New England Football Offseason Notebook: Sperone Named Fitchburg State Head Coach

10 GAMES WEEK FIVE

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Wednesday was an exciting day for the Fitchburg State University football program as they introduced Scott Sperone as their next head coach.

Sperone, who spent the past three seasons down the road directing the WPI defense, becomes the school’s first full-time head football coach.

“I’m eager to officially step into my role and recruit for our incoming class,” Sperone said in Wednesday’s release. “I’m excited to work with our student-athletes this spring, both on and off the field. I believe that a team working towards a unified goal can achieve great things and I’m looking forward to getting the Falcons ready to fly for the 2020 season.”

Sperone’s path to Fitchburg has featured multiple stops throughout New England over the past two decades with teams in all three divisions, including his alma mater Springfield College. He also spent time as the defensive coordinator with Fairleigh Dickinson University from 2011-17.

Under Sperone’s watch, the WPI defense was a unit to watch, especially this past season as the Engineers concluded their 11-game slate by yielding an average of 14.7 points per game. WPI limited opponents to 277.9 yards per game, including 89.5 rushing yards.

Fitchburg State concluded its 2019 campaign with a 2-8 record, including 1-7 mark against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) opponents.

Sperone isn’t the only new coach in the MASCAC as Framingham State University announced last week that Aynsley Rosenbaum had been named the new coach of the Rams, as announced by former head coach and Director of Athletics Tom Kelley.

Rosenbaum, who is an alum of the Framingham State football program, has been the Rams’ offensive coordinator for the past 12 seasons. He has helped the program win nine conference titles, make five appearances in the NCAA Tournament and win four bowl games, including the inaugural New England Bowl against Salve Regina University in 2016.

Additionally, Rosenbaum’s offenses have been units to watch, especially last fall as the Rams led all MASCAC offenses in points, rushing yards, total offense, and touchdowns.

“I’m honored to take over at my alma mater as its head football coach and follow in the footsteps of Tom Kelley, my mentor, and friend,” Rosenbaum said via last Tuesday’s release on the Framingham State athletics website. “Framingham is a special place with people I truly care about and I look forward to continuing relationships with players, administration, and alumni.”

Framingham State finished 8-3 last fall – they posted an 8-0 mark in conference play and advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to the announcements of Rosenbaum and Sperone, Worcester State University‘s Adam Peloquin was elevated to the interim head football coach. As noted in the release from last November, ” (Adam) will assume the role through the 2020 fall playing season.”

New England Football Offseason Notebook: FSU’s Kelley Announces Retirement

10 GAMES WEEK FIVE

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

Weeks after guiding his team to a ninth Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) title, along with an appearance in the NCAA D-III Football Tournament, Framingham State University football coach Tom Kelley announced his retirement on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020.

Kelley, who is an alum of the program, coached the Rams for 13 seasons. He guided Framingham State to five NCAA Tournaments and four bowl victories, including a 3016 New England Bowl championship.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to have been the head coach of the football program at Framingham State for the past 13 seasons,” Kelley said via Wednesday’s announcement on the Framingham State athletics website.

“As a former player, I could not be more proud of our teams and all the fine student-athletes who have come through the program. I was lucky to be surrounded by great coaches on our staff throughout the years that helped lead our teams to so much success.

“At this point, it is time for me to step away from coaching with the program sitting in a great spot coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.  It’s time to put the horse in the barn.”

Framingham State won 107 games under the direction of Kelley, including 100 games in the last 13 seasons. Kelley has coached two AFCA All-Americans while being named the coach of the year eight times by five different organizations, including the New England Football Writers in 2012 when he led the Rams to a New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship, NEFC Bogan Division title, a MASCAC crown, and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Kelley will remain in his current role as the school’s Director of Athletics while an announcement of a new coach should be coming within the next few weeks.

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Endicott College’s Nick DiCairano will represent the Gulls in The Dream Bowl on Monday, January 21dt, 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nick Grace)

Endicott College senior kicker Nick DiCairano will be representing the Gulls’ football program next Monday, January 21st, 2020 at The Dream Bowl in Salem, Virginia at the Salem Football Stadium, as announced earlier this week on the athletic department’s website.

The Dream Bowl, which started seven years ago, “is a College Football All-Star Showcase of the best FCS, D-II, and D-III players from across the country.”

DiCairano will compete on the 2020 Crusaders team – he will be joined by a few other New England college football players, including Framingham State’s Dwayne Hunter-Parker.

Last month, DiCairano represented Endicott in the National Bowl College All-Star Game after producing an impressive senior season with the Gulls, which included career-bests in field goals (13), extra points made (57) and points (96). His longest field goal of the 2019 season was a 47-yard kick, which he recorded three times against Framingham State, Curry College, and Salve Regina University.

In addition to DiCairano, a few other New England college football players will be competing next Monday at The Dream Bowl, including Sacred Heart wide receiver Kezio Snelling, who was named to the Northeastern Conference (NEC) second team last November.

