The Early D3 Football Outlook: Teams To Watch In 2020

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Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak will be one of many players to watch on the Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)

By NoontimeSports.com

Our early New England D-III football coverage has begun with our ‘Way Too Early‘ Top 20 Poll – what did you think? 

Now, it is time to dig a bit deeper and highlight a few teams we believe fans should watch (and keep their eyes on) once the season officially kicks-off in a few months.

Dean College: After winning their first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title last November, the Bulldogs enter the 2020 season with a great deal of momentum. Sure, their 2019 campaign concluded with a difficult loss to the Gulls of Endicott College in the New England Bowl, but with a slew of starters expected to return this fall, including quarterback Terrell Watts, wide receiver Errol Breaux, and defensive end Wadell Alceus, don’t expect these Bulldogs to take a step backward.

Endicott College: The Gulls – like most squads highlighted on this list – did graduate some key players from last year’s squad, as well as their 2018 campaign, too. But Endicott does return some important pieces on both sides of the ball, including tight end Riley Shanley, defensive back Dylan Gardner, quarterback Dylan Bonfilio, and linebackers Tim Russell and Kevin O’Brien. All five players, along with some newcomers and returners will make the Gulls a team to continue to watch in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) conference.

Framingham State: After a slow start to its 2019 campaign, the Rams scored a must-needed win over Westfield State, which provided Framingham with all the momentum they needed to win their conference’s crown. This year, the Rams will look a bit different – they won’t have quarterback Adam Wojenski under center – but will have return some key pieces on both sides of the ball, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Rookie of the Year. On defense, look for Joshua Onujiogu to lead a unit that limited opposing rushing attacks to less than 100 yards per game.

Middlebury College: After winning nine consecutive contests last fall, it is hard to pick against these Panthers, who will certainly be challenged from the get-go. Yes, the Panthers bid farewell to some key players from a year ago, but welcome back quarterback Will Jernigan for one more season. Jernigan will be tasked with leading an offense that averaged 30.6 points per game while registering 410.6 yards per contest.

UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was fun to watch last season – he recorded career-bests in passing yards per game (277.6) and touchdowns (20) while rushing for a career-high six scores. Gacioch should be the player to watch again with these Corsairs, who ended their 2019 campaign with seven wins.

Wesleyan University: Quarterback Ashton Scott enjoyed a successful 2019 season – he finished with 17 touchdowns while completing 147 of 240 passes for 1,939 yards. Scott will be one of a few players to watch on offense – keep your eyes on halfback Glenn Smith and wide receiver Matthew Simco – while Taj Gooden will be asked to lead a defense that limited opponents to 19.1 points per game.

Williams College: We believe this Ephs team has a chance to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) this fall. They will be challenged, of course, but with quarterback Bobby Maimaron guiding the offense to linebackers Jarrett Wesner and TJ Rothmann leading the defense, these Ephs should be well-prepared to combat whatever they will face once their season begins in September.

Western New England: Some believed the Golden Bears were a bit lower than anticipated on our ‘Way Too Early’ New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll last week. And you know, we agree – these Golden Bears should have been a bit higher on our poll. Wide receiver Steven Fedorchak and linebacker Erich Keutmann should be able to help the Blue and Gold defend their conference crown not just against Endicott, but also other league foes.

A few other teams worth noting – we will certainly have more on them – include MIT, Salve Regina, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Western Connecticut. 

Noontime’s All-Decade Connecticut & Rhode Island D3 Football Team

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

Our Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) All-Decade Week continues with a brand new team: The Connecticut & Rhode Island D3 Football Team from 2010-2019.

This was a fun walk down memory lane, highlighting a slew of student-athletes we covered and interviewed over the past ten years that earned a variety of end of season honors, including D3Football.com All-American honors to first or second-team nods to program record-holders to the final Gold Helmet Recipients from the New England Football Writers (NEFW).  And as usual, we did our very best to highlight as many student-athletes from across both Connecticut and Rhode Island.


The All-Decade Noontime Sports Conn. & R.I. D3 Football Team (Offense)

Will Arndt (QB) Western Connecticut Sandy Hook, Conn.
Octavias McKoy (RB) Western Connecticut Stratford, Conn. 
Max Chipouras (RB) Trinity College Longmeadow, Mass.
Sam Pascale (RB) Salve Regina University Cheshire, Conn. 
Shea Dwyer (RB) Wesleyan University Marlborough, Conn. 
Christopher Hunt (TE) Trinity College Westford, Mass. 
Austin Baiardi (OT) Trinity College Smithtown, N.Y.
Nick Seara (OT) Wesleyan University South Ozone Park, N.Y.
Adam Iskra (OT) Salve Regina University North Haven, Conn.
Floyd Shaffer (OT) Salve Regina University Conshohocken, Pa.
Joe Magardino (OT) Trinity College  Chappaqua, N.Y.


