New England D3 Football Notebook: Quick Takes And Thoughts On 2016 Season

Another season of New England D3 Football is right around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
Another season of New England D3 Football is right around the corner. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

It is never too early to start thinking about New England Division III football.

The countdown to training camp – and the first game – is on!

Below are some quick pre-season takes on each conference. As the season gets closer, we’ll have team and conference previews, so stay tuned!

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): After a successful 7-3 campaign last season, Becker will be a team to watch this fall. Can they continue their success under first-year head coach Frank Forcucci?

Absolutely, but they will need to play their best football against Husson, Norwich and Castleton State.

Keep an eye on Castleton State – the Spartans ended their season by capturing the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy with a 31-13 win over the Cadets. Rising sophomore Moe Harris will be one of many players to watch this season after he concluded his initial season with the Green and White by leading the rushing attack in yards (1,065), touchdowns (14) and yards per game (106.5).

Liberty League (Springfield & WPI): The Engineers of WPI enjoyed one of their best seasons under head coach Chris Robertson, finishing 7-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play.

WPI earned some impressive wins, defeating MIT (31-28), Norwich (27-10) and Springfield (19-17). They will look to keep their momentum going this season, but the biggest question facing the squad is who will be their number one halfback? Zach Grasis graduated, so that could open the door for rising sophomore Connor Sakowich.

Springfield will have a new head coach this season as Mike Cerasuolo was tabbed the program’s head coach earlier this year. A former player, Cerasuolo will look to continue his former head coach Mike DeLong’s success. DeLong retired last fall after an impressive 32-year run with the Pride.

Cerasuolo has been the program’s offensive coordinator for the past 15 seasons.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State will remain the favorite, but don’t overlook Bridgewater State and Fitchburg State.

The Bears won five of their final seven contests last season, including a 64-42 win over Massachusetts Maritime Academy in the 37th Annual Cranberry Bowl. Rising junior Alex McLaughlin will look lead the rushing attack – he rushed for 16 touchdowns last season – while rising senior Danny Higgins should navigate the unit’s air attack after tossing 13 touchdowns.

Fitchburg State graduated some key defensive players, but return rising seniors Mamour Samb (linebacker) and Ousame Samb (cornerback). Mamour Samb finished second on the team in total tackles (67) and tackles per game (7.4), while Ousame Samb led the unit with eight pass breakups. Rising senior Garrett Dellechiaie is back under center after an impressive junior season, which saw him toss 26 touchdowns. He also rushed for a career-high four touchdowns, too.

Framingham State graduates some key pieces, including quarterback Matt Silva, but again, don’t overlook a Rams team that has depth on both sides of the ball.

 New England Football Conference (NEFC): The Golden Bears won 10 consecutive regular season games last fall thanks to an impressive defensive unit that registered 22 sacks (third in NEFC), 15 interceptions (first in NEFC) and 282.2 yards per game (first in NEFC).

The Golden Bears maybe the favorite heading into the 2016 season, but don’t overlook Endicott, MIT, Salve Regina or U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The Seahawks capped their season by defeating Husson in the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl Championship thanks to an impressive performance by quarterback Brandon Basil, who tossed five touchdowns, while completing 25 of 49 passes for 421 yards.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Amherst College will certainly be the favorite heading into the 2016 season, but let’s not forget about Tufts, which finished its 2015 campaign 6-2 following a 31-28 win over Middlebury.

The Jumbos return a pair of rising seniors – quarterback Alex Snyder and running back Chance Brady – while rising junior Steve DiCenzo and rising senior Shane Thomas should lead the defense.

Other teams to watch in the NESCAC include Middlebury and Trinity – the Bantams finished second last season and yielded the second fewest points in the conference (81 points).

Amherst’s 17-7 win last fall over Williams marked the second straight season the Purple and White finished their campaign undefeated (8-0). Can they make it three years in a row? We’ll find out!

Mass. College Football Notebook: Week Two Notes & Takeaways

Boston College's Troy Flutie registered one touchdown pass in his team's 76-0 win over Howard last Saturday. (Photo Credit: BCEagles.com)
Boston College’s Troy Flutie registered one touchdown pass in his team’s 76-0 win over Howard last Saturday. (Photo Credit: BCEagles.com)
By Matt Noonan 

The second week of the college football season in Massachusetts was a wild one. There were some interesting outcomes and upsets, along with numerous teams stretching its win total to two games.

Here are a few notes and takeaways from the second weekend of the season:

* Boston College made headlines this weekend, routing Howard, 76-0. The Eagles held the Bison to just 11 yards of total offense, while quarterback Troy Flutie – the former Natick High School signal-caller – completed seven of eight passes for 88 yards and one touchdown.

The Eagles, winners of back-to-back contests, host Florida State University on Friday, September 18 at 8:00 p.m. This will be Boston College’s first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) clash of the season.

* UMass head coach Mark Whipple wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance against Colorado, stating in a press release, “Give Colorado a lot of credit; they played better in all phases.”