Also on the Crusaders is Derek Mountain and Corey Stefanik of Holy Cross and Momodou Mbye and Kevin Lawrence of Rhode Island College.

D3 Football: 10 Games To Watch (Oct. 5th)

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By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

The fifth week of the New England Division III football season has arrived. And it is an important week with conference races heating up.

Two weeks ago, I predicted all ten games I highlighted correctly. Last week, I picked eight of ten contests correct to bump my overall mark to 24-16 overall.

Let’s see if my recent momentum with these weekly picks continues tomorrow.

As usual, best of luck to all teams competing this week and make sure to stay connected with @Noontime_FB for updates, scores and more.


New England D-III Week Five | Saturday, Oct. 5th, 2019

Rankings based off this week’s Noontime Top 20 Poll

No. 2 Endicott College at No. 20 Salve Regina (12 p.m.): This is a must-win for the Seahawks, who fell to Nichols College one week ago. Endicott seems to be clicking on all cylinders after falling to Wesley College two weeks ago. PREDICTION: Endicott 30, Salve Regina 18 

No. 10 UMass Dartmouth at No. 12 Framingham State (12 p.m.): The Corsairs have scored some hard-fought wins thus far – both the offense and defense have been clicking the past two weeks. Both units have been fun to watch, too. This is a must-win for the Rams, who were idle one week ago after providing coach Tom Kelley with his 100th win on the sidelines last month with a big win over Westfield State. PREDICTION: Framingham State 20, UMass Dartmouth 17 

Worcester State at No. 19 Mass. Maritime Academy (12 p.m.): The Buccaneers have been impressive the past three weeks, but face a squad that provided Western Connecticut with some challenges. Look for a second-half surge to help the Buccaneers defeat the Lancers in Buzzards Bay. PREDICTION: Mass. Maritime 31, Worcester State 17 

No. 8 MIT at Merchant Marine (12 p.m.): The Engineers have won back-to-back games since starting their title defense with a loss, but will need their offense to play its best game of the season in order to keep pace with a Mariners squad that has put up some impressive points this season. PREDICTION: Merchant Marine 42, MIT 34

No. 6 Norwich University at No. 13 Springfield College (12 p.m.): Norwich will arrive in Springfield with a great deal of momentum from the past four weeks. Look for a big day from quarterback Matt DunnPREDICTION: Norwich 33, Springfield 22 

No. 15 Nichols College at No. 3 Western New England (1 p.m.): The Bison have been perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season – yes, we know they have been competitive the past few seasons, but a win against the Golden Bears won’t be easy as Western New England seemed to find its grove in Maine one week ago. PREDICTION: Western New England 35, Nichols 28 

Hamilton College at No. 11 Trinity College (1 p.m.): At 1-2, this is a must-win for the Bantams if they want to keep their four-peat hopes alive. Hamilton enters Saturday’s contest with some momentum from their recent wins against Bowdoin College and Colby College. PREDICTION: Trinity 30, Hamilton 22

University of New England at Curry College (1 p.m.): Look for the Nor’easters to return to the win column this week after suffering their initial conference loss of the season. Expect a big day from the UNE offense on Saturday. PREDICTION: UNE  30, Curry 15 

Catholic University at No. 7 Coast Guard Academy (1:30 p.m.): The Bears defense has been fun to watch this season. They were a big part of last week’s win over Curry College and should continue their impressive play this week against the Cardinals. PREDICTION: Coast Guard Academy 24, Catholic 10 

No. 9 Middlebury College at No. 4 Amherst College (2 p.m.): The Panthers have enjoyed a successful start to their 2019 season, but face a difficult road test against a very good Mammoths squad. Both Middlebury and Amherst enter Saturday’s must-see, must-follow tilt with identical 3-0 records, but I see this game coming down to a late field goal. PREDICTION: Middlebury 24, Amherst 21 

D3 Football: Getting To Know The 2019 Framingham State Rams

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Joshua Onujiogu (91) will be counted on to lead the Framingham State Rams defense this fall. (PHOTO CREDIT: Frank Poulin)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

In just two days, the Framingham State University football team will take the field for the first time this season when they visit Endicott College for an important week one contest.

Framingham State and Endicott have met 14 times – the series is tied at 7-7 – but the Rams have won the last six meetings, dating back to a 35-23 win in week one of the 2013 season.

Before the Rams and Gulls tangle under the lights in Beverly, Massachusetts, here are some things you need to know about this year’s Framingham State football team, which will once again be led by coach Tom Kelley.


Framingham State Rams | 2019 Team Capsule

The Rams’ 2018 Season: Framingham State won eight of 11 contests last fall en route to claiming a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) title and spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Coach Tom Kelley was tabbed the MASCAC Champion’s Choice Coach of the Year, while 13 student-athletes landed on the first and second all-conference teams, including defensive lineman Joshua Smiley and quarterback Adam Wojenski.

Framingham State captured one of two non-conference games while ending the regular season on a four-game winning streak.

