The Beat Goes On: Football Weekend Preview 9/23

Week Two features several games that could go either way, making for an exciting week of football. The schedulers continue their support of the Williams resurgence, giving the Ephs another game against the lower tier of the league. Hamilton gets another chance for a signature win, taking on the Mammoths in the close runner up for GAME OF THE WEEK. And the winner of that race, Tufts @ Wesleyan, promises to be a terrific matchup featuring two rivals who played in hard fought matchups in Week One.

Middlebury (1-0) @ Bowdoin (0-1)

Bobby Ritter
Bobby Ritter ’19 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

The Panthers looked like the Patriots for the first three quarters of their opener against Wesleyan, and then the Browns for the fourth quarter. They led the Cardinals 30-13 with 7 minutes left, then surrendered two touchdowns in a four minute span before a game saving pick by Bobby Ritter ’20 ended the comeback. For Middlebury, the first three quarters should be the biggest takeaway. They made an elite defense look tired, as Jared Lebowitz ’18 spread the wealth between several receivers before Conrado Banky ’19 got involved at the end. And defensively, they held Wesleyan in check before running out of gas. They were particularly effective in stopping the run, as Defensive Player of the Week Wesley Becton ’18 put up 11 tackles and forced two fumbles. Middlebury has weapons on both sides of the ball, and should get better at playing all four quarters as the season goes along.

Bowdoin fell victim to Williams’ youthful energy, losing 28-14 in a game that wasn’t even that close. The Polar Bears struggled on offense, only gaining 220 yards total for the entire game. They did show signs of life on defense, with LB Latif Armiyaw ’20 spending most of the day in the Williams backfield, but the offense simply couldn’t do enough to keep them off the field. This won’t get better against the Panthers.

Predicted Score: Middlebury 38, Bowdoin 6

Williams (1-0) @ Colby (0-1)

Colby had the misfortune of running into Trinity in Week One, so it’s hard to get a read on how the Mules look this season. However, they scored 0 points against the Bantams, so it’s safe to say that the offense could stand to improve. Luckily, Williams’ defense is certainly not on par with Trinity’s. Look for Colby to try to establish RB Nate Richam ’18 and the running game early and often against the Ephs, who, being a young team, might struggle with a long road trip.

This picture, Frank Stola ’21 running away from a defender, basically sums up Williams’ week one match up with Bowdoin.
(Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Williams put on a terrific offensive display against Bowdoin, thanks almost entirely to a pair of first years. QB Bobby Maimeron ’21 threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, and 168 of those yards, as well as both touchdowns, were to receiver Frank Stola ’21. Of course, this is a blessing and a curse for the Ephs. They have a bonafide weapon now, but Colby knows exactly who to focus on. They will focus their solid secondary, and particularly DB Don Vivian ’18, on Stola. This will be a test for these two phenoms, and I think they pass it.

Predicted Score: Williams 21, Colby 9

Amherst (1-0) @ Hamilton (0-1)

Both teams looked great in their season openers, with Amherst slaughtering Bates 41-17 while Hamilton narrowly lost to Trinity, 35-28 in overtime. Hamilton receiver Joe Schmidt won offensive player of the week honors after recording eight receptions for 214 yards and four touchdowns. Linebacker Tyler Hudson shared the defensive player of the week honors with Middlebury’s Wesley Becton. Hamilton sported the top three tacklers in week one with Cole Burchill and Colby Jones recording 13 and 11 tackles respectively. The Amherst Mammoths may not have any league leaders, but Ollie Eberth’s 210 passing yards and Andrew Sommer’s 10 tackles are still impressive.

Hamilton lost 34-0 at Amherst last year in the teams’ season opener. Hamilton has a long way to come to beat Amherst, but the Continentals looked much improved at Trinity and will need this home win to break into the top half of the conference. With the offensive performances last week, this game could turn into a shootout and might even come down to the last play.

Predicted Score: Hamilton 35, Amherst 31

Trinity (1-0) @ Bates (0-1)

Max Chipouras
Max Chipouras ’19 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Not a lot to say about this one. Trinity is far and away the best team in the league, having won 12 in a row at this point. They pasted Colby 35-0, and didn’t even play that well. The offense turned the ball over three times, something uncharacteristic of both QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 and RB Max Chipouras ’19. That was to be expected with the shortened preseason; they will probably tighten it up going forward.

Bates has to be a little disappointed in their Week One performance. Senior QB Sandy Plashkes struggled mightily, going 7-19 with an interception against an Amherst defense that, while solid, is not quite on the level of, say, Trinity or Wesleyan. Bates was forced to run the ball a great deal, which they did fairly effectively, but not nearly well enough to give the defense a chance to breath. And that tired defense looked very tired, giving up four touchdowns to unknown first year QB Ollie Eberth ’21. Trinity should do everything Amherst did to the Bobcats, just far worse.

Predicted Score: Trinity 49, Bates 3

GAME OF THE WEEK: Tufts (1-0) @ Wesleyan (0-1)

Ryan McDonald ’18 will try to lead the Jumbos to a 2-0 start.
(Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Overview:

The biggest match-up of the week is basically a must win for Wesleyan if they want any hope of competing for a title. There’s a chance that Trinity or one of the other contenders will lose one game, but they certainly won’t lose two. And Wesleyan already has their loss, falling to Middlebury on the road in Week One. In that game, they discovered that QB Mark Piccirillo ’18 (432 yards) is ready for prime time, but their offense was one dimensional. Middlebury shut down their rushing attack very effectively, forcing them to throw their way back into the game. Of course, the Panthers were surprised to find that they could.

This bodes well for their matchup with Tufts. The Jumbos squeaked out an overtime win in a classic against Hamilton. But over the course of that game their pass defense was certainly exposed. They gave up 365 passing yards to Hamilton QB Kenny Gray ’20, and 214 yards and four touchdowns to receiver Joe Schmidt ’20. Piccirillo and Mike Breuler ’18 are more experienced versions of those two, so Tufts may be susceptible to the same fate as last week.

Key for Tufts: Establishing the Run

Tufts QB Ryan McDonald ’19 was one of the stars of Week One, throwing for 267 yards and rushing for 92 more. He accounted for three touchdowns on his own, including this #SCtop10 candidate. But with all due respect to Hamilton (whom I think it’s clear that we’re high on this season,) Wesleyan’s defense is a bit of a different story. McDonald will not be able to throw all over the Cardinals, and they’re certainly experienced enough to not let him break free for long runs. Tufts should work early on running the ball to set up play actions and bootlegs for McDonald.

Key for Wesleyan: Controlling the Pace

The way that Middlebury was able to attack Wesleyan’s vaunted defense was by tiring them out. The Panthers are one of the best teams in the league at running no huddle, and Wesleyan’s defense looked gassed an confused several times during Week One. This was supported by several very short drives by the offense in the first three quarters, keeping the defense on the field. To prevent Tufts from following Middlebury’s game plan, Wesleyan needs take some time on their offensive drives.