The All-Decade Noontime Sports Conn. & R.I. D3 Football Team (Defense)

Hayden Stanton (DL) Salve Regina University Wallingford, Conn.
Taj Gooden (DL) Wesleyan University Brooklyn, N.Y.
John Salute (DL) Salve Regina University Mahwah, N.J.
Walter Fallas (LB) Trinity College Everett, Mass. 
Joe Rizzardi (DB) Coast Guard Academy Ashburn, Va.
Ben Thaw (CB) Wesleyan University Westport, Conn.
Jake Bussani (CB) Wesleyan University Pleasanton, Calif.
Phil Terio (CB) Salve Regina University Trumbull, Conn.
Harry Melendez (CB) Trinity College Holyoke, Mass.
Spencer Donahue (S) Trinity College Naperville, Ill.
Rae Haynes (S) Trinity College  Hartford, Conn. 

The All-Decade Noontime Sports Conn. & R.I. D3 Football Team (Special Teams)

Eric Sachse (K) Trinity College Jefferson, Mass. 
Michael Killoran (K) Western Connecticut  West Hartford, Conn. 
Chip Crowley (P) Coast Guard Academy San Marino, Calif.
Kyle Pulek (P) Trinity College Cheshire, Conn.

 

Player Perspective: Taj Gooden (Wesleyan University)

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Taj Gooden keeps the focus on one day at a time with Wesleyan University’s football team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Steve McLaughlin)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Taj Gooden has enjoyed a successful two seasons with the Wesleyan University football program.

The Brooklyn, New York native has posted 65.0 total tackles in back-to-back seasons while tallying career-highs in solo stops (25), total tackles (35.0) and sacks (nine) last fall.

Gooden was named a D3Football.com Preseason All-American last month – he was also selected to the Second Team Defense, too, after being named to last year’s All-East Region team.

The 2018 All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) First Team Defense selection is excited for the season to begin – Gooden and the Cardinals host Colby College tomorrow afternoon with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Gooden about his preparation for the upcoming season, as well as what the Cardinals must do to enjoy a successful season in the NESCAC.

Tell me about last season. What worked for you from perspective? 

Following the game plan, (every) week played a huge role in my success. My coaches do a good job of putting me in the best situations to be successful.

Also being a student of the game, spending extra hours watching film and workout out, especially over the summer allowed me to excel both on and off the field.

How can you build on last season’s success? Did you do different workouts this offseason to prepare yourself for a successful junior season? 

I spent a lot of hours and weeks in the gym this summer training diligently with my father. I also trained with Gary Gooden, a current track and field coach and former professional football player in the National Football League (NFL).

I’m aware that my success last season may garner me more attention from opposing teams but I have to keep playing my game and be relentless (on every play).

Wesleyan finished 5-4 last fall but ended the 2018 season by winning four of its final six contests. How can you translate that success to this season?

Although we graduated a very impactful senior class (last May), we have a lot of experienced guys returning who are hungry and they have a great understanding of what we’re doing. I believe we will be very successful this season, but we must take it week by week and not look past any opponents.

What are some goals you have for both yourself and the team this season?

Winning the defensive player of the year would be great, but my ultimate goal is to help my team get better every day. Whether that’s leading by example on the field or helping a teammate develop their game during practice. As a team, the goal is to go 1-0 every week and win a championship.

Your team opens its season tomorrow against Colby College. What must the team do to secure an opening day win? 

We just have to play our game. We need to stay disciplined and play for one another by doing our part during each play.


Remember to stay connected with our New England Football coverage on Twitter at @Noontime_FB

Noontime Sports: Football Stars of the Week (Monday, Oct. 8th, 2018)

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_FB 

With another week of New England D3 Football in the books, it is time to unveil our Noontime Sports Football Stars of the Week from week six!

Our ‘Stars of the Week’ post will appear every Monday on our site throughout the remainder of the college football season. The weekly post will highlight some key contributors from the New England region from the past week on offense, defense and special teams.

Congratulations to this week’s recipients and best of luck to all student-athletes, coaches and teams competing this upcoming weekend.


