Anna Maria’s journey to the postseason: The AMCATs secured their first-ever trip to the national postseason last weekend by defeating SUNY-Maritime by a score of 31-7. With the win, Anna Maria captured its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title and concluded the regular season with a program best seven wins in a single-season.
Delaware Valley’s journey to the postseason: The Aggies head into the postseason riding a 10-game winning streak, which includes eight conference wins. They captured the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) crown this past weekend with a 27-0 victory over Widener University.
Anna Maria’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s contest against the Aggies will mark the first time the AMCATs compete in the national postseason.
Delaware Valley’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: After capturing its third-straight conference crown on November 16, 2019, with a 28-21 victory over Widener in the Keystone Cup, the Aggies secured the league’s automatic berth to the postseason where they would win back-to-back matchups against Bridgewater College (30-22) and Wesley College (45-10). Their quest for a national title concluded in the quarterfinals with a 31-14 setback to North Central College, which went onto beat Wisconsin-Whitewater in the national championship.
Anna Maria’s NCAA Tournament history: The 2021 AMCATs are the first team in program history to compete in the national postseason. Anna Maria has been playing football since 2009.
Delaware Valley’s NCAA Tournament history: The Aggies will be making their 10th trip in program history to the postseason with their initial appearance coming in 2004. Delaware Valley last entered the national tournament undefeated in 2017.
Players to Watch on Anna Maria: Alex Cohen(QB), Kristian Sapp (RB), Justin McMillian (WR), Deandre Wallace (WR), Ryan Kent (K), Hayden Braga (P), Armstrong Antoine (DB), Jude Sampson (DL), and Sam Jakana (LB).
Framingham State’s journey to the postseason: The Rams secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament by winning the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) — the Black and Gold won eight-straight league meetings this fall, including their last two against Bridgewater State (47-13) and Worcester State (40-21).
Muhlenberg’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament: The Mules concluded their 2019 campaign with a 13-1 record — their lone loss came in the national semifinals to North Central, which went onto beat Wisconsin-Whitewater in the national championship. The loss to Cardinals concluded an impressive run for the Muhlenberg seniors, who helped the Red and White win 41 of 49 contests to go with a pair of conference titles and trips to the NCAA quarterfinals.
Our preseason New England college football coverage rolls on with some early thoughts on the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), which certainly has the making of a multi-team race for the top spot.
2019 Conference Refresh: For the sixth time in seven seasons, Framingham State secured the top spot with an 8-2 overall record, including an 8-0 league record. The Rams advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament but saw their championship hopes dashed to Wesley College by a score of 58-21.
Western Connecticut also finished its 2019 campaign with an identical 8-2 record — the Colonials, who finished tied for second in the conference with Bridgewater State with a 6-2 record, ended their season against WPI in the New England Bowl (the Engineers won the game by a score of 35-6).
The biggest surprise of the 2019 season was UMass Dartmouth — the Corsairs posted seven wins for the first time since 2004 when they represented the conference in the ECAC Northwest Bowl. Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was named the MASCAC Offensive Player of the Year — the junior signal-caller finished second in the conference in efficiency (143.2) while completing 59.2 percent of his passes.
Additionally, Gacioch competed in eight games and recorded career-highs in passing touchdowns (20), passing yards per game (277.6), rushing yards (356), and rushing touchdowns (six).
Massachusetts Maritime ended its season with six wins, which is the most the Buccaneers have tallied since posting an 8-2 record in 1999.
New Signal-Callers: A majority of the quarterbacks from 2019 have graduated, so the expectation is we will see some new signal-callers this fall for some of the “usual” contenders.
Stephen Gacioch is the only starting quarterback returning (that I know of at this time), but it is expected that we’ll see someone new running the offense at Bridgewater, Fitchburg, and Framingham this fall.
Westfield State excited to be back on the field: Like many teams in our region, getting back to the gridiron after a year away due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is certainly something the Owls of Westfield State were happy to do a few days ago, despite a mini-heatwave. But with cooler weather now arriving to the area, the Blue and White will use this time, as well as the next few days and weeks to prepare for their season-opener against Nichols College on Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m.
Nichols and Westfield last met in the opening week of the 2018 season when the Owls topped the Bison, 25-14, thanks to 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns from halfback R.J. Darby.
Early-Season Favorite(s): It might be easy to pick the Rams of Framingham State, but the Black and Gold enter the upcoming season with some question marks on both sides of the ball, including who will be their starting quarterback. Adam Wojenski has graduated, so it will be interesting to see who coach Tom Kelley selects to lead his offense.
