Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak will be one of many players to watch on the Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)
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 Wojenskiunder 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.
Endicott College’s Kevin O’Brien has helped the Gulls defense limit opponents to just 17.2 points per game this season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway)
By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports
Kevin O’Brien and the Endicott College defense have been a unit to watch this fall.
Through five contests, the Endicott defense has limited opponents to just 17.2 points per game, which is roughly five points less than what this unit yielded to opposing teams through five weeks last season.
O’Brien, who is in his third season with the Gulls, credits defensive coordinator Sean Golden for helping both he and his teammates be well-prepared for the opposing offenses they have and will face this season. Additionally, he credited his classmate Tim Russell – the two linebackers have complemented each other quite well this fall when it comes to rushing the passer to dropping back in coverage to defend the pass.
Noontime Sports caught up with the third-year linebacker to discuss the Gulls’ 2019 season thus far, but also what he did to prepare himself for a successful junior season with the Endicott defense.
Your team heads into the bye week with a 4-1 record. I know we chatted prior to the Framingham State game a few weeks ago, but did you (and your teammates) think you would be 4-1 heading into the sixth week of the season?
We knew we could be a very good team as we returned almost everyone (from last year’s squad). We were a few plays away from upsetting a very good Wesley College team (last month) but I think we have yet to play our best football which is exciting.
Through five weeks, the defense has yielded just 17.2 points per game. What has been the difference this season for the defense compared to last season (or your first season with the Gulls in 2017)?
One big difference is we have so many defensive linemen that can play good football for us. We have been regularly rotating the defensive linemen throughout the game and I think we probably have the best depth (at that position) in our conference.
Rotating and having fresh linemen is obviously good for a number of reasons and helps everyone else out.
Both last season and this season, your defense has defended the run pretty well. How have you (and the defense) been able to slow down opposing rushing attacks?
Anytime you prepare to slow down the run game or key in on a (certain) player (becomes) a group effort.
Coach Golden, who is our defensive coordinator, has been putting myself and the rest of the defense in good positions to stop the run and force teams to get into a third and medium or long situation. We then can dial something up (a play) that can get our unit off the field (and let the offense go back to work).
We face a ton of good running backs in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) conference, including halfbacks from Curry College, Salve Regina University, and Western New England, so each week is a new and difficult challenge (for our unit).
With the bye week coming at the halfway mark of the season, what do you feel the defense must work on, both this week and next week heading into an important stretch, beginning with Curry College next Saturday, October 19th.
The defense has played well so far but we still have a lot to work to do.
In some games, we have let teams get into the red zone before we tighten up to get a stop. We have often lived by the motto “bend, but don’t break” when we are in the red zone.
I think we need to work on getting stops earlier and forcing teams to punt while tightening up our tackling to disguising our coverages to force turnovers.
Our offense is so explosive and has tons of options so we know the quicker we can get a stop on defense the quicker our offense can go get points (for us).
From a personal perspective, how do you feel your game has improved from last season to this season? Have you prepared differently for games this year than last year?
With another year of playing under my belt, I feel as if I’m stronger and more experienced than most players.
I’ve prepared myself a little bit differently this year (than my previous two seasons with the program). I play the “Mike” linebacker whereas last year I played “Buck,” which focuses on outside containment. Will Rivera was the “Mike” for our defense last season.
Playing “Mike” linebacker is a new challenge as I am usually always on the front side of coverage and the strongside of the run. And depending on a run or pass, I rely on calls and checks on the fly.
It is definitely a challenge but Tim Russell, who is our “Buck” linebacker has helped me out tremendously and has been playing excellent next to me.
With the second week of the 2019 New England Division III football season in the books, it is now to unveil our Zelos Athletics Team of the Week.
Similar to our ‘Players of the Week’ Zelos Athletics is also powering our teams of the week for the entire football season.
Offensive Team of the Week
Julian Burris (Dean College): Against Western Connecticut, Burris led all receivers with nine catches for 158 yards. He averaged 17.6 yards per reception.
