adjust on the fly while still being able to play fast and tough. We can’t beat ourselves.

What do you imagine this year’s game day atmosphere to be like? Do you anticipate a big crowd? 

The game-day atmosphere is going to be awesome. The school expects a huge crowd so extra seating has been placed around Sabine Field. The entire team is looking forward to a crazy and loud atmosphere on Saturday.

Under The Helmet with Norwich University Quarterback Matt Dunn

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Matt Dunn has been spotted under center this fall for the Norwich University football team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Norwich University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

In the words of Norwich University sophomore quarterback Matt Dunn, the Cadets current season has been a “decent” one so far.

Dunn has helped the Cadets enjoy a “decent” campaign by leading the Maroon and Gold on seven touchdown drives, including four two weeks ago during his team’s epic back and forth affair with Coast Guard Academy.

Against Coast Guard, Dunn tossed a career-high four touchdown passes, while completing 23 of 35 passes for 274 yards. His 23 completions and 274 passing yards were also career-bests, too.

Unfortunately, the Cadets fell to the Bears, 38-35, on a late touchdown drive that helped Coast Guard erase a four-point deficit with nine seconds remaining. But despite the setback, Dunn and his teammates seem to be thinking optimistically about their remaining games by keeping the focus on improving every day.

“Coach (Brian) Hayes, Coach (Greg) Vreeland, Coach (Sam) Chaves, and Coach (Kyle) Smesko are excellent coaches that put us in the best possible position to do well,” Dunn explained.

“All we need to do is execute on what they say (going forward), which I believe we have done for the past couple weeks. (We also) need to continue to do (what we are being taught in practice) for the remainder of the season, too.”

Prior to this past weekend’s conference clash with Springfield College, we caught-up with Dunn to discuss his second season with the Cadets.


Who has helped you improve as a quarterback this season? Do you feel you’re a better quarterback than you were last season? 

There have been a lot of people that have helped me improve as a quarterback, starting with Coach Hayes. He always helps us with our craft and makes sure we are doing the little things right correctly. Coach Hayes knows the game and the position, and when you do what he says you can really see the results.

Also, I credit my fellow quarterbacks Jeff Baldassari, Matt Chaffee, Hunter Powers, and Grant Willard, who are great teammates to lean on. We all help each other out every day with the focus on getting better and correcting mistakes. We are a tight group that loves to compete and we certainly make each other better.

I also owe a lot to my father for helping me improve, not only as a quarterback, but also as a player and teammate, too. I talk to him every day about football, school, military, other sports and life, and he always has the best advice for me. He keeps me centered after every game telling me what he saw and what I can improve on. He has always been a huge part of my success and I can’t thank him enough for that.

Everyone I mentioned (above) has and will continue to play a big roll in making me a better quarterback.

Have you always played quarterback? If not, what other positions have you played over the years before focusing on quarterback? 

Last season I played wide receiver after switching from playing quarterback for my entire life. I love being a part of every play on the offense, whether it is throwing the ball, running the ball or handing it off. I just like being involved. I give props to my linemen on offense and defense, who are constantly battling in the trenches on every play. I also give credit to the running backs and linebackers that go up against each other every day, too. And of course, I can’t forget my receivers and defensive backs that are the most athletic players on the field.

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Matt Dunn (6) is spotted under center during his team’s third contest of the season against Castleton University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Norwich University Athletics)

Being from Massachusetts, is it fair to say Tom Brady is your all-time favorite quarterback? If not, who is and why? 

I would be lying if I didn’t say I love watching Tom Brady play for the New England Patriots. He is absolutely my favorite quarterback but there are many others who I love to watch play the position, as well. I enjoy watching Drew Brees, Baker Mayfield, Tate Martell and Russell Wilson. They are all great quarterbacks that are considered “smaller” than the average quarterback like myself, but they still go out there and get the job done. They have prove that size doesn’t matter as long as you have the drive to be great, along with the work ethic, too.

What interested you in attending Norwich University? 

There were many things that interested me in attending Norwich University. First was the military – it has always been a dream of mine to serve my country.  My older brother Chris served in the Marines and told me about the officer career, which sounded right up my ally. Additionally, I was interested in continuing my athletic career with the Cadets’ football team, which was a huge part of coming to Norwich.