While Framingham State will certainly be a team to watch, the same could be said for these three squads: Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut. Like Framingham, all three have some question marks heading into their respective 2021 campaign, but the Colonials will welcome back some key members of its 2019 squad, including wide receiver Will Daniels and cornerback Jarius Bailey.
Don’t rule out Plymouth State, which finished its 2019 campaign with a 6-4 record. The Panthers concluded their 2019 campaign by winning one of their final four contests, but I expect the Green and White to be in the mix this fall.
Our early preseason college football coverage continues by highlighting 10 teams we will be watching this fall in the NCAA Division III’s second region.
Yesterday — Tuesday, July 20, to be exact — we highlighted the first region, which included teams in our backyard here in New England, along with a few squads in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.
Alright, without further ado, let’s share our list (below) with teams from Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Brockport: Since 2016, Jason Mangone and the Golden Eagles have tallied seven wins or more — they posted a 13-1 record in 2017 and advanced to the second round of the 2019 NCAA Division III postseason after edging Western New England, 33-28. Brockport did graduate some key pieces from its 2019 squad, including linebacker Alex West, but should certainly be a team to watch in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference.
Cortland: It’s hard to rule out the Red Dragons on a yearly basis, which have averaged 7.2 wins since 2015. They produced an eight-win season in 2019 but ended with a setback in the New York Bowl to Hobart. The two teams are not scheduled to compete in the regular season, but could perhaps see each other later this year in the postseason.
Franklin & Marshall: The Diplomats have produced seven wins or more since 2016, as well as finished atop the Centennial Conference (CC) in 2017 with a 10-1 overall record. They will look to continue their momentum two years after posting a 7-4 mark in 2019, which was capped by a bowl victory against Misericordia University.
Hobart: After posting a 5-4 record in 2018, the Statesmen bounced back with a nine-win season in 2019, which was capped with a New York Bowl victory. One should expect the Purple and Orange to continue their momentum from two years ago when they commence their 2021 campaign at Alfred University on Friday, September 3 at 7 p.m.
Ithaca College: The Bombers have produced a trio of eight-win seasons in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and will look to continue that momentum this fall when they commence their 2021 campaign against Bridgewater State on Saturday, September 4 at 1 p.m. 2019 was a special season for the Blue and White as they not only won the 60th Cortaca Jug Game against Cortland at MetLife Stadium, but saw Will Gladney become the program’s all-time leading receiver in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays capped their 2019 campaign with a 51-28 Centennial-MAC Bowl game victory over Stevenson University — quarterback David Tammaro highlighted the win by completing 22 of 33 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a career-high 101 yards on 11 carries and concluded his career as the program’s record holder in total offense (11,369 yards), touchdown passes (85), 200-yard passing games (34), and 300-yard passing games (13). He also recorded three 400-yard passing games, too — crazy, right? — but this season, fans of the Blue Jays will see someone different under center, but expect the program’s recent success to continue.
Muhlenberg College: Quarterback Michael Hnatkowsky will be spotted under center this fall — the Philadelphia Pennsylvania native, who was named the Centennial Conference (CC) offensive player in the year in 2019, will look to continue his previous success after an impressive third season with the Mules that saw him record career-bests in completions (270), touchdown passes (46), passing yards (3,640), and efficiency (175.81).
Salisbury University: The Sea Gulls competed twice this year, beating Christopher Newport and Wesley College in back-to-back contests in March to gain some momentum heading into their 2021 season-opener at Albright College on Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m. Quarterback Jack Lanham accounted for three touchdowns in both spring games, including a pair of rushing scores, and will once again be a player to watch this fall after being named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) co-offensive player of the year with Ruhann Peele of Wesley.
Susquehanna University: The River Hawks concluded their 2019 campaign by capturing their third consecutive Centennial-MAC Bowl with a 88-24 win over Wilkes University. Susquehanna was one of two teams in the Centennial Conference to post 10 wins or more in 2019, and will once again be in the hunt for a league title as quarterback Michael Ruisch returns after finishing third in the conference in passing yards per game (215.9). Halfback Da’Avian Ellington is also back this season — the New Jersey native led all CC rushers with 112.3 yards per game in 2019.
Union College: 2019 was a very successful season for Jeff Behrman‘s Dutchmen — the sixth-year head coach guided the Maroon and White to an 11-1 season, which included a 33-0 shutout against RPI in their regular-season finale. Despite not playing last season, Union will once again be a team to watch this fall in the Liberty League (LL) as quarterback William Bellamy returns for his final season — he will be joined by a slew of other key pieces from the 2019 squad, including halfbacks Ike Irabor, who played locally at Xaverian Brothers High School, and Joseph Ferreira, a Rocky Hill, Connecticut native that rushed for a career-high nine touchdowns in 2019.
