Let the Big Dogs Eat: Weekend Preview 10/1

 

(Courtesy of Brewster Burns/Bates College)
(Courtesy of Brewster Burns/Bates College)

After a thrilling first weekend of games a week ago, everyone is pumped for Week 2 of NESCAC football. We saw some big blowouts and some thrilling finishes — will we see more great action tomorrow? Fingers crossed. Colby Morris has provided some insight into the first four games below, while Sid Warrenbrand has previewed this week’s game of the week: Hamilton @ Wesleyan. Read below so you know what to keep an eye out for this weekend!

Additionally, below each game preview, we have included a new feature that we will become an integral piece of the game previews this season. Seven of our writers have provided their predictions for this weekend’s games. We will be keeping a tally of correct and incorrect predictions for the remaining 7 games of the season, and whoever has the most correct predictions at the end wins eternal bragging rights. We’ve all included our score predictions, so if someone nails the score on any of the games we’ll make a note of that as well. If you want to matchup against the NBN staff, tweet your predictions to us @CACSportsBlog !

Now, for the preview…enjoy!

 

Middlebury (1-0) vs. Colby (1-0), 1:00 PM, Waterville, ME

Colby is coming off of a thrilling end result, but only found themselves in the win column after an ugly game against a weak Williams team. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’19 was perhaps the lone bright spot for the Mules’ offense, and will likely be the only way that the home squad can take the ball to the house against the Panthers. Their defense held up well last weekend, and will surely be put to the test against what looks to be a title contending Middlebury team. Middlebury looks to be one of the top dogs in the NESCAC after first year starter Jared Lebowitz ’18 led the team with 6 total touchdowns last week, spreading the love to his receivers Ryan Rizzo ’17 (who was hampered by a knee injury last year, but is a dynamic playmaker) and the speedy Conrado Banky ’19 (who is on my personal 2016 breakout player watch list). After allowing only 3 points last weekend, it’s easy to say the Panthers’ only potential weakness is their special teams with a relative lack of a kicking game – this is likely the only facet of the game that Colby will have the advantage in. Kicking shouldn’t be an issue, however, so long as the Panthers keep getting into the end zone.

Look for Middlebury to roll to 2-0.

Rory Ziomek: Middlebury – 38, Colby – 7

Pete Lindholm: Middlebury – 26, Colby – 10

Liam O’Neil: Middlebury – 35, Colby – 7

Colby Morris: Middlebury – 33, Colby – 10

Colin Tiernan: Middlebury – 30, Colby – 10

Sid Warrenbrand: Middlebury – 37, Colby – 6

Nick DiBenedetto: Middlebury – 13, Colby – 7

 

Bowdoin (0-1) vs. Amherst (1-0), 1:00 PM, Amherst, MA

This game might end up being Amherst’s 2nd stringers vs. Bowdoin in the second half, considering the walloping that the Polar Bears took last weekend. The only real bright spot for the Bears was a solid showing from their special teams with three blocked kicks and a field goal of their own, considering their offense and defense didn’t do much else. Amherst isn’t likely to throw Bowdoin any bones, and they will come out firing, shooting for their 21st straight win after posting a shutout against Hamilton last week. QB Alex Berluti ’17 showed that he was more than an average backup and is at least a competitive signal caller in the NESCAC, comparable to Brock Osweiler circa 2015. Berluti may well end up receiving several D1 offers after this game, and maybe even an invitation to play for the Texans if all goes as planned. Berluti and goal line back Jack Hickey ’19 will find themselves racking up the touchdowns this Saturday.

Amherst wins their 21st in a row.

RZ: Amherst – 31, Bowdoin – 3

PL: Amherst – 45, Bowdoin – 0

LO: Amherst – 54, Bowdoin – 10

CM: Amherst – 31, Bowdoin – 6

CT: Amherst – 21, Bowdoin – 16

SW: Amherst – 31, Bowdoin – 0

ND: Amherst – 40, Bowdoin – 7

 

Bates (0-1) vs. Tufts (1-0), 1:00 PM, Somerville, MA

Tufts played pretty evenly with the visiting Cardinals last weekend, giving up 84 yards rushing and a TD to QB Mark Piccirillo of Wesleyan before staging a dramatic fourth quarter comeback. Alex Snyder ’18 had a weak passing game for the Jumbos, but Chance Brady ’17 picked up the slack with a huge day on the ground, rushing for the final two scores of the day. In Connecticut, Bates started surprisingly strongly against powerhouse Trinity, but faded quickly after their short lived 7-3 lead through the first quarter. Bates seems to  be a pretty one-dimensional rushing team as Sandy Plashkes ’19 managed only 36 yards in the air. However, if they can manage to mix up their game plan, and break off some big rushes, Tufts’ defense could find themselves guessing and end up in trouble. Plashkes could (but probably won’t given the difficulty in maintaining that pace) continue to break off huge 57 yard runs every week, channelling his inner LaDainian Tomlinson from under center.

This has the makings of a potential trap game for the Jumbos if they sleep on the lurking Bobcats, but Tufts is still heavily favored.

RZ: Bates – 10, Tufts – 31

PL: Bates – 13, Tufts – 27

LO: Bates – 7, Tufts – 31

CM: Bates – 21, Tufts – 20

CT: Bates – 14, Tufts – 27

SW: Bates – 9, Tufts – 28

ND: Bates – 20, Tufts – 21

 

Williams (0-1) vs. Trinity (1-0), 1:30 PM, Hartford, CT

Williams put forth a close game last weekend, but a dismal effort. Their offense combined for just 308 yards of total offense, but included a solid rushing game with 188 yards at an average of 3.9 yards/carry. The Ephs’ secondary was the highlight of their game as Ben Anthony ’20 picked Colby off in his first game and Amyhr Barber ’19 added one of his own. We are speculating that Jansen Durham ’20 will get the starting nod after his efforts in the fourth quarter against Colby, and if he can start off strong this weekend then Williams could make strides in the right direction. Unfortunately for the Ephs, they won’t be able to work out their problems so easily as they take on Trinity, who absolutely demolished Bates to a tune of 38-7. Unsurprisingly, Max Chipouras ’19 continued his dominance with 144 yards rushing, but Lucas Golon ’19 also emerged out of the backfield with a huge day of his own in the backfield, rushing for 126 yards and two scores. Sonny Puzzo ’18 also shined, flashing maturity demonstrated by his efficiency (17-26 passing), finding Darrien Myers ’16 three times in the end zone. Trinity’s secondary is sure to intimidate Durham in his first game in Hartford, as Spencer Donahue ’16 will be lurking, hungry to find the end zone this game after his 88 yard interception return against Bates.

Williams might not be as bad as they seemed in week one, but Trinity is just as good as they appear. Bantams roll.

RZ: Trinity – 35, Williams – 10

PL: Trinity – 30, Williams – 3

LO: Trinity – 30, Williams – 0

CM: Trinity – 35, Williams – 13

CT: Trinity – 45, Williams – 0

SW: Trinity – 24, Williams – 10

ND: Trinity – 31, Williams – 14

 

Game of the Week:

Hamilton (0-1) at Wesleyan (0-1), 12:00 PM, Middletown, CT

Normally, there wouldn’t be two winless teams chosen as the game of the week, but this game has a lot of meaning for both programs. First, there is Wesleyan, who dominated the first three quarters against Tufts in a hostile Somerville atmosphere. The Cardinals collapsed in the 4th quarter and Tufts pulled off a stunning victory. The pressure is now on Wesleyan, who in the last three seasons have a record of 19-5. Everyone expects them to be a top dog in the NESCAC and this week’s game against Hamilton will let the whole league know how good they really are. Hamilton, on the other hand has not recorded a winning season since 1996 and looks to flush their 34-0 beatdown by Amherst by actually showing up against Wesleyan. If Wesleyan has a slow start against Hamilton, there is potential for a good ball game, but that seems highly unlikely in this matchup.

Wesleyan X-Factor: Quarterback Mark Piccirillo ’19

Marky football had himself a ballgame against Tufts as he was 20-32 with 187 yards in the air and ran for 84 yards on 18 carries on the ground. Although Wesleyan did not end up on top, this was an encouraging effort by Piccirillo as he did not record a single turnover against one of the better defenses in the NESCAC. His dual-threat abilities will be a nightmare for the Hamilton defense this upcoming Saturday. Expect Piccirillo to find the end zone multiple times in Wesleyan’s home opener.