Predicted Score: Wesleyan 27, Tufts 24

Please Don’t Take Offense: Week One Stock Report

A lot of experts predicted that the Ninth Games would be defensive affairs, filled with turnovers and sloppiness. Well, a lot of experts were wrong. Week One was more offensive than Steve Bannon’s existence, and there were several tremendous performances, more than can be included in this Stock Report. Here are a few of the things that we noticed from Week One, both positive and negative.

Stock Up:

Hamilton-

A loss doesn’t usually land you on the coveted Stock Up list, but this was Hamilton’s most important performance in years. They hung tough with Tufts, on of the elite teams in the league, and even could have won had they tried to go for two instead of settling for the tie (more on that later.) They had the Offensive Player of the Week in WR Joe Schmidt ‘20, who tore the Jumbos apart to the tune of 214 yards and four touchdowns. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also had the Co-Defensive Player of the Week in LB Tyler Hudson ‘19, who had 19 tackles. Hamilton has weapons galore right now, and don’t be surprised if they break out this year.

Jimmy Martinez
Jimmy Martinez ’19 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Middlebury WR Jimmy Martinez ‘19-

Middlebury’s WR situation right now is a disaster on paper. They graduated two of their biggest threats in James Burke and Ryan Rizzo, and junior stud Conrado Banky ‘19 hasn’t looked himself all preseason. But Jared Lebowitz ‘18 had plenty of guys to throw to against Wesleyan, and Martinez was one of the biggest targets. He had 5 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, but his biggest impact was on special teams, where he a returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Assuming Banky finds his way, Middlebury is still loaded with weapons thanks to Martinez, as well as sophomores TE Frankie Cosolito ‘20 and WR Maxim Bochman ‘20.

Williams Offense-

Frank Stola ’21 is a budding star for the Ephs.

It’s been a while since the Ephs had legitimate weapons on offense, but they certainly do now. WR Frank Stola ’21 had 7 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns, but the real revelation was first year quarterback Bobby Maimaron ‘21. Quarterback play has been arguably the biggest reason for Williams’ struggles, as they turned the ball over constantly last season. Maimaron threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns, and most importantly threw all his passes to Williams players. These two first years have Williams football rapidly back on the up and up.

Pete’s Predictions-

Damn you, Hamilton! If the Continentals had pulled off the upset, I would have been a perfect five for five. In any case, look at the actual scores versus my predictions.

Pete’s Prediction Actual Score
Middlebury 31, Wesleyan 28 Middlebury 30, Wesleyan 27
Williams 27, Bowdoin 10 Williams 28, Bowdoin 14
Amherst 28, Bates 17 Amherst 41, Bates 17
Trinity 40, Colby 10 Trinity 35, Colby 0
Hamilton 17, Tufts 14 Tufts 35, Hamilton 28 (we can’t win em’ all)

Not a bad start! This is how you get to be editor, folks.

Stock Down:

Wesleyan Defense-

The group that terrorized NESCAC last year lost two key members in Jordan Stone and Justin Sanchez, but they still return a great deal of talent. However, against Middlebury the Cardinals looked like they were feeling those losses. They gave up 20 points in the first quarter, and although they made a furious fourth quarter comeback to pull within three points, the defense didn’t look nearly as threatening as the 2016 iteration. Although QB Mark Piccirrillo ‘18 had a huge game while he tried to throw them back into the game, Wesleyan is not really equipped to win shootouts. The defense will have to improve fast, as they play Tufts next week and the suddenly-threatening Hamilton offense the week after.

Middlebury’s Fourth Quarters-

With all that said about Wesleyan’s defense, they still had a shot at pulling off a miraculous comeback in the fourth quarter. However, it is just as valid to blame Middlebury for letting them back into it as it is to credit Wesleyan for coming back. The Panthers defense, which had been stringent for the rest of the game, allowed two touchdowns in a five minute span, and the offensive line began letting Wesleyan’s linebackers into the backfield, forcing Lebowitz into rushed throws. Given the early start to the season, this can be partially attributed to conditioning, and Middlebury has Bowdoin and Colby over the next two weeks to get in shape for Amherst. And based on this game, it looks like they’ll need to.

Mike Breuler ’18 and Wesleyan almost pulled off a comeback against Middlebury.

Hamilton’s Dillon Panthers Impression-

I’ve already given a great deal of credit to Hamilton in this article, but there’s one thing that is stuck in my mind about their game. They scored their final touchdown with four minutes left, and instead of going for two and taking the lead, they opted to kick the extra point and tie the game. This is, of course, the smart and correct thing to do. As I’m reminded pretty much daily by email or Twitter DM by readers, I don’t know anything about football. But Coach Eric Taylor does, and in a similar situation during season three of Friday Night Lights, he went for two. This was during the state playoffs, no less! Hamilton was closing in on the most important win in the program’s recent history, so all I’m saying is that I, and Coach Taylor, would have thrown caution to the wind.

 

The Ninth Games: Weekend Preview 9/16

Here we are, NESCAC football fans. Not only is this opening weekend (always exciting) but it is also the first opening weekend of the Ninth Game era, something that fans and players have wanted for a while. I would caution you to take your excitement with a grain of salt, however. This season starts a week earlier than usual. That means a week less practice time for teams to get ready for game play. I would expect these games to be somewhat sloppy, and potentially fairly low scoring. Some grizzled, older fans like my father would like that “smash-mouth football style,” but I like offense. We will see how well teams have adjusted to this new schedule. However, if it means we get to watch football earlier, I’ll gladly accept some sloppiness.

Bowdoin @ Williams, 12:00 PM, Williamstown, MA

The first kickoff of the season features two teams that are looking to put 2016 in their rearview mirror. This can only happen with a good start in 2017, so both sides should be very motivated. All eyes will be on who starts at quarterback for Williams, although sources are telling us that it will most likely be John Gannon ‘18, who is returning from missing last year with a torn ACL. A fair amount of rust is to be expected (from everyone, not just Gannon,) but if he can get into a rhythm then he has the weapons to really explode. TE Tyler Patterson ‘19 is a beast when healthy, and experienced receivers Adam Regensberg ‘’18 and Kellen Hatheway ‘19 give him a lot of options to throw to. Bowdoin’s defense wasn’t exactly world-beating last year, allowing the most rushing yards AND passing yards per game last year, but they return two stellar linebackers Latif Armiyaw ‘18 and Joe Gowetski ‘18 and will be looking to make a statement. However, I think Williams is ready to start trending upwards, and this game is the start of that.

Final Score Prediction: Williams 27, Bowdoin 10

GAME OF THE WEEK: Wesleyan @ Middlebury, 1:00 PM, Middlebury, VT

Jared Lebowitz ’18 is the most dangerous offensive force in the league, but needs a good o-line performance to top Wesleyan.
(Courtesy of vpr.net)

It’s not every year that a Week One game could have championship implications, but this game might. Wesleyan and Middlebury both have the returning talent to make a run at the championship, but one of them is also starting off the season 0-1. With Trinity’s level of talent and easier opening matchup, one loss might be too many to win the league outright. Therefore, we can expect both teams to be extra-fired up entering this one. Middlebury has been excellent at home over the last few years, but Wesleyan is well equipped to attack the dynamic Panther offense. The only way to beat Middlebury is to get pressure on QB Jared Lebowitz ‘18. If he has enough time, he will pick your defense apart. But when under pressure, he is prone to rushed throws and turnovers. Wesleyan’s defense is certainly athletic enough to get through the young Middlebury offensive line.