The Minutemen dropped their season-opener to the Buffaloes by a score of 48-14. They registered one touchdown in the first and second quarter, respectively, while Colorado ended the game with 558 yards of total offense.

The Minutemen will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Temple at Gillette Stadium – the team’s home opener.

* As noted in the Northeast-10 Conference weekly report, Assumption College kicker Cole Tracy broke a pair of conference records this past weekend – most field goals in a game (six field goals) and most points by a kicker (19 points). Tracy is in his second season with the Greyhounds and has converted seven field goals this season.

* Sticking with special teams, the NE-10 weekly report also highlighted Bentley University’s Tyler Ford, who matched the Falcons’ program record for the longest punt, a 68-yard boot. Ford, who hails from Amherst, New Hampshire, registered five punts last Friday in his team’s heartbreaking defeat to New Haven. He did, however, record a quartet of punts that landed between the Chargers’ 20-yard-line and goal line.

* Stonehill College won its second consecutive contests, defeating Merrimack College, 24-20. Quarterback Matt Foltz, who was tabbed the NE-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Week, engineered his first career fourth quarter comeback, while finishing the contest 22-of-36 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Foltz also rushed for 25 yards on 11 attempts.

* Becker College’s Jacob Holmes was tabbed the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Offensive Player of the Week after an extremely impressive performance against MIT. Holmes set and tied eight program records, while averaging 13.6 yards per carry en rote to 232 rushing yards and 279 all-purpose yards. He rushed for a 93-yard touchdown in the third quarter – the longest run of the season by any collegiate football player in the country at any level, according to the ECFC weekly report.

Besides his impressive ground game, Holmes also made headlines by booting a trio of field goals and four extra points for a single-game record of 13 points.

* Nichols College quarterback Michael McCourt was tabbed New England Football Conference (NEFC) Offensive Player of the Week following his team’s initial win against Anna Maria College.

McCourt, who made is first collegiate start at quarterback, concluded the contest 21-of-26 for a school-record 444 yards and six touchdowns. According to the Nichols College Athletics website, McCourt concluded the first quarterback with five completions for 165 yards and three touchdowns.

* WPI picked up its second consecutive ‘Friday Night Lights’ victory, defeating cross-town rival Worcester State University, 27-13. Quarterback Dan Eckler completed 21-of-31 attempts for 381 yards and one touchdown – he did not toss an interception. Zach Grasis rumbled for 74 yards and Brandon Eccher recorded a season-high 168 receiving yards and one touchdown.

QUICK HITS:

 * Harvard University kicks-off its season next Saturday, September 19 when they travel to URI for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off. The Crimson was picked to capture the Ancient Eight this season, as noted in the preseason poll.

* We’re two weeks away from starting another New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season. Amherst, Tufts and Williams each begin its campaign on the road, Saturday, September 26.

Mass. College Football: Week 11 Honor Roll

By NoontimeSports.com 

With another weekend of college football in the books, it is time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Honor Roll.

Andre Williams (Boston College) – The senior tailback, who is the current leading rusher in the ACC and No. 2 in the nation among FBS (Football Subdivision) players, rushed for a single-game school record of 295 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 48-34 win over New Mexico State

Chase Rettig (Boston College) – The senior quarterback passed for 230 yards and tossed three scores.

Peter Pujals (Holy Cross) – The first-year signal caller amassed 292 yards of total offense in his team’s setback to Lehigh, along with one touchdown pass.

Matt Pedone (Assumption College) – The senior halfback rushed for a career-high 209 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries, which helped the Hounds defeat LIU Post, 37-27, and finish 5-0 on the road in league play.

Tad Beuchert (Assumption) – The senior placekicker was a perfect 3-for-3 in field goals and 4-for-4 in extra-point attempts.

Sterry Codrington (Stonehill) –The junior defensive back helped the Skyhawks hold Merrimack to just 14 points and 359 total yards by registering a career-best 12 tackles, including one for a loss of two yards, a forced fumble, interception and pass breakup.

Kevin Arduino (American International) – The junior quarterback rushed for three scores and passed for 94 yards in his team’s win over So. Connecticut.

Mike Bates (Assumption) – The senior linebacker recorded 11 total tackles, five solo stops, one interception, one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

Jere Brown (Merrimack) – The sophomore wide receiver hauled in nine receptions for 113 yards and one touchdown.

Colin Markus (Stonehill) – The sophomore halfback recorded a career-high 31 carries for 185 yards in his team’s win over the Warriors.

Brian Harrington (Stonehill) – The junior linebacker recorded a game-best 16 tackles, eight solo stops, one sack for a loss of nine yards and a pass breakup.

Nate Robitaille (Stonehill) – The junior wide receiver caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Taylor Russell (Stonehill) – The junior defensive lineman matched his career-high with five tackles, including one-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 10 yards, one sack, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Robert Baker (Becker) – The senior quarterback amassed 243 yards in the Hawks’ 20-3 win over Castelton State. Baker tossed two touchdowns and rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries.

