Colby’s offense was nothing to write home about last season, and they lost arguably their two biggest threats; RB Jabari Hurdle-Price and WR Sebastian Ferrall, who did not graduate and simply isn’t returning to school. This puts incredible pressure on Sparacio to step up, even with those security blankets out of the picture. He is the presumptive starter and got the brunt of the action, but was challenged last year by first year Jack O’Brian ‘20, and there is a Dartmouth transfer, Harry Kraft ‘19, who will also press him. Sparacio has the ability to hold onto his job, but the Mules need more than that if they want any hope of matching last year’s win total.
Defensive MVP: DB Don Vivian ‘19
Colby retains much of their solid defensive core from last season, and Vivian is the biggest prize of that returning crop. He picked off two passes and broke up five, but his greatest contributions are as a run stopper and tackler. He tallied 63 tackles, a number usually reserved for linebackers, and made an impact in the backfield with three tackles for loss. Vivian heads up a defense that is as experienced as any in the NESCAC, and should be the Mules calling card this season.
Biggest Game: vs. Bates, October 28
NESCAC football is exciting, yes, but it is also stratified. For the most part, you know at the beginning of the year which five teams will be competing for the title. This puts the teams that are outside of that upper tier in a competition for an award I like to call “The Best of the Rest.” Fans of those upper teams often dismiss games between those teams, but they are often the most enjoyable to watch. This game could very well decide the “Best of the Rest,” assuming neither team makes a miraculous leap to the upper tier. Additionally, the game could decide the CBB winner, which is a fierce regional rivalry. Mark this one down as one to check out.
Colby surprised many last year by tallying three wins, and they return a good deal of that team this season, with the notable exception of star WR Sebastian Ferrall ‘19, who is not returning to the school. Without him, the Mules will have to rely heavily on their experienced defense and try to manufacture offense as best they can.
Defensive back Don Vivian ‘18 is a First Team candidate, and he leads an experience secondary that is Colby’s greatest strength. They also return a talented duo of linebackers in Bryan McAdams ‘18 and Sebastian Philemon ‘19. Defensive line could be an issue, as they are still waiting on several position battles to work themselves out. Stopping the run is critical to NESCAC success, and it’s very tough to do that with an inexperienced offensive line.
On offense, the Mules greatest returning weapon is kicker (yes kicker) John Baron ‘18. Many NESCAC teams struggle to find consistent placekickers, and many teams aren’t particularly bothered by that. But having one is a real weapon, particularly for a team like COlby that lacks a truly dominant red zone weapon. Baron is a key to Colby’s chances this year, especially if they get into games that come down to the wire. Aside from that, offense is going to be a real problem for Colby. They will need to see vast improvement from QB Christian Sparacio, which will not be helped by the loss of Farrell and starting running back Jabari Hurdle-Price. If they don’t get it, junior transfer Matthew Kraft ‘18 (of the New England Patriots Krafts) will be waiting in the wings.
Honestly speaking, this has been the most exciting NESCAC season that I have witnessed in my college career. Looking over the schedule for the final two weeks of season, I am drawn to game after game after game. There are games with championship hopes on the line (both NESCAC and CBB championship hopes); there are games with endless pride at stake; there are in-state rivalry games, conference rivalry games, grudge matches…there’s even some little school in Connecticut that’s trying to finish out an undefeated season. 2016 has given us the rise of a historically less relevant team in terms of championship contention (Tufts), and it has also presented us with an epic fall from grace (Amherst). All in all, it’s hard to objectively look at the 2016 NESCAC Football season and be upset — the competition has been good, great, phenomenal…I can’t wait to see what type of upsets are in store for us over these next two weeks.
Hold your horses though, folks. Before we can get to the decisive Week 8 games, we need to get through this weekend. Good news! There are a number of very important games tomorrow, games that will set the stage for a thrilling final week. The most obvious is Amherst-Trinity, a matchup that features an undefeated group of Bantams looking to win the sole title of 2016 NESCAC champion. Amherst has been on quite the slide as of late, but if they can put together a little Western Mass magic like we remember from the good old days, then Week 8 will be VERY interesting. Elsewhere, Middlebury, Tufts, and Wesleyan all have one loss, and all need to win-out in order to have a shot at taking home at least a share of the title (I’d be unbelievably surprised if there was a sole champion that didn’t hail from Hartford, CT, but I suppose it is possible). The good news for all three of the 5-1 squads is that they play Hamilton, Colby, and Williams respectively. The bad news? Hamilton, Colby, and Williams are ALL looking to spoil some championship dreams. So check out Saturday’s action below – this should be an awesome weekend.
