Welcome to Week 5. The halfway point has come and gone, and we are on to Act 2 of the NESCAC football season. We’ve seen some great football so far in 2016 – great plays, streaks snapping, wild finishes, and incredible athletes. The standings have continued to shake out, and now it’s up to Trinity and Middlebury to maintain their undefeated records until they meet up at The Coop in Week 6. Your eyes shouldn’t be on the undefeated teams this week, however, you should be looking at Amherst and Wesleyan, two 3-1 squads still hoping to be in the hunt for the NESCAC crown – Pete wrote more about this one below. He also included a writeup of Bates-Middlebury, as well as an overdramatic humble brag about how much he knows about Wet Hot American Summer, using it as a lens to look at the Hamilton-Colby game. Scroll down towards the bottom if you’re looking to hear my thoughts on the Trinity-Bowdoin and Williams-Tufts game previews.
Also, for those of you who are interested, here is an update on the standings for our writers’ picks. Sid, figure it out, buddy!!!
1.) Rory (14-1)
1.) Pete (14-1)
1.) Liam (14-1)
4.) Colin (13-2)
4.) Colby (13-2)
4.) Nick (13-2)
7.) Sid (12-3)
GAME OF THE WEEK: Amherst (3-1) at Wesleyan (3-1), 1:00 PM, Middletown, Connecticut
Week 5, (yes we’re already in week 5 ) consists of many unbalanced games, but this matchup between Wesleyan and Amherst will eliminate one team’s title hopes and further propel the other’s into week 6. This is what NESCAC football is all about. FANTASTIC opportunity for the Cardinals to not only give Amherst a two loss season (how sweet would that be,) but also to position themselves for a possible tie for first in the league. Middlebury or Trinity will end up with at least one loss, as they play in a couple weeks, and if Amherst has two losses, Wesleyan could slide into their spot at the top. Unfortunately, Amherst recently won quite a few games in a row (in case you haven’t heard,) so knocking them off will be no easy task. Amherst has to be particularly happy with the play of third string quarterback Nick Morales, who was shoved into action by injuries and has been playing very well, including 300 yards and three touchdowns last week against Colby. Wesleyan will try to keep the Amherst defense guessing with their variety of offensive sets, and keep the powerful Purple and White offense off the field as much as possible.
Rory Ziomek: Amherst 20, Wesleyan 21
Pete Lindholm: Amherst 27, Wesleyan 24
Liam O’Neil: Amherst 21, Wesleyan 17
Colin Tiernan: Amherst 33, Wesleyan 30
Colby Morris: Amherst 31, Wesleyan 17
Sid Warrenbrand: Amherst 27, Wesleyan 10
Nick DiBenedetto: Amherst 38, Wesleyan 13
Bates (1-3) at Middlebury (4-0), 1:00 PM, Middlebury, VT.
In the interest of full disclosure: Almost everyone in my family has gone to either Bates or Middlebury. So naturally I’ll be skipping this one to avoid any uncomfortable family moments. The Panthers’ performance last weekend in Williamstown can be viewed as either comforting or worrying. On the one hand, it’s pretty nice to be able to put up 49 points on a day where you didn’t even play very well. On the other hand, in the first three quarters Williams exposed some holes in Middlebury’s offensive line, and even made Jared Lebowitz look extremely human. It didn’t hurt the Panthers in the end, as they were able to overwhelm Williams athletically in the fourth quarter, and they will probably be able to do the same to Bates. However, WIlliams laid out a blueprint to beat Middlebury, and if Bates can follow it, we could be in for a closer one than we expect. Even if Bates can’t do it, you’d better believe that Trinity has that blueprint pasted all over their locker room.
RZ: Bates 24, Middlebury 31
PL: Bates 14, Middlebury 40
LO: Bates 14, Middlebury 34
CT: Bates 10, Middlebury 40
CM: Bates 20, Middlebury 34
SW: Bates 6, Middlebury 28
ND: Bates 10, Middlebury 38
Hamilton (1-3) at Colby (1-3), 12:00 PM, Waterville, Maine
In honor of Waterville, Maine, home of the illustrious Camp Firewood, I will attempt to use as many references to Wet Hot American Summer as possible in this preview. This not a sexy matchup. While Amherst and Wesleyan fight passionately like Andy and Katie, this game is more like Beth and Henry. Two lovable, awkward people making corny small talk and flirting with each other so subtly that neither of them can tell. But, like saving the camp from the falling piece of Skylab, the stakes of this game are higher than it seems. Colby already has a win this season, and cementing themselves as the best of the bottom tier of the league could give them a recruiting edge to build on for the future. However, Hamilton has a win of their own, and is looking to build on their one game win streak in Saturday’s action. Plus the two teams could agree to meet back in Waterville in ten years at 9:30 to reminisce, and that would be nice. One of these two teams will, like Ben and McKinley, get to experience “The Ultimate” this weekend, and might even come out of it with a gorgeous chaise lounge. But the other team will leave like Arty the Beekeeper, unshowered and covered in dirt, having not left the radio station for one activity period all summer.