Melvin Booker (Becker) – The senior linebacker recorded a game-high 18 total stops, which included four-and-a-half sacks for a loss of 31 yards and five tackles for a loss of 31 yards.

Zach Grasis (WPI) – The junior tailback rushed for 155 yards and two scores in the Engineers’ 31-21 victory over Rochester.

Sean Murphy (WPI) – The sophomore defensive back recorded five solo tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery against Rochester.

Melikke Van Alstyne (Framingham State) – The senior running back rushed for a game-best 158 yards and three scores as the Rams defeated the Bears and claimed the inaugural MASCAC crown.

Mike McCarthy (Bridgewater State) – The senior quarterback completed 10-of-19 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 95 yards and three scores on 27 carries.

Patrick McGrath (Framingham State) – The senior linebacker finished with 13 total tackles, 10 solo stops and a fumble recovery.

Trevor McNeil (UMass Dartmouth) – The first-year linebacker recorded 10 total tackles, five solo stops, which included two tackles for a loss of 10 yards, one sack for a loss of six yards, a forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Falcons of Fitchburg State.

Steph’fon Teague (Fitchburg State) – The junior halfback rushed for 182 yards and one score on 27 carries. He also caught one pass for five yards and one touchdown in the Falcons’ 25-20 victory.

Mike Stanton (Mass. Maritime) – The senior quarterback completed 15-of-24 passes for 203 yards and tossed four touchdowns, as well as rushed for 57 yards and one score in his team’s 46-44 win over Plymouth State.

Sam Calley (Curry) – The senior defensive lineman finished his team’s contest against Nichols College with nine total tackles, which included six sacks for 21 yards, eight tackles for a loss of 24 yards and two forced fumbles.

Drew Frenette (Endicott) – The junior quarterback tossed three touchdowns and completed 17-of-32 passes for 323 yards in the Gulls’ win over Western New England.

Peter Williams (MIT) – The junior quarterback completed 15-of-18 passes for 264 yards and five touchdowns against Maine Maritime.

Chris Tamasi (Amherst) – The junior linebacker concluded his team’s season with six solo tackles, which included two tackles for a loss of eight yards and one sack for a loss of seven yards.

Mass. College Football: Week 11 Teams Of The Week

By NoontimeSports.com 

With the second to last week of the regular season in the books, it is now time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Teams of the Week.

Division 1 – Boston College: The Eagles matched their longest winning streak of the season (two games) with a 48-34 win over New Mexico State. The Eagles outscored the Aggies, 28-17 in the second half to earn their fifth win.

Andre Williams, who is currently the leading rusher in the ACC and No. 2 in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), rushed for 295 yards on 30 carries and two scores, while quarterback Chase Rettig tossed three touchdowns.

The Eagles finished with 550 yards of total offense, along with 18 first downs. They converted on 5-of-13 third downs and were 1-for-1 on fourth down.

BC will return to conference play next weekend when they host North Carolina State, which will be their final home game of the 2013 season.

Division 2 – Stonehill College: For the first time since 1996, the Skyhawks won their fifth straight game by defeating Merrimack College, 26-14.

Brian Harrington led Stonehill’s defense with 16 tackles, as well as established a new single-season record with 134 stops.

Colin Markus rushed for 185 yards on 31 carries and Nate Robitaille caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Stonehill raced out to a 13-0 lead thanks to two Steve Grzywacz field goals and a touchdown pass from Joe Della Vecchia to Robitaille. Merrimack did comeback in the third, but the Skyhawks padded their lead with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Paul Piccirillo.

The Skyhawk, who earned a share of the Northeast-10 Conference regular season crown, will travel to Springfield on Saturday to face AIC in the title game. A win for the Skyhawks would most likely secure them a spot in the NCAA Division 2 tournament.

Division 3 – WPI: The Engineers snapped a four-game losing streaking on “Senior Day” with a 31-21 victory over Rochester.

Halfback Zach Grasis rushed for 155 yards on 22 carries and two scores, while quarterback John Antonopoulos amassed 179 yards of total offense. He also tossed one touchdown in the opening quarter to Gallagher Hogan, which evened the score at 7-7.

Defensively, Sean Murphy led the unit with two interceptions, along with five solo stops, one fumble recover and two pass break-ups. Brian Murtagh finished with a team-high nine total tackles and two pass break-ups.

The Engineers, who improved to 3-6 overall, will conclude their season on Saturday when they travel to Springfield to face the Pride.

Mass. College Football: WPI-Rochester Postgame Video

By NoontimeSports.com 

WORCESTER, MA — After earning an impressive 31-21 win on “Senior Day,” WPI head coach Chris Robertson, along with junior Zach Grasis and sophomore Sean Murphy talk about the team’s effort against Rochester.

Grasis rushed for two scores and 155 yards, while Murphy finished with five tackles (all solo tackles), one fumble recovery and one interception. His interception occurred late in the fourth quarter during one of Rochester’s final drives, which sealed the victory for WPI.

WPI will wrap up its 2013 campaign next Saturday when they travel to Springfield to face the Pride, who earned a 35-28 victory this afternoon against RPI.