It may be Tuesday, but it’s never too early to look ahead to this weekend’s slate of small college football games.
Like we did last week – and yes, last season, too – it is time to highlight this week’s five New England NCAA Division III football teams to watch on Friday and Saturday.
Anna Maria College: Quarterback Alex Cohen highlighted his team’s season-opener by recording eight touchdowns.
No, the “eight touchdowns” was not a typo.
The AMCATs’ win over UMass Dartmouth certainly proves this squad can defend its Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title from last fall.
While it’s only one game, Cohen has been a player to watch on Anna Maria, dating back to his initial season with the Maroon and White in 2018 when he recorded 13 touchdowns, including five scores on the ground. The veteran signal-caller has thrown for 5,562 yards and 43 touchdowns in 30 contests with Anna Maria – expect his impressive debut from last week to continue this weekend against Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Endicott College: The Gulls’ defense has been the story through two contests.
Entering this week’s non-conference matchup with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Endicott’s defense has limited its first two opponents – St. Lawrence University and WPI – to zero points. Additionally, the unit is yielding 61.0 rushing yards per game.
Hector Johnson was named to this week’s D3Football.com Team of the Week after establishing a career-high for tackles (six), sacks (four), and tackles for a loss (four) last Friday against WPI. Johnson is currently third on the team in total tackles (11.0) and has complemented linebacker Matthew Licciardi (15 total tackles) and defensive back Tyler Davis (13.0 total tackles).
Framingham State: Last season, it took the Rams three weeks to score their first win.
This season, the Rams needed just two weeks to secure a victory as they earned their first non-conference win in four years this past weekend.
Beating St. John Fisher, a team that produced 62 points in its season-opener against Buffalo State, should provide coach Tom Kelley’s squad with some much-needed momentum heading into Saturday’s conference clash with UMass Dartmouth. Framingham State has won its last four meetings with UMass Dartmouth while averaging 40.5 points.
The Corsairs’ last win over the Rams came in 2016 in overtime.
For the Rams to score its initial conference win, they will need to lean on their defense, specifically Cully Curran, Michael Brooks, and Chase Buono, to slow down a high-powered UMass Dartmouth offense that is led by quarterback Dante Aviles-Santos and halfback Marvens Jean.
Plymouth State: It’s been a good start for coach Paul Castonia’s Panthers.
Plymouth State has won back-to-back games over Castleton University (20-7) and Husson University (17-0), thanks to both its rushing attack and defense.
Manny Sanchez and Willie Lombard have been two players to watch on offense this fall with the duo combining for 325 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Lombard has been Braden Lynn’s go-to receiver with five catches for a team-high 66 receiving yards.
Lombard, along with Sanchez and Lynn, will be players to watch against a Bridgewater State squad that appears eager to snap its two-game losing streak. The Bears beat the Panthers last season, thanks to halfback Adam Couch, who rushed for a game-high 150 yards and one touchdown.
Couch will be on the field Saturday and will certainly be a player the Panthers’ defense will need to stop if the Green and White would like to extend its current winning streak.
Trinity College: The wait for a brand-new season of Trinity College football has concluded.
The Bantams return to the gridiron this Saturday with hopes of continuing its previous success from a year ago when the Blue and Gold concluded their campaign with eight wins and one loss.
The Bantams return some key members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, wide receiver DeVante Reid, and linebacker Brian Casagrande. Of course, other first and second-team all-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) players return with hopes of winning its first conference crown since 2018.
Trinity will visit Tufts University on Saturday – last year, the Bantams beat the Jumbos in their season-opener, thanks to Spencer Fetter and Will Kirby, who combined for six touchdowns.