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D3 Football: New England Conference Predictions

CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

A brand new season of New England Division III football is set to commence in two days – there are some very intriguing matchups to follow this week, beginning with some must-see games on Friday, September 6th.

Yet, before any of these games officially begin, allow us – Noontime Sports – to dish out our conference predictions for the 2019 season, including our projected winner, runner-up, and dark-horse.


Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)

Projected Winner: Western New England 

After a successful first season as head coach, Jason LeBeau will once again guide the Golden Bears to a conference title and first-round appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Runner-Up: Endicott College 

The Gulls return a slew of talent on both sides of the ball but face some serious challenges in the first three weeks against Framingham State and Wesley College.

Dark Horse: Husson University.

The Eagles begin a new era under first-year coach Nat Clark, who has prior experience with the program under former head coach Gabby Price. Husson graduated some key pieces of last year’s squad, but do return some talented upperclassmen that will challenge Endicott, Salve Regina, and Western New England for the top spot.


Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)

Projected Winner: Maritime (N.Y.) 

It is hard to pick against the Privateers, who were picked to capture the ECFC crown, per the league’s preseason coaches poll. Maritime will be led by first-year coach Mickey Rehring, who has some work to do with finding replacements from last year’s squad, including the offense.

Runner-Up: Dean College

The Bulldogs enter the upcoming season with expectations of taking the so-called ‘next-step.’ Dean has the potential to challenge the Privateers for the top spot in the ECFC with a slew of returners from both last season and 2017.

Dark Horse: Castleton University 

Coach Tony Volpone seems focused on watching his team improve and get better this fall – he, along with the coaching staff return a young roster that will certainly be an interesting team to watch as the season progresses.


Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

Projected Winner: Framingham State 

The Rams seem to embrace the so-called ‘target’ on their back – they know they will face challenges from both conference and non-conference foes this fall, but that shouldn’t stop them from winning eight or nine games.

Runner-Up: Bridgewater State 

The Bears graduated some key pieces from last year’s 8-3 squad, including wide receiver Jack Lavanchy. Bridgewater State does return 40 student-athletes from last season, which should help the Bears compete with the Rams for the top spot in the conference.

Dark Horse: Western Connecticut 

Western Connecticut graduated some key pieces from last year’s squad this past spring, including half-back Kyle McKinnon, but do return wide receiver Will Daniels, quarterback David James, and defensive end Jordan Fletcher, which will help the Colonials challenge both the Bears and Rams for a MASCAC title.


New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

Projected Winner: Trinity College 

The Bantams have won the last three conference crowns and should find a way to capture their fourth consecutive title this fall, thanks to some key returners on both sides of the ball, including its defensive line. Trinity will also rely on running back Spencer Lockwood, who was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Connecticut in 2017.

Runner-Up: Amherst College 

The Mammoths return some impressive talent on offense – they will once again be led by quarterback Ollie Eberth, who accounted for 19 touchdowns last fall, including nine on the ground. Amherst does have some graduation holes to fill on defense, but should once again be in the mix for the conference crown.

Dark Horse: Williams College 

The Ephs faced some adversity last fall but still managed to win five of nine contests. This season, Williams should lean heavily on its junior class to keep pace with Amherst and Trinity, as well as Middlebury College, which beat the Ephs last fall in Williamstown.


New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

Projected Winner: Springfield College 

Despite losing some key pieces last September, the Pride still managed to post an eight-win season, which concluded with a New England Bowl victory over Maritime (N.Y.). Springfield returns most of last year’s squad, especially on offense, but will need players like AJ Smith and Jack Pavelchak to step-up on defense.

Runner Up: WPI

For WPI to enjoy another successful season, they will need to rely on their senior class, especially halfbacks Connor Field and Sean McAllen on offense and linebacker Nick Ostrowski on defense. This senior class seems committed to doing whatever is needed to help the Engineers challenge Springfield (and others) for the top spot in the NEWMAC.

Dark Horse: MIT 

After capturing its first-ever NEWMAC crown last fall, coach Brian Bubna and his staff will look to duplicate their 2018 performance this season, despite some key graduation losses on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Udgam Goyal. MIT does return some talent (and leadership), which should help the Engineers be in the hunt for a second-straight conference title.