The Rams drew The College at Brockport in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament but saw their bid toward a national championship dashed with a 40-27 setback. Wojenski concluded the game with 450 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Wojenski’s New Targets: Heading into his final season with the Rams, quarterback Adam Wojenski is adjusting to some new wide receivers and tight ends he will be throwing the ball to this fall, including Jacob Maher, who transferred from Worcester State.

Maher, who played high school football for Marshfield High School, was recently named to the D3Football.com Preseason All-American team after earning a pair of New England Football Writers Division II/III All-New England honors as a member of the Lancers.

“He’s a beast,” said Wojenski when asked about building a rapport with his new tight end.  “(Once) we get our timing down then we’ll be good to go.”

Maher won’t be the only wide receiver or tight end Wojenski will be targeting this fall as the Stratford, Connecticut native is expected to target Austin NunnElijah Nichols, and Manny Exilhomme, too.

Wojenski is confident in his new receivers, who he claims have “stepped up” in preseason practices. “They will be ready,” he said.

New Leadership on DefenseSimilar to the Rams’ offense, the defense will also look a bit different than last year due to some key graduation losses, but that doesn’t seem to faze Josh Smiley, who claims “(the) defense (has) bought into our system and we’re all ready to go.” 

Smiley is just one of a few returners on defense this fall – he will be joined up front by Rufus RushinsFacundo Isas, and Joshua Onujiogu.

The unit also returns linebackers Brian Donahue and Cully Curran, and strong safety Carls Alphonse

Framingham State’s defense will be guided by Mike Landers, who coached the wide receivers last fall.

Onujiogu has enjoyed working with Landers, who he claims has helped both him and his teammates understand more than just the typical x’s and o’s.

“(We’re) learning more things (that) we may have not thought of before,” said Onujiogu of Landers’ defensive formations and schemes.

Added Smiley, “We do (get) more freedom, but this is going to be a fast-moving defense.”

Youth Movement: For the Rams to enjoy a successful campaign this fall, they will need some first-year players to step-up on both offense and defense.

The Rams’ 2019 roster features a slew of first-year players, including halfback Devaun Ford, who is expected to start on Friday against Endicott.

Ford played locally for Mashpee High School and competed for a trio of Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Super Bowl teams, including the 2017 Division 7 squad that beat Blackstone Valley, 22-16.

Danny Marinaccio is also a first-year back that is expected to step up and help the offense this fall.

On defense, Issac Nascimento is a student-athlete that can help the secondary – he will certainly learn a great deal from the upperclassmen and coach Shawn Theriault

“We’re going to be young and we’re going to have to count on some of the young guys to step up,” said Kelley.

In the past, both first and second-year players have done quite well in Kelley’s system, and have helped the squad by making some key plays when needed.

Conference Favorites: The Rams were picked to win the MASCAC this fall, according to the 2019 preseason coaches poll.

Framingham State secured seven first-place votes, while Western Connecticut, which secured the second position, earned a pair of first-place nods.

Bridgewater StatePlymouth State, and UMass Dartmouth rounded out the top five, checking-in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, while Westfield State secured the sixth position.

Fitchburg State checked-in seventh, Massachusetts Maritime Academy secured the eighth position, while Worcester State placed ninth.

Conference play for most teams will begin in week three with the Rams hosting Westfield State at 12 p.m.


Stay connected with our New England Football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB

D3 Football Preseason: The Favorites

D3 PRESEASON FAVORITES

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Happy Monday!

We’re another day closer to a brand new season of New England Division III football, which means its time to highlight our preseason favorites.

As usual, let us know if you agree (or disagree) with our preseason predictions by posting a comment below!


Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC): Western New England: The Golden Bears are poised to capture yet another conference crown this fall, but they certainly will be challenged by Endicott CollegeHusson University, and Salve Regina. Expect a big season from quarterback Alec Coleman, who was tabbed our Noontime Sports Offensive Player of the Year last November.

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): Maritime (N.Y.): While I certainly think Dean College will be in the mix for the top spot, in the end, the Privateers will prevail. Both teams will meet in mid-October in what could be a de-facto regular-season championship clash.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State: The Rams enter the upcoming season with some holes to fill, especially at wide receiver and in the secondary, but expect coach Tom Kelley to find the right pieces to fill those voids before Framingham makes the trek to Endicott for a must-see week one clash.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Trinity College: The Bantams enter the 2019 season with hopes of capturing their fourth-straight conference crown. Trinity can certainly accomplish this task but will need to do it without halfback Max Chipouras, who graduated this past spring. The Bantams should return a slew of talent on both sides of the ball, which will help them contend for a conference crown.

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): Springfield College: The Pride should capture their second NEWMAC title in three seasons, but they certainly will be challenged by Coast Guard AcademyMIT, and WPI. I also think Norwich University could provide some match-up issues, too, but again, I am expecting Springfield to finish atop the NEWMAC standings in late November.


Stay connected with our New England football coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_FB