Hamilton X-Factor: Running Back Trevor Pinkham ’19

Another sophomore, Pinkham had a tough first college start at running back as he was limited to just 16 yards on 8 carries against Amherst. Given that he was going up against arguably the best team in the NESCAC, week 2 will dictate the type of player he is. Tufts Senior running back Chance Brady was able to rush for over 100 yards in the 4th quarter alone against the Cardinals. Pinkham, like Brady, is a powerful running back, and given the opportunities he may just wear down the Cardinals defense like Brady did in the 4th quarter of last weekend’s game.

Everything Else

Hamilton would love nothing more than to shock the Cardinals in the Wesleyan home opener on Saturday. Everyone expects Wesleyan to win big, but Hamilton is still playing for something bigger than themselves. They are on the verge of not having had a winning season in 20 years and are working to turn things around. Think about that, most of the guys on this Hamilton team were not even alive for their last winning season. This game means a lot to them. Not to mention, Hamilton hosts Trinity next weekend, and if they can pull off one win in their first three games against these tough opponents, then they are in a good place.

On the other hand, Wesleyan needs this victory more than anything right now. They are coming off a devastating loss to Tufts and want to reestablish themselves towards the top of the NESCAC power rankings. The Cardinals are aware of their missed opportunity last weekend and will look to win big against Hamilton. Like I said earlier, I believe that Piccirillo will have a monster game both in the air and on the ground. He will be a huge reason why Wesleyan’s offense is going to have success. On defense I expect Shane Kaminski ’18 to establish himself as one of the league’s best linebackers. He is coming off a 50-tackle sophomore campaign and is fully capable of putting up even better numbers this season.

This matchup will come down to whether or not Wesleyan dominates Hamilton from the opening kickoff. They are far more talented on both offense and defense, but also have the ability to lose their rhythm as we saw in the 4th quarter of their opener against Tufts. Wesleyan is at home which gives them an even bigger reason to want to win. The last time they lost to Hamilton was in 2011 when they lost in a 7-6 shootout which happened to be their only loss in their first four games of that season. Hamilton has what it takes to steal a victory like this and even spoil a season, but I think that is doubtful. I believe that Wesleyan will win big in front of their Cardinal faithful.

RZ: Hamilton – 10, Wesleyan 24

PL: Hamilton – 14, Wesleyan – 10

LO: Hamilton – 10, Wesleyan 24

CM: Hamilton – 17, Wesleyan 21

CT: Hamilton – 13, Wesleyan 35

SW: Hamilton – 9, Wesleyan 32

ND: Hamilton – 31, Wesleyan 45

 

O’Neil’s Top 10: NESCAC Uniforms

Here it is, your fun blog of the week. While the rest of the NBN crew is busy writing about actual football news, my weekly blog is here to lighten the mood a bit. So, in honor of several team busting out new unis for week 1, I decided to rank the best uniforms in the league. This has been by far the most difficult list to compile because there aren’t any terrible uniforms in today’s NESCAC. The list takes into account a team’s home/away jersey, pants, helmet, and any alternate jerseys that they may sport.

10.) WILLIAMS

(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a whole lot to hate about the Williams unis, just not a lot to love either. The home purple jerseys are a much better look than the road whites, but the off-color shoulders are just brutal. I feel like the Ephs have had these for a while too…it’s definitely time for a change.

9.) MIDDLEBURY

(Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
(Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
(Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
(Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midd is beginning to feel like JaMarcus Russell. They’re a team with so much potential, but I fear that just like JaMarcus Russell, they’re never gonna live up to the hype. Let’s start with the helmets, guys. When people see your headgear, they don’t think “Oh yeah that’s Middlebury!” they think, “Hmm, pretty cool alternates that Michigan is rocking today.” (I’d love to see the Panthers go with a navy helmet, white center stripe, and white “block M”). The jerseys themselves are ok (I actually like the traditional look), but they’re from an off-brand company. I think Middlebury could do wonders as the first Under Armour team in the league. But then again, all it will take is one endorsement deal with Ben & Jerry’s and their problems will be solved.

8.) COLBY

(Courtesy of Colby Athletics)
(Courtesy of Colby Athletics)
(Courtesy of Colby Athletics)
(Courtesy of Colby Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colby’s uniforms are alright. I’m a big fan of the striped silver pants and how they complement the silver helmet. The C on their helmets resembles that of the Cincinnati Reds, and is just crisp enough to work. Besides that, they’re pretty plain. Colby is another team that has had these same uniforms for what feels like an eternity. Just like Williams, I think the Mules deserve an upgrade.

7.) BATES

(Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

bates-away

I sneaky love Bates’ uniforms. For starters, they make a huge statement as the only Adidas sponsored team in the league. With the high cut of the shoulders, the Bates players all give off that gritty blue collar vibe that football players in Maine strive for. The Bobcats have had this same look for years, but unlike Williams and Colby, I think they should roll with it. Bates is truly a smash-mouth team and I think these uniforms fit their persona perfectly.

6.) HAMILTON

(Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)
(Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)
(Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)
(Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamilton got a much needed facelift last season when they upgraded their uniform look. The Continentals new digs really play up the blue and white… and I mean REALLY play them up. It’s almost as if whoever designed these completely forgot that gold is also one of Hamilton’s colors. Regardless, I’m a big fan of the all-white road combination. What hurts Hamilton in the rankings is that at the end of the day, their uniforms are just a little too one-dimensional.

5.) BOWDOIN

(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Bowdoin was another team that unveiled a brand new set of uniforms last season. The Polar Bears have three jerseys in their arsenal: home black, road white, and a gorgeous looking gray alternate. While the gray is my favorite of their jerseys, it’s only right to acknowledge that the team is making strides in the right direction. The thing that kills Bowdoin is their helmets. I appreciate the fact that they’re no longer trying to be Alabama…

bowdoin-uniformsbut their big play could be a black helmet with this logo of Patrick the Polar Bear on it.* bowdoin-logo

*I have no idea what the Bowdoin Polar Bear is named, but Patrick seemed fitting

4.) WESLEYAN

(Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
(Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
(Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
(Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

I always thought to myself, If Wesleyan spent a little less time trying to abolish their fraternities and a little more time on their football uniforms, they could make some things happen.

Well, it looks like someone else had that brilliant idea because Wes just unveiled new unis for the 2016 season. While they’re a near carbon copy of their old uniforms, the Cardinals upgraded from an off-brand sponsor to Nike. Wesleyan is also one of the few teams in the league that goes with a matte helmet, a factor that really boosts their stock.

3.) TUFTS

(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Zach Thomas)
(Courtesy of Zach Thomas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After last Saturday, the ‘Bos are sporting three different jerseys: home brown, away white, and an absolute fire steel gray alternate. In my opinion, Tufts has the best helmet (love the matte gray and enormous elephant), and best road (white) combination in the league. It’s tough to put the Jumbos at #3 because Tufts is quickly becoming the “Oregon” of the NESCAC, but their fatal flaw is the brown on gray combo that they wear at home. Not an ideal look, fellas.

2.) AMHERST

If we were ranking individual uniforms, this would be a unanimous #1 pick (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
If we were ranking individual uniforms, this would be a unanimous #1 pick (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

 

(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012, Amherst was looking to move away from their apparel sponsorship with Adidas.

The early frontrunner? Polo Ralph Lauren.

I gotta hand it to Amherst – they stayed true to who they are in their search for a new sponsor, but things just don’t always work out like they’re supposed to – school officials unfortunately4 learned that Ralph Lauren did not make football uniforms. globo-gym 

As a result, Amherst was forced to settle for a deal with Nike. While they weren’t the initial choice, Nike has done a tremendous job with the Amherst uniforms. The team has an endless array of options when they take the field including a black alternate, my pick for the leagues best individual jersey. You can’t go wrong with the Globo Gym-esque color scheme either. All in all, the Amherst unies are tremendous.

1.) TRINITY

trinity-gold
(Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
(Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
(Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
(Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
(Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinity…. It was a close race but for the second week in a row, the bantams finish at the top of my list. This is due in large part to the awesome three jersey combinations they go with and the fact that trinity dons last names on the backs of their jerseys. To top it off, the bantams opened the 2016 season with a banana-land move by adding a second helmet into their repertoire, a sleek white alternate helmet. Trinity has really been throwing down the gauntlet lately in terms of style and I’m eager to see what the uniform arms race has in store for the near future.

