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: 2–6
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
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
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.
— TC (@TerriunCrump) August 13, 2015
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.