However, the Cardinals offense can be inconsistent. They lost two of the major weapons from their running attack last year in WR/RB Devin Carillo and RB Lou Stevens. Therefore, they either have to use Dario Highsmith ‘19, the new starting RB, in a much larger role or reinvent themselves as a more pass-heavy offense. If their offense struggles, Middlebury’s no-huddle offense will wear down the defense, and eventually Lebowitz will get the time he needs. And at that point, it’s game over.

Score Prediction: Middlebury 31, Wesleyan 28

Hamilton @ Tufts, 1:00 PM, Medford, MA

This game has by far the highest upset potential of any this weekend, and I’m jumping on it. Hamilton returns a great deal of their much-improved offense from last year, including quarterback Kenny Gray ‘20, who impressed many with his poise as a first year last season. The defense is far newer, but they benefit this week from facing a Tufts team that graduated most of their offense from last year. Of course, that offense came in the form of one man, RB Chance Brady, who dominated the league like Tecmo Bo Jackson last year. It will take a great deal of work for Tufts to adjust to life without Brady. I think they’re up to the task, but the shortened preseason will cost them here in Week One.

Final Score Prediction: Hamilton 17, Tufts 14

Bates @ Amherst, 1:00 PM, Amherst, MA

Jack Hickey ’19 might well be the next star NESCAC running back in Amherst’s renewed offense.
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

This game features the return of Amherst QB and POY candidate Reece Foy ‘18, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. And not only do the Mammoths get Foy back, they return red zone weapon Jack Hickey ‘19 at running back. Hickey scored seven touchdowns last year, and seems poised to break out as a star this year in a wide open race for First Team RB. Amherst also returns star WR Bo Berluti ‘20. The Mammoth’s offense is ready to break out after struggling at times last season, and a strong defense puts Amherst back towards the top of the preseason rankings. Bates returns a great deal of talent as well. QB Sandy Plaschkes ‘18 has been solid for years, but has to raise his game in this game, and this season, if Bates wants to compete with teams like Amherst. Bates has the talent to make it a game, but Amherst is back and there’s nothing the Bobcats can do about it.

Final Score Prediction: Amherst 28, Bates 17

Colby @ Trinity, 1:00 PM, Hartford, CT

There are teams that have a chance to take Trinity down this season, and games in which they could struggle. Colby is not that team, and this is not that game. Trinity brings back QB Sonny Puzzo 18, RB Max Chipouras ‘19 and WR Bryan Viera ‘18. In other words, they bring back arguably the best in the league at three skill positions. This bodes well for Trinity’s offense. Colby, on the other hand, lost their biggest weapon in Sebastian Ferrall ‘19. They do return a great deal of talent on defense, especially in the secondary and at linebacker. If everything goes perfectly for the Mules, they put up a great performance on defense and only lose by one touchdown. Unfortunately, the team that beats Trinity this season will have to beat them in a shootout, not a defensive battle.

Final Score Prediction: Trinity 40, Colby 10.

 

The Mules are Stubborn: 2017 Colby Football Preview

2016 Record: 3-5

Projected 2017 Record: 2-7

Projected Starters: Offense (*Returning)

QB: Christian Sparacio ‘18*

RB: Jake Schwern ‘19

WR: TBD

WR: Mark Snyder ‘18*

WR: Matt RIchman ‘19

TE: TB

OL: Chris Bedigian ‘19

OL: Luke Borda ‘18

OL: Travon Bradford ‘18

OL: TBD

OL: TBD

Projected Starters: Defense (*Returning)

LB: Bryan McAdams ‘18*

LB: Sebastian Philemon ‘19*

LB: TBD

DB: Don Vivian ‘19*

DB: Ian Dickey ‘18*

DB: Will Caffey ‘19*

DB: TBD

DL: Sam Gomez ‘18*

DL: AJ Carrigan ‘19

DL: TBD

DL: TBD

Christian Sparacio
Christian Sparacio ’18 (Courtesy of Colby Athletics)

Offensive MVP: QB Christian Sparacio ‘18

Colby’s offense was nothing to write home about last season, and they lost arguably their two biggest threats; RB Jabari Hurdle-Price and WR Sebastian Ferrall, who did not graduate and simply isn’t returning to school. This puts incredible pressure on Sparacio to step up, even with those security blankets out of the picture. He is the presumptive starter and got the brunt of the action, but was challenged last year by first year Jack O’Brian ‘20, and there is a Dartmouth transfer, Harry Kraft ‘19, who will also press him. Sparacio has the ability to hold onto his job, but the Mules need more than that if they want any hope of matching last year’s win total.

Don Vivian
Don Vivian ’19 (Courtesy of Colby Athletics)

Defensive MVP: DB Don Vivian ‘19

Colby retains much of their solid defensive core from last season, and Vivian is the biggest prize of that returning crop. He picked off two passes and broke up five, but his greatest contributions are as a run stopper and tackler. He tallied 63 tackles, a number usually reserved for linebackers, and made an impact in the backfield with three tackles for loss. Vivian heads up a defense that is as experienced as any in the NESCAC, and should be the Mules calling card this season.

Biggest Game: vs. Bates, October 28

NESCAC football is exciting, yes, but it is also stratified. For the most part, you know at the beginning of the year which five teams will be competing for the title. This puts the teams that are outside of that upper tier in a competition for an award I like to call “The Best of the Rest.” Fans of those upper teams often dismiss games between those teams, but they are often the most enjoyable to watch. This game could very well decide the “Best of the Rest,” assuming neither team makes a miraculous leap to the upper tier. Additionally, the game could decide the CBB winner, which is a fierce regional rivalry. Mark this one down as one to check out.

Best Tweet:

Summary:

Colby surprised many last year by tallying three wins, and they return a good deal of that team this season, with the notable exception of star WR Sebastian Ferrall ‘19, who is not returning to the school. Without him, the Mules will have to rely heavily on their experienced defense and try to manufacture offense as best they can.

Defensive back Don Vivian ‘18 is a First Team candidate, and he leads an experience secondary that is Colby’s greatest strength. They also return a talented duo of linebackers in Bryan McAdams ‘18 and Sebastian Philemon ‘19. Defensive line could be an issue, as they are still waiting on several position battles to work themselves out. Stopping the run is critical to NESCAC success, and it’s very tough to do that with an inexperienced offensive line.

On offense, the Mules greatest returning weapon is kicker (yes kicker) John Baron ‘18. Many NESCAC teams struggle to find consistent placekickers, and many teams aren’t particularly bothered by that. But having one is a real weapon, particularly for a team like COlby that lacks a truly dominant red zone weapon. Baron is a key to Colby’s chances this year, especially if they get into games that come down to the wire. Aside from that, offense is going to be a real problem for Colby. They will need to see vast improvement from QB Christian Sparacio, which will not be helped by the loss of Farrell and starting running back Jabari Hurdle-Price. If they don’t get it, junior transfer Matthew Kraft ‘18 (of the New England Patriots Krafts) will be waiting in the wings.