 

 

Tell The World I’m Comin’: Jared Lebowitz Comes Home To Lead the Panthers

Image result for jared lebowitz middlebury
Jared Lebowitz ’17 looks poised to take over as the next great Middlebury quarterback.

In the last decade or so, quarterback at Middlebury College has resembled the leading men in the James Bond franchise; a series of stellar performances, each one slightly different from the last. And of course, the debate constantly rages over which one was best. In my personal view Donnie McKillop was the most electrifying to watch and the grandfather of Middlebury’s line of stellar signal callers (although of course his Middlebury career is voided because he now works at Amherst.) But then again, McCallum Foote eclipsed most of his records and won back to back Player Of the Year trophies.  And Matt Milano surprised many by tacking on a Co-POY trophy of his own in 2014, making him AT LEAST Pierce Brosnan in the Bond analogy.

This is the tradition into which transfer from UNLV Jared Lebowitz ’18 was thrown heading into this season. Lebowitz had spent a season at UNLV, and another season learning under Matt Milano, and it was time for him to take the reins.

Image result for moby dick
This book is an allegory for Jared Lebowitz’s development as a quarterback, as well as literally everything else in the realm of human existence.

Taking over any NESCAC offense is no easy task, but Middlebury may well be the most difficult one to master. As Lebowitz puts it, being a quarterback in the Panther offense is “about more than skill. You have to master the timing and the routes.” The Panther offense is heavily focused on no huddle and quick timing routes for receivers.  This requires the quarterback to resemble Ishmael on the mast-head in Moby Dick; he must take in everything and remain singularly focused on the goal all at the same time.

This is why Lebowitz describes learning the timing of the Panther offense as the hardest part of his development as a quarterback, and something that just came to him this preseason. During his time off the bench in 2015, Lebowitz allowed that he was “thinking too much” about his role in the pocket. While this is not a valid criticism for say, a presidential candidate, for a quarterback it can lead to inconsistencies and even worse, turnovers.

This preseason, however, something clicked for Lebowitz. As he points out, much of his improvement in leading the intricate Middlebury attack comes simply from getting first team reps. “It’s not something you can memorize,” Lebowitz says about controlling the field. “You just have to feel it, and that feel can only come with starters reps.”

Both Lebowitz’s feel for the offense and prodigious natural gifts were on display in Middlebury’s Week One demolition of Bowdoin. Lebowitz was 26-39, for 369 yards and 6 total touchdowns (5 passing, one rushing) with several beautiful throws within the delicate framework of the offense.

But more than that, he showed a knack for improvisation that can only come with being totally comfortable in command. Lebowitz showed his singular skill in avoiding sacks on a 28 yard touchdown throw to Ryan Rizzo ’17, in which he evaded Polar Bears like a climate change denier and tossed a dart off his back foot to the end zone. Lebowitz later summed up what was obvious to the whole crowd. “When I’m back there now, I’m not thinking. I’m just getting my footwork right and letting the game come to me.”  And he capped it off by taking home his first NESCAC hardware, the Offensive Player of the Week award.

Lebowitz’s success may also be due to several extremely important guests at every home game. “Mom and sister and dogs drive down for every game,” he told me with a smile crossing his face. But, to be fair, it’s not that long a drive. Lebowitz went to South Burlington High School, roughly 50 minutes north of Middlebury if they’ve finished the road work on Route 7. But don’t let his going to South Burlington fool you, he’s actually a nice guy (have to work in the local rivalries somewhere.)

Coming closer to home was Lebowitz’s central motivation for transferring from UNLV.   “I wanted to be in Vermont. When I was in Vegas I didn’t really like the city. It wasn’t even really about the football, I just wanted to come home.”

And Lebowitz is a true local kid. He sees his family at every game of course, but in the offseason he estimates that he visits every two weekends or so, and sheepishly allows that he just now learned how to do laundry on campus.

For Lebowitz, getting to play in Vermont makes football a family affair, as does playing in the NESCAC as a whole. At UNLV, he says “you don’t have time to pursue things outside of football.” But the NESCAC offers a far different style. Of course, during the season the team is locked in, but in the offseason the coaches encourage players to live the full liberal arts lifestyle. Many players on the team join clubs, and several even play other varsity sports. Lebowitz uses the time to bond with teammates, playing IM sports and “spending time with the guys,” a value that is crucial for a quarterback.

The Panthers head off to Colby on Saturday, and then return home to take on Amherst the week after in a game that might well decide the league championship. Based on Week One, the Panthers have the right man at the helm to lead them through these games. It’s been a long road for Jared Lebowitz to end up an hour from where he was born, but it looks he ended up right where he needed to be.

 

 

No Surprises Here: Week One Power Rankings

If you put money on “Amherst, Middlebury and Trinity all looking the best after Week One,” then your gambling problem should be considerably more exciting this week. You think Tony Soprano was putting money on sure things like that? Get sexier with your addiction.. Form held true for the NESCAC in Week One, with the usual suspects staying on top and any surprises coming from the bottom tier of the league. If you think that doesn’t make for a thrilling weekend of football, you’d be right. The games this weekend were what my grandpa used to call “beat-the-traffic” games, with the highly notable exception of Wesleyan-Tufts. However, they were still NESCAC football games, which make them beautiful. Here’s where the teams stand after Week One.

1: Amherst

Winning your 20th game in a row 34-0 is a pretty good recipe for topping the power rankings. If the Foy injury and graduation of several senior leaders was going to limit the Artists Formerly Known as the Lord Jeffs, it didn’t show on Saturday against Hamilton. Interim QB Alex Berluti ’17 played his Peyton Manning-esque “Just Don’t Screw Up” role perfectly, throwing for 182 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. The rest of the offense was taken care of by Jack Hickey, who did the impossible and made Rory Ziomak look smart, despite Rory leaving him out of the POY race a couple weeks ago. The preseason POY candidate had three touchdowns on 67 yards, a number that would have been higher had the game been closer. The defense pitched a shutout, and the trend of the last few years held true: Amherst is the top dog.

2: Middlebury

“Screw you Pete, you’re biased because Middlebury football players babysat you until you were 10!” There, you guys got that out of your system? Good, because the Panthers had the most impressive performance of the week, just destroying Bowdoin at home 40-3. They also had the most impressive individual performance of the week, with quarterback Jared Lebowitz putting up a cool 369 yards and 6 touchdowns (5 passing, one rushing.) The progression from McKillop to Foote to Milano has proven that when the Panthers have a star quarterback, their offense is deadly, and it sure looks like they’ve got another one. It should be mentioned, however, that Middlebury’s kicking position looks to be up for grabs (three blocked kicks!) so if any readers are looking to get their Mark Wahlburg in Invincible on, there’s your shot.

http://i0.wp.com/images.moviepostershop.com/invincible-movie-poster-2006-1020370449.jpg?resize=354%2C524
Open tryouts for the Panthers kicking duties will be held outside the student center at 4:40

3: Trinity

As well as Lebowitz and the Panthers did through the air, Trinity may have done better on the ground. The Bantams put up 294 rushing yards, with the dynamic sophomore duo of Max Chipouras ’19 and Lucas Golon ’19 putting up 270 on their own. Quarterback (and tertiary character in Goodfellas) Sonny Puzzo ’18 was also excellent, picking up three touchdowns and 182 passing yards. Trinity’s domination of Bates solidifies the top three of NESCAC, with the same teams that have been duking it out for so long staying on track. Parity has never been NESCAC football’s strong suit, and as of now, 2016 is no different.

4: Tufts

Tufts and Wesleyan have the unenviable distinction of being the only two teams that are in contention for league honors to open the season by playing a contending team. However, they also had the noble distinction of being the best game of the weekend. The Jumbos looked dead in the water at halftime, trailing 14-3. But Chance Brady put the team on his back a la Greg Jennings in the second half, tallying 151 yards on 22 carries, including the game winning 31 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tufts lost the possession battle and the total yardage battle, but the ability to gut out a gritty win against a good team is a crucial skill in NESCAC play.