Alec Coleman (Western New England): Coleman tuned in an impressive performance last Friday evening against Westfield State. The senior signal-caller completed 22 of 27 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns while adding 43 yards on eight carries (5.4 yards) and one score.
Ryan Deguire (Springfield College): Deguire helped the Pride score their first win of the season by capping an 18-play, 85-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown. Deguire concluded his team’s contest with a game and team-high 100 yards on 11 carries.
Matt Dunn (Norwich University): Dunn completed 34-of-49 pass attempts for 399 yards and two touchdowns as Norwich topped St. Lawrence University in Vermont.
Ollie Eberth (Amherst College): In his team’s season-opener against Bates College, Eberth accounted for 304 yards of total offense, including a team-high 68 rushing yards on 12 carries. He completed 15 of 31 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
Steven Fedorchak (Western New England): The junior wide receiver hauled in nine receptions for 319 yards and five touchdowns last Friday evening in Western New England’s big win over Westfield State.
Connor Fitzsimons (Fitchburg State): Fitzsimons helped the Falcons score their first win of the 2019 season by tossing the game-winning touchdown with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Fitchburg signal-caller concluded his team’s two-point win over Castleton University with 23 of 37 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns.
Ryan Gaboury (University of New England): Gaboury led the University of New England receiving core with nine catches for 138 yards and one touchdown.
Stephen Gacioch (UMass Dartmouth): For the second-straight week, Gacioch put up some impressive numbers as the Corsairs sailed past the Eagles in an instant thriller. The Corsairs’ signal-caller completed 26 of 42 passes for 512 yards and five touchdowns while adding 27 yards on 17 carries.
Tyler Halls (Husson University): Halls led the Eagles receiving core with 13 catches for 185 yards. He also caught one touchdown, too.
Aidan Hogan (Husson University): In his team’s first contest of the 2019 season, Hogan caught six passes for 105 yards and four touchdowns.
David James (Western Connecticut): James concluded last Saturday’s contest against Dean College with five touchdown passes, including four scores through the air. He completed 14 of 35 passes for 279 yards.
John Kenney (Endicott College): Kenney led the Gulls’ rushing attack with 191 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Will Jernigan (Middlebury College): The Panthers’ signal-caller racked-up 252 yards of total offense, including a game and team-high 82 yards one 21 carries and one touchdown. Jernigan completed 16 of 33 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown as Middlebury topped Williams College in its season-opener.
Nick Juvelier (Curry College): Against Franklin Pierce, Juvelier accounted for 299 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. He completed 30 of 48 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns while adding 20 yards on nine carries.
Matt Long (Mass. Maritime Academy): Long enjoyed a successful start to his team’s 2019 campaign last Friday against Maritime (N.Y.). He rushed for 141 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns while adding 114 yards through the air (7 of 11 pass completions).
DJ Machado (UMass Dartmouth): Machado concluded last Saturday’s contest against Husson with six catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
Randy Morgan (Becker College): Morgan rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries for one touchdown as the Hawks scored its second-straight win of the 2019 season.
David Morrison (Husson University): Against UMass Dartmouth, Morrison completed 22 of 40 passes for 339 yards and five touchdowns.
Michael Pina (Nichols College): Pina completed 29 of 43 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in his team’s week two setback to Coast Guard Academy. He threw three touchdowns to three different receivers.
Ashton Scott (Wesleyan University): Scott recorded 293 yards of total offense, including a team-high 76 yards on 13 carries. He completed 18 of 30 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns in his team’s season-opening win against Colby College.
Frank Stola (Williams College): Stola recorded a game-high six receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday in the Ephs’ season-opener against Middlebury.
Defensive Team of the Week
Luke Apuzzi (Williams College): Apuzzi turned in an impressive performance against Middlebury with 10 total tackles, including two forced fumbles, one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of seven yards and one sack for a loss of six yards.