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The Early Preseason Outlook: MIT Engineers

MIT Engineers

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Our ‘Early Preseason Outlook’ coverage continues with a closer look at the MIT Engineers, who will look to capture their second-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown this fall.

MIT kicks-offs its 2019 slate on Saturday, September 7th, 2019 when they host Carnegie Mellon at 12 p.m.

The Engineers’ 2018 Season: MIT enjoyed a very successful 2018 campaign by capturing its first-ever NEWMAC championship while making its second appearance in program history in the NCAA Tournament.

Yet, despite ending its season with a first-round setback to Johns Hopkins University, coach Brian Bubna‘s squad proved they can win games with both its offense and defense, as well as its special teams, too.

MIT pitched three shutouts last season, including a pair in October against Coast Guard Academy (13-0) and Maine Maritime Academy (35-0), while limiting Springfield College to just seven points in their regular-season finale.

Quarterback Udgam Goyal enjoyed one of his best seasons under center, tossing a career-high 18 touchdowns, including three to Eddy Garcia-Montes, who led the receiving core with 45 receptions.

Keithen Shepard enjoyed a very successful second season with the Engineers by catching a career-high 39 receptions for 513 yards and six touchdowns. Shepard will certainly be a player to watch this season – it’s possible he could be the team’s go-to receiver.

The 2019 Outlook: MIT graduated 13 student-athletes from last year’s team, including Udgam Goyal, who was the team’s primary quarterback for the past three seasons, and their top wide-out Eddy Garcia-Montes. Additionally, the Engineers bid farewell to halfback/wide receiver Miguel Wagner, linebacker Andrew DeNucci and defensive back Mitch Maisel.

Replacing all five student-athletes, along with other members of the Class of 2019 won’t be an easy task for Buban and his staff, but they do return some key pieces from last year’s squad, including halfback John Robertson, wide receiver Eric Bradford, and linebacker Sam Cantrell.

The Engineers did graduate a pair of offensive linemen but do return Will Roberts, who will be the anchor of MIT’s line this fall. The Sacramento, California native appeared in 11 contest last season and was named NEWMAC First-Team All-Conference.

The biggest question facing the Engineers is can they repeat their success from a year ago? We’ll find out once a new season of MIT football commences in a few weeks.

MIT’s Schedule: The Engineers commence their title defense with a home date against Carnegie Mellon before embarking on a three-game road trip, beginning Saturday, September 21st at Becker College. MIT will then visit Catholic University before heading to U.S. Merchant Marine in early October.

The schedule gets more challenging in late October when MIT visits Coast Guard before entertaining Norwich University and WPI in early November.

A mid-to-late November clash with Springfield could possibly determine the conference’s representative in the NCAA Tournament.

Players to Watch: John Robertson (Halfback/Brentwood, Tenn.), Keithen Shepard (Wide Receiver/Vancouver, Wash.), Eric Bradford (Wide Receiver/Dublin, Ohio), Jack Montinaro (Wide Receiver/Riverside, Conn.), Will Roberts (Offensive Line/Sacramento, Calif.), Mark Wright (Kicker/Fort Worth, Texas), Sam Cantrell (Linebacker/Seattle, Wash.), Tyler Ray (Defensive Back/Suwanee, Ga.), Ben Wolz (Defensive Line/College Station, Texas), and AJ Iversen (Defensive Back/Kansas City, Mo.).


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

D3 Football: Week Eight Highlights

WEEK EIGHT HIGHLIGHTS

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

It wasn’t easy, but somehow MIT made a few more plays than Coast Guard Academy, especially on offense as the Engineers defeated the Bears, 13-0, in Cambridge to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the NEWMAC.

The win was highlighted by a pair of MIT touchdowns, including an early fourth quarter two-yard plunge by Cole Baker, which capped a 13 play, 90 yard drive.

Coast Guard attempted to answer on its next two series, but mustered just 10 total yards on nine plays. MIT’s defense also sacked quarterback Ethan Goldcamp on the Bears’ final two offensive plays of the contest.

Sam Gozelski highlighted the defensive effort for the Engineers with six total tackles, including a pair of sacks for a loss of 18 yards. John Robertson and Ashton Robinson powered MIT’s rushing attack by combining for 148 yards on 33 carries, while quarterback Udgam Goyal connected on 13 of 25 passes for 108 yards and one touchdown (his lone touchdown pass was to Eddy Garcia-Montes in the second quarter).