Image result for chance brady
Brady was able to overcome once having to wear these awful uniforms to carry his team to victory…with a BROKEN LEG THOUGH.

5: Wesleyan

The Cardinals suffered a very disappointing loss to open the season. I’m sure many Wesleyan fans, players, parents and significant others feel like they should have won that game. However, it was a good game in which the Cardinals played very well at times, and had some predictable early season lapses, which Tufts capitalized on. And Chance Brady is a force of nature, so all told there is still hope for the Cardinals this season, once other contenders play more competitive opponents.

6: Colby

The Mules pulled out an ugly road win in Williamstown on Saturday, beating the Ephs 9-7 on a game-winning field goal with :4 seconds left. This game arguably shows more about how far Williams has fallen than how much Colby has risen, but they showcased a tough defense, an excellent running back in Jabari Hurdle-Price, and excellent special teams (despite a missed PAT), something even the top teams in NESCAC often lack.

7: Hamilton

When a lamb gets eaten by a wolf, we don’t put the lamb lower in the lamb power rankings, we raise the wolf higher. That’s what happened to Hamilton this weekend; they stumbled into a den of wolves and couldn’t escape. However, of all the teams that got blown out this weekend, Hamilton has the most positive outlook going forward, due to their strong finish in 2015.

8: Bates

While Trinity obviously finished the game on a dominant run, the score at the end of the first quarter in Hartford was 7-3 Bobcats. Quarterback Sandy Plashkes ’19 flashed some serious wheels with a 57-yard run and a rushing touchdown. This is not to say that Bates played well in this game, but it is to say that they played better than Bowdoin, and sometimes it is those moral victories that count.

9: Williams

We knew it would be a rebuilding year for Williams in head coach Mark Raymond’s first season. However, we didn’t know quite how much rebuilding they’d have to do. Well, we know now. Williams’ offense struggled mightily against Colby (1-7 last season, for perspective), committing four turnovers that undid a fairly dangerous rushing attack led by the combo of Noah Sorrento and Connor Harris. The Ephs had some bright spots on Saturday, but they were few and far between.

10: Bowdoin

2-6 last season, Bowdoin lost several starters to graduation and several others to a plagiarism scandal. That is not exactly a winning combination, and Bowdoin started 2016 by getting demolished by the Panthers, who were something of an unknown themselves coming in. Bowdoin could still turn it around, however. We’ve seen it in Major League, The Longest Yard, and The Bad New Bears. They’ll need a lot more chemistry, and definitely a really cool lead like Charlie Sheen or Burt Reynolds, but stranger things have happened.

Image result for stranger things
If Joyce Byers can stay strong while her son is kidnapped in a shadow realm, Bowdoin can get a win or two this season.

Week In Review, 9/19-9/25: NESCAC Women’s Soccer

Caroline Kelleher '18 had a hat tricker against Hamilton this weekend to help extend the #22 Camels' win streak to 7 games (Courtesy of Conn College Athletics).
Caroline Kelleher ’18 had a hat tricker against Hamilton this weekend to help extend the #22 Camels’ win streak to 7 games (Courtesy of Conn College Athletics).

Editor’s Note: The NESCAC Women’s Soccer Week In Review is a new feature that we are going to be rolling out this fall. We feel strongly that women’s sports in the NESCAC should also be covered, but unfortunately due to our current resources, we can’t cover them to the extent that we wish we could. We are going to be putting out a weekly article with updates on NESCAC Women’s Soccer action, however staff size is going to limit us to just one article each week for now. That being said, if you have ANY interest in writing (about Women’s Soccer or any of the other sports we cover) or contributing in some way, please send us an email at nothingbutnescac@gmail.com so that we can expand our coverage! For now, enjoy this week’s women’s soccer update!


Hey guess what! Nothing but NESCAC is expanding! Starting with this article, we’ll begin providing weekly updates on all the goings on in NESCAC women’s soccer. I’m Liam Naughton, an accomplished FIFA player and 3rd grade travel soccer MVP, but enough about me. Let’s dive into this past week.

Wednesday, September 21st

Wesleyan @ Tufts, Final Score: 0-0 tie

A mid-week matchup between the Jumbos and the Cardinals ended in a grueling 0-0 draw after two overtimes. Tufts held a decisive shot advantage testing the Wesleyan defense 17 times, while the visitors only managed to spray 8 shots towards Tufts’ net. Of course, the best opportunity of the game came in the 99th minute for Wesleyan when Tufts’ goal keeper Emily Bowers ’19 was forced to make a diving save off a shot from Sarah Sylla ’17 of Wesleyan. After a slow first half in which the Jumbos were stifled by Wesleyan’s intense pressure, Tufts took control more in the second half, but just weren’t able to convert any of their chances into goals. Tufts, who so far have not lost in NESCAC competition will look to build off this game in the coming weeks.

Castleton @ Middlebury, Final Score: 3-1 Middlebury

Conn College @ Coast Guard, Final Score: 2-0 Conn College

Thursday, September 22nd

Emerson @ Trinity, Final Score: 0-3 Trinity

Saturday, September 24th

Bowdoin @ Middlebury, Final Score: 1-0 Bowdoin
The Bowdoin Polar Bears visited the Middlebury Panthers this past weekend and escaped with a hard fought 1-0 win. Middlebury’s aggressive and potent offense (averaging over 2 goals a game this season) was unable to beat Bowdoin goalie Rachel Stout ’18. Adrianna Gildner ’17 provided two of Middlebury’s best opportunities, attempting a bicycle kick early in the first half that flew by the post, and testing Stout on a free kick late in the first half. Despite Gildner’s efforts, it was Bowdoin’s Anna Mellman ’17 who slotted home the game’s only goal, beating Panther goalie Ursula Alwang ’20 with a cracking shot from nearly 35 yards away.

Connecticut College @ Hamilton, Final Score: 3-0 Conn College

Conn College ran over Hamilton in this early season match, besting the host Continentals by a score of 3-0. The Camels (ranked 22nd nationally) relied on the foot of junior midfielder Caroline Kelleher ’18 who scored 3 goals in the match. Conn College began attacking early, Kelleher notching her first goal 5 minutes into the match and her second 13 minutes later. Kelleher then scored her third goal 5 minutes into the second half, demonstrating her dominance. Hamilton forward Amanda Becker ’18 tested Conn College goalie Bryanna Montalvo ’17 twice, but neither she nor any of her teammates were able to best the senior goalie.

Wesleyan @ Bates, Final Score: 2-2 tie

The Bobcats scored two goals in quick succession in the second half to force a draw between themselves and the visiting Wesleyan Cardinals. Wesleyan had jumped out to an early lead behind a penalty kick from Nicole Brodkowitz ’20 after only 11 minutes of action. Wesleyan further extended their lead after Sarah Sylla ’17 scored 10 minutes into the second half. Bates scored consecutive goals in the 83rd and 84th minutes. First, Olivia Amdur ’19 rifled a shot by Wesleyan keeper Zoe Cassels-Brown ’20. Amdur was assisted on her goal Hannah Behringer ’18 who scored herself a minute later off a well worked set piece.

Colby @ TrinityFinal Score: 1-3 Trinity

Trinity scored early and often and cruised past the visiting Colby Mules 3-1. The Bantams flashed a balanced scoring attack, getting goals from Taylor Kirchgessner ’19, Laura Nee ’17, and Sarah Connors ’18 in the 13th, 27th, and 33rd minutes respectively. Colby seemed to be on their backfoot for most of the game, mustering only 5 total shots on target. Only one shot managed to find the back of the net for the Mules as Emily Martin ’18 scored off of an assist from Laura Arnold ’18 two minutes into the second half.

Williams @ Amherst, 1-1 tie

In the 2nd double overtime game of the weekend, Williams and Amherst drew 1-1. Williams, who has not lost yet this season, fell behind early after Amherst scored on a beautiful run and finish by Hannah Guzzi ’18. Williams refused to go down easily, constantly pressuring Amherst’s defense to the tune of 22 shots and sheer domination in terms of possession. Only one shot managed to beat Amherst keeper Chelsea Cutler ’19 though, which came via the foot of Williams’ Kristina Alvarado ’18. Alvarado managed to score on a quality finish after an errant clearance by the Amherst backline. After a scoreless two periods of overtime, the match ended in a draw.