(Per usual, Pete and I split up this weekend’s preview. I wrote about the Colby-Tufts and Wesleyan-Williams games, while Pete wrote the Middlebury-Hamilton, Amherst-Trinity, and Bates-Bowdoin games)
Colby (2-4) at Tufts (5-1), Medford, MA, 1:00 PM
Well, Pete moved Tufts into the #2 slot in this week’s power rankings, so it’s time for the Jumbos to show everyone that they deserve that nod. While the Trinitys, Middleburys, and Wesleyans of the world have been able to blow out some inferior opponents by ~30 points somewhat often, Tufts has not done so, but that doesn’t mean they’re any worse of a team for it. Scoring 40 or 50 points is not their M.O. – playing solid defense and wearing down opposing defenses is. That’s why Tufts has the lowest point differential per game, an average of just +9.33 per game compared to Trinity (27.00), Middlebury (11.33), and Wesleyan (21.00). It’s also why I think that this weekend’s game could be closer than many people are anticipating. Colby is fresh off a devastating loss to Bates, but the fight they showed in the second half of that game is a testament to their willpower. The Mules are clearly not going to roll over, and whether or not Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17 is back from injury this week, Colby is going to be ready to play. Expect Coach Michaeles to stick with what’s working – lots of plays drawn up for Christian Sparacio ‘18 to feed Sebastian Ferrell ‘19. Lockdown Jumbo cornerback Tim Preston ‘19 is back to his old ways – once again he leads the NESCAC in interceptions (4), so expect him to line up against Ferrell. The main question, as always, will be whether the opposing D can shut down Chance Brady ‘17… I somehow doubt it.
Rory Ziomek: Colby 17, Tufts 24
Pete Lindholm: Colby 10, Tufts 13
Liam O’Neil: Colby 10, Tufts 40
Colin Tiernan: Colby 13, Tufts 31
Colby Morris: Colby 7, Tufts 35
Sid Warrenbrand: Colby 7, Tufts 41
Nick DiBenedetto: Colby 7, Tufts 21
Wesleyan (5-1) at Williams (0-6), Williamstown, MA, 1:00 PM
I have tried to be pretty optimistic about Williams all season long, and they have shown some instances of competitive football in 2016, but overall, I think that Williams’ defense has been their downfall. The Ephs are allowing 29.3 OPPG, largely in part because of the nearly 400 YPG that they allow (381.5). Conceding a league-worst 199.2 YPG on the ground is not a recipe for success against Wesleyan, the third-best rushing attack in the NESCAC (180.5 YPG). And it’s not that the Cardinals can’t pass either! Quarterback Mark Piccirillo ‘19 can pass, he can run, and above all else, he can facilitate offensive flow. If Williams wants to win this game, they are going to need to score the football…unfortunately, I think that could be an issue for them. Though Williams ranks 6th in scoring in the NESCAC, they are a hop, skip and a jump below Amherst’s scoring average, once again highlighting the “league of two tiers” that we have often alluded to this fall. Wesleyan still boasts the best defense in the league, allowing just 7.7 OPPG, one that has only gotten better as the season has gone on. If the rest of the 2016 season is an accurate barometer, Wesleyan should head to Trinity at 6-1.
Rory: Wesleyan 42, Williams 7
Pete: Wesleyan 35, Williams 7
Liam: Wesleyan 27, Williams 10
Colin: Wesleyan 27, Williams 10
Colby: Wesleyan 28, Williams 13
Sid: Wesleyan 38, Williams 6
Nick: Wesleyan 38, Williams 14
Middlebury (5-1) at Hamilton (2-4), Clinton, NY, 1:00 PM
Contrary to the apparent mismatch, this is a crucial game for the Panthers. Last weekend, Trinity Sonny Corleone-d the Panthers to the tune of a 49-13 drubbing that may not even have been that close. The Panthers now must win out (and get a little help from Amherst this weekend) in order to have a shot at sharing the league title. Their biggest obstacle on paper is a home game against Tufts to close the year, but Middlebury would be wise to not discount the Continentals this weekend. Hamilton is a long drive from Middlebury, and the Panthers have had a tendency to start slowly, particularly on the road. Also, Hamilton is truly not that bad. Quarterback Kenny Gray ‘20 has had some impressive connections with receiver Charles Ensley ‘18, and the defense features certified studs Mickey Keating ‘18 and Tyler Hudson ‘19, who are excellent at pressuring the quarterback. The struggling Middlebury offensive line will have to step up their game in order to give Jared Lebowitz time to get back into POY form after a very tough week against Trinity. This should be a tune-up game for Middlebury in preparation for Tufts, but it would be very dangerous for the Panthers to think like that.