Colin McCabe (Mass. Maritime Academy): McCabe posted 12 total tackles, including eight solo stops, three-and-a-half sacks for a loss of 15 yards and two-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 14 yards and one fumble recovery in the Buccaneers’ season-opening win last Friday against Maritime (N.Y.).
Javien Delgado (UMass Dartmouth): Against Husson University, Delgado tallied a team-high 14 total tackles, including nine solo stops and three-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 10 yards.
Jack Fontana (Mass. Maritime Academy): Against Maritime (N.Y.), Fontana tallied a team-high 16 total tackles, including nine solo stops, three tackles for a loss of 12 yards, and one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of nine yards. Fontana also recorded one pass break-up in his team’s initial win of the 2019 season.
Pete Huggins (Middlebury College): Huggins led the Panthers’ defense last Saturday against Williams with 13 total tackles, including five tackles for a loss of 16 yards and two sacks for a loss of 11 yards.
Carlos Riberio (Anna Maria College): Against Union College, Riberio led the AMCATs’ defense with 10 total tackles, including eight solo stops, along with one forced fumble and one pass break-up.
R.J. Robiskie (Coast Guard Academy): Robiskie led the Bears defense against Nichols College with 10 total tackles (two solo stops and one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of eight yards). Additionally, Robiskie registered one pass break-up and one quarterback hurry.
Tim Russell (Endicott College): Against Rochester last Saturday, Russell recorded a team-high 13 total tackles. He concluded the contest with four solo stops and, one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of five yards and half a sack for a loss of four yards.
Matt Schiano (Amherst College): Against Bates College last Saturday, Schiano stuffed the stat sheet with seven total tackles, including four solo stops, two tackles for a loss of three yards, one sack for a loss of one yard, one pass break-up and one interception (eight-yard return).
Keegan Stanton-Meas (University of New England): Stanton-Meas led the Nor’easters’ defense last Saturday with 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops. He also registered half a tackle for a loss of one yard, one pass break-up, and one interception.
Terrell Thomas (Maine Maritime Academy): Against Plymouth State, Thomas led the Mariners’ defense with 14 total tackles, including 12 solo stops. He also added one quarterback hurry.
Special Teams of the Week
Connor Kennelly (Amherst College): Kennelly connected on a trio of extra points and two field goals for nine points last Saturday against Bates.
George Lampros (Mass. Maritime Academy): Lampros tallied seven points last Friday evening on four extra points and one field (23-yards).
Kieran Lombard (Western New England): Lombard connected on all eight extra points last Friday in Western New England’s second win of the season.
Mason Von Jess (Wesleyan University): Against Colby, Von Jess recorded 12 points on three extra points and three field goals, while tallying 420 yards on seven kickoffs. Five of his seven kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
Bryce Wade (WPI): Wade connected on a pair of field goals last Saturday, including a 26-yard boot, which helped WPI edge RPI, 6-3. Wade also recorded nine punts for 300 yards with three kicks landing inside the RPI 20-yard line. He also registered a trio of kickoffs for 170 yards with one touchback.
Endicott College senior Andrew Tudino prepares to snap the ball in practice. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nicholas Grace/Endicott College Athletics)
By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11
In the words of coach Paul McGonagle, last season was “good, but not great” for the Endicott College football team.
The Gulls posted their first winning season since 2013 but struggled to maintain their mid-to-late season momentum down the stretch when they lost back-to-back contests to Merchant Marine and Salve Regina.
Both setbacks, according to McGonagle, provided the unit with some additional motivation heading into the offseason.
“It’s given us some good drive in the offseason, spring ball, winter, and for the guys in the summertime,” said McGonagle, who is entering his second season with the Endicott football program.
That extra motivation will be put to the test this Friday, September 6th when the Gulls entertain Framingham State in their season-opener at 7 p.m.
Endicott has high hopes for this season and hopes last year’s ending will provide the squad with the motivation it needs to capture its first conference crown en route to a national postseason appearance.
What you should know about the 2019 Endicott Gulls
The Gulls’ schedule: 2019 will present some unique challenges for the Gulls, who are scheduled to compete against a trio of NCAA Tournament teams from last season, including Husson University and Western New England, two teams that compete against Endicott in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC).