Brandeis @ TuftsFinal Score: 1-1 tie

Sunday, September 25th

Middlebury @ HamiltonFinal Score: 1-0 Middlebury

Middlebury rebounded from their difficult defeat Saturday to beat Hamilton 1-0. Middlebury was on the attack for most of the game, attempting 14 shots and winning 6 corner kicks. But Hamilton’s back line would bend but refused to break, until less than 10 minutes remained in regulation. Katherine Hobbs ’17 continued her season of great form scoring her fourth goal of the season. After winning possession off a corner kick, Hobbs quickly finished the shot and secured Middlebury’s second win in the conference this season.

Colby @ Connecticut College, 0-3 Conn College

Conn College continued their weekend of domination, defeating the Colby mules by a score of 3-0. Colby remained winless in the conference falling to 0-4 and played on their back foot for most of the game. The low point of the game certainly came when Colby scored an own goal after a well placed cross from Alex Baltazar ’19. Conn College has yet to lose in the conference this season and looked utterly dominant throughout the weekend, scoring 6 goals and allowing 0. Michelle Medina ’18 and Livi Block ’18 scored the remaining goals for the Camels, beating Colby keeper Samantha Rizzo ’19, who put up a valiant fight in a losing effort, saving 7 shots.

Williams @ Bates2-0 Williams

Williams bounced back from their draw with Amherst to defeat the hosting Bates Bobcats 2-0. Alison Lu ’20 scored her 5th goal of the season, using her head to control a pass from Kristin Kirshe ’17 and then driving the shot past the keeper. Kirshe added her own goal in the second half, beating Bobcats’ goalie Sarah McCarthy ’18 off a pass from Lu. Williams remains undefeated in the conference improving to 4-0-1, while Bates remained winless at 0-4-1. All eyes will be on Williams next weekend when they meet fellow unbeaten Conn College in New London, Connecticut.

Farmingdale State @ AmherstFinal Score: 1-3 Amherst

Player of the Week

This weeks player of the week goes to Conn College’s Caroline Kelleher ’18. The junior from Holden, Massachusetts scored all three of her teams goals against Hamilton and led the Camels to their 3-0 victory. These were Kelleher’s first three goals of the season, but her coaches surely hope that this is a sign of things to come, as another threat would do nothing but elevate Conn College’s already deadly attacking play.





 

Football’s Back, Baby: Stock Report 9/26

Amherst dominated this weekend, proving why their win streak has run to 20 games (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen)
Amherst dominated this weekend, proving why their win streak has run to 20 games (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen)

Week 1 of 2016 was exactly what we’ve all been waiting for since the NESCAC football season ended last November. We had a couple blowouts in favor of familiar faces (Amherst, Middlebury, Trinity), and a couple of games that went right down to the wire. The Colby-Williams game was crazy, but not in a pretty way. This was a low-scoring, offensive battle…AKA, it was a battle to see who could have a worse day offensively. Luckily, it ended on a high note, as Colby needed their final drive to take the lead with under a minute left (read below for more details on the ending). Over in Somerville, MA, on the other hand, fans witnessed a battle between two great teams. It involved some terrific defensive plays, a 4th quarter comeback, and a whole lot of excitement as the Jumbos stormed back to win in front of their fans at the first home night game in Tufts football history. Below is our first stock report of the year – check it out to see whose stock rose and whose plummeted over the first weekend of the season.

 

Stock Up

 

Running Back Jack Hickey ‘19 (Amherst): If it wasn’t already certain, Hickey solidified himself as the goal line back for Coach Mills’ offense this weekend, punching in 3 touchdowns in Amherst’s absolute (yet unsurprising) domination of Hamilton this weekend. The 6’1” 218 pound sophomore fits the bill perfectly for short yardage situations, and he will certainly continue to get touches as Amherst nears the goal line. Hickey ended up with 67 yards on 18 rushes, but if it wasn’t a blowout these numbers might have been MUCH higher.

 

Linebacker Greg Holt ‘20 (Tufts): Holt surged onto the scene in the Saturday nightcap with a game-high 14 tackles. The freshman showed us that he is not going to gradually get his feet wet in college ball, he is going to dive headfirst into the action. It seemed like Holt was everywhere on Saturday, and if he keeps up that level of play along with fellow Jumbo linebacker Steve DiCienzo ‘18 (another Tufts linebacker who had 11 tackles of his own), the Powder Blue and Brown defense will be a nightmare for their opponents.

 

Quarterback Jared Lebowitz ‘18 (Middlebury): In the biggest blowout of the weekend, Lebowitz threw 5 touchdown passes and added a rushing touchdown to go along with them, accounting for all 6 of Middlebury’s touchdowns against the Polar Bears. There were some questions about whether the Middlebury aerial attack could be maintained after the departure of Matt Milano ‘16, but Lebowitz has silenced the doubters. Bowdoin is obviously in the lower tier of the conference, but still a strong showing from Coach Ritter’s gunslinger, who tallied 369 yards on the day.

 

Kicker John Baron ’18 (Colby): The Mules needed Baron to come up clutch on Saturday as he lined up for the game-deciding field goal with just seconds left against Williams. After a failed 2-point conversation earlier in the game, Colby was down one during the final possession. If Baron makes the kick they win, if he misses they lose. Last year Baron missed an extra point  against Bates which ended up being the difference in the game (10-9), but this week’s NESCAC Special Teams player of the week has clearly wiped that from his memory. Two words: cash money.

 

Stock Down

 

Hamilton Offense: It goes without saying that the Amherst defense played a heck of a game on Saturday, but seriously, Hamilton, 168 yards of total offense? 6 rushing yards on 18 attempts?? You can’t combine these numbers with a -3 turnover differential and expect to win football games. Film, film, and more film is in store for the Continentals.

 

NESCAC Ball Boys: There were five fumbles in each of the Bates-Trinity, Colby-Williams, and Wesleyan-Trinity games on Saturday. FIVE. Interestingly enough, Trinity had more fumbles than Bates (Trinity-3, Bates-2), but it didn’t hurt them as the Bantams won handily, 38-7. However, both Wesleyan and Williams had more fumbles than their opponents, likely leading to each of their downfalls. Either the teams were a bit too accustomed to no-contact practices or the PSI was far too high in the game balls…you be the judge. All I know is that these coaching staffs are going to be extra hard on their ball carriers in practice this week.

 

Wesleyan’s Killer Instinct: The Jumbos looked pretty horrible for three quarters, but they hung around because Wesleyan just couldn’t put them away. After a touchdown with 6:50 to go in the 2nd quarter, Wesleyan seemed to hold a pretty commanding 14-3 lead. Things just looked and felt like a blowout waiting to happen. But the Tufts defense kept them in the game until the 4th quarter rolled around, and boom, a Cardinals missed field goal was followed up by a 33 yard run by Chance Brady ‘17, which set the stage for a 39 yard pass to Mike Rando ‘17 a couple plays later. From that point on, the Jumbos had the momentum, and it felt like Wesleyan was just trying to hold them off as opposed to continuing their attack.

Turnaround Time in Western Mass?: Williams Season Preview

Williams hopes to start the season off on a high note tomorrow against Colby (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Williams hopes to start the season off on a high note tomorrow against Colby (Courtesy of Williams Athletics).

Editors’ Note: Sid Warrenbrand, a junior at Tufts,  comes from Sudbury, MA and is new on the staff for NBN. Some of his hobbies include star gazing and reading non-fiction autobiographies. Sids enthusiasm for sports and writing will surely shine in his writing. Stay tuned.

Projected Record: 26

Projected Starters: 11(4 offense, 7 defense)

Offense (*5 Returners)

QB: John Gannon
RB: Noah Sorrento ’19*/Connor Harris ’18
FB: Tom Cifrino ’17*
WR: TBD
WR: TBD
WR: Adam Regensburg ’18*
TE: John Dillon
LT: TBD
LG:  TBD
C: Ben Wertz ’17*
RG: Eric Davis ’17*
RT: TBD

Defense (*Five Returners)

DE: Sam Gowen ’18
DT:  Chris Hattar ’18
DT: Ellis Eaton ’18
DE: TBD
MLB: TBD
OLB: Russell Monyette ’17
OLB: Michael Berry ’18
CB: Taysean Scott ’17*
CB: Mike Davis ’17*
SS: Alex Brandeis ’17
FS:  Kevin Walsh ’17

Special Teams (*Two Returners)

PK/P: Bobby Webster ’18*
KR/PR: Christian Dumont ’19*/Eric Smith ’19

Offensive MVP: Head Coach- Mark Raymond

I know this may be a ridiculous claim considering Coach Raymond is not a player-coach, but bear with me. In his final season at St. Lawrence, Mark Raymond coached an offense that averaged just under 30 points a game. Last season, Williams had an incredibly difficult time putting points on the board, scoring just under 13 points a game. With a new sheriff in town, expect Williams to execute a newly implemented offensive gameplay that will explode for 20-plus points from time to time.