Rory: Middlebury 20, Hamilton 23
Pete: Middlebury 23, Hamilton 14
Liam: Middlebury 34, Hamilton 10
Colin: Middlebury 27, Hamilton 10
Colby: Middlebury 38, Hamilton 14
Sid: Middlebury 24, Hamilton 6
Nick: Middlebury 42, Hamilton 0
Amherst (3-3) at Trinity (6-0), Hartford, CT, 12:30 PM
Look, did I expect Amherst to be 3-3 heading into Week Seven? No. Am I happy about it? No, (holding back gleeful laughter) okay maybe a bit, but just because it makes for more interesting #content for us to write about here at NBN. Amherst has lost three of their last four games, with turnovers out of quarterbacks Alex Berluti and Nick Morales being the main culprit. Additionally, running back Jack Hickey ‘19, who was looking like a darkhorse All-League team candidate early in the season, has pretty much disappeared from the offense, posting only 97 yards and one TD over the last three games after 6 touchdowns in the first three games. Amherst simply has no offensive firepower right now, and that doesn’t bode well for a matchup with Trinity’s vaunted defense. However, Amherst still has one weapon left in their arsenal: pride. This is a team that won 21 in a row just a short time ago, and the attitude that makes the rest of the league hate them is still there. If they can summon that attitude, take care of the ball and let their still-excellent defense match up with Trinity’s dominant offense, this could be a classic.
Rory: Amherst 13, Trinity 31
Pete: Amherst 10, Trinity 28
Liam: Amherst 13, Trinity 28
Colin: Amherst 24, Trinity 33
Colby: Amherst 13, Trinity 27
Sid: Amherst 14, Trinity 21
Nick: Amherst 17, Trinity 38
Bates (2-4) at Bowdoin (0-6), Lewiston, ME, 12:30 PM
There’s a battle for Maine brewing in Lewiston this weekend, as well as a battle for Bates to have one of their best seasons in the last ten years. The second game of the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) series features Bates coming off a hard fought 21-19 win over Colby, and Bowdoin coming off a shellacking at the hands of Wesleyan. Bates has a great opportunity in the next few weeks to finish at .500, as they play Hamilton in Week Eight. Bowdoin, on the other hand, has an opportunity against Bates or Colby to leave 2016 with a win, potentially two, which would be a tremendous moral victory in a season that was doomed from the start. The key for the Polar Bears will be keeping Bates QB Sandy Plaschkes from breaking away for big plays. Plaschkes 42% completion percentage looks bad on paper (and honestly is pretty bad,) but he has eight touchdowns and only four interceptions on the year, and has a knack for coming up with big throws when the team needs it. The stakes in this game are not high rankings-wise, but they are for the teams involved, making for a hard fought game.
Week 5 was an interesting week of football in the ‘CAC. While it was exciting for the fans who got to see one of the bigger surprises of the year in Middletown, Connecticut with Wesleyan blowing out Amherst 20-0, there really wasn’t a close game. Every game was a blowout, and the other four outcomes were all relatively predictable, aside from maybe Colby beating Hamilton since they were both one-win teams coming into the weekend. Trinity kept up their streak of scoring between 36 and 38 points (which they have done every week this season), Middlebury kept up their streak of passing for a million yards, and Tufts maintained their undefeated record at home against Williams. Look below to see who performed exceptionally well and whose stock fell this weekend.
Put on a show for us, Wes! The Cardinal defense leads the league with just 7.2 PPG allowed, making them the only team in the conference holding teams to single digits. This is in large part due to the play of the Wesleyan secondary, as the Cards are tied with Middlebury (another top team – shocker) with a league-high 8 interceptions so far. If you asked me to pick one standout player on the defensive side of the ball, I honestly don’t think I could. This defense is clearly a cohesive unit, and these kids have been absolutely phenomenal for 19 of the 20 quarters of football they’ve played this year (the one standout quarter being the 4th quarter against Tufts). If their defense maintains this high level of play, Wesleyan will find themselves in a position to win the league when they face off with Trinity in Week 8.
Tufts RB Chance Brady ‘17
Well, well, well, Week 6 is upon us and Chance Brady is in the discussion for offensive player of the year. Weird, right? Brady dominated Williams this weekend, rushing for 157 yards and 4 touchdownss. Not only did the workhorse back run away with the NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week award, but he also cleaned up on Tufts accolades as well: Chance tied the Tufts record for touchdowns in a single game and also broke the career rushing touchdowns record for the Jumbos, with his current total sitting at 25 TDs. He leads the league in rushing and rushing touchdowns, amassing 119.2 YPG on the ground for a total of 9 trips to the endzone so far. If he keeps this up, Brady may have a chance to win some more hardware at the end of the season…
Colby DB Patrick Yale ’19
Yale wasn’t named NESCAC defensive player of the week for nothing – he broke up 4 passes and had 4 tackles in Colby’s win over Hamilton this weekend. He had an interception and returned it 40 yards back to the 50 yard line. Later in the game, Yale recovered a fumble and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. He fought hard all game long for the Mules, and boy did it show in the results. I mean, there’s leaving everything out on the field, and then there’s literally leaving everything out there on the field – Yale chose the latter. He didn’t even have time to celebrate his first quarter touchdown…after running in for the score, Yale headed straight to the sideline to puke. Electric stuff Pat, absolutely electric.
