Rivalry Restored: Amherst @ Williams Game of the Week Preview

With Amherst knocking off Trinity last week in impressive fashion, a more dominant showing than the 28-20 final score would indicate, the Mammoths control their own destiny—win their final game and they are NESCAC champions. But that game is the 132nd installment of the Biggest Little Game in America, to be played out in Williamstown where the Ephs have a legitimate chance to defeat their archrival for the first time in a while. Led by a breakout freshmen class, Williams looks to have put their recent struggles in the past, and at 5-3 are certainly good enough to snap Amherst’s 6 game winning streak in the rivalry. With Amherst looking to clinch a championship, and Williams looking to send their seniors off in style and prevent any celebrating from being done on their own turf, this game is truly up for grabs.

Amherst couldn’t have been much happier with how they played last week, snapping Trinity’s 16 game win streak and leapfrogging over them to the top of the standings. While I admittedly did not give them much of a chance in last week’s preview, they did do all of the things I said they needed to do to knock off the Bants. They never let Max Chipouras ’19 get settled in for Trinity, which for him translated to 26 carries for “only” 92 yards and a touchdown. They forced Sonny Puzzo ’18 to beat them and he couldn’t, throwing for 172 yards and an interception. And Reece Foy ’18 hit James O’Regan ’20 for a 55 yard touchdown pass, which means we hit my keys to the game trifecta of:

1. Make someone other than Chipouras beat you

2. Force turnovers and short fields and

3. Hit a home run play on offense.

Not bad.

This Amherst team is legit. It may have taken 8 weeks and a lot of badgering from the Facebook comment sections to make us say that, but following their performance against Trinity they have truly proven themselves. Their lack of a superstar QB and the fact that Jack Hickey ’19 and Hasani Figueroa ’18 split carries for their dominant rushing attack mean that no one on their offense really jumps out at you, and they don’t have the depth of dangerous playmakers on defense that teams like Trinity and Tufts do, but they’re legit. They have the best offensive line in the league, the best linebacking corps in the league, and probably the best group of cover corners in the league as well.

The Amherst secondary did an excellent job on Mike Breuler ’18 against Wesleyan, and will look to do the same to Frank Stola ’21.

But they will be tested in every which way by this Williams team. QB Bobby Maimaron ’21, WR Frank Stola ’21, and the rest of the weapons on Coach Raymond’s offense can put points up in a hurry, and you just know they’ll have some tricks up their sleeve for this one. Their defensive line started out really strong, but has faded in recent weeks. If they can return to their early season form, and link up with their linebackers, who have been really good in their own right all year, this game is going to come down to the wire. This rivalry has been quite one-sided for more than half a decade now, but that’s not going to be the case on Saturday.

Amherst X-Factor: WR James O’Regan ’20

James O'Regan
James O’ Regan ’21 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Their leading receiver in every statistical category except for the fact that he has one less reception than Bo Berluti ’19 (36), O’Regan ’20 might be the most under appreciated skill player in the NESCAC. His 18.7 yards per catch lead the league and his ability to stretch the field vertically is one of the factors that have gone into Hickey and Figueroa’s success on the ground. The weak spot in the Williams defense is their cornerbacks. They’ve combined for 1 interception, and it was a desperation heave to the back of the end zone against Hamilton. Four different Wesleyan receivers had receptions of 20+ yards, and if O’Regan can hit them for big plays like that, it’s going to be really hard for them to key in on the Amherst run game like they’re going to want to.

Fortunately for O’Regan, at 6’4″ and 200 pounds, he is going to have a huge advantage over whichever cornerback Williams chooses to throw at him. Desmond Butler ’19 is 5’11 and Amhyr Barber ’19 is 5’10. It doesn’t get any bigger at the safety position, so unless they plan on throwing a linebacker like 6’2″ 205 TJ Rothman ’21 on O’Regan in select packages and losing arguably their best run stopper, it is simply going to be an uphill battle for whoever matches up with O’Regan. Everything is set up for him to have a big day.

Williams X-Factor: DE Jameson DeMarco ’19

Jameson DeMarco
Jameson DeMarco ’19 (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

There were a lot of options for this pick, as is the case when you play a really good team. But beating Amherst begins and ends with stopping the run. TJ Rothman ’21 (3rd, 79), Jarrett Wesner ’21 (7th, 65), and Luke Apuzzi ’20 (9th, 63), all rank in the top ten in the league in tackles, but as those numbers indicate, there’s no doubt that they’ll bring it on Saturday. Instead, it’s the Williams defensive front that needs to really step it up, and DeMarco is going to need to lead that unit. DeMarco leads the team in sacks with 4.5 and is second on the team in tackles for loss, but a lot of those numbers came earlier in the year. This defense made a big splash in Week 3 when they held Trinity RB Max Chipouras ’19 to just 80 yards on 28 carries, by far his most inefficient game of the season, and DeMarco was the main culprit behind that effort, going for 7 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss. Williams as a team hasn’t been tested against a traditional rushing attack really at all since they faced Trinity, being matched up against aerial threats like Middlebury’s Jared Lebowitz ’18 and Wesleyan’s Mark Picarillo ’19, or dual threat QB Ryan McDonald ’19 at Tufts.

While it’s a small sample size, just one game, it was against the league’s best running back in Chipouras, and their performance against a smash mouth back like him should give them confidence in being able to stop Hickey and Figueroa. They have other playmakers on their D-Line such as DeMarco’s counterpart DE Austin Thomas ’19, and NT Chris Hattar ’18, that will be relied on to stop Amherst’s offense, but DeMarco has done it before and he needs to do it again on Saturday.

Everything Else:

 This is going to be a really fun one. The biggest Division III rivalry in the country, and one of the biggest in all of collegiate sports, two exciting, talented teams, and a championship on the line. While College Gameday isn’t going to be in Williamstown this week, this is probably the most exciting installment of this rivalry to take place in the Berkshires since Chris, Lee, and Herbie came to town in 2007. This time last year Williams was 0-7 and Amherst was 3-4. But now the two teams find themselves in much different, better places. Williams has turned 0-7 into 5-3 with some new young stars, and Amherst, after flying under the radar all season, finds itself needing to win one game to win a league title, with the chance to celebrate it on their hated nemesis’s field.

Like any football game really, all eyes are going to be on the quarterbacks. With it being both Amherst’s Ollie Eberth ’20 and Williams’ Bobby Maimaron ’21’s first experience under center in this rivalry, it will be interesting to see how they handle the nerves that come with it. But Eberth ’20 has impressed week in and week out, passing every test along the way, and Maimaron has rarely looked like a freshman this fall. I think both young quarterbacks, and both teams really, will come out and play their best games. Both teams are well coached and in the last week of the season, should be the most prepared they’ve been all year.

Bobby Maimaron ’21 gets his first taste of the rivalry following the worst game of his career. Can he recover?

This game will probably be decided by something as simple as who takes care of the ball better and commits less turnovers. There is enough playmaking on both teams that any of 8-10 guys could be the hero in what will be an otherwise pretty even game (Amherst has the better offensive line and secondary, but it’s just about a wash everywhere else). I may be biased, but if Pete was doing this preview he’d find a way for Middlebury to win the game so I’ll survive (Editor’s Note: Actually if Williams wins this game, Middlebury has a chance to tie for the league title, so Middlebury could actually be won of the winners in this one.) Bobby Maimaron ’21 and his favorite target, classmate Frank Stola ’21, will end their explosive freshman seasons in style, conjuring up the same late game magic they brought to Midd in Week 5, and the Ephs will eke one out in the 30 degree weather on Homecoming, ending a 6 game win streak and Amherst’s title hopes in style.

Final Score: Williams 31, Amherst 27

A New Coach, a New Era: The Rebuilding of Williams Football

Williams has had a tough time in 2016, but it's part of the process (Courtesy of Williams Athletics).
Williams has had a tough time in 2016, but it’s part of the process (Courtesy of Williams Athletics).

Williams’ last perfect season was in 2010, when they won the NESCAC championship with a perfect 8-0 record and also went on to win the Little Three Title. For the next six years, however, the program went on a decline. Williams had three consecutive 2-6 seasons and something or someone needed to change. That chang emerged in the form of Mark Raymond, previous head coach at St. Lawrence University.

But what had happened to the 2010, undefeated NESCAC championship team?

The Ephs topped Amherst in 2010 to win the NESCAC Championship (Courtesy of Williams Athletics).
The Ephs topped Amherst in 2010 to win the NESCAC Championship (Courtesy of Williams Athletics).

“I believe our struggles were rooted in a lack of discipline as a team,” said captain Michael Berry ’18.  “When challenges arose on the field we just could not seem to get out of our own way.”

A mantra posed by Raymond goes like this: “on the path to greatness there are many obstacles to success, don’t be one of them.” As Berry suggests, the Ephs “surely added a multitude of obstacles to our goals over the past few seasons.”

Another factor, as defensive lineman Chris Hattar ’18 puts it, is culture:

“Culture, culture, culture. In the past, there hasn’t been a culture for relentless effort, trust in one another and respect for the game. But all of that has changed.”

Coach Raymond was named Williams head coach in 2016 and it made sense to pick the best possible candidate. Before Raymond arrived in 2010, St. Lawrence University had only one winning season in the last 20 years and not even gotten close to the NCAA tournament since 1982. Raymond, however, brought energy, and vigor to a program that was floundering, and in five short years the University had earned national and regional rankings and finished in the top 10 national categories for passes intercepted, tackles for loss, average punt return yards and turnovers gained. Not once, but twice Raymond was named the Liberty Conference Coach of the Year – Williams is in good hands.

Raymond coaching at St. Lawrence (Courtesy of St. Lawrence University).
Raymond coaching at St. Lawrence (Courtesy of St. Lawrence University).

“Williams is a special place,” said Coach Raymond. “They have an outstanding football tradition, great academics and are an overall great quality school whose mission is to matriculate top-notch students.”

The transition to a new head coach is obviously the hardest part for any program. New players, new staff, new systems, new plays…it all feels overwhelming, it might be hard to adjust; but, it seems that the guys over in Williamstown have welcomed Raymond and his philosophies of mental and physical toughness with open arms.

“Everyone has bought into our motto of Williams toughness, and as a result, we have built great trust in Coach,” says Berry’18. “He promised to change the culture of our program and the team has bought into the movement.”

“My goal is not only to develop player skills and win a NESCAC championship, “ Raymond says. “But also to send these boys from college with a degree in their hand and the world saying, ‘what fine gentleman these Williams guys are.’”

Yes, the Ephs are going through a rough patch right now; but all Raymond needs is a little time and patience and Williams will be back on the track. Captain Michael Berry ’18 could not have said it better:

“There is no question Coach Raymond is leading us down the right path. Football is about positively impacting the lives of young men. Teaching principles such as effort, toughness, and doing your job are lessons that we young men will carry with us forever. Winning is simply an outcome that occurs when you play to the best of your abilities with these principles at the forefront of your thoughts. The lasting impact Coach will have on this program and the lives of the young men involved in it, presently and in the future, is here now and is growing every day.”

The NESCAC is looking forward to the resurgence of Williams’s football.

The Ephs Believe They Know Howe to Win: Williams Season Preview

Austin Lommen '16 is back as the Ephs try to improve on their 2-6 record. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Austin Lommen ’16 is back as the Ephs try to improve on their 2-6 record from a season ago. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Editors’ Note: While 99 percent of the work done in these previews is credited directly to the author, the projected records are a decision made together by the editors, Adam and Joe. So if you don’t like it, blame us.

Projected Record: 26

Projected Starters (*Seven Returning)


QB: Austin Lommen ’16 *
RB: Connor Harris ’18
FB: Tom Cifrino ’17
WR: Darrias Sime ’16*
WR: Colin Brown ’16
WR: Adam Regensburg ’18 *
TE: Alex Way ’16 *
LT: Charlie Grossnickle ’16*
LG:  Matthew Jewett ’16*
C: Ben Wertz ’17
RG: Eric Davis ’17
RT: Vincent Molinari ’16*

Defense (*Five Returning)

DE: James Howe ’16*
DT:  Chris Hattar ’18
DT: Ellis Eaton ’18
DE: Jack Ryan ’16
MLB: James O’Grady ’16*
OLB: Johnny Bond ’16*
OLB: Michael Berry ’18
CB: Taysean Scott ’17*
CB: Mike Davis ’17*
SS: Alex Brandeis ’17
FS: Elijah Eaton ’16 / Kevin Walsh ’17

Special Teams

K/P: Bobby Webster ’18
KR/PR: Connor Harris ’18

Offensive MVP: The O-Line

Head Coach Aaron Kelton believes that his team will go as far as their offensive line can take them. Last year, Williams had the worst rushing yards per game average and yet was third in the conference in passing yards per game. Some of that had to do with trailing in a lot of games and being forced to throw, but even in close games the Ephs struggled to run the ball. The offensive line returns many cogs from last year’s team and they appear to be stronger all around. In order for the offense to start putting up points at the pace the Ephs would like, the offensive line will need to open up holes for elusive running back Connor Harris ’18 to gain big yards.

Defensive MVP: DE James Howe

Howe’s sophomore year campaign was one of the best in school history, recording 10 sacks and 55 tackles. Last season, Howe was specifically game planned and targeted heavily, which caused his sack total to drop to zero. The Ephs recorded less sacks overall last season, dropping from 19 sacks in 2013 to six in 2014. Despite the low sack numbers, the Ephs still gave up the second least passing yards per game in 2014. If Howe and Co. can get pressure on the quarterback this season those pass defense stats will become even more impressive. Coach Kelton alluded to the fact that they may try and move Howe around on the line to try and help get him more 1-on-1 match ups where he thrived in 2013. As the sole defensive captain, Howe will go a long way in setting the tone for the Ephs on that side of the ball.

Biggest Game: Williams vs. Amherst Nov. 14

Williams clinched its first 8-0-0 season by defeating Amherst 17-14 in 1989. The reported attendance of 13,671 is the largest ever recorded for a D-III football game in New England. The first Biggest Little Game was played in 1884 and has been played every year since. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Williams clinched its first 8-0-0 season by defeating Amherst 17-14 in 1989. The reported attendance of 13,671 is the largest ever recorded for a D-III football game in New England. The first Biggest Little Game was played in 1884 and has been played every year since. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Doesn’t matter what year it is, the Ephs always have the Lord Jeffs circled on the calendar. Referred to as “The Biggest Little Game in America”, this match up is the longest-running rivalry in Division III, but Amherst has taken control of the series by winning the last four games. The game this year will be a 12:00 PM start televised on NESN unlike last year when they played under the lights in Amherst. The last time Williams pulled out a win in the series was in 2010 when the Ephs finished undefeated and were the NESCAC Champions. Even though the two teams’ records have diverged in recent years, this is always a close, hard-fought game. As long as the Ephs beat Amherst, many up in the Purple Valley will feel it was a successful year.

Biggest Surprise in Camp: WR Darrias Sime

Last season Sime only averaged 1.6 catches per game and totaled 169 yards and one TD. The Ephs seemed to share the bulk of the workload between six different receivers so it was hard for any one guy to get a ton of touches. Sime is a big, physical receiver coming in at 6’4″ 225 pounds and a two-sport athlete as a member of the basketball team. Coach Kelton is raving about the way he’s looked in camp and said Sime could be a go-to target for QBs Austin Lommen and Mark Pomella ’16. Sime has been a promising talent for a little while now, and if he can deliver on that promise as a senior it would give the offense an entirely different look. From reports so far, Sime looks poised for a big senior season.

Best Tweet: Williams Quarterbacks Coach Kijuan Ware was at Broncos camp in August as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.


Last season was a year to forget for the Ephs who went 2-6 with four of those losses coming by eight points or less. On the offensive side of the ball, the Ephs lost their leading rusher, Alex Scyocurka ’14, and leading receiver, Steven Kiesel ’14, to graduation. On the ground, look for Harris and Greg Plumb ’18 to get the majority of the work there. Harris only measures in at 5’8″ 170 pounds, but has looked like he put on more muscle this offseason so that number might be a little low. Plumb, on the other hand, is a much larger tailback at 6’0″ that is a more physical, downhill runner and is expected to make an impact in short yardage situations. Sime and Brown will strive to replace the production provided by Kiesel. Like Sime, Brown is tall at 6’5″ and will tower over smaller defensive backs in the league. Regensburg is dealing with a leg injury currently but he should be ready for the opener and looks like he will line up in the slot. Backup quarterback Pomella will be used at wide receiver, as well. Lommen will once again be under center for Williams. Coach Kelton stressed how he wants to get as many athletic playmakers on the field at once and he acknowledges how useful Pomella could be even if he is not running the offense. Lommen, meanwhile had a solid first season under center, but needs to correct his poor 7:9 TD:INT ratio. He will have to find a new security blanket without Kiesel, but he should be able to make a lot of plays.

On the defensive side of the ball, graduation hit the defensive line hard. Howe, our defensive MVP, anchors this group. Jack Ryan ’16 moves down from outside linebacker into the other defensive end spot and two sophomores, Chris Hattar ’18 and Ellis Eaton ’18, figure to be the interior lineman. The Ephs hope to get some strong play from its linebacking corps. Michael Berry ’18 will replace Ryan ’16 at the outside linebacker position alongside James O’Grady ’16 and John Bond ’16. Both cornerbacks are back from last season but the real question for the Ephs will be is how strong is the safety play. Looking to replace Tom Cabarle ’14, second on the team in tackles and first in interceptions, is Alex Brandeis ’17. Kelton seems extremely confident in Brandeis’ ability to not only replace but possibly even exceed the numbers Cabarle put up last season. Justin Harris ’17 was expected to be a force at safety this season, but a broken wrist in camp has sidelined him for the season, thrusting Eaton and Walsh into a larger role.

This team has a tough schedule yet again starting off with three of four games on the road against two heavyweights (Trinity Week 2 and Middlebury Week 4) and two teams that appear to be improved (Bowdoin Week 1 and Bates Week 3). Ultimately this season comes down to winning the close game. Last year, as we mentioned above, the Ephs came up just short but had opportunities to win games. Week 2 at Trinity is where we’ll start to figure out at what level this Ephs team will play at this year.