 

Fly, Cardinals Fly: 2017 Wesleyan Football Preview

2016 Record: 6-2

Projected 2017 Record: 8-1

Projected Starters: Offense (*Returning)

QB: Mark Piccarillo ‘19*

RB: Dario Highsmith ‘20

WR: Mike Breuler ‘18*

WR: Eric Meyreles ‘18*

WR: TBD

TE: TBD

OL: Beau Butler ‘18 *

OL: Terrance Norton ‘19 *

OL: Ryan Shutta ‘20

OL: TBD

OL: TBD

Projected Starters: Defense (*Returning)

LB: Shane Kaminski ‘18 *

LB: Brandon Morris ‘19*

LB: TBD

CB: Jason Mitzner ‘18*

S: Elias Comacho ‘18*

S: TBD

CB: Ben Thaw ‘20/Eli Blair-May ‘20

DE: Jude Lindberg ‘19

DT: Grant Williams ‘19

DT: Bobby Nevin ‘19

DE: TBD

Projected Starters: Special Teams (*Returning)

K: TBD

P: TBD

KR: Eric Meyreles ‘18*

PR: Eric Meyreles ‘18*

Summary:

Wesleyan finished last season at 6-2, very much in the mix as one of the top teams in the league. They did it with a dynamic, powerful defense that was complemented by a run based offense that very rarely turned the ball over. This is usually a pretty solid and sustainable formula for success. However, the Cardinals lost a lot of the pieces that made that formula work in the offseason. They are that rare team that could go either way this season. They could rely on their depth and have young players step up to help them make the leap to the true top tier, or they could fall to the middle of the pack.

On offense, most of their losses affect that crucial running game. Lead back Lou Stevens is gone, as is, of course, versatile threat Devin Carrillo. Carrillo’s loss particularly stings,as he was a factor in every part of Wesleyan’s offense. He had 12 rushing touchdowns, and was also their leading receiver. To replace that kind of production, senior QB Mark Piccarillo will have to become elite. He is close to that level already, accounting for 15 total touchdowns last season, but without Stevens and Carillo to fall back on he will be asked to make more difficult throws and to run the ball with more authority. Luckily for the Cardinals, they are still very deep at receiver, with Eric Meyreles ‘18 and Mike Breuler ‘18 forming one of the better duos in the league.

Defensively, they lost two of their standouts in DT Jordan Stone and DB Justin Sanchez. They were both all-league level players, but more than that they, along with Coach DiCenzo and his staff, were responsible for forming the tough as nails defensive identity for which Wesleyan has become known. Luckily, that identity has seeped into the pores of the other players. LB Shayne Kaminski ‘18 is more than ready to take over that leadership mantle, and Wesleyan boasts a trio of junior DT’s that stop opposing rushing attacks where they stand. Defense has never been a worry for the Cardinals, and it won’t be this year.

Depth is what the Cardinals hope will keep them afloat despite all these losses, and that leads to position battles. There are two major ones that we’re keeping an eye on. On offense, tight end is up in the air. Senior Jake Cronin ‘18 would appear to have an inside track due to his experience, but freshman Patterson ‘21 adds a receiving dimension to their offense. And on defense, that final LB spot is still open, although sophomore Will Kearney ‘20 has made an impressive push in camp and might be set as the starter. Wesleyan lost a great deal, but they also keep a great deal and look poised to make a leap.

Eric Meyreles
Eric Meyreles ’18 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Offensive MVP: WR Eric Meyreles ‘18

One of the strengths of Wesleyan’s offense is their versatility. Last season they used Devin Carrillo ‘17 as a weapon from pretty much everywhere on the field. Carrillo had 12 rushing touchdowns, as well as 29 receptions as a receiver. His departure leaves them with a hole in that receiver hybrid spot that is so popular in today’s game. Meyreles is the logical choice to fill that void. He was their third-leading receiver last year with 21 receptions, and also uses his speed to be one of the most dangerous return men in the league. Wesleyan could well give some of Carillo’s rushing sets to Meyreles, making him an even more versatile threat.

Shayne Kaminski
Shayne Kaminski ’18 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Defensive MVP: LB Shayne Kaminski ‘18

This choice is pretty straightforward. Kaminski was one of the best linebackers in the league last year as a junior, putting up 61 tackles and four sacks. Wesleyan as a team was one of the best defenses in the country, ranking towards the top in yards allowed for most of the season.Clearly, defense is Wesleyan’s identity. Unfortunately for them, they lost elite defensive back Justin Sanchez. This leaves a void at a leadership position for that elite defense, a void that Kaminski is more than ready to fill. Look for him at the end of the season as First Team and DPOY candidate.

Dario Highsmith
Dario Highsmith ’20 (Courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

Player to Watch: RB Dario Highsmith ‘20

Wesleyan has long relied on a strong rushing attack to complement their stellar defense. Last season they averaged nearly 180 yards per game on the ground, and scored 21 rushing touchdowns. However, between Carillo and fellow graduated senior back Lou Stevens, the Cardinals have lost a large chunk of those yards and touchdowns. Enter Dario. Highsmith put up an impressive first year last season, fitting in seamlessly to Wesleyan’s vaunted rushing attack, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and, most importantly, not fumbling once all season. Highsmith is poised to combine with Piccarillo, an excellent threat to run from the QB spot, to form a dynamic duo out of the backfield.

Biggest Game: @Trinity, November 11th

Wesleyan has their sights set on the top this season, and on paper they certainly have the talent to get their. Of course, the games aren’t played on paper, but say for the sake of this section of the preview that they and the Bantams run the table leading up to this match-up. Imagine iow exciting that game would be. Even if that hypothetical doesn’t come true, this game could very well serve as a de facto NESCAC championship. And aside from that, it’s a classic offense versus defense matchup, and those are always fun.