I thought about trying to find a way to humle brag about this, but I figured I’d just be very blatant with my brag instead. Following the results from Week 5, the writers’ standings look like this:
1.) Rory (18-2)
2.) Pete (17-3)
2.) Liam (17-3)
2.) Colin (17-3)
2.) Nick (17-3)
6.) Colby (16-4)
7.) Sid (15-5)
Try to keep up fellas.
It feels like just yesterday that Amherst won their third straight championship. They were on top of the world, and honestly, it didn’t look like anyone in the league knew how to beat them. Well, here we are almost a year later – Amherst is 3-2 and has lost 2 of their last 3 games. They’ve had to deal with injuries of course, but the once feared Lord Jeffs are now just another solid football team that happens to lack a mascot. Are they still one of the better teams in the league? Absolutely. But for a team that has the number of talented runningbacks that Amherst does, putting up 11 rush yards against Wesleyan this weekend is a pretty glaring deficiency. Amherst has a chance to bounce back against a solid Tufts team this coming weekend, but they have yet to beat a top half team in 2016. Saturday’s contest will prove to us just how good the 2016 Amherst Football team really is.
Colby RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17
Hurdle-Price was first team All-NESCAC last year and was a preseason all-american coming into the season. Unfortunately, the senior just hasn’t carried over his production to 2016. After ranking 2nd in rushing last season, Hurdle-Price is currently 12th in the NESCAC in rushing yards. This weekend’s game against Hamilton was pretty telling: sophomore running back Jake Schwern had more carries than Hurdle-Price (11 vs. 10), and Schwern also ran for 40 yards compared to Hurdle-Price’s 13 yards. We have seen Jabari put on an absolute show plenty of times, so I would not be surprised if he has a breakout game or two over the next three weeks, but so far he has just not been able to match last year’s production.
Competitiveness in NESCAC Football
The closest results this weekend were a tie between the Tufts-Williams and Bates-Middlebury games. The margin of victory for Tufts and Middlebury in these games was 19 points. This has been a trend all year, especially when we see matchups featuring a battle between one top half and one bottom half team. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that these games are pretty boring to watch. I’m considering writing a letter to NESCAC HQ to suggest some sort of playoff system so that we can watch the best teams play each other multiple times. Anything to increase the quantity of competitive games across the league. If you want to cosign, let me know…
Below is the weekend preview for this week. Colby Morris wrote the bulk of this article, but Pete Lindholm added in the section about the Tufts-Trinity game. If you’re looking for more in-depth analysis of this game (our pick for this week’s game of the week), check it out here. After two weeks of our writers making predictions before each weekend, here is how everyone stacks up:
Rory Ziomek: 9-1
Pete Lindholm: 9-1
Liam O’Neil: 9-1
Colin Tiernan: 9-1
Colby Morris: 9-1
Sid Warrenbrand: 9-1
Nick DiBenedetto: 9-1
Pretty boring that everyone is on the same page, but the field should start to separate after this weekend. Now, on to Colby and Pete’s analyses…
Middlebury at Williams, 1:30 PM, Williamstown, MA
Let’s look at the positives for Williams going into this weekend: It’s a home game. It’s a blunt and harsh analysis, but there aren’t many highlights so far for the Ephs. Their best game was a 9-7 loss to Colby and now they go home to face the hottest team in the ‘Cac. The Panthers had a statement win over Amherst last weekend – especially impressive due to their superb special teams play – eliminating the last weakness in an already strong team. At 3-0 Middlebury should waltz to a win as Williams is on par with both Bowdoin and Colby, whom Midd beat handily. This will be another tough test for rookie QB Jansen Durham ‘20 as he looks to find Adam Regensburg ‘18 through the solid Midd secondary. Regensburg, listed as a DB, is a special teams and offensive weapon, and might just hurt his back trying to carry the team in Williamstown. Prove me wrong Williams.
RZ: Middlebury – 45, Williams – 7
PL: Middlebury – 38, Williams – 10
LO: Middlebury – 40, Williams – 14
CT: Middlebury – 45, Williams – 3
CM: Middlebury – 34, Williams – 3
SW: Middlebury – 38, Williams – 10
ND: Middlebury – 38, Williams – 10
Editor’s Note: I never seen a more popular 38-10 score prediction in my life.
Bowdoin at Hamilton, 12:00 PM, Clinton, NY
This has the makings for one of the most competitive games going into the weekend, as each 0-3 team vies for their first win. While Pete picked Hamilton to beat Wesleyan during week two, Hamilton got dominated, as they are on the wrong side of a cumulative score of 105-12 through their first three contests. Unlike Hamilton’s experience thus far, Bowdoin’s 0-3 record doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Sure, they got blown out by Middlebury in week one, but then didn’t do quite as badly against Amherst week two, only losing by three possessions to a great team. Last week against Tufts, the Polar Bears’ offense showed some real prowess, as RB Nate Richam rushed for his first career touchdown. If it wasn’t for an ugly third quarter, the Polar Bears would’ve had a real shot. Granted their defense has been prone to allowing huge offensive days out of opposing teams thus far, but Bowdoin should be able to hold off Hamilton’s weak attack. I’m predicting that the Polar Bears will find their way into the warm, sunny win column.