Defensive MVP: DB Alex Brandeis ’17

Brandeis is coming off a successful junior campaign where he led the Ephs in tackles (54) while also forcing a fumble. In Williams’ final game of 2015 against the eventual NESCAC Champs, Amherst, Brandeis had 10 tackles to top off his great season. To have success on defense, Brandeis will need to put up even bigger numbers and work to force turnovers. Williams needs Brandeis to keep playing at this high level in order to grow as a football program.

Biggest Game: Williams vs. Colby 9/24 

Normally I would choose Amherst with their season finale and the Biggest Little Game in America between the Ephs and the L**d J***s, but with a new coach in town, week one will set the tone for the entire season. Fans all over Williamstown are anticipating that Coach Mark Raymond will continue where he left off at St. Lawrence and opening up against Colby is pretty much a layup for Raymond. But things are never easy in the first game with a new coach. If Williams pulls off a large margin victory, expect week 2 at home against Trinity to be a highly anticipated matchup in the NESCAC. If it’s close or if Williams loses, it may just be foreshadowing that Coach Raymond will need a bit more time to turn Williams back into the NESCAC powerhouse it once was.

Best Tweet:

What an electric quote and fire flames picture coming from Williams’ Twitter. While this tweet gets all fans excited for the Ephs upcoming season, it also shows that there is pressure on them to succeed with a new coach in town.

Summary:

The biggest question in Williamstown is who will be the new quarterback for the Ephs in 2016. Having a consistent, mistake-free quarterback will allow the Ephs to grow as a program especially since all of the candidates are young. They have solid experience on the offensive line with Ben Wertz ’17 and Eric Davis ’17. Both provide experience and mentorship to the young lineman that will fill in this season. In 2015, Williams had success with running backs Noah Sorrento ’19 and Connor Harris ’18 splitting time in the back field. Williams graduated their 4 leading receivers and will desperately need an underclassmen or two to fill their void. Adam Regensburg ’18 caught 12 passes in 2015 and will be looked as a crucial wide receiver for Williams.

Defensively for the Ephs there is more stability although there remain some question marks in the linebacker and secondary positions. Brandeis led the Ephs in tackles in 2015 and will be back in his senior campaign looking to solidify the defense. Amyhr Barber ’19 and Desmond Butler ’19 saw plenty of opportunities in 2015 as freshmen. They will also have a major role in the Ephs secondary. Linebacker Michael Berry ’18 returns after a great sophomore season and he is joined by senior Russell Monyette who also had a great season playing in all 8 games. Sam Gowen ’18 and Christopher Hattar ’18 played every game last season up front and look to lead a young defensive line who graduated two good seniors in 2015.  Junior Bobby Webster will continue his role as the kicker/punter in 2016. He attempted only 5 field goals in 2015 and was 9/12 on point after tries.

As you can tell by the disjointed nature of this preview, the Ephs have a tremendous amount of uncertainty heading into this season. But one man’s uncertainty is another man’s intrigue, and a fresh start might be just what Williams needs to climb back into contention.  Saturday’s opener against Colby will be a (purple and) golden opportunity to start the new era of Williams Football off right.

Weekend Preview: Opening Day 9/24

 

The Bowdoin Polar Bears and the rest of the NESCAC are pumped for opening day (CI Photography)
The Bowdoin Polar Bears and the rest of the NESCAC are pumped for opening day (CI Photography)

It’s finally here: opening day in the NESCAC. We’ve been waiting all fall for this, bored silly by the yawn-inducing NFL and Division 1 games. Below is what you should be looking forward to in Week 1. Three different writers contributed to these previews: Rory Ziomek took the Bates-Trinity and Colby-Williams games; Pete Lindholm took the Hamilton-Amherst and Middlebury-Bowdoin games; finally, Robert Treiber wrote the preview for the game of the week, Wesleyan-Tufts. Enjoy!

 

Bates vs. Trinity – Hartford, CT, 1:00PM

Well, the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world start their seasons with cupcake games, so why can’t Trinity do the same? Strictly based on matchups, this game shouldn’t even be close, especially if you consider that Trinity has the homefield advantage. Sonny Puzzo ‘18 returns to the Bantams boasting the highest passing yards total in 2015 out of returning players. Additionally, returning ROY Max Chipouras ‘19 is back from Trinity after leading the NESCAC in rushing touchdowns. These guys are weapons, but it’s not Coach Devanney’s offense that will make this a rout, it’s the combination of a subpar Bates offense and a stingy Trinity defense. Bates had the second lowest YPG total last year with 289.5 YPG. The Trinity defense, on the other hand, led the league by allowing only 253.3 YPG last season. Count the fact that Trinity has five returning defensive backs and eight total returning starters on D, and this game has the makings of a blowout. Bates runs the triple option, so their only chance is to get ahead early. If they can get out to an early lead, Bates can keep pounding the ball on the ground instead of being forced to pass. Frankly, I just don’t see this happening. This should be a good warm up game for Trinity.

Score Prediction: Bates – 7, Trinity – 24

 

Side note: Trinity is playing in honor of those struggling with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. If you are able, please consider making a donation!

 

Colby vs. Williams – Williamstown, MA, 1:00PM

On one hand, Colby has the advantage of consistency that Williams lacks given their coaching change this offseason. On the other hand, that consistency hasn’t been much of an advantage for the Mules in years past, going 10-22 since Coach Michaeles took over as head coach in 2012. Mark Raymond took over for the Ephs after a very successful stint at St. Lawrence where he helped turn the Saints into one of the top programs in the Northeast, receiving both regional and national rankings throughout last season. Williams really struggled to score last year, primarily due to their mediocre running game, but the Ephs thrived passing the ball, ranking third in passing YPG. Williams’ main problem, however, was finishing off drives. Luckily for Coach Raymond, Colby is the only team that scored less than Williams last year, probably because of their heavy reliance on Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17. Hurdle-Price ranked second in rushing YPG last year, and had the most carries in the league, clearly showing Colby’s dedication to the running game. If Williams can shut down Hurdle-Price, or at least contain him and force Colby to throw the ball, I think the Ephs will pull this one out. However, if Hurdle-Price can find room to work, the Mules may sneak away with a huge W to start the year.

Score Prediction: Colby – 14, Williams 17

 

Amherst vs. Hamilton- Amherst, MA, 1:00 PM

You know why David versus Goliath is such a famous story?  Because ninety-nine times out of a hundred, Goliath uses David as a toothpick.  This won’t be that one upset.  Amherst comes into this one with a nineteen game winning streak and (as anyone there will you loudly, aggressively and several times within a five minute conversation) three straight league championships.  Hamilton, on the other hand, finished 2-6 last year and it was their best record in five years.  That’s not to say the Continentals didn’t make progress last season.  They had a solid defense led by dangerous defensive linemen Brent Lobien ‘17 and Nick Sobcyzk ‘17, who both lived in opponents’ backfields in 2015.  They had this success despite spending a lot of time on the field due to Hamilton’s massive struggles on offensive.  They averaged only 15 points per game, with quarterback play being the biggest culprit.  Hamilton quarterbacks combined for a completion percentage under 50%.

Amherst’s quarterback situation is somewhat in flux as well.  Reece Foy ‘18 was poised to be a POY candidate this season before injuring his knee in pre-season.  Alex Berluti ‘17 is ready to step in, but Foy’s injury certainly takes the wind out of the Purple and White’s sails.  This is the year that Amherst is vulnerable.  However, Hamilton won’t be the US Hockey Team to Amherst’s Soviet Union.  At least for this weekend, the Evil Empire marches on.