Additionally, what interested you in pursuing a major in Criminal Justice? What do you hope to do with your major following graduation? 

Criminal Justice interested me because of what I have seen others do with the degree. You can be a cop, work for the three letter agency or even do something with a security department for major companies. I hope to commission into the military upon graduation and once my service is complete to transition into either a police officer in Massachusetts at the state or local level or become a Boston firefighter. I believe the people who are police officers or firefighters have to greatest job in the world. They keep everyone safe and put their own lives on the line to do it. I certainly have a lot of respect for these brave men and women.

Finally, do you have a game day ritual? If so, what is it and how long have you followed it? 

Oh yeah, I’m a huge ritual guy. My main ritual is putting my equipment on the right side first before the left. I always put on my right sock, cleat or pant leg on before doing it on the left side. I have done that for as long as I can remember. It started when I played hockey and I have done it ever sense.

New England D3 Football Players of The Week (Sept. 17th, 2018)

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

With the third week of the New England D3 football season in the books, it is time to unveil our Noontime Sports Players of the Week for Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

Every week, we will be unveil our players of the week on offense, defense and special teams – fans, coaches and athletic communication offices are welcome to nominate student-athletes by sending us an email to NoontimeSports@gmail.com.

Congratulations to this week’s players of the week and make sure to stay connected with our New England football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB!


D3 New England Players of the Week: Week One | Week Two 


Offensive Player of the Week: Ryan McDonald (Tufts Univ. | Annandale, N.J.): The senior signal-caller tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns as the Jumbos topped Hamilton College, 29-2, in its season-opener. McDonald finished Saturday’s contest 13 of 23 for 89 yards, while rushing for 86 yards on 13 carries (6.6 yards per carries).

Defensive Player of the Week: Owen McKenna (Norwich Univ. | Attleboro, Mass..): McKenna turned in an impressive performance on Saturday, which helped Norwich defeat Castleton University, 40-0, to secure the Maple Sap Bucket. The junior linebacker registered a season-high seven total tackles, including one sack for a loss of seven-yards, while recording two interceptions for 22 yards. Additionally, he recorded one pass break-up, too, which was his first of the season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Norwich University Athletics)

Special Teamer of the Week: Andrew Schreibstein (Williams College | Longmeadow, Mass.): Schreibstein, who was tabbed this week’s NESCAC Special Teamer of the Week, enjoyed a successful collegiate debut against Bowdoin College by finishing his team’s season-opener with 11 points on seven kicks. He connected on all five of his extra point attempts, while drilling a pair of field goals, including a 23-yard boot at the end of the first half, which provided the Ephs with a 31-0 lead at the break.


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D3 Football: Castleton Unveils 2018 Schedule

NS Schedule Breakdown

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

As we inch closer to a brand new D3 Football season, more teams are beginning to unveil their 2018 schedules, including the Castleton Spartans, which kick-off its season on Saturday, September 1st when they host Plymouth State at 1 p.m.

Plymouth State has won the past two meetings against the Spartans, but a win over the Panthers in three months would be Castleton’s first since 2015.

One week after their annual meeting with the Panthers, Castleton will hit the road for a trio of games, including a visit to Norwich on Saturday, September 15th at 2 p.m. Castleton-Norwich is always a game to watch as both teams compete for the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy. Castleton beat Norwich, 28-14, last season, thanks to a pair of rushing scores by Moe Harris.

Castleton will cap its first month of play with a visit to Misericordia before jumping into Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play on Saturday, October 6th when they host Anna Maria at 6 p.m. The Spartans will travel just once in October to Gallaudet, but host Maritime (N.Y.) and Husson on October 20th and 27th, respectively. 

The Spartans will cap their regular season with a pair of November games against Alfred State and Dean with hopes of competing in either the New England Bowl or NCAA Tournament on Saturday, November 17th.