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The Brady(less) Bunch: 2017 Tufts Football Preview

2016 Record: 7-1

Projected Record: 9-0

Projected Offensive Starters: (*Six Returning)

QB: Ryan McDonald  ’19*

RB: Dominic Borelli ’19*

WR: Mike Miller ’18*

WR: Jack Dolan ’19

WR: Dan De Leon ’19

TE: Jack Donahue ’20

LT: Liam Thau ’18*

LG: Josh Thibeault ’19*

C: Nick Roy ’19

RG: Gian Calise ’18*

RT: Tim Reitzenstein ’19

Projected Defensive Starters: (*Nine Returning)

DE: Zach Thomas ’18*

DT: Doug Harrison ’18*

DT: Tom Baker ’20

DE: Micah Adickes ’18*

LB: Steve DiCienzo ’18*

LB: Greg Holt ’20*

LB: Caden Bevilacqua ’19/Tylor Scales ’20

CB: Tim Preston ’19*

SS: Brett Phillips ’18*

FS: JP Garcia ’18*

CB: Alex LaPiana ’19*

Projected Specialists:

K: Andrew Pettit ’20/ Matt Alswanger ’21

P: Alex Lapiana ’19/ Dan De Leon ’19

KR/PR: Jack Dolan ’19/ Tim Preston ’19

Summary:

School is back in session, and each morning as I enter the local Dunkin’ Donuts, I hear chatter about whether or not 2017 is the year Tufts Football brings home the NESCAC Championship. One local remarks, “Ah they no longah have that Brady kehd, they’ve got no chance.”, another one says, “Jim enough of ya complainin’, I haven’t seen a defense like this since the ’85 Bears”. I leave that Dunkin’ Donuts and think, You know what, they might be lacking 2 time NESCAC Player of the Year, Chance Brady, but like the New England Patriots, Tufts Football goes by the motto, “Next Man Up”. After all, Tufts Athletics have proven themselves as the top dog in the NESCAC in recent history and 2017 Tufts Football will only solidify that.

A year ago, Tufts Defense was 4th in the NESCAC in points allowed per game at 18.9. With nine returning starters, expect that number to drop. There are few holes in this defense with big guys Doug Harrison ’18 and Micah Adickes ’18 up front holding up the running game. Steve DiCienzo ’18 and reigning NESCAC leading tackler and Rookie of the Year, Greg Holt ’20 provide athleticism and power at the LB positions. Arguably the strongest part of their defense is their secondary. Any coach would be a fool to even consider throwing near Tim Preston ’19, who led the NESCAC with 5 picks as a sophomore. Preston was recently seen selling Preston Island T-shirts outside the dining hall. Returning back from injury is the hardest hitting safety in the league, Brett Phillips ’18 who is complemented by JP Garcia ’18. Finally another returner Alex LaPiana ’19 is the other CB. Expect big things from the defense.

Tufts Offense is a whole other story. Like I stated above, there is tons of doubt following Chance Brady’s departure. Tufts replaces Brady with Dominic Borelli ’19, who has 73 carries and 2 scores in his first two seasons with the Jumbos. Ryan McDonald ’19 will be the quarterback again for the Jumbos as he is an ideal dual threat QB, finding the end zone 5 times on the ground and 5 in the air last season.

Chance Brady was one of the most potent offensive forces in recent NESCAC memory. Tufts will be hard pressed to replace him this season.

Mike Miller ‘18 leads their wide out core. Miller is a deep ball threat any time he is lined out wide, as he has speed and the ability to go up and grab the football. If the Jumbos are able to put up anything close to the offensive numbers they did last season, (31.5 PPG) they are a strong favorite to win the NESCAC in 2017.

Special teams will be a lot different for Tufts in 2017. They lose, now Duke University and 1st Team Kicker/Punter Willie Holmquist. Behind Brady, Holmquist was 2nd on the team in scoring in 2016, showing the value he added to their 7-1 season.

Defensive MVP: D-Line

The Tufts D-Line returns three returners in Thomas ’18, Harrison ’18, and Adickes ’18. These men are the spark to the deep Tufts defense, all having All-Conference accolades in the past two seasons. Harrison is their go to big body in the middle, Addickes can be a hybrid of a pass rusher/run stopper, and Thomas is known for his effectiveness off the edge in passing situations. Expect these three to be big contributors to the already stacked defense.

Offensive MVP: O-Line

Yes, I know our award winning writers love singling out players for these awards, but the Tufts O-line is a major reason they have had success in recent years. Thibeault ’19 leads this group after missing pretty much all of last year after the 1st play of their night opener against Wesleyan. Tufts has a relatively inexperienced offense, putting more pressure on the O-Line to pave the way for the rest of the offense.

Biggest Game: September 23 @ Wesleyan

Everyone was probably thinking it would be Trinity or Amherst, both at Home, but Week 2 @ Wesleyan will set the tone for the rest of the season. In 2016, Tufts came back to beat Wesleyan in the 4th quarter in the first ever night game at Tufts. This destroyed Wesleyan’s NESCAC Title hopes as they eventually made a push at the title, but 1 can be detrimental in an eight/nine game schedule. Expect this game to have even more intensity than last season as both teams knows very well this could be make or break in their push to the NESCAC Championship.

Best Tweet:

New Field, Same Approach, Different Results? 2017 Bowdoin Football Preview

Editor’s Note: Connor is a new writer joining us from Bowdoin College. He is a rising senior, and just wishes that everyone in the world could just get along and have fun.

2016 Record: 0-8

2017 Projected Record: 2-7

Projected Offensive Starters: *Seven Returning

QB: Noah Nelson (‘19)*

RB: Nate Richam (‘20)*

WR: Nick Vailas (‘18)*

WR: Ejaaz Jiu (’19)*

WR: Chandler Gee (‘20)*

TE: Bryan Porter (‘18)*

OL: Elliot Borden (‘18)

OL: TBA

C: AJ Mansolillo (‘19)*

OL: TBA

OL: TBA

Projected Defensive Starters:  *Eight returning

LB: Tyler MacNeil (‘18)*

LB: Latif Armiyaw (*18)*

LB: Joe Gowetski (‘20)*

DL: Robert Caputo (‘19)*

DL: TBA

DL: TBA

DL: Jay Mobley (‘20)*

DB: Ryan Sanborn (‘18)*

DB: Nye Deskus (‘20)*

DB: Cameron Rondeau (‘19)*

DB: Henry Little (‘18)*

Projected Specialists: *Two returning

K: Andrew Sisti (‘18)*

P: Michael Chen (‘20)*

Noah Nelson
Noah Nelson ’19 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Offensive MVP: QB Noah Nelson ‘19

If the Polar Bears are going to compete for more than a few wins this season, it will largely depend on the play of Nelson. Entering preseason as the undisputed starting quarterback, Nelson will to prove that he is capable of leading this offense in high-scoring affairs. Bowdoin ranked towards the bottom of the NESCAC last year in passing effectiveness and statistical output, but Nelson showed signs of an ability to create offense and move the chains down the field. Equally as important, the Bowdoin offensive line will need to show significant improvement from last year, to allow Nelson to survey the field on offensive drives. A major staple of the receiving corps graduated last Spring (Ford ‘17), but senior Nick Vailas ‘18 figures to handle a hefty portion of the receiving workload. In addition, Chandler Gee ‘20 had some success in the slot last year. The buzz coming from preseason practice has also indicated that some first-year wideouts will figure to contribute significantly this season. The pieces are in place for Nelson to make a major step forward as the Polar Bears’ play caller.

Defensive MVP: Joe Gowetski ‘20

Joe Gowetski
Joe Gowetski ’20 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Gowetski came in and made an immediate impact for the Bowdoin defense last season. He was a beast from the linebacker position, racking up 52 tackles, as well as 1 sack. Those numbers led the league last year, and Gowetski has showed no signs of the proverbial ‘sophomore slump’ so far in practice. Gowetski figures to be a major stopper in the run defense, and his quickness and instincts make him effective in coverage as well. He has emerged as a team leader, and has put in the necessary work to be a major difference maker this season. Look for Gowetski’s name atop the NESCAC leaderboards again this season.