RZ: Bowdoin – 17, Hamilton – 20
PL: Bowdoin – 10, Hamilton – 20
LO: Bowdoin – 17, Hamilton – 24
CT: Bowdoin – 16, Hamilton – 13
CM: Bowdoin – 24, Hamilton – 7
SW: Bowdoin – 21, Hamilton – 13
ND: Bowdoin – 28, Hamilton – 13
Wesleyan at Bates, 1:00 PM, Lewiston, ME
The Bobcats finally made their jump into the win column last weekend against Williams, thanks to a big breakout performance by Sandy Plashkes ‘19. For the first time he showed that he can throw the ball pretty well, quadrupling his previous two games’ passing yards by going 10-24 for 240 yards and 4 TDs. He already showed us that he can fly, breaking off a big 57 yard run against Trinity, and had another 27 yard run last weekend, emerging as a dual threat QB. While their win against Williams doesn’t prove much, they had a similar outcome against Tufts that Wesleyan did, showing that they should be able to compete well this weekend. Wesleyan has rattled off two dominant wins in a row, and Nate Taylor ’18, who broke out with two picks, will be ready to pounce again on Saturday. Wesleyan has only allowed 213 yards per game this year, and with their streaking offense led by team passing and rushing leader Mark Piccirillo ’19, they should be able to hold off the dangerous Bates team. Wesleyan shouldn’t struggle to score, and if they can contain Plashkes, they should come out on top.
RZ: Wesleyan – 27, Bates – 21
PL: Wesleyan – 17, Bates – 13
LO: Wesleyan – 27, Bates – 10
CT: Wesleyan – 33, Bates – 17
CM: Wesleyan – 20, Bates – 17
SW: Wesleyan – 28, Bates – 17
ND: Wesleyan – 28, Bates – 17
Colby at Amherst, 1:00 PM, Amherst, MA
Coming off of their first loss in three years, I do not expect Amherst to waste any time in starting a new streak. They are going to be angry and determined to keep the NESCAC crown, and with only one loss, it’s still possible for them. This means bad news for the visiting Mules as they roll into away territory riding a two game losing streak, after an important, albeit shaky, season opening win against Williams. Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17 is one of the bright spots for Colby as both a rushing and receiving threat, leading the team with 440 all purpose yards on the year. If Colby is going to make this close, which would be a small miracle, they will need to see some more INT’s from their DB’s Will Caffey and Ian Dickey like in week one. It is bad news for the Mules that third stringer turned starter Nick Morales ‘19 did as well as he did last weekend, and if not for a late pick vs. Middlebury, he would’ve had a flawless day. Jack Hickey ‘19 continued to show that he is a TD machine, making me wish that he was on my fantasy team instead of the disappointing Lamar Miller of the Texans. If Colby can’t stop him, Amherst will surely roll to another blowout win in their quest to climb back up the NESCAC standings.
RZ: Colby – 3, Amherst – 30
PL: Colby 3, Amherst – 45
LO: Colby 7, Amherst – 42
CT: Colby – 14, Amherst – 27
CM: Colby – 6, Amherst – 35
SW: Colby – 7, Amherst – 42
ND: Colby – 7, Amherst – 34
Tufts @ Trinity, 1:30 PM, Hartford, CT
For a longer preview of this game, check out Rory’s piece. It’s not better written or particularly well-researched, but it is longer and does exist (Editor’s note: Pete is just jealous that I actually have a stake in this game). Anyway, the Bantams’ eyes lit up last weekend when Middlebury ended Amherst’s reign of terror atop the league. Trinity has flown under the radar this year as Middlebury and Amherst have battled at the top of the league, but the boys from Hartford have been as impressive as either of those two squads. Quarterback (and rejected Godfather character name) Sonny Puzzo ‘18 leads the offense, with heavy aid from running back Max Chipouras ‘19. Of course, it’s important to note that Trinity has played three of the worst teams in the league thus far. Tufts is far from that ignominious status. The Jumbos also come in at 3-0, with a quality win over Wesleyan under their belts. However, they barely eked out a 12-7 win over Bates, whom Trinity put in their front pouch like a mother kangaroo to the tune of 38-7. Tufts’ offense is dominated by rushing duo Chance Brady ‘17 and Ryan McDonald ‘19, who have scored six of Tufts’ eight touchdowns. However, Trinity’s more balanced offense and stout defense should be able to overcome that attack. Look for the Bantams to win handily.