Score Prediction: Amherst – 31, Hamilton – 10

 

Middlebury vs. Bowdoin – Middlebury, VT, 1:00 PM

The Panthers will benefit this week from playing at home, where the fearless managing editor of NBN will be cheering them on.  They will also benefit from playing Bowdoin, who finished last season at 1-7 and lost several key pieces for unusual reasons, including running back Tyler Grant due to a chronic injury and several other players due to a plagiarism scandal.  Bowdoin’s major struggles last season were on the offensive end, particularly in establishing a running game.  The Polar Bears averaged a paltry 2.2 yards per carry, making it impossible for the passing game to get any momentum.  Freshman back Nate Richem will look to change that, but the constantly contending Panthers are a tough place to start.  

The Panthers will be looking to see if UNLV transfer QB Jared Lebowitz can continue in the long line of stellar Panther signal-callers.  But it’s the defense, led by standout seniors linebacker Addison Pierce and defensive back Nate Leedy, that should ice the Polar Bears on Saturday.  Bowdoin will need an MLA Citation Dictionary and a lot of luck to pull off the upset, and clearly they don’t have access to either.

Score Prediction: Middlebury – 24, Bowdoin – 13

 

GAME OF THE WEEK: Wesleyan vs. Tufts – Somerville, MA, 6:00 PM

Saturday, September 24th marks the first time the Tufts football team will host a night game. It will be a rematch of the first ever NESCAC night football game between the Jumbos and the Wesleyan Cardinals that happened just two years ago when the two met at Andrus Field (Wesleyan). In that matchup, the Cardinals showed no mercy defeating the Jumbos 52-9. As sophomores in that game, Chance Brady ‘17 averaged 11 yards per carry and Mike Rando ‘17 averaged 21+ yards on 8 returns. On defense, Mike Stearns ‘17 was second on the team with 8 tackles. The Jumbos ended the season 0-8 that year, but are certainly turning things around as a program and have had this date circled on the calendar since last season ended with a win against Middlebury.

Saturday’s game is reminiscent of the first Monday night football game between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns in 1970. Over 80,000 fans were in attendance to witness the Browns defeat Joe Namath and the Jets 31-21. Monday Night Football has become an integral part of the culture surrounding football. It has had a key role in developing the viewer experience.

It is also interesting to note that the Ivy League seems to be pushing for night games as well. Yale will be hosting its first ever night game against Penn on October 23rd. Maybe the NESCAC is following suit?

This Saturday’s game is expected to be an experience within itself. There will be a Pop Warner game on the field in the earlier afternoon. Students, parents and alumni from both sides are expected to come from all over to watch the game. The Jumbos are hoping to continue to build on last year’s impressive season, while Wesleyan hopes for the same results as the last time the two met under the lights.

The game should feature a heavy focus on each side’s ground attack. Wesleyan will pound the ball on the ground to Jaylen Berry ‘18, while Brady will get the majority of the touches for the Jumbos on offense. Wesleyan was right in the middle of the pack last year in terms of their rush defense, but if they can shut down Brady and force Tufts away from their comfort zone, they will have a great shot to win this game. What makes Tufts so difficult to stop, however, is the way they mix their rushing attack with their plethora of screen passes, primarily to Rando. I expect Coach DiCenzo to have planned for this, and I am anticipating that Wesleyan’s star safety Justin Sanchez ‘17 will be ready to step up to stop these plays before they even have a chance to get going. If Tufts is going to win, they are going to need to mix in a couple deep throws. Even if they fall incomplete, just negating Wesleyan’s ability to pack in six or seven guys in the box will pay huge dividends for the Coach Civetti’s squad. I think they can do this, allowing Tufts to escape with a 3-point win via the foot of All-NESCAC kicker Willie Holmquist ‘17.

Score Prediction: Wesleyan – 14, Tufts – 17

O’Neil’s Top 10: Top 10 Places to Play

Saturday is game day in the NESCAC so we decided to rank the league’s best places to play. The list takes into account each school’s stadium, fan attendance, and the overall ambiance of their game day experience.

 

#10: Bowdoin

Stadium: Whittier Field

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 1,928

(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Hate to do it to the Polar Bears but there aren’t too many perks for playing at Bowdoin. For starters, Whittier Field, with its natural grass playing surface, is just brutal. Any precipitation turns the field to a mud pit. In terms of attendance, Bowdoin is about the league average. That being said, Whittier Field crowds are pretty hushed and there always seems to be this bleak feel to games. Bowdoin’s best attribute is a path through the woods that leads onto the field. The walk through the forest is very cool and “Maine-like”, but it’s not enough to rescue Bowdoin from the cellar.

#9: Colby

Stadium: Seaverns Field at Harold Alfond Stadium

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 1,450

(Courtesy of Colby Athletics)
(Courtesy of Colby Athletics)

Colby renovated their complex in 2009, installing a turf field, lights, and an up-to-date press box. Harold Alfond Stadium is beautiful, but the stadium is not the issue. Game days in Waterville, Maine are pretty lifeless as Colby is last in attendance. If the Mules start winning games and generating buzz, there’s no reason they can’t move up on this list.

#8: Tufts

Stadium: Zimman Field at Ellis Oval

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 3,650

(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Game days at Tufts are a total enigma. On one hand, I’m gonna come out and say that the Jumbos home field is the worst complex in the league. Ellis Oval looks like a run of the mill high school field. The bleachers are rusted, the press box is outdated, and the natural grass surface would make a Pop Warner team blush with shame. But once you get past the inefficiencies, you realize that what Tufts lacks in facilities, they make up for in atmosphere. Since breaking a 31-game losing streak in 2014, the Jumbos have led the NESCAC in attendance. And when you have a crowd that blends a bunch of smart kids with local Massholes, things can get pretty loud. Tufts hosts Wesleyan this Saturday in the school’s first ever night game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them break 7,000 in attendance.

#7: Wesleyan

Stadium: Corwin Stadium at Andrus Field

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 2,574

(Courtesy of D3Football)
(Courtesy of D3Football)

Andrus Field is a little hippie and free spirited, but then again, so is Wesleyan. Home to Wesleyan football since the early 1880s,  Andrus Field is the “oldest continuously used collegiate football field in the United States.” No, the playing surface isn’t great and temporary bleachers have to be installed each Fall, but the Cardinals rank 3rd in home attendance and their crowds are sneaky rowdy. The best thing about Andrus Field is that it’s literally right in the center of campus. So even if you hate football, there’s no escaping game day at Wes.

 

(Side note: Andrus Field is also home to the Cardinals baseball team, which makes Wesleyan the most economically savvy school in the NESCAC.)

#5: Bates

Stadium: Garcelon Field

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 1,739

(Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
(Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Bates College feels more like an elite New England prep school than a college. The campus is absolutely beautiful in the fall and Garcelon Field fits right into that landscape. In 2010, the school installed field turf, lights, and a new press box giving the stadium a much needed facelift. When you couple Bates’ charming stadium and with fall perfect fall weather of Lewiston, you’ve got the NESCAC’s fifth best place to play.

#5: Hamilton

Stadium: Steuben Field

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 1,479

(Courtesy of Hamilton College)
(Courtesy of Hamilton College)

Just like Bates, Hamilton College (Clinton, NY), has a bit of a prep school flair to it. Also just like Bates, Hamilton has a cozy stadium that fits its campus perfectly. Steuben Field is outfitted with a field turf and a nifty little grandstand. Now, while the Continentals drew only 1,479  fans per game in 2015, consider this: there can’t be more than like 4,000* people in the entire town of Clinton if you include Hamilton students. That means nearly half the town’s population is showing up for game days. With that in mind, we can safely say that there is no fan base more devoted to their team than Hamilton’s.

 

*population sizes are up for discussion

#4: Middlebury

Stadium: Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 2,413

(Courtesy of Middlebury Football).
(Courtesy of Middlebury Football).

If you’re the outdoorsy granola type, Middlebury is your prime game day destination. For starters, there is no greater landscape in the NESCAC than the one adjacent to Alumni Stadium. Middlebury’s home turf is nestled in the Vermont countryside and gives everyone in attendance a gorgeous view of the Green Mountains. The complex is bowl shaped, giving fans the choice to watch the game either from the grandstand, or the surrounding hills. The Panthers draw a solid crowd, but as nice as Mid’s stadium is, school officials are still leaving so much on the table. Ben & Jerry’s is in your backyard guys, let’s wake up and strike a deal here.