Happy Sunday, everyone! And welcome back for yet another Noontime Sports rewind post where we reflect on coverage from both the current year and decade (the twenty-tens!).
This particular post will highlight some of the best teams we covered in New England D-III football – let the debate and conversations begin.
As usual, if you have any thoughts (or inputs) please comment below, but again, thanks for stopping by and reading a brand new rewind – let’s go!
The 2010 Williams College Ephs: Williams secured its third outright title with a perfect 8-0 mark which was capped by an end of season win over Amherst College. Additionally, the Purple and Gold captured the Little Three crown while producing their seventh perfect season in program history.
The 2011 Endicott College Gulls: In 2011, the Gulls captured 10 of 11 contests while averaging 40.5 points per game. The offense, led by quarterback Phil Konopka, was impressive, but the same could be said for the Endicott defense, which limited opponents to 16.5 points per contest. Kevin Eagan, who played just one season for the Gulls at defensive line, tallied 104.0 total tackles in 11 contests, including 55 solo stops and 23 tackles for a loss of 87 yards. Endicott finished the season with back-to-back wins, including an ECAC North Atlantic Bowl victory over Mount Ida College.
The 2012 Framingham State Rams: After finishing their 2011 campaign with a 7-4 mark, these Rams flipped the switch following an opening day loss to Endicott College by winning ten-straight contests, including a New England Football Conference (NEFC) Championship against Salve Regina University. Salve Regina was projected to win this particular meeting, but the Seahawks struggled to contain FSU halfback Melikke Van Alstyne, who rushed for 96 yards and two scores. James Muirhead concluded the contest with eight total tackles, including six solo stops, three tackles for a loss of 17 yards and one forced fumble. FSU would advance to the NCAA D-III Tournament but see their bid toward a national title conclude at Cortland State.
The 2013 Endicott College Gulls: Drew Frenette, Spencer Walsh, and Nate Lewis, along with the Endicott defense highlighted an exciting end of season win over Salve Regina to secure the program’s second NEFC crown in four seasons, along with a spot in the NCAA D-III Tournament. Endicott recorded its first shutout of the season and finished 2013 with an 8-3 record. The Gulls entered the postseason with a seven-game winning streak after starting its 2013 campaign with a 2-2 record.
The 2014 MIT Engineers: MIT advanced to the postseason for the first time in school history and won an exciting opening round contest against Husson University before falling to Wesley College in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament. The Engineers finished 10-1 in 2014 – they scored some exciting wins over Western New England, Endicott College, and Coast Guard Academy to secure their initial New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship in program history. MIT averaged 446.8 yards of total offense and 35.5 points per contest.
The 2015 Western New England Golden Bears: Western New England captured 10 of 11 contests in 2015, including a pair of conference victories against Endicott and Salve Regina. The Golden Bears produced 40 points or more in five contests and secured a spot in the NCAA D-III Tournament in late November.
The 2016 Western New England Golden Bears: Despite ending their season with a six-point setback to Alfred in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament, the 2016 Golden Bears were very impressive, winning 11 of 12 contests by an average score of 39.8 to 19.0. WNE averaged 460.1 yards of total offense in 12 contests and limited opposing offenses to just 110.1 yards on the ground per game. They scored impressive wins over Springfield College, Union College, and Endicott College before beating Husson University in the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.
The 2017 Husson University Eagles: Coach Gabby Price led the Eagles to not just an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) crown in 2017, but also an upset win over Springfield College in the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament. Husson beat a very impressive Springfield team, which entered the postseason on a ten-game winning streak. Halfback John Smith rushed for a game-high 164 yards on 43 carries and two touchdowns while Elvin Suazo and the defense limited the Pride to a season-low 264 yards of total offense.
The 2018 Trinity College Bantams: The Bantams concluded their 2018 campaign not just with a 9-0 win over rival Wesleyan University, but also with their third consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship. Trinity won eight of nine contests and was able to win their ninth conference crown due to a 27-16 win earlier in the season against Amherst College. Trinity averaged 464.3 yards of total offense and 36.0 points per game while limiting opposing defenses to 67.7 rushing yards and 10.0 points.
The 2019 Middlebury College Panthers: Coach Bob Ritter led the Panthers to their first-ever 9-0 season in program history, along with a 2019 NESCACchampionship. The team averaged 410.6 yards of total offense, including 227.4 passing yards while limiting opponents to 108.0 rushing yards per game. Middlebury scored some exciting wins this fall, along with some nail-bitters against Amherst College and Colby College. They scored 45 points against Wesleyan University in late October before producing 47 points one week later against Bowdoin College.