Heading into this past weekend, we knew one of the title contenders would end up having to add a tally to the L column, but I truly didn’t think the streak would end for Amherst on Saturday. Well, I was wrong, and so were other Panther doubters – Middlebury is for real (like, for real for real), and Trinity better watch their back, because Coach Ritter’s squad is gunning for the throne. If everything happens as expected between now and Week 6 (which is never a certainty in NESCAC football), Trinity and Middlebury will face off as the two remaining undefeated teams, which could very well be the title match. However, 25% of the NESCAC season stands between now and Week 6, so let’s focus on the here and now.
Elsewhere in the conference, things have started to shake out a bit more, and we have four current groups of teams at this point: Class A, the undefeated teams – Middlebury, Trinity, and Tufts; Class B, the defeatable title contenders – Amherst and Wesleyan, who both stand at 2-1; Class C, the middle of the pack contenders – Bates and Colby, both 1-2 with their sights set on winning the CBB Title, and potentially 4 to 6 win seasons if they can pull off an upset or two; and finally, Class D – the winless group, who are still hoping to climb out of the basement into Class C. There is plenty of time left for teams to shift between these groups, but as of now, this is where we stand:
1.) Middlebury (3-0)
A rightfully earned top spot for the Panthers after ending Amherst’s win streak this past weekend. Without a doubt, this is the most impressive win of any 3-0 team; the only other W in the conversation is Tufts’ solid win against Wesleyan. I found Jared Lebowitz ‘18 to be decently impressive through two weeks, but I am not swayed by the stats of quarterbacks running up the score. This weekend, Lebowitz threw for 261 yards against the league’s best defense, adding 3 touchdowns and just one interception. Not only did he have three TDs, but each was thrown to a different Panther, highlighting Lebowitz’ field vision and the receiving corps’ depth. Additionally, Carter Massengill ‘20 maintained his perfect kicking accuracy on the season, nailing 3 extra points and 2 field goals. If Massengill continues to be this consistent for the Panthers, it will be that much easier for them to hold off their opponents until the likely championship game in Week 6 against Trinity.
2.) Trinity (3-0)
Trinity did what they had to do this weekend as they remained unbeaten against Hamilton. The Bantams are now scoring at a league-best 37.7 PPG clip, but that number will surely be bumped down this weekend against a pretty solid Tufts defense. I’d be foolish to omit the fact that Trinity’s opponents after three weeks are a combined 1-8 on the season. With that being said, Trinity leads the league not only in scoring, but also in points allowed, so they are clearly asserting their dominance over inferior teams. This weekend will be the first true test for Coach Jeff Devanney’s team as they host Tufts in The Coop, and I don’t think I’m really surprising anyone here by noting that the Bantams will be focused on limiting the damage that Chance Brady ‘17 can do on offense. Getting penetration is one of Trinity’s strengths, however, especially when their opponents drop back to pass, evidenced by their league leading 5.0 sacks per game. We know Trinity is good, but like Middlebury had to, the Bantams have to beat another top team if they want Week 6 to be the battle for the championship belt.
3.) Amherst (2-1)
Sure they lost, but Amherst lost to one of the best teams in the league in a game that went down to the wire and was ultimately decided by a single point. The last thing Coach Mills’ team should be doing is panicking right now. For one thing, we’re still under halfway through our season, and Amherst is allowing just 12.3 PPG. THEY ARE ALSO ONLY ALLOWING 0.7 RUSHING YPG AFTER WEEK 3. That’s not a typo. Less than one rushing yard per game. This defense is going to win them games, not to mention that Amherst has an absolutely studly offense. The Purple and White have just had pretty tough luck with injuries at the quarterback position this year; Amherst lost Reece Foy ‘18 in preseason to a knee injury, and Alex Berluti ‘17 hurt his knee in Week 2 with his time table TBD. So what did Nick Morales ‘19, the next QB in line, do on Saturday? He stepped in for his first career start against Middlebury. How’d he do? Oh, he was just 27-38 for 269 yards, a touchdown, and just one interception. His longest pass was a simple 71 yard gain. Maybe I throw too many New England Patriots references in my blogs, but my good friend Bill Belichick likes to emphasize the “next man up” mentality that his team abides by. Maybe Coach Mills is deploying the same mentality in the Amherst locker room? Regardless, Amherst will be just fine, especially once Morales gains comfort and confidence in the pocket.
4.) Tufts (3-0)
Tufts dropped below Wesleyan in last week’s power rankings after a less than stellar win against Bates at home. Thus began the gossip that Tufts lucked out against Wesleyan, and that it showed in their underwhelming performance against a Bates team that they should theoretically have blown out. Even I, a self-proclaimed homer (after Pete shamed me into admitting it), was beginning to doubt Tufts’ ability to put up points. How’d the Jumbos respond? They responded exactly like a title contender should and scored 41 points against Bowdoin this weekend. After Week 3, it’s clear that the Bates game was the fluke, not the Wesleyan game. I am still skeptical of the offense, as they seem to rack up way more three and outs than normal for a 3-0 team (13-47, or 28%, on 3rd down conversions), but as of now it hasn’t hurt them. They’re going to need to show some grit against Trinity this weekend to continue climbing in the power rankings, and more importantly, to continue adding to the win column.