Castleton finished 6-4 overall last season, including 5-2 in league play. Coach Tony Volpone returns some key pieces from last year this fall, including Harris, quarterback Mitchell Caron, wide receiver Adnane Adossama, linebacker Grant Cummings and defensive back Owen Tretter 

Become a fan of Noontime Sports Football TODAY by following us on Twitter: @Noontime_FB 

D3 Football: 10 Games To Watch This Weekend (New England & New York)

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Curry College will look to continue its momentum against Western New England this weekend. (PHOTO CREDIT: SportsPix, LLC)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you’re ready for a brand new weekend, as well as an extra hour of sleep, too – don’t forget to turn back your clocks on Saturday!

Let’s kickoff this brand new weekend with our weekly 10 Games to Watch in New England and New York Division III Football!

As always, make sure to stay connected with us throughout the weekend on Facebook and Twitter, as well as our good friends over at In The (D3FB) Huddle, too! 

Springfield at Maine Maritime (Saturday, Nov, 4th at 12 p.m.): The Pride return to the gridiron after a bye week with hopes of securing another win en route to a potential Pool B bid. PREDICTION: Springfield 40, Maine Maritime 7 

Western Connecticut at Framingham State (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 12 p.m.): This is a MUST win for the Rams, especially if they want to keep their postseason (and New England Bowl) hopes alive. Look for another big game from Western Connecticut quarterback Quinn Fleeting, who has scored 27 touchdowns this season, including 24 through the air. PREDICTION: Western Conn. 28, Framingham State 20

Catholic at Merchant Marine (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 12 p.m.): An intriguing match-up that pits two teams looking to gain some momentum heading into next week, as well as the off-season, too. The Cardinals scored a hard-fought win a week ago against Norwich (10-7) and should continue that momentum this week. PREDICTION: Catholic 25, Merchant Marine 21 

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Zack Edwards and the Plymouth State Panthers will look to cap their regular season slate with a victory on Saturday at Fitchburg State. (PHOTO CREDIT: Plymouth State University Athletics)

Plymouth State at Fitchburg State (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 12 p.m.): The Panthers, who will be idle next weekend, will look to cap their regular season slate with a win, so they can keep their postseason (or New England Bowl) hopes alive. PREDICTION: Plymouth State 24, Fitchburg State 14

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Frank Williams and the Bates Bobcats will attempt to capture the CBB crown this weekend when they host Bowdoin. (PHOTO CREDIT: (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

Bowdoin at Bates (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 12:30 p.m.): A win for the Bobcats would provide the program (and its seniors) with a fourth-straight CBB crown (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin). It would also be the first-time in program history that a senior class has beaten both Bowdoin and Colby in all four years. PREDICTION: Bates 27, Bowdoin 13 

Alfred at Brockport (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 1 p.m.): Who is going to score on this Golden Eagles’ defense? Seriously, who? For the past two weeks, the Brockport defense has appeared unstoppable, and this week, they must find a way to slow down a quality Saxons offense. PREDICTION: Brockport 28, Alfred 17 

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Andrew Yamin and the Amherst College defense will look to contain the Trinity College offense on Saturday in a big NESCAC tilt. (PHOTO CREDIT: Geoff Bolte, Clarus Studios Inc.)

Trinity at Amherst (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 1 p.m.): Consider this a de-facto New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship game. A win for Amherst would set-up an exciting final week in the conference (next week), while a victory for the Bantams would provide the program with their seven title in the 21st century. Look for a late touchdown (or field goal) to decide this cosntest. PREDICTION: Amherst 24, Trinity 21

Western New England at Curry (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 1 p.m.): Don’t count out these Curry Colonels, who enter the game on a four-game winning streak. Despite a 17-14 setback at home this fall, Curry has been rather impressive at home and will look to continue that momentum on Saturday against a very talented Golden Bears squad. PREDICTION: Curry 21, WNE 20

Williams at Wesleyan (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 1 p.m.): The Ephs returned to the win column last week, defeating Hamilton, 24-6, but this week, they must find a way to slow down a talented Cardinals offense that has put up 17 points or more in every game this season. PREDICTION: Williams 28, Wesleyan 21 

Norwich at MIT (Saturday, Nov. 4th at 5:30 p.m.): Following a tough setback to WPI, MIT will look to bounce back against the Cadets in Cambridge. PREDICTION: MIT 27, Norwich 14