MIT will look to continue its current momentum next Saturday when they visit WPI.

Speaking of WPI, the Engineers saw their 24-0 lead erased by Merchant Marine comeback, which was capped by a late two-yard touchdown run by Krystian Abbott, as the Mariners picked-up an important conference win to keep their title hopes alive.

Abbott concluded the USMMA-WPI contest with a game-high 127 yards on 33 carries and one touchdown.

In Somerville, Tufts University scored a hard-fought 28-21 win over Williams College, thanks to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Dom Borelli to Jack Dolan. Borelli rushed for one touchdown, along with 31 yards on nine carries, while Ryan McDonald completed 17 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Greg Holt paced the Jumbos’ defense with 13 total tackles, including nine solo stops, two tackles for a loss of three yards and one fumble recovery.

Amherst College picked-up its sixth-straight win by scoring early and often against Wesleyan University. The Mammoths, who are now 6-0 overall, defeated the Cardinals, 33-3, thanks to two rushing touchdowns from Biafra Okoronkwo, who concluded the contest with 119 yards on 18 carries.

Despite falling to their Little Three rival, Wesleyan’s Brandon Morris finished his team’s sixth contest of the season with 11 total tackles, including five solo stops, one sack for a loss of 11 yards, one pass break-up and one forced fumble.

Springfield College picked-up an important road win our nation’s capital by defeating Catholic University, 23-11. Hunter Belzo tossed one touchdown, while rushing for another, while Skyler Bateman rushed for one touchdown late in the opening frame.

Endicott College and Western New England each scored conference wins, defeating Becker College and University of New England, respectively, while Husson University soared past Anna Maria, 54-14.

Framingham State kept its hopes of a MASCAC crown alive with a 27-2 win on the road at Westfield State.

Finally, Terrell Watts accounted for four touchdowns, including three through the air, as Dean College rolled past Gallaudet University, 53-21. Watts concluded his team’s contest with 372 yards of total offense, including 306 passing yards.


Our New England D3 Football week eight highlights were compiled by Matt Nooonan (@MattNoonan11) and Brian Willwerth (@BriWillwerth)

 

Catching Up with Coach Brian Bubna and the MIT Engineers

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Udgam Goyal (PHOTO COURTESY: David Silverman/DSPics.net)

By Brian Willwerth | @BriWillwerth 

It’s been an exciting few weeks for the MIT football team, which entered its bye week with an impressive 6-0 record, including a 3-0 mark in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) standings.

The Engineers, who were tabbed once again the top team in the New England in the D3 Coaches Poll earlier this week, seem to be enjoying some much-needed downtime before they return to the gridiron next week for an important four-game stretch, beginning with a home date against Coast Guard Academy.

Earlier this week, we caught-up with first-year coach (and former defensive coordinator) Brian Bubna to discuss his team’s impressive play through six weeks.

On the team limiting opponents to roughly 14 points per game: “We have some pretty good talent at three spots: defensive line, linebacker and defensive back. I think the big part of (our success on defense) is a mix of older guys and younger guys, but also the way they play, too.”

On the play of senior quarterback Udgam Goyal: “He kind of got put in there at a young age. He played like a freshman (his first year) and a sophomore (his second season, but now, as a senior) he’s put it all together, and become what we’ve hoped for.”

On Miguel Wagner’s running game: “As a runner, he’s very physical. He can take a one or two-yard run, and turn it into three or four, and keep the offensive moving.”

On the team’s final four contests: “To win the conference, you have to go undefeated throughout conference play. Even if you lose one, you’re hoping that someone else loses one. You gotta win ‘em all in conference.”


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D3 Football: Bubna, MIT Begin New Chapter of Engineers Football

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John Robertson rushes past members of the MIT defense during Tuesday’s practice at Steinbrenner Stadium. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11

It’s football season – yes, it has finally returned. And for the past few days, I have had the opportunity to visit with a few teams, including MIT, which seems eager to begin its season next Friday, August 31st when they host Becker College at 7 p.m.