5.) Wesleyan (2-1)
Wesleyan will feel slighted by this drop from #4 back to #5. They have won by 28 and 31 in Weeks 2 and 3 respectively, while Tufts had a slip up against Bates. So why the drop? As I mentioned above, Tufts showed that they do in fact know how to handle the bottom tier teams. To be honest, these big wins against the league’s weaker teams just don’t speak as loudly to me as wins against teams of similar talent. What keeps coming to mind is the opener, and specifically, the way that Wesleyan absolutely fell apart in the 4th quarter against Tufts. Holding onto a late lead is not really applicable in blowouts, so Wesleyan has not been tested again in this regard. The ability to stay composed in a close game with a late lead is an area that I see as a weakness for the Cardinals at this point, and I will continue to see it as such until they prove me wrong. I will say that Mark Piccirillo ‘19 has really impressed me so far this year, and the fact that he can pass and run equally effectively is one of Wesleyan’s biggest weapons. If the Cardinals can lean on Piccirillo late in close games, I don’t think they’ll have another disappointing blown lead.
6.) Bates (1-2)
A blowout loss, a close loss to a top tier team, and a good win against a team of similar skill level. Bates is improving each week, and their upward-trending level of play is in large part due to the performance of quarterback Sandy Plashkes ‘19. Bates has a total of 6 touchdowns this year – guess how many of those touchdowns Plashkes was involved in? You got it, all 6. Plashkes has thrown for 5 TDs and he ran in the remaining score. It’s as simple as this: as Plashkes goes, Bates goes, and if he is dialed in like he was on Saturday against Williams, Bates can stick right with anyone in this league. Tread lightly, Wesleyan. NESCAC Football is about momentum, and the Bobcats are hot right now.
7.) Colby (1-2)
After a last second win in Week 1, the Mules have lost their steam. The Colby defense allowed 35+ points in consecutive weeks on their way to 21 and 31 point losses – not a good sign for a team that heads to Amherst this week. What has hurt Colby thus far is their mediocre aerial attack. The Mules are only throwing for 136.3 YPG, which has made them pretty one-dimensional as a whole. As a result, they have struggled to score the ball, evidenced by their 9.7 PPG total, which qualifies for second worst in the NESCAC. The Fieldston School alum Jabari Hurdle-Price ‘17 is doing all he can, but he is finding less room to work in 2016 as defenses have honed in on him after his breakout season last year. Colby’s workhorse back is most effective when Coach Michaeles engineers a high-volume gameplan for him, so if Colby can open up the field a bit through their passing game, it will create opportunities for a more efficient Hurdle-Price.
8.) Williams (0-3)
A tough spot to be after a tough start for Williams in 2016, but look at the bright side, guys: you’re the highest ranked 0-3 team! That’s no accident on our part, and it’s not just because I’m from Western Mass either. No, Williams has played a grittier brand of football than the other winless teams, but unfortunately for the Ephs things have bounced the wrong way time and again. One word to describe Week 1 for Williams: devastating. After allowing an early score, the Williams D buckled down long enough for the offense to put together a late drive which gave the Ephs the lead with 1:46 remaining. The lead lasted all of 1:41 until Colby won on a last second field goal. Week 2 was just rubbing salt in the wound for Williams as they had to play Trinity in a game that ended in a beating, but it should definitely be noted that Williams played the Bantams the toughest of Trinity’s three opponents thus far. Week 3 was another good game for Williams, but they just couldn’t put together any complete drives in the 4th quarter, ending in a well-fought defeat. Connor Harris ‘18 has been a bright spot for the Williams offense for the tailback spot, and he will be looked to increasingly if he keeps up his 66.3 rushing YPG average, which currently qualifies him for the fourth highest average in the ‘CAC.
9.) Bowdoin (0-3)
I guess if there is a positive for Bowdoin it’s that each game has gotten closer than the previous one, with scoring differentials descending from games one through three. The negative is that the Polar Bears lost by 20 in their closest loss of the season this weekend against Tufts. Bowdoin has the league’s worst defense, a result of their porous secondary allowing 309.7 YPG through the air. To put that in perspective, the second worst pass defense in the league, Hamilton, allows 236.0 YPG. Part of this issue is that Bowdoin is not getting penetration in the backfield consistently, a fact that certainly plays into their poor defense. Offensively, Bowdoin ranks second to last in YPG on the ground. This may not be for lack of running talent, but rather that, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bowdoin is constantly playing from behind and so they have to air the ball out to try to catch up (there’s a reason Blake Bortles is my fantasy quarterback). Bowdoin faces off with fellow winless team Hamilton this weekend, and I suspect they will have more success moving the ball in a better matchup for them than Middlebury, Amherst, or Tufts was.
