Tag: Tucker Buzzell

Five Teams That Could Win The CCC This Fall

Quarterback Mike Ingraffia will be a player to watch on offense this fall at Endicott College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway)

By Matt Noonan

Last fall, Endicott College captured its first conference crown in eight seasons by winning the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league with an 8-2 record.

The Gulls, which advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, saw their run toward a national title conclude with a 20-14 setback to RPI.

Despite ending their season with a six-point setback to the Engineers, Endicott should once again be in the mix for the conference crown. But the same could be said for a few other teams in the CCC, which will be ready to challenge the Gulls for some hardware.

Here are five teams that I believe can win the Commonwealth Coast Football league this year.

Endicott: I believe the Gulls can win their second-straight title, but their path to their fourth conference crown in program history won’t be easy.

For the Gulls to enjoy another successful campaign, they will need a similar effort this fall from quarterback Mike Ingraffia, who capped his sophomore season with career-highs in passing yards (1,531) and touchdowns (15).

Ingraffia is just one of many student-athletes to watch on the Gulls this fall, specifically its offense, but the same could be said for classmate and wide Shane Aylward, who ended the 2021 season as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Aylward ranked fifth in the conference in receiving yards (712) while finishing tied for sixth with five touchdown receptions.

Colin Meropoulos was named the CCC Defensive Rookie of the Year and will be tasked with leading a defense that limited its opponents to 19.5 points per game.

Husson University: One should never count out coach Nat Clark’s Eagles, which concluded its 2021 campaign with a 7-3 record.

For the Eagles to enjoy another successful campaign, they will need some key members of last year’s squad to step up this year, including wide receiver Jon Bell, who concluded the 2021 season with career-bests in receptions (49), receiving yards (753), and touchdowns (four). Bell will most likely be targeted a few more times this fall by quarterback Nic Visser, who led the conference in passing yards (2,598).

Linebacker Tucker Buzzell will be the player to watch on defense after leading Husson with 85 total tackles last fall.  

Salve Regina University: For the first time since 2016, the Seahawks ended its season with eight wins, thanks to an impressive opening month that saw Salve Regina win four straight non-conference contests, including an epic come-from-behind win over Rowan University.

The team’s early-season momentum came to an end in early October with a 41-3 setback to Western New England.

Salve Regina would bounce back by winning four of their final five contests.

The biggest question facing this year’s squad is who will return this fall? Salve Regina’s roster featured eight graduate students last fall, along with 21 seniors, including halfback Joey Mauriello, but one player that will return this year – and is someone to watch – is linebacker Zachary Ludemann. The Howell, New Jersey native placed 11th in the conference in total tackles (69.0).

Western New England: For the second-straight season, the Golden Bears won five of six conference contests. But their lone setback to Endicott resulted in Western New England missing the national postseason for the first time in two years.

Will the loss to the Gulls be this year’s motivation for the Yellow and Blue?

Endicott and Western New England are scheduled to compete at the end of the season, so perhaps the final game could determine the conference’s winner.

The Golden Bears featured three different quarterbacks last fall, including Bryce Karstetter and Conrad Swanson, who will likely compete for the starting job this summer. But in addition to the team’s quarterback battle, keep an eye on the wide receivers and tight ends. Steven Fedorchak and Adam Razza have graduated, which means we could see Greg Perry and Ryan Larson become the squad’s top two receivers.  

No matter the make-up of this year’s Golden Bears, the expectation is coach Jason Lebeau’s squad will be ready to contend for its fourth CCC title.

University of New England: For the second-straight season, the Nor’easters won four games, including a pair of league tilts.

Can they double that win total this fall?

Perhaps they can, but for UNE to do that, they will need to play some of its best football early on.

UNE ended its 2021 season with a wild victory over Curry College, which highlighted a few players to watch this fall.

One of those players to watch in 2022 is quarterback Jarrett Henault, a Goffstown, New Hampshire native that threw for a career and season-high five touchdowns in his team’s win over the Colonels. Henault appeared in eight contests last season and will be tasked with leading an offense that will feature Mikey Brennan, Jakob Rivers, and Shane LaPorte this fall.

While the offense has a chance to improve from one year ago, the same could be said for the Nor’easter defense, which will be led by David Hutchison, a defensive lineman from St Johnsbury, Vermont.

UNE might be a longshot to win the CCC, but they certainly proved last season that they can contend with some of the best teams in the conference.

Noontime’s D3 Football Teams To Watch Heading Into Week Three

Trinity College’s Seamus Lambert has the Bantams in position for another NESCAC crown. (PHOTO COURTESY: Trinity College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

Another week of New England NCAA Division III football is quickly approaching, which means it is time to highlight five teams to watch this week (and yes, this weekend, too).

In case you missed it, make sure to check out this week’s Noontime Sports Top 20 New England D-III Poll, which found Western New England in the top spot followed by Endicott College (second) and UMass Dartmouth (third).

Middlebury College: The Panthers’ title defense officially begins this Saturday, September 18 when they visit Williams College in what might be the game of the weekend. 

A slew of players from the 2019 squad is back, including quarterback Will Jernigan, halfback LeeCharles McNeil, wide receiver Greg Livingston, and linebacker Jack Pistorius.

Of course, there are others, as well, along with 26 first-years that should help coach Bob Ritter’s squad contend for the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown. 

Two years ago, the Panthers scored an opening day win over the Ephs — the game was played in Vermont — but a win on Saturday would certainly be the ideal start for Middlebury’s title defense.  

Trinity College: Two years after producing just five wins, many, including myself, believe these Bantams will bounce back and be in the mix for the NESCAC crown this fall. 

Yet, for Trinity to begin its quest for its initial title since 2018, they must find a way to top — or outlast — Tufts University, which also enters the 2021 season with hopes of contending for a league title, too.

The Jumbos topped the Bantams in 2019 while Trinity beat Tufts, 38-24, on their home turf in 2018. 

Keep your eyes on quarterback Seamus Lambert, who was the 2018 Co-NESCAC Rookie of the Year, and linebacker Brian Casagrande, who led the Bantams in tackles during the 2019 season. 

Coast Guard Academy: After starting its season with a 16-0 victory over the University of New England, the Bears took a step back last Saturday, falling to Curry College by a score of 21-18.

Saturday’s clash against Nichols College will mark the Bears’ first home game in 672 days — crazy, right? — so scoring a win in New London would certainly help the team regain its week one momentum. 

The Bears defense has been a unit to watch thus far, limiting opponents to just 10.5 points per game, along with 297 yards of total offense.

Coast Guard’s defense will be tasked with slowing down an offense that is led by quarterback Logan Sawyer, who tossed three touchdowns last Saturday in the Bison’s come-from-behind win over Anna Maria College

A player to watch on Saturday is linebacker Connor Healy, who leads the Coast Guard defense with 20 total tackles, including 16 solo stops. He has also recorded one sack (for a loss of two yards), and one pass breakup this season. 

Anna Maria College: Credit is due to Dan Mulrooney’s AMCATs, who almost knocked Nichols College last Saturday in their 2021 season-opener. 

For most of last Saturday’s non-conference clash, Anna Maria was in control. However, they struggled to stop a Bison’s offense during the second half, which rallied to beat the AMCATs for a hard-fought win.  

While the setback might still sting (or be on the team’s mind?), Anna Maria proved they are a team to watch this fall, including this weekend in another non-conference clash with Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

From a quick look at last Saturday’s box score, Anna Maria finished the game with 353 total yards of offense, which was 23 yards more than Nichols. Additionally, quarterback Alex Cohen threw for a game-high 270 yards while Swavaughn Small paced the defense with nine total tackles, including eight solo stops and two tackles for a loss of seven yards. 

Husson University: The Eagles will host Dean College on Friday evening — both teams enter the non-conference clash with identical 1-1 records.

Husson enters the third week of the season as an interesting team to watch — sure, they could be 2-0, but the Eagles’ one-point advantage disappeared down the stretch against UMass Dartmouth in their season-opener. 

Last week, they needed a late touchdown drive to beat Plymouth State in a hard-fought — and yes, somewhat of a throwback — 10-7 win. 

A win over the Bulldogs is certainly possible, but the Eagles defense will need to slow down a passing attack led by quarterback David Curry, who has thrown 607 yards and eight touchdowns.

Husson’s Tucker Buzzell and Kaleb Caron will be players to watch on defense.