Biggest Game: @ Williams, September 16th

For the second year in a row, we’ve picked the first game on Bowdoin’s schedule as the most critical. After going winless last year, it is absolutely necessary that the Polar Bears show up for their first game this year. Although Bowdoin Coach JB Wells has an eye toward the future and has moved on from last year, fans of the program may not be so quick to do so. Wells has focused on improving his team day in and day out, and it must show on September 16th if Bowdoin is to rebound from a winless season. Whether or not you believe in sports momentum, the Polar Bears will certainly breathe a sigh of relief if they top Williams in week one.

Best Tweet:

So cute!

Summary:

This offseason and build-up to the first game has an air of ‘new beginnings’ for the Polar Bears. Bowdoin’s historic Whittier field is undergoing the final stages of a major renovation; it is set to open for their home opener (9/23 vs. Middlebury). Coach Wells and the rest of the football program is hopeful that this renovation will spur the team to hit the ground running this year (with the added security of the artificial turf, of course). More broadly, the team has let bygones be bygones, and has emphasized continual improvement and investment in the team’s goals. An 0-8 record last year definitely stings, but the Polar Bears are maintaining a positive outlook on their chances this year.

Bowdoin will benefit from its youth during this year’s elongated season: with a nine game schedule, durability and longevity will be key. Those are areas in which the Polar Bears are well equipped. A nice balance of experience and youth sets Bowdoin up to capitalize on the additional game, whereas some other teams might have trouble adjusting to the change.

Aside from the departure of Liam Ford ‘17 at wide receiver, the entire Bowdoin offense is returning and appear ready to capitalize on some bright spots from last year. Nate Richam ‘20 and CJ Markisz ‘20 figure to once again form a two-headed running attack, and the Bowdoin playcallers will rely on them to carry the workload. Chandler Gee ‘20 impressed with his speed and catching ability in the slot last year, and with the addition of some highly skilled freshman wideouts, the receiving corps looks ready to make a big impact. These new additions will complement consistent offensive presences WR Nick Vailas ‘18 and TE Bryan Porter ‘18.  As previously mentioned, Noah Nelson ‘19 will need to step up in big fashion if Bowdoin is to outscore opponents on a weekly basis.

On the defensive side of the ball, Bowdoin will be anchored by linebackers Latif Armiyaw ‘18 and Joe Gowetski ‘20, who, between them, have some serious athleticism and high football IQ. Similar to previous seasons, one of Bowdoin’s keys to victory will be stopping the run (Bowdoin allowed a league-worst 200.1 rushing yards per game last year). To make matters worse, Bowdoin also allowed the most passing yards per game last year with 242.9. Clearly, the returning defenders (and the incoming players) will need to show improvements if Bowdoin is to even be competitive this season.

All in all, Bowdoin has a long way to go before they are NESCAC title contenders. There were flashes of potential last year, but none of them persisted long enough for the Polar Bears to grab a win. With a brand new facility and positive outlook on the season, it would seem as though Bowdoin is poised to make some noise in the league this year. The team will need to be far more effective on defense, and capitalize on their offensive capabilities, if they are to turn their fortune around. Despite the positivity and experienced roster, Bowdoin is still in rebuilding mode. While I don’t think they go winless for the second straight year, it may be another season of woes for the Polar Bears.

Coming for the Crown: 2017 Middlebury Football Preview

2016 Record: 6-2

Projected 2017 Record: 8-1

Projected Starters: Offense (*3 Returning)

QB: Jared Lebowitz ‘18*

RB: Diego Meritus ‘19*

WR: Conrado Banky ‘19*

WR: Jimmy Martinez ‘19

WR: Tanner Contois ‘18

TE: Frank Cosolito ‘20

OL: Andrew Rogan ‘19

OL: Joao Rocha ‘18

OL: Connor Roche ‘18

OL: TBD

OL: TBD

Projected Starters: Defense (*6 Returning)

LB: John Jackson ‘18*

LB: Wesley Becton ‘18*

LB: Clay Hunt ‘19*

DL: Robert Wood ‘18*

DL: Martin Williams ‘20

DL: Ibrahim Nasir ‘20

DL: TBD

CB: Matthew Daniel ‘19

FS: Justin Fahey ‘19*

SS: Kevin Hopsicker ‘19*

CB: TBD

Projected Starters: Special Teams (4 Returning*)

K: Carter Messingill ‘20*

P:  Maxwell Rye ‘20*

KR: Willis Mckissick ‘20*

PR: Kevin Hopsicker ‘18*

 

Jared Lebowitz
Sources tell us that the key to Lebowitz’ offseason training regimen was giving people moustache rides.

Offensive MVP: QB Jared Lebowitz ‘18

Admittedly this is kind of a Chris Broussard take, but there may be no player in the league more important to their team than Lebowitz is to the Panthers. The entire Middlebury offense is designed around his ability to throw darts all over the field. The rest of the league has caught to them, but Middlebury is still the leader in no-huddle throughout the league. That can’t happen without Lebowitz. However, he “only” competed 57% of his passes last year, and threw 12 interceptions in eight games. Of course, he also threw 29 touchdowns, so these complaints are nitpicking to a certain extent. But for Middlebury to really compete with Trinity (and most likely Amherst this year,) Lebowitz will have to bring his game up still another notch. And the graduation of receivers James Burke and Ryan Rizzo, as well as several key offensive linemen, will make his job harder than ever.

John Jackson
John Jackson ’18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Defensive MVP: LB John Jackson ‘18

Middlebury has lost a lot of talent in a lot of places this off-season, and linebacker is certainly one of them. This is almost entirely due to Addison Pierce ‘17. Pierce was a terrific linebacker, leading the team in tackles with 62, but his influence on the team was wider than that. He was a leader, and many players on the team, offensive and defensive alike, have mentioned that he will be missed. However, luckily for the Panthers and their fans, John Jackson is still around to pick up the slack. Jackson uses tremendous speed and agility to be a menace in the backfield, picking up 7.5 sacks last season. He’s also effective in coverage, picking up one interception and several deflections. He picked up 41 tackles as well, despite Pierce’s presence. He will certainly get more chances to eat up opposing running backs this season.

Tanner Contois
Tanner Contois ’18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Player to Watch: WR Tanner Contois ‘18

The Panther receiving corps was among the best in the league last season, and that was with Contois missing pretty much the entire season with a knee injury. Now that James Burke and Ryan Rizzo graduated, the Panthers are in need of another threat at receiver. Conrado Banky ‘19 might well be the best in the league, but teams are going to double and even triple team him every chance they get. Contois has been very impressive in camp thus far, and looks fully recovered in terms of speed and quickness. If he and lanky deep threat Jimmy Martinez ‘19 can be weapons, teams won’t be able to key in on Banky, and the Panther offense will keep right on rolling.

Key Game: October 28 vs. Trinity

Middlebury lucks out this year and gets to play Trinity at home. As Colby pointed out in his preview, Trinity was the league champion last year and brings back nearly every key contributor, especially on offense. Therefore, they are the odds on favorite to win this season. If Middlebury has any hope of taking the crown, they will need to take care of the Bantams.

Best Tweet:

As Division Three college football team twitter pages go, this is actually not that bad a joke. Trust me, I’ve looked few a bunch of them.

Summary:

The Panthers spent much of last season in a three way tie with Tufts and Trinity for the top spot in the league. However, they lost handily to both those teams, and Wesleyan climbed into the mix. By the end of the year it was clear that they were a step away from contending with those powerhouses, and Middlebury ended with a slightly disappointing fourth place finish. Now star quarterback Reece Foy ‘18 has returned to Amherst after missing all of last season with a knee injury, so the Mammoths seem poised to take their spot back in the upper tier. Additionally, the Panthers had one of the largest departing classes in the league, both in numbers and in talent. Middlebury has their work cut out for them if they want to improve on their 6-2 mark from 2016. But they certainly have the talent returning to it.

The Panthers’ biggest losses are definitely on offense. For most of the last decade, Middlebury’s philosophy has been to air it out, and with good reason. Coach Ritter certainly has earned the right to call himself a quarterback guru, with Don Mckillop, McCallum Foote and Matt Milano all earning All-NESCAC nods under him. Jared Lebowitz ‘18 has the talent to be the best one yet, and put up a mostly-stellar season last year. This was due in large part, however, to most talented receiving class in the league. Phenom Conrado Banky ‘19 earned an All-NESCAC First Team nod, James Burke ‘17 landed on the Second Team, and Ryan Rizzo ‘17 offered a dynamic third option and also excelled as a return man. Only Banky remains from that group. Unless young receivers like Jimmy Martinez ‘19 can step up, Middlebury might need to balance their offense more than in years past. Running back Diego Meritus ‘20 showed flashes of excellence last year, and should be ready to explode in his junior year with a heavier workload.

Jared Lebowitz will look to lead the Panthers to new heights this season.

Lebowitz’s job will also be made more difficult by a young offensive line. Senior leaders like Andy Klarman provided needed stability to a unit that struggled at times last season, and there is still uncertainty about who will fill those spots. Lebowitz showed himself to be prone to rushed decisions at times last year, and a shaky offensive line could only exacerbate that problem.

The defense mostly returns, with a few notable exceptions. DB Nate Leedy and LB Addison Pierce provided stability and toughness to a unit that was otherwise very young, and they both graduated. Leadership responsibilities now fall largely on the shoulders of LB John Jackson ‘18, and anyone else who steps up throughout the year. However, for all that leadership Middlebury still gave up 48 points to Tufts and 49 to Trinity. The defense will have to improve a great deal for the Panthers to remain one of the elite NESCAC programs. Middlebury lost a lot in the off-season, but that could give several youngsters a chance to step up. Hopefully they continue their high level of play and Amherst returns to glory, giving us a real five way race at the top of the league.

New Year, New Faces: 2017 Bates Football Preview

Editor’s Note: Cameron Carlson is another new writer joining the force this year. He is a rising sophomore on the Bates baseball team. Fun Fact: Before enrolling at Bates, he spent 25 years as a high-ranking government official in a department that he would not reveal to me.

2016 Record: 3-5

Projected Record: 3-6

Projected Offensive Starters (*8 returning)

QB – Sandy Plashkes ‘19*

RB – Mickoy Nichol ‘18*

RB – Frank Williams ‘18*

FB – Peter Boyer ‘19*

WR – Noah Stebbins ‘18*

WR – Marcus Ross ‘19*

C – Jack O’Brien ‘20

LG – Dylan Rasch ‘18*

LT – Sean Lovett ‘18*

RG – Dan Marino ‘19

RT – Mike Cronin ‘18

Projected Defensive Starters (*3 returning)

CB – Coy Candelario ‘19

CB – Kevin Claflin ‘19

DB – Joe Frake ‘19*

DB – Andrew Jenkelunis ‘19

DB – Jon Lindgren ‘20

LB – Bobby Dee ‘19

LB – Max Breschi ‘18*

LB – Chase Fulton ‘19

DL – Jack Maritz ‘18*

DL – Walter Washington ‘18

DL – Connor DeSantis ‘19

Projected specialists (*4 returning)

PK – Grant DeWald ‘18*

P – Justin Foley ‘19*

KR/PR – Frank Williams ‘18*/Mickoy Nichol ‘18*

Sandy Plashkes
Sandy Plashkes ’19 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Offensive MVP: Quarterback Sandy Plashkes ‘19

In his first year as a starter, Plashkes led the Bobcats to a decent 3-5 record, but this year he is looking for more. Finishing with a 40% completion percentage and throwing for a mere 87 yards per game in his sophomore campaign, Plashkes should improve on those modest numbers with Bates returning 8 of their offensive starters. He will also rely on freshmen such as wide receiver Isaiah Saunders ’21 as well as running backs Jaason Lopez ’21 and Milan Lemon ’21 to make an impact in their first seasons. Now that Plashkes has a year as a starter under his belt, along with a much more experienced supporting cast, look for him to have a breakout year for a Bates team that needs all the offensive support it can get.

Joe Frake
Joe Frake ’19 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Defensive MVP: Safety Joe Frake ‘19

The immature Bates defense will be led by junior Joe Frake. After getting good minutes as a freshman, Frake excelled as a sophomore, recording 27 tackles and 16 assists. This year he will have to explode as a leader of a defense that is looking to show that although they lost a large portion of their starters from 2016, they are just as prepared this season. Frake is one of the best defensive backs in coverage in all of the NESCAC. His explosiveness and ability to break on the ball place him as not only Bates’ best defensive player, but undoubtedly one of the best defensive players in the conference. They key to Bates’ defensive unit will be how effectively they run without Frake on the field, because he surely makes the entire defense run more efficiently.

Biggest Game: October 28th @ Colby

It is no secret that for the Maine schools, the CBB reigns supreme. This is magnified more by the fact that the Bates-Colby game comes down to the wire every single season, with this year promising to be no exception. This season it is Bates’ turn to make the short trip up I-95 to take on the Mules in Waterville. Like most years, this will likely be a defensive battle, with Bates’ defense being the X-factor in this one. Coach Harriman is forced to rely on a less-experienced defense to come up with a big stop in crunch time. Colby will come out very hungry for this one, having fallen to Bates in very close games each of the past 3 seasons, so circle this game on your calendar because it will definitely prove to be another chapter in the Bates-Colby rivalry.

Best Tweet:

This tweet marked the first in a series of tweets where Coach Capone would tweet something vague, positive, and always enthusiastic. It sounds like good things are happening up in Lewiston, so hopefully all this positivity from Coach Capone’s active Twitter persona is translating well to the field.

Summary:

While 2016 was a season centered on defense for the Bobcats, offense will be the focus in 2017. Returning all of their skill position players, Bates will try to get on par with the other high-octane offenses at the top of the conference. If the offensive line can provide enough time for Plashkes to find his receivers, Coach Harriman’s squad will be scoring a lot more than last season. Although they boast the best punter in the league in Justin Foley ’19, the offense will try to keep him off the field as much as possible during the 2017 campaign.

Bates youthful defense will have to be stout this year if they want to continue climbing in the NESCAC

The inexperience on defense is definitely something to highlight for this Bates team. With only 3 returning starters, there are a lot of missing pieces. While they are not all youthful, much of the defense has not played meaningful snaps, so they will have adjust to the workload and getting through all 60 minutes of the game. Players like Max Breschi ’18 and Joe Frake ’19 return the most tackles from last year, with 32 and 27 respectively, and will both be asked to step into leadership roles. Last season’s team allowed 339 yards per game, good for 6th in the NESCAC, so if they can minimize that number, while adding their much improved offensive attack, Bates is poised to make some noise right from the start.

Over the past few years, Bates showed its ability to stand atop the bottom half of the NESCAC, and this year the guys from Lewiston will try to prove that they can compete with the top half of the league. They open their season with a visit to Amherst, followed by home contests with Trinity and Tufts, so they will certainly have chances to do so. If they can pull off a win against a team of that caliber, they will prove that they can hang with the traditional powers of the ‘CAC

Trust the Process: 2017 Williams Football Preview

Editor’s Note: We’re very excited to welcome Matt Karpowicz to the writing team! You might recognize Matt as the rising star center on the Williams basketball team; he’s very tall and therefore hard to miss. He’s a rising sophomore and his favorite musical is Legally Blonde.

2017 Record: 0-8

Projected Record: 3-6

Projected Starters: Offense (Six Returning *)

QB: TBD

RB: Noah Sorrento ’19*/Connor Harris ’18*

WR: Adam Regensburg ’18*

WR: Kellen Hatheway ’19*

WR: TBD

TE: Tyler Patterson ’19*

LT: Kent Blaeser ’19*

LG: TBD

C: TBD

RG: TBD

RT: Patrick Loughran ’19*

Projected Starters: Defense (6 Returners*)

DL: Sam Gowen ’18*

DL: Chris Hattar ’18*

DL: Austin Thomas ’19*

DL: Jameson DeMarco ‘19

MLB: TBD

OLB: Michael Berry ’18*

OLB: TBD

CB: Ben Anthony ’20*

CB: TBD

SS: TBD

FS: TBD

Projected Starters: Special Teams (2 Returners)

K/P: Adam Regensburg ’18*

KR/PR: Jaelon Moaney ’19*

Tyler Patterson
Tyler Patterson ’19 (Courtesy of Williams College Athletics)

Offensive MVP: Skill Positions

Yeah, picking the QB, RB, and WRs to be the Ephs’ offensive MVP might seem like a cop out, but when you average 12.4 points a game for an entire season, it’s hard to target one specific area of importance. This group didn’t make enough plays last year for Williams to have much offensive success, but have returned several playmakers that have shown they have the ability to be serious threats to the rest of the defenses in the NESCAC. TE Tyler Patterson in particular will be a player to watch. While not technically a skill position, he is Williams’ biggest offensive threat. He missed some time last year, and is poised to be a breakout star this season if the Ephs’ offense can be more consistent.

Defensive MVP: DL Sam Gowen ’18/Chris Hattar ’18/Jameson DiMarco ‘19

Sam Gowen
Sam Gowen ’18 (Courtesy of Williams Football)

Gowen and Hattar will return for their last year at the helm of the Williams defensive unit, their third straight as starters, and DiMarco showed in his sophomore season that there will not be much of a drop off after the duo graduate. Although the defense got toasted to the tune of almost 33 points a game (no thanks in part to a cruel homecoming visit from Wesleyan and 56 first half points), they return their top 4 defensive lineman and that sense of continuity should be key to improving this side of the ball. Gowen, Hattar, and DiMarco combined for 7 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Being able to create havoc in opposing teams’ backfields will be key for this team, especially early in the year as they look to find some consistency in what will be mainly a new secondary.

(For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 9 total MVPs, but that’s what happens when you go 0-8)

Biggest Game: Bowdoin @ Williams 9/16

For all the question marks in this season preview, this will not be one of them. The Polar Bears come to Farley-Lamb for a Week One opener that will immediately see one of the NESCACs two winless teams in 2016 move into a 5 way tie at the top of the league. This is an absolutely must win game for the Ephs, as they look to put last year’s 0-8 campaign in the rear view. Starting out the season by losing what would be their 14th game in a row to equally lowly Bowdoin could seriously derail this purple and gold train before it ever got to leave the station. Opening the season with a win, however, would be exactly the start this young team and second year HC Mark Raymond wants as they hope to begin to turn things around.

Best Tweet:

This is a retweet, but I still love seeing a team get inspired by a coach who’s got one ring total despite having T-Mac, KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Chris Paul and Blake all in their primes.

Summary:

Last year’s season preview stated that the biggest question in Williamstown would be who would be under center at quarterback, and I am excited to tell you that that question remains unanswered a year later. Whatever options Coach Raymond hoped to have last year were quickly slimmed when John Gannon ’18 tore his ACL in the preseason, and he was forced to pick from a variety of guys who had never taken a collegiate snap at QB. While Jaelon Moaney ’19 and Pete Cahill ’20 got a couple looks, it was Jansen Durham ’20 who spent the majority of the year as QB1. Durham showed flashes of promise, going 24-37 for 200 yards and 2 TDs against eventual champ Trinity, but struggled to take care of the football, and ultimately did not do enough to truly solidify himself as the starter this year. Gannon is now back and healthy for his senior year and 2016-17 Gatorade Massachusetts Football Player of the Year freshman Bobby Maimaron will bring his MA state record 122 career touchdown passes to the Purple Valley in hopes of earning the job as well.

Defensively, this unit will definitely improve. Yes, they did allow 33 points

A more consistent offense will be the key to Williams’ gradual climb to respectability.

a game last year, but that number really doesn’t tell the whole story, as the offense’s 22 turnovers often times forced the defense back onto the field after a short rest and a short field to defend. They should be good enough to give the offense chances to win football games, which is really where the vast majority of the question marks lie. I already touched on the quarterback battle, but there are few other certainties on offense, other than Adam Regensburg ’18 and his 37 catches playing an important role in the air attack. Noah Sorrento ’19 and Connor Harris ’18 have spent the greater part of the last two seasons splitting carries, with Sorrento logging 194 rushes over the last two seasons to Harris’ 181. Steve Bohling ’20 was in the rotation at the end of the season as well, rushing for 85 carries on 18 rushes against Wesleyan and 56 yards on 11 carries against Amherst.

There is a lot of talent on this Williams offense, but it is up to Coach Raymond to find the best way to maximize it. In his final year at St. Lawrence, his offense scored nearly 30 points a game, and the Ephs should trend closer to that 30 than the 12 they hovered around last year. The ninth game will be huge as gives  this young team one more game to mesh, and there are some pieces that could really shine in 2017. There will continue to be growing pains in Williamstown this year, but the sun should begin to come out in the Berkshires.