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Travon Holder enjoyed a successful day on the ground, rushing a season-high 203 yards and three touchdowns against Mass. Maritime Academy. (PHOTO COURTESY: Westfield State Athletics)

Offensive Stars of the Week

Hunter Belzo (Springfield College): Against Coast Guard Academy, Belzo scored three touchdowns, including two on the ground. Belzo rushed for 207 yards on 31 carries, while tossing two passes (five attempts) for 39 yards and one touchdown.

Errol Breaux (Dean College): Breaux turned in an impressive performance against Husson University last Friday evening by leading all receivers with 229 yards on six catches (38. 2 yards per reception), while hauling in a pair of touchdown receptions.

Noah Brum (Worcester State): Brum concluded his team’s conference clash against Western Connecticut by completing 28 of 47 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

Alex Cohen (Anna Maria College): Cohen helped Anna Maria erase a 17-0 deficit by completing 26-of-38 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 32 yards on 12 carries and one score as the AMCATs topped Castleton University on the road.

Matt Dunn (Norwich University): Dunn completed 23-of-52 passes for a career-high 407 yards, while tossing a pair of touchdowns during his team’s contest against Merchant Marine.

Ryan Gaboury (University of New England): Gaboury hauled in a game-high 10 grabs for 192 yards and three touchdowns with his longest reception being a 41-yard touchdown in the first half.

Moe Harris (Castleton University): Harris reached the end zone three times, including two times on the ground as he finished last Saturday’s contest against Anna Maria with 204 yards on 31 carries. His lone catch was a 44-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, which evened the score at 24-24.

Matt Hersch (Colby College): Hersch had his hand in all three scores for the Mules as he finished the contest 23-of-40 for 277 yards, while tossing a trio of touchdown passes against Wesleyan University.

Nick Juvelier (Curry College): Juvelier recorded five touchdowns last week against University of New England, including four through the air. He finished 35-of-49 for 369 yards, while rushing for 51 yards on 10 carries and one score.

Travon Holder (Westfield State): Holder rushed for a season-best 203 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Owls past Massachusetts Maritime Academy on the road.

Brian Peters (University of New England): Peters helped the Nor’easters win their first-ever game in program history by completing 25-of-33 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns last Saturday against Curry College.

Manni Romero (Norwich University): Romero hauled in a season-best 10 catches for 272 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday during the Cadets’ conference setback to Merchant Marine.


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Andrew Yamin and the Amherst College defense registered six sacks last week in a shutout win over Middlebury College. (PHOTO COURTESY:

Defensive Stars of the Week

Taj Gooden (Wesleyan University): Gooden turned in an impressive showing against Colby College, registering nine total stops, including five solo tackles, four tackles for a loss of 13 yards and two sacks for a loss of 11 yards.

Blayne Merchant (WPI): Against Catholic University, Merchant tallied a team-high seven solo stops and eight total tackles – he matched Nick Ostrowski with the same number of total tackles. Additionally, he recorded two tackles for a loss of 14 yards, one sack for a loss of 11 yards and one quarterback hurry.

Chris Rice (Castleton University): Rice stuffed the stat sheet with eight total stops, including five solo tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss of 18 yards and one sack for a loss of 10 yards against Anna Maria.

Keegan Stanton-Meas (University of New England):  Stanton-Meas helped the Nor’easters claim their first-ever win in program history against Curry College by finishing the game with 12 total tackles, including five solo stops, two tackles for a loss of three yards and one sack. He also registered a pair of pass break-ups, too.

Andrew Yamin (Amherst College): Yamin registered a season-high 3.5 sacks for a loss 22 yards, while leading the Amherst College defense with 11 total tackles (four solo stops) as the Mammoths shutout Middlebury College last Saturday.


Special Team Stars of the Week

Nick DiCairano (Endicott College): DiCairano registered nine points on seven kicks, including six extra points in the Gulls’ fourth win of the season last Saturday.

Spencer Herrington (WPI): Herrington connected on all four kicks, including a 26-yard field gaol for six points, while recording six punts with three of them landing inside the Catholic University’s 20-yard yard line. One of his boots resulted in a touchback.

Robert Inniss, Jr. (University of New England): Inniss Jr.’s game-winning field goal (38 yards) with five seconds remaining helped the Nor’easters claim their first-ever win in program history against Curry College last Saturday. Inniss Jr. concluded the game with eight points (one field goals and five extra points).

Jeremy Martin (Plymouth State): Martin connected on a trio of kicks last Friday evening against Bridgewater State, including two field goals with his longest boot coming from 44-yards out. He also recorded four punts for 150 yards with one kick landing inside the Bears’ 20-yard line. Additionally, he booted four kickoffs for 258 yards with three resulting in touchbacks.


Stay connected with our Noontime Sports football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB