No Tricks Here: Weekend Preview 10/31

The Trinity O-line hopes to enforce its will against Middlebury on Halloween Saturday. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
The Trinity O-line hopes to enforce its will against Middlebury on Halloween Saturday. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

This is a week full of intrigue for NESCAC teams and loyal ‘CAC fans alike. There’s something for everyone in Week 6. For the championship hopefuls, two games have major implications. The Game of the Week features Amherst traveling to Tufts and trying to extend the 16-game winning streak. Up in Middlebury, the undefeated Bantams will fight to avoid another late-season slide like the one suffered years ago. For other teams not fighting for a title there is still plenty to play for. Bates and Colby open up CBB play this weekend, always a point of pride for these football programs. Elsewhere in Maine, Wesleyan still has a lot to prove. They’ve played to the level of their competition all season long, and the Cards would like to do some damage against what should be a weaker team in Bowdoin. Bowdoin will also be dealing with a question mark at quarterback, as Tim Drakeley ’17 is expected to be healthy, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll take the reins from impressive first-year Noah Nelson ’19. Hamilton heads to Williamstown for the final game of the weekend. Hamilton is, yet again, trying to get off the schneid and get its first win since 2012. The streak has stretched to 25 games now, and is coming up on the Tufts’ record of 31 straight losses. Meanwhile, the home team might be playing to save the boss’ job. There is widespread discontent over a program that has gone from an 8-0 season in 2010 to 5-3 in 2011, 4-4 in 2012 and 2-6 the past two seasons. It’s hard to say which team needs this win more.

Players to Watch

Middlebury RB Diego Meritus ’19

The Panthers are rushing for 2.1 yards per carry. Not good. It’s not all Meritus’ fault, of course. He’s actually a good runner, and has shown his ability to make guys miss in the screen game. He’s a big body and fast, so it’s surprising that Middlebury hasn’t had more success on the ground. Head Coach Bob Ritter seems committed to the first-year, though, and no one else has gotten significant carries since Week 1. Especially with WR Conrado Banky ’19 out now, the rushing game will take on more importance for Middlebury.

Bowdoin TE Bryan Porter ’18

With the first-year Nelson under QB, Porter needs to play a big role to help out the youngster. Two weeks ago, when Nelson had a phenomenal debut, Porter caught five balls and a touchdown, and last week his one catch was a 37-yard TD. Don’t expect there to be a lot of room downfield for the Bowdoin wideouts, meaning that Nelson is going to have to rely on Porter. It’s going to be huge for Bowdoin to convert on third downs in order to keep the ball out of the Cardinals’ hands. If Wesleyan is able to milk the clock with the running game, this will be over early.

Colby DE Ryan Ruiz ’16

When playing the triple-option, it’s imperative for the defense to keep to its assignments and not fly up field. Therefore, the impetus is on Ruiz, the Mules’ best defensive lineman, to lead the charge. He needs to keep the Bates slot backs from breaking out wide by getting outside leverage on the guy blocking him and allowing his teammates to make plays. If Colby can get a sizeable lead, though, then Ruiz will have a chance to pressure Pat Dugan ’16 and improve on his team-leading 2.5 sacks.

Hamilton RB LaShawn Ware ’18

I could essentially copy and paste the summary for Meritus from above, except that Hamilton Head Coach Dave Murray has shown a willingness to give some carries to Jason Nastovski ’18. Any time a team is having as much trouble running the ball as Middlebury and Hamilton are, a lot of that comes down to offensive line play. Running backs need holes to run through. The problem is exaggerated for Hamilton, though, because they aren’t having much success in the passing game, either. Ware averaged 3.9 yards per carry a year ago with 3/5 of the same offensive line. Things won’t change around for the Conts until Hamilton can get the ground game going.

Game Previews

Wesleyan at Bowdoin, 12:30 PM, Brunswick, ME

Live Stats  Video

Five weeks ago, we had no idea what to think about the Wesleyan Cardinals. A year removed from a senior class that brought the program back to relevance and competed for a championship three years in a row – earning a shared title in 2013 – Wesleyan had a plethora of questions coming into 2015. They’ve performed admirably, scaring Middlebury at home in Week 1 and putting up a good fight and outplaying the Lord Jeffs in every aspect but points scored a week ago in Amherst. Now the Cardinals are 3-2 and if they want to even have a minuscule shot at sharing a NESCAC title this year – and they’ll need a lot of help – they can’t lose again. I think this is a case of an inexperienced team coming into its own, and things are just looking up for them.

As for Bowdoin, the 30-20 win two weeks ago over Hamilton and the debut of Nelson gave hope to Polar Bear fans, but it now appears that it was false hope. No first-year should be expected to put up the kind of eye-popping numbers every week that Nelson posted against Hamilton, but without that kind of play Bowdoin doesn’t have enough fire power to topple the Cardinals. Losing their top two running backs has really hurt Bowdoin, which has only 58.4 rushing yards per game this season.

With that in mind, Bowdoin is forced to drop back and throw the football more often than not, which has to have Wesleyan DE Jordan Stone ’17 salivating as he wakes up this morning. Stone is one of the most physically-talented defensive players in this league and doesn’t get talked about too much on this blog, but that’s not because of his play, and more so because we just don’t talk about line play a ton. But Stone has 4.5 sacks, which is tied for second in the NESCAC with Micah Adickes ’18 of Tufts. Tufts teammate Zach Thomas ’18 leads the NESCAC with 5.5 sacks. Here’s the kicker, though. The Wesleyan defense has faced 150 pass plays. Tufts? 188 pass plays.

With the Cardinals starting to figure things out as a team and still a bevy of concerns for the Polar Bears, it’s going to be a frightful Halloween for Bowdoin.

Prediction: Wesleyan 35 – Bowdoin 14

Trinity at Middlebury, 12:30 PM, Middlebury, VT

Live Stats  Video

A year ago this week the championship-hopeful Bantams were stunned in the Coop by Middlebury, breaking a more than decade-old home winning streak of 53 games. That loss sent the Bantams spiraling to three losses to end the year. Once again, these teams meet with Trinity undefeated and Middlebury with an outside shot at a shared title. The ramifications will be large no matter which way the result ends up.

This matchup bodes well for the Bantams. The Middlebury run defense, expected to be stout this season, has bent pretty considerably against some top rushing attacks. The Panthers allowed 5.1 yards per carry to Wesleyan in Week 1 and 3.9 per carry to Amherst in Week 3. They’ve effectively shut down the rushing games of Colby, Williams and Bates, but Trinity’s freshman tailback Max Chipouras ’19 will provide a stiff challenge. What’s more, the Panthers have to be prepared for the dual-threat at QB that Sonny Puzzo ’18 provides.

The key for Middlebury, as always, is to score early and force teams to throw the football – something that they haven’t done particularly well this year. Their halftime scores so far this season: 7-13 at Wesleyan, 21-2 vs. Colby, 7-10 at Amherst, 9-7 vs. Williams and 14-10 at Bates. In all but one game, Middlebury was within four points at halftime. When they’ve started to get the offense rolling in the second half and forced teams to throw, the Panthers defense has responded with some big takeaways and shut down the opposition. That strategy could be particularly effective this week given Puzzo’s recent struggles – he had two picks at Tufts and only completed 10 of 20 passes last week vs. Bowdoin.

Offensively for Middlebury, the rushing attack has been bad, plain and simple. Only once, in the Panthers’ blowout victory over Williams, has the running game been effective. But, frankly, Middlebury has proven that they don’t need to run the ball in order to be successful. It would be nice, but Middlebury makes up for its rushing deficiency with short passes and running back screens. With Banky apparently out for the season with an ankle injury, the impetus now falls on slot-turned wideout Ryan Rizzo ’17, slot receiver Tanner Contois ’18 and All-League player Matt Minno ’16 on the other side to make some big plays in the receiving game for Matt Milano ’16. I think they do just enough to squeak by the Bants.

Prediction: Middlebury 28 – Trinity 21

Bates at Colby, 1:00 PM, Waterville, ME


The CBB is under way, and with both of these teams populating the bottom of the standings, the Maine championship becomes the primary focus. This game turned into a high-scoring OT affair a season ago at Bates, but I don’t see the same thing happening this time around. Though RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 has really turned it on for Colby as of late, the offense still ranks last in the ‘CAC with 13.4 points per game. Gabe Harrington ’17 has really struggled with eight interceptions in five games, but he’s also been sacked 10 times and his receivers aren’t exactly running free all over the field. It’s hard to tell who’s to blame on the Colby offense because nothing is going right at the moment, but if they are going to break out – particularly throwing the ball – this could be their chance.

The Bates defense has been only slightly better than Colby, allowing 27.0 points per game, and is last in the league with 305.6 passing yards per game allowed. Wideouts Mark Snyder ’17 and Mbasa Mayikana ’18 are big targets on the Colby offense even if they haven’t been that productive so far, and could be found on a couple of deep balls for big plays.

The Bates offense, as we know, relies on misdirection and the running game. The loss of slotback Shaun Carroll ’16, who had been averaging 5.3 yards per carry, really hurts, but the Bobcats hope to offset that loss with the return of Sean Peterson ’18 to the lineup. His debut a week ago against Middlebury was not very impressive in the running game, but he caught a few passes and was able to show off his athleticism in open space. That he garnered 14 carries despite averaging just a yard per rush shows that he is expected to be a big part of the offense down the stretch. Peterson and crew will need to have a big-time day on the ground in order to get their second win. I think Colby will land the first punch in the CBB battle but hitting on a couple of deep throws and burning clock with Hurdle-Price, and as long as that defensive line stays disciplined the back seven can make enough plays to continue Bates on offense.

Prediction: Colby 21 – Bates 17

Hamilton at Williams, 1:30 PM, Williamstown, MA

Live Stats  Video

Things are not good in Clinton and Williamstown these days. For the Continentals part, there has been a lot of moral victories, including an OT loss against Tufts and two close games with Wesleyan and Colby. The defense has really stood on its head at times despite playing some younguns, and Cole Freeman ’19 stepped into the limelight two weeks ago at QB and would have lead Hamilton to a victory if not for Nelson’s Godly performance for Bowdoin. At the end of the day though, you can’t argue with the scoreboard, and Hamilton is still 0-5. The Ephs, meanwhile, amidst some rumblings of discontent from people around the program (nothing concrete), started off well with two wins sandwiched around a handy and expected beatdown against Trinity. However, the last two weeks have been disastrous for Williams, and with a roadtrip to Wesleyan in Week 7 and a rivalry game with Amherst in Week 8 looming, this might be the Ephs’ last shot at a victory to move to 3-5 and avoid a third straight 2-6 record, something that seems impossible for such a storied program.

Williams has allowed just 198.0 yards per game through the air, but they’ve also been behind for considerable amounts of a few games and have faced Bates, so coincidentally they rank eighth in rushing yards allowed per game. Nevertheless, I think that Williams is better against the pass than the run, which is good when matching up with Hamilton, who hasn’t been able to get a sputtering running attack going whatsoever. LaShawn Ware ’18, a talented runner who showed some potential a season ago, is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, and subsequently Jason “Bane” Nastovski, previously cast as a fullback, led the squad with 12 carries last week to Ware’s nine. Combined, the pair had just 62 yards rushing on 21 carries. Clearly, a lot of pressure will be placed on Freeman and his receivers, particularly Charles Ensley ’17, a dynamic playmaker who just needs to get the ball in his hands, and the reliable Pat Donahoe ’16.

So do the Conts finally get the monkey off their back this week, or do the Ephs get mad and pull out a victory? I’m expecting an ugly game, with, as usual, a turnover being the difference. That Williams is at home I think benefits them, and Hamilton has been much worse on the road, losing 29-4 at Trinity and 30-20 at Bowdoin. Williams gets its third win of the season.

Prediction: Williams 21 – Hamilton 14

They Are Who We Thought They Were (Pretty Much): Stock Report 10/19

Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo and the Bantams barely escaped from Medford with a win. Robert LeBel/Trinity Athletics)
Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 and the Bantams barely escaped from Medford with a win. (Robert LeBel/Trinity Athletics)

We’re halfway through the season, and for the most part the league leaders are who we thought they were. Yet, there have been a few surprises this season that are keeping things interesting.

After last year’s 4-4 finish, and a 3-0 start this season, it was clear that Tufts had escaped the dungeons of the NESCAC that they had been trapped in for the past four years. This week they took on the Bantams, one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the league, and pushed them to the limit, eventually losing 34-27 in overtime. Up north, Bowdoin captured their first win of the season, beating the still winless Continentals 30-20, while Amherst took care of business as usual, granting Colby their fourth loss, 31-13. Bates’ struggles continued this week with a 24-16 loss to Wesleyan in a game where they led 9-7 late in the first second quarter, and Middlebury erupted in the second half for 27 straight unanswered points.

The biggest story of the day was Tufts threatening the NESCAC hierarchy. The Big Four that have dominated the lower six teams for the past few seasons may have to make room for a developing Tufts team that nearly knocked off one of the league’s top programs. Besides the Tufts/Trinity game, there were few surprises this week as far as results went, and a few players whose stock went up in our portfolio.

Stock Up

Quarterback Noah Nelson ’19 (Bowdoin)

After throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown last week against Tufts when starting QB Tim Drakeley ’17 went down with a concussion, Noah Nelson was named the starter for the Hamilton game two days later. On Saturday’s homecoming game against the Continentals, the first-year was 28-43 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions – a stat line that granted him co-NESCAC Player of the Week laurels. While one game cannot be the end all be all for quarterbacks in this league, Nelson had complete control of this offense that had been struggling to find some consistence this year. Following this game, it’s more than likely that he will get the start again next week, this time against one of the league’s best in the Trinity Bantams.

Tufts Jumbos

As alluded to earlier, the Jumbos came into this week against Trinity sitting pretty at 3-0, but their legitimacy was questioned given that their three wins came against Hamilton, Bates, and Bowdoin who are a combined 1-11. While Tufts was able to push the game into overtime, they did end up losing on a touchdown pass from Puzzo to Bryan Vieira ’18. Although they couldn’t knock off the undefeated, the way in which Tufts was able to respond after being down 21-13 in the 3rd quarter shows the fight that this team has. They are done finishing at the bottom of the league, and this week showed us that they are close to bridging the long-standing gap that has divided the NESCAC elite from the lower half of the league.

Quarterback Sonny Puzzo ’18 (Trinity)

We’ll stick with the theme of the quarterback for our third pick for stock up this week – Sonny Puzzo, who proved once again that he is the league’s best dual threat QB. He broke the 0-0 tie with a 57-yard rushing touchdown, while going 22-39 with four passing touchdowns and another rushing touchdown, leading his team passed a tenacious Jumbo squad. While ball security has been a problem for Puzzo the last two weeks, throwing two interceptions in both games, his ability to run in the open field along with his strong arm gives him a significant advantage against opposing defenses.

Stock Down

Bates’ Confidence

After going 4-4 last season, it’s almost unimaginable that the Bobcats would be in this bad of a position after four weeks of football. Though they tied with the Jumbos in the standings a year ago, Bates has found none of the magic in close games that Tufts has conjured up. Besides the Amherst game, in which Amherst was the heavy favorite, Bates has lost its other three games by a combined 11 points. The story was similar this week when, after leading Wesleyan 9-7 with a little over three minutes left in the first half, they let up 17 unanswered points, making their comeback too little too late down in Middletown. While some could point fingers and say the play of their QB Pat Dugan ’16 has not helped the team in the passing attack, turnovers have been a problem for the whole crew, and the offensive line has also struggled, giving up 11 sacks in four games.

Hamilton Quarterback Situation

Chase Rosenberg ’17 started the season with an electric 301 passing yards and three touchdowns in the 24-21 loss against Tufts, but since then has been on the steady decline. His low point came this Saturday against a Bowdoin defense that had been unable to stop anyone thus far this season. In his first two drives Rosenberg threw an interception, and was taken out of the game and replaced by Cole Freeman ’18, ending the day 2 -10 for two yards. Hamilton, who has played in close games as of late, now finds themselves in the midst of a renewed QB controversy, one that originally involved Rosenberg and the now-injured Brandon Tobin ’18. It’s been a gut-wrenching start to the season for Head Coach Dave Murray, who still is looking for his first win as the general of the Continentals team.

Trinity’s Defense

Going into Week 4, the Bantams had the No. 1-ranked defense, allowing zero offensive points over the course of three games. That all changed when they marched into Medford and found themselves in a 27-27 tie at the end of the fourth quarter. After Saturday, they still stop the defensive charts, allowing a stingy 7.8 points per game, but something was clearly out of sync against Tufts, especially in the fourth quarter where they gave up 14 straight points. While their stock lowered a little in our book, their defense is clearly still the best in the league, and it would be rash to look too much into this one game. The real test comes in Weeks 6-8, when Trinity runs the gauntlet at Middlebury, at Amherst and home against Wesleyan.

The Meat of the Matter: Weekend Preview 10/17

Williams and Middlebury meet a year after their game went into overtime. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Williams and Middlebury meet a year after their game went into overtime. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

From top to bottom, this is one of the best slates of action for the NESCAC, even if it lacks the stereotypical headliner with Tufts and Trinity facing off in our Game of the Week. Four out of the five games have some level of uncertainty, with Amherst the only team that is a heavy favorite on the road at Colby.

A surprising 2-1 Williams team makes the trek up the spine of Vermont to meet a Middlebury team still licking their wounds, and Bates travels to Connecticut to play an inconsistent Wesleyan team. The final game finds Hamilton trying to snap their long losing streak on the road at Bowdoin.

Four to Watch

  1. Running Back Andrew Tichy ’19 and Quarterback Noah Nelson ’19 (Bowdoin): I’ll give you a little two for one action here. Both starters Tyler Grant ’17 and Tim Drakeley ’17 are not playing, and so two freshmen get the chance to play. Nelson looked sharp in the second half against Tufts, albeit once the game was already over for all intents and purposes. He is a Maine native, and I’m sure he will have plenty of friends and family there for his first career start. Tichy will be asked to carry a heavy load, and he could get beat up in this one. Even though they have freshman starting at two skill positions, Bowdoin has to keep the entire playbook open and not hold back on play-calling, or else they will be too predictable against Hamilton.
  2. Running Back Noah Sorrento ’19 (Williams): Let’s continue the theme of having young skill players in the limelight. Sorrento is steadily taking more and more carries for the Ephs, but he has not had any more success running the ball than his compatriots. He is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, and he had just 27 yards on 10 carries last week. Williams needs to have some semblance of a running game against Middlebury. If the Panthers know that a pass is coming almost every time, the Ephs will stall out. Sorrento got his real introduction to college football in Week 2 when he was stuffed at the goal line by a Trinity linebacker on 4th down. He is hoping things go better this week.
  3. Middle Linebacker Mark Upton ’17 (Bates): The statistics for Upton have been steady but unremarkable so far: 20 tackles (3.5 TFL) and a forced fumble. That is well off the pace of last year’s gaudy numbers. The Bobcats are going to need a bigger game from Upton than just solid if they want to pull of the upset against Wesleyan. The Cardinals are going to try run right at Bates, and Upton will have to consistently makes plays. Then when Wesleyan does pass, Upton has to make sure to keep one eye on the QB, whether that’s starter Gernald Hawkins ’18 or Mark Piccirillo ’19.
  4. Tight End Trevor Miletich ’16 (Middlebury): The Panthers might have difficulty throwing against an Eph secondary that is the strength of the defense, but a place where Middlebury has an advantage is over the middle of the field with Miletich. Though he isn’t as skilled as some of Middlebury tight ends of past years, he is probably the fastest tight end in the league, and it is tough for linebackers to stay with him. Matt Milano ’16 needs to find Miletich early to take the pressure off of the outside receivers.

Game Previews

Bates (0-3) at Wesleyan (2-1): 1:00 PM

The poor Bobcats have been snake-bitten the last two weeks, and now they have to go on the road to Wesleyan as they try to turn their season around. The defense has performed well besides the opener against Amherst, and the offense looked better last week, but this is a young team that is not doing the little things that allows them to win close games. Some of the decisions by the coaching staff haven’t helped either.

The underlying statistics for Wesleyan suggest a team better than the one that has needed fourth quarter touchdowns to overcome Hamilton and Colby. Even though Colby was able to run all over the Cardinals, I think the run defense reverts close to how they played in the first two weeks. The athletes for Wesleyan are too much.

Prediction: Wesleyan over Bates 17-6

Amherst (3-0) at Colby (0-3): 1:00 PM

Before Colby’s almost win at Wesleyan, this had blowout written all over it. Now… it would still take a lot for the Mules to pull the upset, but they at least made the Jeffs have to pay a little more attention this week. There is talent in Waterville, and once they get past the Jeffs, the Mules will improve. As noted before, Gabe Harrington ’17 has not seen any improvement from last season, and at some point if he doesn’t improve, the Mules have to explore other options. He has five interceptions against no touchdowns. He is a better QB than he has shown so far, but he has to perform soon.

The young Colby secondary will have its hands full with Jackson McGonagle ’16 and the rest of the Amherst wide receivers.There is no reason to expect the Amherst defense to experience any drop off from their play in the first three games. Harrington will find himself on his butt a lot in this one. So long as all the Amherst players find their way to Waterville, the Jeffs are going to stay perfect.

Prediction: Amherst over Colby 38-10

Williams (2-1) at Middlebury (2-1): 1:30 PM

Middlebury’s overtime victory a year ago ended up sending these two in opposite directions for the rest of the season. Now the Ephs come in looking like a better team than they were last year. The ball will be thrown constantly by both teams, and this game might last so long that the sun is setting when all is said and done. Austin Lommen ’16 is arguably more important to his team’s performance than Matt Milano ’16. These are the two best throwing QB’s in the league, but both secondaries will make plays too.

Williams needed a lot to go right in order to escape with the victory over Bates, and their lack of a running game is going to make them easy to defend for the Panthers. It’s close for a while, but Milano will make enough throws to lead Middlebury to the victory.

Prediction: Middlebury over Williams 26-10

Hamilton (0-3) at Bowdoin (0-3): 2:00 PM

This is the best chance yet for Hamilton to get Coach Dave Murray his first win, especially because Bowdoin is starting a freshman QB and running back as noted above. The health of Hamilton QB Chase Rosenberg ’17 is also in question because he did not finish the game against Trinity.

The Polar Bears have to avoid the slow starts that have forced them to throw the ball almost every down. The defense is going to have to take chances at points because they have shown an inability to get off the field consistently. At the end of the day, Murray gets his win and the Continentals get to celebrate all the way back to New York.

Prediction: Hamilton over Bowdoin 31-21

Last Week: 5-0
Season: 13-2

More than the Main Course: Weekend Preview 10/9


The Bantams hope to keep their sparkling record and scoreless streak alive. (Courtesy of Robert LeBel)
The Bantams hope to keep their sparkling record and scoreless streak alive. (Courtesy of Robert LeBel)

Amherst and Middlebury is the main attraction this weekend, and Joe broke that down in detail yesterday, but the other four games still offer plenty to chew on. Trinity and Wesleyan are heavy home favorites against Hamilton and Colby respectively, but those games are still important measuring sticks. Bowdoin has beaten Tufts five straight times, and it would certainly behoove the Polar Bears to extend that streak to six in order to get their first win of the year. Bates and Williams meet in Western Massachusetts as both teams are in need of a win.

Four to Watch

1. Defensive End Zach Thomas ’18 (Tufts):

Zach Thomas
Tufts Athletics

Last year Thomas saw the field mostly as a kicker filling in for the injured Willie Holmquist ’16, and he has played great through two games at DE after playing there sparingly in 2014. He had 2.5 sacks against Bates, two of which came on third down to end Bates’ drives. Bowdoin allowed six sacks last week (admittedly Amherst is a different animal than most), and Thomas will get plenty of chances to rush the QB if Tufts gets up early. Along with Shane Thomas ’17 (no relation), the sophomore is part of a young group who are emerging for Tufts as difference makers, something that the Jumbos have lacked for a long time.

Shane Thomas '17 (56) is emerging as a force, leading the Jumbos in tackles. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)
LB Shane Thomas ’17 (56) is emerging as a force and nice complement to DE Zach, leading the Jumbos in tackles. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

2. Wide Receiver Colin Brown ’16 (Williams):

Colin Brown
Williams Athletics

Brown and fellow wide out Darrias Sime ’16 probably spent much of the week drooling at the tape of Jack Cooleen ’16 ripping up the Bates secondary. Brown is 6’5″, but he was shut down last week against Trinity. A year ago he had by far his best game of the season against Bates hauling in eight catches for 96 yards. The young Bates secondary has to figure some way of forcing Brown and Sime to be physical, not just when the ball is in the air but also at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, that lies outside of how Bates usually plays, meaning that Brown should get a lot of clean breaks off of the line. Once he gets moving, he is much more difficult to stop.

3. Running Back Nick Gaynor ’17 (Trinity):

Nick Gaynor
Trinity Athletics

Hats off to Gaynor who has transitioned to running back almost as smoothly as one could hope. Given the long history of Trinity backs, nobody expected the Bantams to have to turn to a wide receiver. He has answered the call averaging 4.5 yards per carry so far. He still retains some of his receiver instincts to cut outside and only try to run through arm tackles, but that is also playing to his strengths as a shifty runner. The one concern for Gaynor is his three fumbles so far. Those are the only turnovers that Trinity has had all year. Freshman Max Chipouras ’19 could take carries away from Gaynor as the year goes along, but for now Gaynor is the signature back for the Bantams.

4. Defensive Lineman Tyler Hudson ’19 (Hamilton):

Hamilton Athletics

The Continental defense has looked much better in 2015, and Hudson has been a stud for them already as a freshman. He was everywhere against Tufts with 4.5 TFLs, and he proved that it wasn’t a fluke against Wesleyan with a sack and pass batted down. His 5.5 TFL are the most in the league. Hudson is from Whitesboro, New York which is a 15-minute drive away from Hamilton. Coach Dave Murray is a longtime coach and recruiter in Central New York, and Hudson is exactly the type of football player that Murray is trying to convince to stay close to home. Already……….

Game Previews

Bowdoin (0-2) at Tufts (2-0): Medford, Massachusetts, 1:00 PM

These two met last year with the same records, and the result was Bowdoin’s first win of the year. The Jumbos have found a way to take that magic oil that helped them win all four home games on the road the first two weeks, eeking out an overtime win and a one-point win. They are still not a great football team, but they are coming close to good and that’s enough to beat the lower half of the league. Chance Brady ’17 might not play because of a concussion, but Dom Borelli ’19 has looked good as the backup running back so far.

Bowdoin has looked pretty listless in their first two games. QB Tim Drakeley ’17 has thrown the ball well, but the Polar Bears have been forced to get away from running the ball with Tyler Grant ’17 because they have fallen behind so quickly. The defense, especially that secondary, has to play better as a unit. Until Bowdoin wins a game, you have to pick against them.

Prediction: Tufts over Bowdoin 19-13

Hamilton (0-2) at Trinity (2-0): Hartford, Connecticut. 1:00 PM

The easy opening schedule for Trinity continues, though the Bantams beat Hamilton by just 12 points last year. That game was at Hamilton, and the Bantams don’t have to worry about a long bus ride this year. Sonny Puzzo ’18 is playing great, attacking the defense downfield and not making any mistakes.

Hamilton is going to struggle unless Trinity suddenly catches the turnover bug. They don’t have the athletes to match up with Trinity in the open field, and they can’t sell out against the run like they did against Wesleyan. Charles Ensley ’17 and Pat Donahoe ’16 are underrated receivers, but even they will have trouble against the Trinity secondary. The scoreless streak ends, but the Bantams still cruise.

Prediction: Trinity over Hamilton 28-6

Bates (0-2) at Williams (1-1): Williamstown, Massachusetts. 1:00 PM

QB Austin Lommen '16 and the Ephs could find no room to operate against the Bantams last weekend. (Courtesy of Robert LeBel)
QB Austin Lommen ’16 and the Ephs could find no room to operate against the Bantams last weekend. (Courtesy of Robert LeBel)

On the surface this is the same Williams team we saw last year: an easy win over Bowdoin before a shutout loss to Trinity. However, I think the Ephs have more going for them this year. Much of that rests on the shoulders of Austin Lommen ’16, and despite subpar statistics from him last week, I think he bounces back against Bates. Mark Pomella ’16 is there as a change of pace quarterback, but the Ephs will win or lose because of Lommen. The running game has not improved much, and the Ephs can be made one-dimensional. That might not be a terrible thing against Bates.

Williams’ biggest worry is that their young defense wilts against the triple option, though the Bobcats haven’t been very successful moving the ball so far this year. Shaun Carroll’s ’16 statistics are inflated by one 80-yard run, and the Bobcats have not sustained enough drives. After their tough loss last week, this game is a test of the Bobcats leadership and resilience. Bottom line for me is I see the Williams offense capitalizing at points a week after Trinity gave them chances to make plays and the Ephs failed every time.

Prediction: Williams 27 – Bates 20

Colby (0-2) at Wesleyan (1-1): Middletown, Connecticut. 1:00 PM

Colby has struggled to run the ball and is going up against a Wesleyan team that suffocates teams when they run. Gabe Harrington ’17 might throw the ball 30 times in this game, and he needs receivers like Ryder Arsenault ’17 to get open much more consistently than they have. Last week against Middlebury the only success that Colby had in the passing game was a few go-up-and-get-’ems from young wideout Mark Snyder ’18.

If Wesleyan’s talent is going to coalesce into a very good football team, this is the week for them to do it. A big victory would give the team a huge boost in confidence. Justin Sanchez ’17 has been relatively quiet, and tomorrow would be a great time for him to intercept Harrington once or twice. The front seven has already proven that it is up to snuff with Shayne Kaminski ’18 and Jordan Stone ’17 helping to lead the way. The Mules don’t have the horses (bad pun intended) to hang for four quarters.

Prediction: Wesleyan 30 – Colby 10

Road Teams Rule Week One: Football Stock Report 9/28

After what seemed like an eternity, NESCAC football returned in triumphant glory on Saturday, and a lot of what we anticipated came to fruition, but there were many surprises, as well.

Today we give you the risers and fallers in our estimation, as well as a few game notes from each contest.

Stock Up:

Hamilton Offense

Tufts isn’t the most stout defense in the NESCAC, but you still have to be impressed with how the Continentals moved the ball and the play of QB Chase Rosenberg ’17 and WR Charles Ensley ’17. After starter Brandon Tobin ’18 succumbed to an injury early in the first half, Rosenberg (the starter for the past two seasons) came on and proceeded to go 14-23 (69.9%) for 301 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Ensley was on the opposite end of 107 of those yards, and displayed some top-notch athleticism with some of his grabs. His teammate, Pat Donahoe ’16, actually tallied even more yards – 174, to lead the NESCAC – so there may yet be some life in this Continental offense. We’ll wait and see whether or not Tobin returns, and how that might shake up the QB situation.

Connecticut Schools

Despite the loss, the Cardinals proved on Saturday that they still belong to the league’s upper echelon. The Cards ran all over Middlebury, and newly-minted QB Gernald Hawkins ’18 flashed potential throwing the ball, though the results were subpar on Saturday. The defense looks like it barely dropped off, and when you can control the clock and move the ball on the ground as effectively as Wesleyan, you always have a chance to win. Panthers players returned from this one bearing rave reviews of the Wesleyan team as a whole.

Meanwhile, the Bantams looked like they were playing a Pop Warner team on Saturday. A 34-0 win on the road, 439 yards of total offense and only 159 yards allowed. Enough said.

Williams QB Austin Lommen ’16

Expectations are great for former D-I players that transfer down to D-III, and that was true for Lommen last year. The BC transfer was about average last year, completing 60.1 percent of his passes and racking up seven touchdowns against nine picks, but it might be time to buy in on the righty. Lommen went 20-30 (66.7%) for 288 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Lommen managed the offense well, and the Ephs went 6-8 on third downs in the first half, most of them courtesy of throws by Lommen.

Stock Down:

Bates O-line

Yes, the Bobcats were matched up against an elite D-line from Amherst, but still, their performance in the trenches does not bode well for the rest of the season. Bates needs to churn up yards on the ground in order to win (with the occasional shot downfield to Mark Riley ’16). The Bobcats’ backs gathered 199 yards on the ground on Saturday, but 80 of those came on one Shaun Carroll ’16 scamper. Take that out, and the Bobcats rushed for 119 yards on 45 attempts – a 2.6 YPC average.

Colby Backs

Along the same lines as the above, the Mules were unable to consistently move the ball on the ground. QB Christian Sparacio ’18 had the most success of any ball carrier, racking up 30 yards on seven carries. We are still expecting big things from classmates Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and Carl Lipani ’17, but it looked like Colby just ran headfirst into a brick wall against Trinity.


Just to complete the Maine college trifecta, Bowdoin has to go in this spot. The offense was stagnant, and Tyler Grant ’16 didn’t get many opportunities with the Polar Bears trailing for much of their game against Williams. The loss of RB Trey Brown ’16 to injury will prove to be costly, as the Bowdoin coaches were hoping to be able to spell Grant far more this year than last – but alas, it was not to be. It was not a good opener for anyone in the black and white.

Game Notes:

Middlebury 28 at Wesleyan 25

Well, it wasn’t easy, but the Panthers hung on to go 1-0. Matt Milano ’16 wasn’t at his best early on, but was still very, very good. It was interesting that Jared Lebowitz ’18 got just one series. His entry into the game was pre-determined, but we don’t know what went into the decision to not use him for the rest of the game. Regardless, the passing game wasn’t the issue for Middlebury. The running game, however, was not effective. Somehow, the Panthers need to figure out a way to become a multi-dimensional team. They like to use screens to substitute for old-fashioned hand offs, but you still have to be able to give it to your back and let him work once in awhile.

On the other side of the field, Wesleyan competed until the very last. Hawkins has loads of potential at QB, despite his struggles throwing. He’s a fantastic athlete, and when he took off for one 17-yard dash up the gut my jaw physically dropped. Obviously, he’ll need to work on throwing the ball – sort of important for a quarterback. As for the running game, I was really shocked that Jaylen Berry ’18 was used as the feature back, carrying the ball 21 times to LaDarius Drew’s ’15 six carries and Lou Stevens’ ’17 two – not because I doubt the youngster’s ability, but because he supplanted two former All-NESCAC First Teamers as the go-to guy on Saturday. That being said, I would not be surprised if next week Drew ran the ball 25 times for 150 yards, and the same can be said about Stevens. Furthermore, Devon Carrillo ’16 continues to be a threat with his legs in many ways – out of the Wildcat, multiple back sets and on sweeps. Defensively, I have to give a shout out to DE Jordan Stone ’16. He’s a physical beast and had a great game and it showed on the stat sheet as Stone gathered 2.5 sacks.

Amherst 37 at Bates 14

Amherst WR Nick Widen '17 and the LJs took care of Bates with ease. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen)
Amherst WR Nick Widen ’17 and the LJs took care of Bates with ease. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics/Phyllis Graber Jensen)

I didn’t watch any game as closely as I did Middlebury-Wesleyan, but nonetheless there was much to be learned from every contest. Reece Foy ’18 got the start for Amherst, and – this is the surprising part – played every snap at QB. Last season Foy and Alex Berluti ’17 opened the season in a time-share until Max Lippe ’15 came back from an injury. That Foy was able to do enough in camp to completely takeover the gig says something in and of itself. Also of note, Kenny Adinkra ’16 got the lion’s share of the carries and was more productive than Nick Kelly ’17. Will that last, or will Kelly return to 2014 form and takeover the feature role as he was expected to do. OR, will the super-talented Jack Hickey ’19 start stealing away more carries?

For Bates, I know that the triple-option is the staple of their offense, but Mark Riley is just incredible. The Bobcats completed 11 passes for 117 yards, and seven of those catches went to Riley for 87 yards. I don’t think that if you put a prime-age Randy Moss on any team in the NESCAC he would take as large of a proportion of the catches as Riley does.

Williams 27 at Bowdoin 7

For the second straight year the Ephs stomped on the Polar Bears. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics/
For the second straight year the Ephs stomped on the Polar Bears. (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics/

Not much went right for the Polar Bears in Week 1. I don’t know whether to credit Lommen or crucify the Bowdoin secondary for the Ephs’ success through the air. Overall, I’m reserving judgement on the Polar Bears.

For Williams, though, you have to feel good about this start. Maybe they’ve put something together in Williamstown right under our noses. Although, I vaguely remember writing something to the same effect one year ago after Williams’ 36-0 beatdown of Bowdoin in Week 1. Maybe Coach Aaron Kelton just has the Polar Bears’ numbers. Maybe he’s taping opposing coaches’ signals with a cell phone camera, and 15 years from now, when Coach is getting fitted for his fourth NESCAC Championship ring, and the twilight is setting on a decorated career, NESCAC officials will bust down the door and point a finger at him and call him a cheater for doing exactly what every other team in the league was doing…

I’m sorry, I wasn’t planning that. (And there’s definitely no illegal filming going on anywhere in the NESCAC.)

Trinity 34 at Colby 0

With Joe Moreno ’19, sadly, out yet again with a torn ACL, Nick Gaynor ’17 has become the team’s top back. From a fantasy perspective though, this is a tricky situation, as Gaynor, Ethan Suraci ’18 or QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 could be the team’s leading rusher any given week. I particularly don’t think Gaynor will see many goal line touches. Gaynor is a converted wideout, and Suraci is a much bigger body. Max Chipouras ’19 – who had just two touches – got a goal line TD on Saturday instead of Gaynor. No matter who’s behind him, the return of Puzzo under center is going to be huge for Trinity. Henry Foye ’16 did a great job when healthy last year, but I think that Puzzo brings elite talent to the QB position.

Tufts 24 at Hamilton 21

The best game of the day came between two perennial doormats that look to be rising from the ashes. Tufts already took the first step a year ago by going 4-4, but with the Jumbos still 0-infinity in their last infinity chances on the road, the Continentals were feeling really good about their chances. And with newly-transferred QB Tobin at the helm, it appeared that Chapter 1 of the fairytale was under way.

Then Tobin left the game with an ankle injury, and everything fell into the hands of Rosenberg, the beleaguered vet. And boy, did he respond.

Rosenberg matched a career-high with his 301 passing yards, the program’s fifth-highest single-game mark. His 21.5 yards per completion and 13.1 yards per attempt were Hamilton records. He threw three TD passes, all in the span of 12 plays in the second half. His receivers, namely Donahoe and Ensley, made some spectacular plays, but let’s give all the credit in the world to Rosenberg for his stellar performance.

Alas, the Hamilton offense could not punch it in with the first possession of overtime. K Zach Altneu ’18 boomed his field goal attempt through the uprights, but Tufts Head Coach Jay Civetti was able to call a timeout just in time, forcing Altneu to kick again, and this time he pushed it wide left.

The Jumbos were conservative on their possession, moving the ball to the six-yard line before Snyder took a five-yard loss to position the football right in the middle of the field. K Willie Holmquist ’17 came up clutch for the Jumbos, who celebrated their first road victory since Oct. 3, 2009.

Aside from Rosenberg, CB Jimmy Giattino ’17 was a beast defensively for Hamilton and DL Tyler Hudson ’19 had an impressive debut. Last year’s tackle-leader John Phelan ’16 saw limited action, rotating with Mickey Keating ’17 at linebacker. We believe Head Coach Dave Murray is trying to protect Phelan who was banged up considerably during camp, but only time will tell if this timeshare continues. And lastly, Tobin’s ankle injury appears to be minor, which keeps the QB conversation in Clinton very intriguing. However, after a performance like that, how Rosenberg could not get the keys to the car for at least one more week is a mystery to me.

And in case you missed it, every road team won! Can you believe it? I don’t know how long it’s been since that happened in the NESCAC. Maybe between the 47 assignments I have this week and the job search I’ll try to procure that information.

It’s good to be back.

Continentals Hoping to Take the ‘CAC by Surprise: Hamilton Season Preview

LaShawn Ware '18 will be counted on, despite his youth, to be a workhorse for the Continentals. (Courtesy of Darryn Slover and Bates Athletics)
LaShawn Ware ’18 will be counted on, despite his youth, to be a workhorse for the Continentals. (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: 0-8

Projected Starters


QB: Brandon Tobin ’18
RB: LaShawn Ware ’17
FB: Jason Nastovski ’18
WR: Patrick Donahoe ’16
WR: Charles Ensley ’17
TE: Jordan Jenkins ’17
LT: Robert McClure ’17
LG: Dylan Berardelli ’16
C: Nicholas Gustaitis’16
RG: Jeffrey Jenkins ’16
RT: Matthew Snider ’17


DE: Brent Lobien ’17
DT: Paul Green ’17 / Nick Sobczyk ’17*
DE: Tyler Hudson ’19
DL/LB: Mickey Keating ’17
LB: John Phelan ’16
LB: Cade Larabee ’16
LB: Matthew Glebus ’17
CB: Conor Powers ’17
CB: Jimmy Giattino ’17 / James Taylor ’17** (currently recovering from a hamstring injury, but will not be out long)
SS: Alex Mitko ’16
FS: Colby Powers ’19

*Green and Sobczyk figure to split time at defensive tackle
**Giattino will start while Taylor recovers from a hamstring injury, but the latter figures to takeover the starting role once healthy

Offensive MVP: RB LaShawn Ware

Ideally, QB Brandon Tobin ’18, Hamilton’s recent acquisition and the potential saving grace for the Continental offense, would be the pick. With the right man, Hamilton just might have enough leadership and tactical smarts to create a new offensive dynamic that churns out a better outcome. Realistically, LaShawn Ware will probably be the team’s MVP. He dominated the field last season and will no doubt lead Hamilton’s ground game yet again. The junior tops the team with 299 yards rushing and an average of 42.7 yards per game. Consequently, he boasts some impressive NESCAC rankings: Ware ranked second in the conference for rushes and 10th for yards per game. With his history on the squad, the RB has the experience and skill to launch the Hamilton offense into a more successful season than in past years.

Defensive MVP: LB John Phelan.

The senior finished seventh in the NESCAC with 68 tackles and 8.5 tackles per game and second for fumble recoveries. One never would have guessed that the Chicago-native was recruited by former head coach Steve Stetson as a quarterback. Phelan has led Hamilton’s defense since he became a starter in his sophomore year and, with his impressive resume and grueling dedication, will no doubt continue to (literally) crush the opposition.

Biggest Game: Hamilton’s home opener vs. Tufts (Sept. 26)

Last year the Continentals dropped their season opener—a game they anticipated winning—against the Jumbos, who until then held a sorry 31-game streak of losses.

“We can’t forget Tufts … We need to think about it every day,” Murray admitted.

The coaches and players alike certainly can’t ignore the ultimate result of their cockiness and mental mistakes that day. To be fair, Hamilton statistically out-played Tufts: the defense surrendered just 12 first downs and 236 total yards, while the offense gained 416 yards. But the Continentals struggled with their return game and were penalized 12 times for 117 yards, mistakes that could easily have been avoided with better ball safety and communication. In pre-season camp, Hamilton has deliberately focused on returns with the Tufts debacle in mind. Murray believes the Continentals are a different team this year, and hopefully they can prove their growth in the upcoming rematch.

QB Colin Pastorella '16 has an uphill battle if he is going to earn reps over incumbent Chase Rosenberg '17 and transfer Brandon Tobin '18.
QB Colin Pastorella ’16 (14) has an uphill battle if he is going to earn reps over incumbent Chase Rosenberg ’17 and transfer Brandon Tobin ’18.

Summary: Hamilton hasn’t won a game in nearly three years, when they just barely outscored Bowdoin. Ever since, the team has consistently trailed behind other NESCAC schools in rankings: Last year alone, Hamilton placed ninth in scoring, points per game, total offense, and yards per game, among other categories. Though the Continental defense was only sub-par in conference standings, it is clear that the offense sunk far below standards.

Yet, the looming threat of being cut from the squad sparked motivation and progress away from the seemingly accepted pattern of defeat. Between returning players and recruits, approximately 90 players filled the Hamilton roster at the end of last year, far above the 75-player limit. What more: No one, with the exception of recruited freshman, was safe. Though handfuls of upperclassmen left the team prior to camp, several players are still at risk for the chopping board before the season begins in two weeks.

The season’s hot button topic, however, is unquestionably the quarterback battle between Colin Pastorella ’16, Chase Rosenberg ’17 and Brandon Tobin ’18. Though Rosenberg has been the designated QB1 since the second week of his freshman year, two inconsistent seasons with a 0-16 record raises a few eyebrows. Pastorella was thrown into the game various times last season in attempts to save the Hamilton offense, but it seems that the current forerunner for the coveted spot is D-II Pace transfer Tobin. Tobin started three games at quarterback for Pace and before that was the Section I-AA Offensive MVP for New York. Coach Murray emphasized that creative skills in actual game settings—rather than seniority or loyalty based upon Hamilton experience—determined who starts against Tufts, but nothing is permanently set in stone.

“The bottom line is we’re looking for … someone who will do more than just not make bad plays,” Murray explained.

Aside from the QB controversy, much of Hamilton’s lineup remains steady under the captainship of Dylan Berardelli ’16 and Pat Donahoe ’16 on offense and Cade Larabee ’16 and Alex Mitko ’16 on defense. Offensively, the team believes that a new QB will create a different—more successful—dynamic with familiar team members. The offensive line lost All-NESCAC tackle Nick Noonan ’15, but the returning players—Berardelli, Jeff Jenkins ’16, Rob McClure ’17 and Matt Snider ’17 will continue to hold the line alongside Nicholas Gustaitis ’16 as center. Nick Caso ’16, Charles Ensley ’17 and Donahoe return at wide receiver, and Ware, the Continentals’ leading rusher and remaining running back from last year’s squad should be better than ever. Jason “Bane” Nostovski ’18, nicknamed for his intimidating figure and prowess, will take the majority of the snaps at fullback.

No player can truly replace all-NESCAC recipient Michael de Percin ’15, but Hamilton’s defense has much potential for a strong season. Phelan leads the pack of linebackers with by Matt Glebus ’17 and Larabee. Jimmy Giattino ’17 will take up CB while James Taylor ’17 recovers from an injury. The Continentals have showcased some of their best talent on the defensive end of the ball, and it’s doubtful this season will be an exception.

Already, Hamilton has shown improvement. In their scrimmage against D-I Cornell on Sept. 12, the Continentals defeated their opponents 7-0 (Cornell scored a touchdown, but the points were revoked due to excessive celebration). With any luck, the momentum built from this success will remain going into conference competition.

Biggest Surprise of Camp: Inevitable team cuts certainly scared players into mental and physical shape. Pre-season tests show that the players are stronger, faster, and generally fitter than last season.

“We actually look like a football team now,” Murray said.

The coaches and captains agree that competition has made everyone better, both on the field and in the locker room. “Practices are more intentional and more focused,” Captain Berardelli added. Players have expressed stronger commitment to the program, creating positive atmosphere among teammates. Should growth continue, it can and will ultimately benefit the culture of football at Hamilton and improve the team’s reputation from recent seasons.


Best Tweet of the Offseason: OL Coach Matt Wright

NY QB Brandon Tobin to Transfer to Hamilton College for 2015 Season

Brandon Tobin '18 will join Hamilton College this fall to play quarterback. (Courtesy of Pace University Athletics)
Brandon Tobin ’18 will join Hamilton College this fall to play quarterback. (Courtesy of Pace University Athletics)

Brandon Tobin ’18 started three games at quarterback for Division-II Pace University this past season as a true freshman, and before that was the Section I-AA Offensive MVP in the state of New York as a senior at Arlington High School.

In 2015, Tobin will be taking snaps as a member of the Hamilton Continentals.

Tobin joins a long list of higher-division quarterbacks to join the NESCAC over the past half decade, which includes two-time NESCAC Offensive MVP McCallum Foote ’13 (via Brown), Williams’ starting QB Austin Lommen ’16 (Boston College), Colby backup Michael Ecke ’17 (UCONN) and the incoming Jared Lebowitz ’17 (UNLV).

The 6’1″, 200 lbs. righty signal-caller will complete the spring semester at Pace University, focusing on lifting and finishing strong academically before turning his attention toward learning the Hamilton playbook this summer and joining the Continentals in the Fall.

According to Arlington High School Head Coach Dom DeMatteo, Tobin showed an ability to pick up the offense quickly as a junior for the Admirals, but ceded time early on to a senior at quarterback. By the fourth week of Tobin’s junior season, DeMatteo was unable to keep Tobin off of the field, and the junior began playing more and more snaps as the season went along. As a senior Tobin spent the entire season as the Admirals’ undisputed starting quarterback and leader.

Nor was Tobin a one-way player. According to DeMatteo, Tobin earned the starting job at field corner with ease as a junior, and were it not for the need to be cautious with the team’s future star QB, Tobin’s toughness would have allowed him to move to linebacker.

And, lest we forget, Tobin also dabbled in punting, kickoffs and placekicking.

The last of which did not come easy to Tobin. Realizing a void at the kicking position, DeMatteo decided to have Tobin try out his leg. The first day was pretty unsuccessful, but DeMatteo says that Tobin went home that night, researched placekicking and came back the next day looking like a professional.

Tobin admits that he spent three to four hours watching YouTube videos that night in an effort to improve his placekicking.

Coach DeMatteo put it quite simply.

“He’s not just a quarterback. He’s a football player.” – Arlington HS Head Coach Dom DeMatteo

That is an easily tossed around cliché but one that certainly applies to Tobin.

But for Tobin, the moniker “student-athlete” means something, which was the NY native’s primary motivation for deciding to transfer from Pace.

When first looking at colleges, Hamilton was on the shortlist of schools that Tobin and his family had to decide among, but in the end the opportunity to play under scholarship at Division-II Pace became a deciding factor.

Brandon Tobin signing his national letter of intent to play football at Pace University in March 2014. (Courtesy of Arlington High School Athletics)
Brandon Tobin signing his national letter of intent to play football at Pace University in March 2014. (Courtesy of Arlington High School Athletics)

After a semester in which Tobin was unimpressed by the academic landscape at his current school, Tobin decided to pursue his release from Pace and began searching for a new home. The QB also stressed that his decision was not driven by football, but rather was based primarily on his desire to challenge himself academically.

Now that the decision is final, it is time to turn our attention to next season and decipher what this means for the Hamilton College football program.

Current sophomore Chase Rosenberg ’17 will be the incumbent at quarterback for Head Coach Dave Murray, who chose not to comment on the news of Tobin’s transfer. However, with the Continentals coming off of an 0-8 year in Murray’s first at the helm, one has to believe that nothing will be guaranteed to any of the returning players.

Tobin stated that Murray had not promised the transfer anything in terms of playing time, but certainly allowed that there would be an opportunity for Tobin to compete for a starting job with Rosenberg once camp opens.

For Tobin’s part, he has not seen Hamilton play with Rosenberg under center, nor has he spoken to his future teammate, but he looks forward to the position battle that will take place this Fall.

Tobin, it would seem, has the skills to play in the NESCAC. As a senior at Arlington, Tobin threw eight touchdowns and secured eight more on the ground, compiling over 1,400 yards of total offense. In his first season at Pace the results were much more varied, but his 17-35 (48.6 percent), 1-0 TD-INT performance against Southern Connecticut State provides a glimpse of what the righty can do.

Aside from the statistics, Tobin should be a great addition for a team that will need to stay committed despite a history of poor performance. According to DeMatteo, Tobin is the rare type of player that combines his athletic gifts with the ability to lead both vocally and by example. Since taking over at Arlington in 2007, DeMatteo has not had a more complete football player.

“[He was the] best compete package, intelligent, athletic, physical, could make all the throws on the field. There was really nothing that we asked Brandon to do on the field that he could not do.” – Dom DeMatteo

The recent lack of success for Hamilton did not deter Tobin, who encountered a similar situation when he enrolled at Pace last year, where he joined a program in the midst of a coaching change looking to turn over a new leaf. Now, Tobin hopes to be part of a rebirth for the Hamilton program under Dave Murray, and the transfer is excited to play for his new coach and the Hamilton staff.

Coach DeMatteo feels strongly that a wave of success is coming for Tobin and his new team.

“I sincerely believe that Hamilton College hit a home run with this kid.” – Dom DeMatteo

As for Tobin, he stuck to his humble nature and refrained from predicting the heights that his new team will achieve, saying only,

“I’m very thankful to be given the opportunity.” – Brandon Tobin

Panthers Make Rude Guests in Hartford: Stock Report 10/26

Every streak will end at some point, and Trinity’s vaunted home winning streak of 53 games finally came to a stunning finish on Saturday. Like any streak of such length, the Bantams endured many close calls before Saturday, but the Panthers sucked out any potential drama long before the final whistle. Middlebury scored the first 20 points of the game, and a Brendan Rankowitz ’15 touchdown catch with 6:07 left made it 27-7, essentially ending the game.

So just how did Middlebury manage to take down the unbeatable Bantams? Well, considering the margin of victory, the simple answer is that Middlebury just outplayed Trinity. From a more philosophical point of view, this was speed beating size. The Trinity starting offensive line averages 280 pounds while the three down lineman for Middlebury average 247 pounds. That didn’t matter as Middlebury was still able to get to the ball.

Trinity finished the game with 85 yards rushing on 38 attempts, a 2.2 yards per carry average. The last time Trinity was held to under 100 yards rushing was October 2, 2010 when Williams held the Bantams to 87 yards rushing. Not coincidentally that was also a loss for Trinity. The 85 yards was the lowest total in a game since October 11, 2008 when Tufts (yes, Tufts) held the Bantams to 50 yards rushing. (Of course in that game Trinity threw for 470 as well to win a wild overtime game 28-27.)

The fact that the two top tacklers for Middlebury were defensive backs tells us that while the Panthers won the line of scrimmage, they didn’t do it conventionally. Waves of defenders threw themselves at the point of attack on running plays without exposing any lanes for cutbacks. Trinity’s longest run in the game was 19 yards.

Matt Minno '16 hauls down one of his three touchdowns in the Panthers' victory. Courtesy of Greg Sullivan (
Matt Minno ’16 hauls down one of his three touchdowns in the Panthers’ victory. Courtesy of Greg Sullivan (

Not having Sonny Puzzo on the roster for Trinity hurt the Bantams because Foye is not a runner. Puzzo gave the Trinity offense a little more diversity and defenses had more difficulty keying on one player. Spencer Aukamp ’18 has the running capabilities to replicate Puzzo, but Aukamp is not as polished of a passer. Henry Foye ’15 was able to come back from a touchdown deficit last week against Bowdoin, but he is not a quarterback capable of leading a team back from the hole Trinity found themselves in early in the second half.

Meanwhile, Matt Milano ’16 played a nearly perfect game. He went 25-36 for 286 yards. Though he threw one interception, he made up for it with four touchdowns. Matt Minno ’16 reemerged from the shadows last week against Bates, and he confirmed that he is back with his best game of the season: a three touchdown, 90 yard day. Milano actually played better than Mac Foote ’14 did last year when Middlebury beat Trinity in Vermont. Throw out the debacle against Amherst, and Milano has been stellar.

The running game led by Drew Jacobs ’18 was nothing special, but it did enough to keep Trinity honest. The Bantams could not load up on 3rd and long and come after Milano, especially because the Middlebury offense is designed to get the ball out quickly.

Finally, credit should be given to the Middlebury special teams which had two big plays early in the second half. The first was a gutsy on-side kick call coming out of the half. Rather than giving Trinity the ball back with the score 13-0 Middlebury, the Panthers dialed up an onside kick that they recovered. Two plays later, Milano hit hit Minno for his third touchdown of the game. The next drive Trinity tried a fake punt on 4th and 2 from their own 43-yard line, but Middlebury was not fooled at all. Michael Budness ’15 gained only one yard and the Trinity gambled failed.

The last time Trinity lost at home was to Williams in September of 2001. Every Trinity football player starting with the class of 2006 until the class of 2014 was undefeated at home. The thing for Trinity is that their path to a NESCAC championship remains unchanged. If they can rally and beat Amherst and then Wesleyan, they will at least earn a share of the NESCAC title. With only two weeks to still go, both Connecticut schools have now lost when before the season it looked possible that both would go undefeated until they faced each other.

Stock Up

Safety Dan Pierce ’16 (Middlebury): Seems like every week we highlight another Panther defensive player that has emerged as a cog in a defense that has become the strength of Middlebury. Pierce had a great all around game totaling 12 tackles and two interceptions. He had the play of the game midway through the second quarter. With Middlebury up 7-0, the Bantams drove the ball down to the five yard line. Then Pierce picked off Henry Foye ’15 in the end zone and returned it 71 yards to the Trinity 29-yard line. Four plays later, Middlebury punched it in to go up by two touchdowns forcing Trinity out of their comfort zone. Pierce now leads the Panthers in tackles on the season and is fourth overall in the NESCAC. We know it is early, but given that players like Pierce, Tim Patricia ’16,  and Nate Leedy ’17 will all be back on defense along with Milano leading an offense that will return all of its playmakers with the exception of Rankowitz, Middlebury should be the favorite entering next year.

Wide Receiver Steven Kiesel ’15 (Williams): Saturday was just another ho-hum day for the senior receiver as he finished with five catches, 62 yards, and a touchdown that ended up being the difference in Williams’ 21-14 victory. Kiesel’s performance was notable because of how normal it has become. He has had at least five receptions in all but one of Williams’ games and now leads the NESCAC in receptions for the year. With the Ephs backed up on their own one, Austin Lommen ’16 went to his favorite target and hit Kiesel for a 32-yard gain that ended with Kiesel’s touchdown catch. The Williams running game has struggled for long stretches of this season, and Kiesel has been the most reliable source of offense for the Ephs. It might be a longshot given they are only 2-4, but Williams can salvage their season starting Saturday with a big upset over Wesleyan.

Quarterback Matt Cannone ’15 (Bates): The CBB picked up right where it left off last year in terms of excitement. The Bobcats QB returned just in time to get the Bates offense moving. He was still bothered by his ankle so that he was not much of a threat out of the pocket, but Cannone still played admirably. He went 18-32 for 203 yards and four touchdowns. His main target was Mark Riley ’16, but with the game on the line he used Riley as a diversion and went to Frank Williams ’18. On 4th and goal, Cannone found Williams for the game tying touchdown with under a minute left. Then in overtime the same connection worked again for a 25 yard touchdown and the victory. The win gives Bates the early lead in the CBB with the Bobcats visiting Bowdoin this week. Now Cannone will look to seal the CBB.

Running back LaShawn Ware ’17 (Hamilton): Sometimes, you have to admit that you’ve made a mistake. At the beginning of the season, in our Breakout Players of 2014 article, we highlighted Hamilton backs Rico Gonzalez ’16 and converted safety Jeff Hopsicker ’15. Gonzalez hasn’t been much of a factor all year, and had two carries against Williams. Hopsicker started out as the team’s primary back, but has seen his carries total dwindle ever since Week 2. When we spoke with head coach Dave Murray at the beginning of the year, he highlighted the speedy Ware as someone who could make an impact, but we just saw too much competition in the backfield. Well, Ware now leads the team in rushing yards and yards per carry, and racked up a career-high 115 yards against Williams. It looks like Murray has settled into a two-headed attack, with Ware moving the ball down the field and Amman Weaver ’18 getting the chances to punch it in near the goal line. It’s another lost season for the Continentals, but there will be weapons back in 2015.

Stock Down

Tufts Offensive Execution: A few stats from the Tufts-Amherst game: Tufts first downs – 11, Amherst first downs – 12. Tufts total yards – 249, Amherst total yards – 244. Tufts return yards – 78, Amherst return yards – 93. So how was this game 30-3 in favor of the Jeffs? As the Tufts website notes, every single Amherst scoring drive started in Tufts territory. Seventy-nine of those return yards came on interceptions for Amherst, with Chris Gow ’16 returning one Alex Snyder ’17 pass to the house. The Lord Jeff defense is very good and known for their takeaways, but this was another level. A big reason for that was because Jack Doll ’15 did not start and only threw the ball six times. It would have been extremely difficult for the Jumbos to upset Amherst at home with the Jeffs smelling a conference championship, but the offense let down a defense that played much better than the score indicated.

Bowdoin Secondary: One week after allowing Henry Foye to enjoy his best game of the season, Jesse Warren ’15 threw for five touchdowns against the Bowdoin secondary. Early in the game Bowdoin was getting pressure, but Warren converted two third downs of more than 12 yards on the first touchdown drive. For the game Wesleyan was 10-17 on third down. The Polar Bears have had problems slowing down the opposition’s passing attack all year with teams finding ways of making big plays consistently. Though Jay Fabien ’15 was slowed, Josh Hurwitz ’15 stepped up and had three touchdown catches. The Bowdoin secondary will have to rise to the occasion and stop Bates’ Riley on Saturday.

Colby’s Depth: The brutal opening schedule robbed Colby of a good deal of their players, and in an effort to get their best talent on the field, wide receivers Luke Duncklee ’15 and Nick Joseph ’15 have started playing on defense as well. Many NESCAC players went both ways in high school so they are somewhat used to it, but doing it in college is especially hard because it is much harder to take any plays off. The duo played well Saturday totaling 14 tackles between them, but it was not enough for Colby to hold off Bates. Advocates for expanding the current roster to more than 75 players might point to Colby’s issues as evidence. It is possible that the issue comes up again in conversations between coaches and administrators, but schools are unlikely to look at this one instance and consider it enough reason to change a longstanding rule.


Week Four Power Rankings

Editors Note- Excited to introduce another new writer, Adam Dulsky ’18 who is a freshman at Williams. If you are a NESCAC student or know of one who might be interested in writing for us, we would love to hear from you. Email us at

1. Trinity (4-0)- Last week the Bantams started out slow versus Tufts but quickly poured it on against the Jumbos in the 2nd quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points. As we’ve said previously, this team has the most talent in the NESCAC and by far the best offensive line in the league. It’s going to take a complete team effort to knock of Trinity as they appear to be in a class of their own.

2. Wesleyan (4-0)- The Cardinals offense started out slow this week with LaDarius Drew ‘15 out of the lineup again due to injury. Despite this, they were still able to put up 418 yards of total offense. The Cardinals host the biggest game of the NESCAC season so far Saturday against Amherst, and they are hoping their home field advantage makes a difference.

3. Amherst (4-0)- The theme of slow starts this weekend continues with the Lord Jeffs as they were shutout in the first half, only to score 35 points in the second. Nick Kelly ’17 posted his first back-to-back 100-yard rushing games of the season. He will be a huge key to moving the ball for the Jeffs this week.

4. Middlebury (2-2)- The Panthers appeared destined for a loss this past weekend versus Williams until Matt Milano ’16 led the two minute drill to tie the game and send it to OT. The Panthers went 5-19 on third down conversions and need to improve that dramatically going forward. Next week they play Bates at home and look to build their first winning streak of the season.

5. Tufts (2-2)- After starting the year with a two game winning streak, the Jumbos have dropped two straight games which continues to leave us questioning how legit this team really is. They did rack up some good yardage this week versus the Bantams but struggled to punch it in. A win next week versus Williams could help the Jumbo’s to start garnering even more respect in the league.

6. Bates (1-3)- The Bobcats offensive struggles continued this week as they were held to 164 yards of offense, placing them last for offense in the entire NESCAC. Time to see if Coach Harriman can turn around the triple option attack before a tough matchup versus Middlebury next week.

7. Williams (1-3)- Heartbreak for the Ephs this week as they could not close out their game versus Middlebury and ended up losing in OT. Alex Scyocurka ’15 had a big week for the Ephs on the ground with 117 yards and a TD. They need another big game from him in order to end their 3-game skid in Medford next week.

8. Bowdoin (2-2)- A team that looked abysmal the first two weeks has finally brought some of the pieces together with back-to-back wins. Mac Caputi ’15 seems to have got the Polar Bear offense back on track and is looking to keep it rolling when the talented Bantams visit Brunswick on Saturday.

9. Hamilton (0-4)- The Continentals played another close matchup, and they had a chance to get the win on their last drive until they threw an interception on the Polar Bears 27-yard line. Head Coach Dave Murray has this team playing better than their record indicates.

10. Colby (0-4)- As we’ve mentioned before, the Mules are having major defensive struggles and are ranked last in the league as they have been letting up 30.5 points per game. The offensive side of the ball isn’t much better as they rank last in offensive points per game with 7.8.

Bounce Back Time: Stock Report October 6

We know last week we took a drop in production. Much of that was because of a decidedly upsetting uptick in classwork, but excuses won’t cut it. Without a doubt our stock was down last week, but we promise that this week will be different. We went back over the tape, saw some places we could improve on (it involves less procrastinating), and are ready for whatever.

Week three didn’t spring any big upsets on us, but Bates and Bowdoin registered their first wins of the season. Scoring was down around the league in part because of the weather with the Amherst-Middlebury game a slog that ended up hinging on one long Nick Kelly ’17 run.

Stock Report:

Amherst Defense- The Jeffs defense on Saturday stifled the Middlebury attack completely holding them to only 2 yards per play. Defensive lineman Paul Johnson ’17 recorded 2.5 sacks and now leads the NESCAC with 4 on the season. A different player has led Amherst in tackles in each of the first three games. If you still have any doubt about how good Amherst is, consider these statistics. Through three games they have let up two plays of more than 20 yards. One was a 28 yard completion by Bowdoin in the final minute of the fourth quarter when Amherst’s backups were in. The other was a 21 completion by Matt Cannone ’16 to Mark Riley ’16. So essentially only play over 20 yards. The longest running play against Amherst is 14 yards. If the Jeffs can get their offense sorted out, they can beat Wesleyan and Trinity.

Quarterback Mac Caputi ’15 (Bowdoin)- Running back Tyler Grant deservedly took home NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week accolades for his 43 carries, 208 yards, and 4 touchdown performance, but that should not overshadow the play of Caputi. Many had called for his benching after week one and those calls were even stronger after backup Tim Drakeley ’17 gave the offense a shot of energy against Amherst. Head Coach Dave Caputi (Yes, they are father and son) gave the younger Caputi one more chance, and he responded brilliantly. He went 20-25 for 209 yards averaging 8.4 yards per attempt without a touchdown or interception.  That was after he went 33-57 and averaged only 4.1 yards per attempt in his first two games combined. He made the play that the Jumbo defense gave him and also managed to make a couple of plays with his feet that helped extend drives. Another good performance against Hamilton Saturday could lift the Polar Bears to .500.

Head Coach Dave Murray (Hamilton)- The Continentals have lost the first three games under Murray, but he has been getting rave reviews for his handling of the Hamilton team so far. After a tumultuous few years for the Hamilton program, Murray demands respect and hard work, and the Hamilton has responded positively. On Saturday against Trinity the score was only 3-0 at halftime. For the game Trinity only recorded 12 first downs, and the Bantams are an offense that tends to wear teams down and get a lot of those. Chase Rosenberg ’17 has emerged as a quality QB for Hamilton and the receiving corps has done a great job after losing Joe Jensen ’15. It has been a long time since such positivity has been coming from Clinton, but Murray seems to be the real deal.

Stock Down:

Williams- Now it seems long ago, but in the days leading up to the Williams-Trinity game last week, people really believed the Ephs had a chance to score the upset. They followed up that blowout with another loss on the road to a previously winless Bates team. The offense sputtered especially in the second half which was a major reason for why Bates was able to seal the game with a 14 play, 95 yard drive in the fourth quarter. The Bobcats keyed on the running game for Williams holding them to 2.1 yards per attempt. Austin Lommen ’16 has proven to be an upgrade in the passing game but not the massive one that some expected him to be. With Middlebury coming to Williamstown on Saturday, the Ephs have to get back on track.

Quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 (Colby)- The sophomore had Colby fans excited before the season as he stepped in to lead the Mule offense. He performed admirably in his first game but has seen his statistics regress in the last two weeks. Saturday he completed only 40.5% of his passes and threw two interceptions. The Colby offense has now scored seven points in each of the last three weeks in part because the passing game has stalled. Some of his struggles can be attributed to the strength of the defenses he has faced. Middlebury, Wesleyan, and Trinity are all very good against the pass. And things don’t get any easier when the Mules go on the road to face the hottest defense in the NESCAC- Amherst.

Kicker Phillip Nwosu ’15 (Amherst)- In the preseason one of the All-NESCAC picks we felt most confident about was Nwosu because of the strength of his leg and accuracy. So far he has struggled going 1-3 on field goals with both misses coming within 35 yards. On the opening drive for Amherst he missed a 30 yard field goal that helped keep the game tied for a long time. Last season kicking was the difference in the Trinity-Amherst game with the advantage going to the Jeffs. Nwosu has to find his kicking stroke again in order to help an Amherst offense that has done very little so far.