McGonagle considers the 2019 schedule “a challenge,” but also a “very competitive schedule” that will certainly test his returners and newcomers.
“We play three NCAA playoff teams (from a year ago),” said McGonagle when discussing the team’s schedule.
“We have Husson joining our conference this year, which will make it more competitive, and then we have Framingham and Wesley (College) coming up from Delaware, so it is a great challenge for our guys and hopefully they will be ready for it.”
Senior quarterback Joe Kalosky will once again be a focal point of the Endicott College offense. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols Grace/Endicott College Athletics)
The second year of Endicott’s new offense: Last season, the Gulls implemented a new offense that seemed identical to what the Philadelphia Eagles ran during their 2017 march toward their first-ever Super Bowl championship in franchise history. And that was a run-pass option (RPO) offense, a scheme the Gulls used frequently with moving the ball up and down the field.
Operating an RPO offense was something quarterback Joe Kalosky seemed to like – he is excited to apply what he learned in the offseason from studying his team’s game film – but as McGonagle said, “we are a whatever it takes” offense.
“Football is a copycat (game), so we do RPO’s, but we also do other stuff, too,” said McGonagle.
“(Last season), there were three games where we rushed for over 300 yards and there were games where we threw for over 300 yards, so we are not one dimensional. There are RPO’s, there are regular old school dropbacks, play action, three-step drops (and much more), so I think it helps us out when it is a sunny game or a rainy game.”
McGonagle praised Kalosky’s effort to improve his game this past spring and summer and believes “the sky is the limit” for the Plymouth, Connecticut native, who did run some RPO plays in high school.
Kalosky enjoyed his best season with the Gulls last fall, recording career-bests in competition percentage (56.5%) and touchdown passes (24). He also rushed for a career-high 365 yards on 40 carries for two touchdowns.
Last season’s ending has motivated Endicott’s defense: For junior linebacker Kevin O’Brien, last year’s final two contests against Merchant Marine and Salve Regina has become the motivation for this year’s defense.
“The defense would like to have those last two games back,” said O’Brien, who played high school football at Braintree High School.
“The two games were high-scoring and we were one or two stops away from a different outcome, so we’re going to focus on putting all four quarters together, putting the whole season together and having to not rely on Joe and this offense to put up big numbers for us to win.”
O’Brien will be one of many returners to lead a unit that limited opposing offenses to 27.5 points per game last season. Endicott graduated some key pieces from last year’s defense, including linebacker William Rivera, who recorded 114.0 total tackles in 11 contests.
Replicating Rivera’s production won’t be easy, but as O’Brien said of this year’s linebacking core, “it will be more of a group effort.”
In addition to O’Brien, Endicott will certainly rely on defensive back Steven Abbott, who recorded a career-high 61.0 total tackles last fall, as well as Tim Russell, who transferred from Hamilton College after posting 74.0 tackles in two seasons with the Continentals.
Sam Opont will also be a player to watch on defense, too – the Bridgeport, Connecticut native tallied a career-high 53.0 total tackles last fall as a defensive lineman, including 6.5 tackles for a loss.
Nick DiCairano is focused on “consistency” this fall: Heading into his second and final season with the Gulls, NickDiCairano, who began his collegiate career kicking for Pace University in the Northeast-10 Conference, seems focused on being more consistent this fall after tallying 80 points on 44 extra points and 12 field goals.
“Whatever happened last year, happened last year. I am not even thinking about it. The coaches and even everyone on the team have really helped me get into the mindset of one kick at a time (and) focus on what I can control.
“I am fortunate enough to have an amazing snapper and holder, which takes the weight off my shoulders, and helps me be more consistent, too. But I think just going into the year I have been really focusing on being consistent and taking every kick one at a time.”
While DiCairano has certainly been a player to watch on extra points and field goals, he is also someone McGonagle can rely on for opening kickoffs, too.
“Nick is a very valuable player to this program,” said McGonagle.
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