RZ: Hamilton 24, Colby 21
PL: Hamilton 9, Colby 7
LO: Hamilton 24, Colby 17
CT: Hamilton 10, Colby 17
CM: Hamilton 21, Colby 17
SW: Hamilton 20, Colby 13
ND: Hamilton 13, Colby 19
Trinity (4-0) at Bowdoin (0-4), 12:30 PM, Brunswick, Maine
I don’t really know how to slice it up, but from how the first half of the season has gone, this one features the league’s best team vs. the league’s worst team. Trinity is scoring 37.3 PPG, Bowdoin is putting up just 14.3 PPG. Trinity is allowing only 13.5 PPG, while Bowdoin is allowing 34.5 PPG. Raw stats aren’t everything, but in this case, this is a matchup of an incredible offense vs. a pretty porous defense, and a relatively poor offense vs. a defensive juggernaut. I expect Max Chipouras ‘19 to run for over 100 yards pretty easily, and Sonny Puzzo ‘18 should be able to light up the Bowdoin defense to an even greater extent than he dominated the Tufts passing-D last weekend (20-30 for 273 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT). Eric Sachse ‘19 has been perfect on the year, making all 10 of his field goals that he has has attempted and putting all 16 XPAs through the uprights. If there is a bright spot for the Polar Bears, it’s that they totaled their highest point total of the season against Hamilton last weekend (25), and nearly pulled it out. Unfortunately, I just don’t see Bowdoin upsetting Trinity to ruin their perfect season.
RZ: Trinity 41, Bowdoin 6
PL: Trinity 38, Bowdoin 7
LO: Trinity 45, Bowdoin 10
CT: Trinity 37, Bowdoin 16
CM: Trinity 45, Bowdoin 7
SW: Trinity 42, Bowdoin 13
ND: Trinity 41, Bowdoin 7
Williams (0-4) at Tufts (3-1), 1:30 PM, Somerville, Massachusetts
These teams made strides in opposite directions last week, which doesn’t bode well for the host Jumbos. As we’ve noted all week, the score was a little closer at the end than it should have been. After a field goal with 2:32 left, Trinity had a pretty firm grip on the game with a 36-13 lead, but in three plays, Tufts made their way into the endzone. After recovering an onside kick, the Alex Snyder ‘17 threw a 62 yard touchdown pass to Nik Dean ‘17 on the first play of the drive, following up with a 2-point conversion that put Tufts down by just 8. That was as close as the game would get, but for the first 57:28 of the game, Trinity dominated Tufts in pretty much every facet of the game. I’m sure Williams wasn’t thrilled to see Tufts end the game as they were starting to click offensively, but they do have plenty to happy about in relation to their own effort against Middlebury. As Pete noted above, the Ephs gave Midd quite the scare for three quarters, but in the end, the better team pulled away for victory. Regardless of the final score, the competitiveness Williams showed has to be a huge source of confidence for them as they look to upset the Jumbos on Parents Weekend in Somerville. Coach Raymond has to be encouraged by the two-pronged running attack he was able to deploy, featuring backs Connor Harris ‘18 and Noah Sorrento ‘19. Additionally, freshman quarterback Jansen Durham is gaining confidence and comfort, especially with Tyler Patterson ‘19, who pulled in 7 catches for 176 yards against the Panthers last weekend. If Williams shows this dual threat offense this weekend, the Jumbos are going to have to bring their A-game to avoid a big upset.
RZ: Williams 17, Tufts 20
PL: Williams 10, Tufts 14
LO: Williams 3, Tufts 30
CT: Williams 10, Tufts 45
CM: Williams 20, Tufts 24
SW: Williams 6, Tufts 24
ND: Williams 7, Tufts 20