This fall, MIT will be guided by the program’s former defensive and recruiting coordinator, Brian Bubna, who takes over for Chad Martinovich, who left earlier this year to accept the head coaching role with the University of Rochester.

Since being named the new leader of the Engineers, Bubna has implemented a unique culture that values two things: hard work, but also making sure his student-athletes are have fun.

Additionally, Bubna and his student-athletes have also embraced another word (or phrase, which appeared on the team’s Twitter handle a few days ago) – sure, it may not always be associated with the sport of football, but it seems to be keeping a smile on the players’ faces, though.

So, what is this word? The answer … party!

But, why party?

Well, allow senior linebacker Andrew DeNucci to explain what it means to this group of Engineers: “(Coach Bubna’s) big thing is party. Come out here, have a good time … we’re playing football, so we are out here to party and have fun.”

Added Bubna, “We try to keep it competitive and fun because these guys have so much academic responsibilities and internships, so when they get out here it has to be fun and it has to be excitable, too.

“We work hard and have fun doing it, so the guys enjoy it. We go from drill to drill with different stuff. We try to change it up, so it is not the same thing every day, so we can keep them on their toes.”

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MIT quarterback Udgam Goyal leads the offense during an 11-on-11 drill during Tuesday’s morning session. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

Tuesday’s morning session seemed like a fun practice – I was able to watch the final hour, which included a few group drills, as well as a competitive 11-on-11 that featured a touchdown strike over the middle from senior quarterback Udgam Goyal. Goyal enjoyed a successful junior season, recording a few career-bests, including completions (170), passing yards (1,922) and touchdowns (14).

Goyal should continue last season’s success this fall – he will have some familiar teammates to target, including classmate Eddy Garcia-Montes, who led the MIT receiving core with 55 receptions for 719 yards and six touchdowns.

Another receiver to watch this fall will be sophomore Keithen Shepard, who finished his initial season with 32 receptions for 365 yards and one touchdown. Shepard should also be seen on special teams again this fall – last season, he fielded 12 punt returns (129 yards) and 11 kick returns (261 yards).


Extra Notes from Tuesday’s Practice 

I had a chance to chat with Andrew DeNucci about the MIT defense, which yielded an average of two scores per game (16.3) last fall.

DeNucci will certainly be the focal point of this year’s unit due to a few graduation losses, including linebacker Matt Nicolai and defensive back Mitch Turley.

But the good news for the Engineers is DeNucci is back after recording multiple career-highs last fall, including total tackles (70.0), tackles for a loss (7.5) and sacks (2.5).

So, what worked for you last fall, Andrew? “I think the biggest thing is we have a great d-line and it starts with those guys up front. The less guys that are blocking the linebackers, the more free we are to make plays.”

DeNucci should certainly be able to make a few plays this fall, thanks to some key returners on the defensive line, including juniors CJ Reilly and Ben Bennington. Additionally, the unit returns juniors Sam Cantrell (linebacker) and AJ Iversen (defensive back).

In addition to some key returners, DeNucci is confident that some of the newcomers and first-years will make an impact, as well.

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A member of the MIT defense attempts to get past the o-line during Tuesday’s morning session. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

The defense will certainly be counted on with finding ways to slow down their opponents, especially Springfield College and WPI, two teams that will certainly be in the mix with MIT for the top spot in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). MIT finished 7-3 overall last season, including 5-2 in the NEWMAC, but junior halfback John Robertson believes his team’s current confidence should help the unit contend for its initial NEWMAC regular season crown.

“I think (what) makes all the difference in a season is believing you can actually go out there and win the title, win the conference,” said Robertson, who led the rushing unit with 882 yards on 166 carries for 11 touchdowns.

“There is a confidence (amongst the current group, along with some) excitement, so we know we can do it because we have been that close before, so I think last season really did set the pace and (we’re) looking to see it carry over to this season.”

For MIT to contend for some hardware, they will certainly need Robertson to enjoy another successful season in the backfield. Robertson appeared to be in midseason form on Tuesday, zigzagging through various gaps on both sides of the line, while bursting past defenders in the secondary. Similar to DeNucci, Robertson will also be a player to watch for the Engineers this fall.


We’ll have more coverage of the MIT football team, along with other New England squads as we inch closer to a brand new season. But in the meantime, make sure to stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – you can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel, as well! 

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