#3: Amherst

Stadium: Pratt Field

Avg. 2015 Attendance: 1,467

(Courtesy of Bowie Gridley Architects)
(Courtesy of Bowie Gridley Architects)

Game days at Amherst College look like a J.Crew convention with a little football sprinkled in. In all seriousness, credit Amherst with igniting the facilities arms race that is upon us. In 2013, a revamped Pratt Field was unveiled to the public and immediately set the standard for modern day NESCAC football stadiums. Everything from the raised stadium seating to the field house perched on top of the hill is perfect. While Amherst fans had the second worst showing last season, it’s important to note that attendance was under 1,000 for the first two games (Bowdoin and Middlebury) and over 2,000 the last two (Wesleyan and Trinity). Their message is clear: we’ll show up for the games that matter.

#2: Williams

Stadium: Weston Field

Avg. 2015: Attendance: 1,665

(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

“If we’re not gonna beat Amherst anytime soon, we might as well build a better stadium than theirs.” Folks, that is the exact* mantra behind the creation of Weston Field. This place is to the NESCAC what the Rose Bowl is to the PAC-12. There’s not much else to say other than Weston Field is stunning. I know the team is not great. I know their attendance is down. It doesn’t matter. This place is just too nice.

 

*read: highly debatable

#1: Trinity

Stadium: Jesse/ Miller Field (AKA “The Coop”)

Avg. 2015: Attendance: 2,941

(Courtesy of D3Football)
(Courtesy of D3Football)

Throughout this list, some schools have relied heavily on their atmosphere, while others have been lauded for their superior facilities. We haven’t really seen a school with a great stadium and an electric fan base…until now. For starters, “The Coop” just underwent renovations and recently installed new field turf and a  jumbotron.

A jumbotron…in the NESCAC…let’s let that one sink in a little.

In terms of atmosphere, the bleachers are extremely close to the playing field. This is actually great for the thousands of riled up Trinity student screaming insults from the stands. The Bantams have the most ruthless fan base in the league and when you pair that electric atmosphere with some pretty outstanding stadium upgrades, it’s no wonder that Jesse/Miller Field is the #1 place to play in the NESCAC.

 

Don’t Sleep, Young Bloods: The Polar Bears Might Surprise

 

Projected Record: 1-7

Projected Offensive Starters: *Seven Returning

QB: Timmy Drakely (‘17)*

RB: Nate Richam (‘20)*

WR: Nick Vailas (‘18)*

WR: Garrett Thomas (’18)

WR: Liam Blair-Ford (’17)

TE: Bryan Porter (‘18)*

OL: Kyle Losardo (‘17)*

OL: Brian Mullin (‘17)*

C: AJ Mansolillo (‘19)*

OL: Ben Jurkic (‘17)

OL: TBA

Projected Defensive Starters:  *Seven returning

OLB: Andre Joyce (‘20)

MLB: Latif Armiyaw (*18)*

OLB: Andre Jett (‘20)

DL: Steve Anderson (‘17)*

DL: Danny Wanger (‘17)*

DL: Nadeem Elhage (‘16)*

DL: Jay Mobley (‘20)

DB: Reeder Wells (‘17)*

DB: Jibrail Coy (‘16)*

DB: Cameron Rondeau (‘19)*

DB: Henry Little (‘18)

Projected Specialists: *One returning

K: Andrew Sisti (‘18)*

P: Chen (‘20)

Offensive MVP: Nate Richam ‘20

Yeah, he’s a freshman, but might as well go bold. Bowdoin was last in the league in rushing, rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry, averaging 2.2 yards per carry, totaling under 500 yards, and racking up just 3 TDs in 2015.  That was partly due to Tyler Grant getting hurt (Grant has hung up the spikes, and won’t be playing this year). In 2014, Tyler Grant ran for 893 yards, and 8 TDs, as a sophomore. He got more touches than anyone in the NESCAC that year. Needless to say, his injury caused some problems.

Richam, a West Hartford, Connecticut native, has drawn rave reviews this preseason. Yes, he’s a freshman, but the Polar Bears desperately need to establish a running game this year. Richam’s quick, he’s strong, and he has that ability to make people miss that you can’t coach. Bowdoin threw the ball 177 times last year, third most in the league, but historically, Bowdoin likes to run the ball, so look for last season’s historic lows in rushing production to at least return to normal levels this year.

Defensive MVP: Reeder Wells ‘17

This is the least exciting defensive MVP pick possible. Reeder Wells hasn’t put up huge numbers in his career, but he’s as steady as they come. He’s never missed a game. He’s the captain on defense, he’s a Texan, and he makes tackles. He’s had at least 36 tackles every year. He only has 1 career interception, and he’s never had a sack, but his value and consistency will make him the most valuable defensive player for the Polar Bears this season.

Welcome Back: Liam Blair-Ford ‘17

By the numbers, Blair-Ford hasn’t done much as a Polar Bear yet. His career receiving numbers aren’t very big, and he’s only played 10 career games, missing extended time due to injury. Despite all that, the word on the street is that he’s in great shape, and he’s gonna play a big role this year.

Biggest Game: September 24th, at Middlebury

Yeah, it might be strange to pick the opener. Think about it this way. Bowdoin hasn’t finished a season above .500 since over a decade ago (2005). The Bears need to win one of the first two games, and while Amherst at home would be a huge, huge win, objectively they have a better chance taking down the Panthers, considering Amherst’s won 19 in a row, and three straight NESCAC championships. If they win one of the first two, they’ll be in a good spot.

Best Tweet:

It’s gotta be this video of a barely comprehensible Latif Armiyaw looking really, really hot. You’re looking at the owner of the Bowdoin Track & Field 60m dash record there folks. As quick a linebacker as you’re gonna find in the NESCAC.

http://https://twitter.com/jacklucy73/status/763146721664888832

Summary:

It’s hard to have an offseason more brutal than Bowdoin’s. They lost the usual seniors (but actually retain a handful 2016s, playing an extra year due to injury, like Nadim Elhage, and Jibrail Coy). After that though, things get bleak. They lost Philippe Archambault ‘19, arguably their best defensive player, a French-Canadian beast, who has returned to Canada. They’ve lost a handful to retirement, be it due to injury, or simply quitting, including former impact running back Tyler Grant ‘17. Perhaps worst of all, the team lost a handful of valuable players in a plagiarism scandal: 5 or 6 guys, most of whom figured to receive significant playing time, will miss the season.

So yeah, a rough offseason, but the freshman class shows great promise,and they return a lot of veterans with starting experience, which shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s a lot of buzz about the energy level and hunger that this team has. A duo of sophomore baseball guys, Brandon Lopez ‘19, and Ejazz Jiu ‘19 have joined the team this year, and Jiu ‘19 looks like he’s going to have an impact at wide receiver. He’s a big target. Richman ‘20 has looked great at running back, and Chandler Gee ‘20 is a really fast slot receiver who has impressed so far. On defense, a trio of freshman linebackers, Joe Gowetzski (ILB), Christian Pridgen (OLB), Sydney Guerrier (OLB), look like they could do some damage.

The group of returners is solid. In particular, the success of  WR Nick Vailas ‘18 and TE Bryan Porter ‘18 will play a big role in the team’s chances. Vailas had almost 600 receiving yards and added 6 TDs, while Porter had over 400 receiving yards with 5 TDs. Porter made 2nd team all-NESCAC last year as a sophomore, he was one of only two Bowdoin representatives, and he’s also an excellent blocker.

Two of Bowdoin’s top offensive linemen, Kyle Losardo ‘17 and Brian Mullin ‘17, return as well. When you ask Bowdoin guys about top offensive players, they often point to those two as being weapons on the line.

The keys for this team are going to be health, running the ball, and stopping the run. Healthwise, they’re already extremely thin, and if they start to lose talented veterans, they’re going to be in a tough spot. Richam and sophomore RB Andrew Tichy will need to have big seasons in order for the Polar Bears offense to work, and the defense is going to have to at least be average, as opposed to league-worst, against the run. Bowdoin won’t have much room for error, but if they can limit injuries and mistakes, they should have the pieces to put together a decent season, with a little luck.