10.) Hamilton (0-3)
Someone had to be last, and Hamilton’s 4.0 PPG average kind of makes them a front runner for this undesirable title. I will say that Hamilton rivals Bowdoin for toughest opening schedule, as the Continentals traveled to Amherst and then Wesleyan before finally getting a home game against Trinity, but they’ve only scored two times in three games. That’s no bueno. Looking ahead, Hamilton has a chance to make a run here as they face Bowdoin, Colby, and Williams in the coming weeks, but they are going to have to improve on both their highly permeable defense and their abysmal ability to move the football. Again, Hamilton’s rushing attack could be suffering from the Jacksonville Jaguars effect, but it’s hard to excuse a 39.7 rushing YPG average. The Continentals have a prime opportunity this weekend to turn their ship around, but they have to take advantage or they may find themselves in a hole they can’t dig themselves out of.
QB: Gabe Harrington ’17* RB: Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17* WR: Ryder Arsenault ’17 WR: Alex Kramer ’17*
WR: Mark Snyder ’18 TE: Braden Wilson ’17 LT: Shane Normandeau ’19 LG: Will Julich ’17 C: Mike Roberts ’17* RG: Anthony Cappellino ’17* RT: Larry Patrizio ’17*
Defensive Starters(*Seven returning)
DE: Ben Hartford ’18 DT: Chris Marano ’17* DT: Sam Gomez ’18 DE: Henry Wallrapp ’17* OLB: Justin Lamere ’17* MLB: Sam Friedman ’19 OLB: Bryan Mcadams ’18* CB: Adam Balaban ’18* SS: Will Caffey ’19* FS: Ian Dickey ’18*
CB: Patrick Yale ’19*
Offensive MVP: Running Back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17
Colby’s offense is led by 2015 First Team All-NESCAC running back, Jabari Hurdle-Price. Hurdle-Price had a monster year in 2015 leading the mules in rushing, receiving and returns on special teams. The only factor preventing Hurdle-Price from these numbers in 2016 is the left side of the offensive line, which remains a big question mark for Colby. With consistency on the offensive line for the Mules, expect Hurdle-Price to put up even bigger numbers than he did last season. It will be interesting to see how opposing defenses prepare for the ground attack against Colby, as they were able to find the end zone ten times on the ground and only two times in the air.
Defensive MVP: Safety/Linebacker Ian Dickey ’18
Ian Dickey had a breakout season in 2015 and was second on the team with forty-three tackles. With leading tackler, Stephen O’Grady graduated, the Mules will depend upon Dickey to make even bigger plays for them. Last season, Dickey anchored a secondary that consisted of two freshmen. Having a full season of experience under his belt expect Dickey to have a breakout year for Colby.
Biggest Surprise of Camp:Injury Bug nowhere to be found.
In 2015, Colby lost many valuable players throughout the season via injuries. Losing players to injury coupled with a lack of both depth and experience resulted in a 1-7 season which put them dead last in the NESCAC. This past Saturday, Colby had a joint practice with Bates, and arguably the biggest positive coming out of this is that there were no injuries. Coach Michaeles remains optimistic about his program and knows the capability they have if they remain healthy in 2016.
Biggest Game: Bowdoin at Colby, 12:30 PM November 12, Waterville, Maine (Maine’s Super Bowl)
Colby starts their 2016 season in a hectic fashion. Normally, opening at Williams would be a good thing, but Williams recently hired the former St. Lawrence head coach, Mark Raymond. Raymond is one of the better division three football coaches and is known for his success in turning St. Lawrence into a winning football program. This will not be an easy opener for the Mules. Things do not get easier for Colby as they play Middlebury, Wesleyan and then Amherst in weeks two, three and four.
Fast Forward to week eight: A home CBB rivalry finale against Bowdoin. This game does not only mean a lot to the Colby football program, but it is one of the most highly anticipated events in Maine. In 2015 both teams were 1-6 going into this game and Bowdoin ended up winning 35-13. Colby was unable to score until late in the 3rd which summed up their lack of offense the entire season. Having the home field advantage and experience in both the offense and defense, expect this week eight battle to go down to the wire.
I believe the saying goes: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, Colby opponents take warning.”
Summary: Colby’s 1-7 season in 2015 was attributed to their inability to find the end zone. They were struck with the injury bug early on and were unable to adjust from there. In order to improve from their disappointing season, Colby will need more production and consistency from their offense as well as to remain healthy throughout. They have the talent to win some quality NESCAC football games, but they need their offense to produce. Although his 2015 numbers are discouraging, coach Michaeles has full faith in senior Gabe Harrington to lead the offense. Harrington had a solid season in 2014 and his performance will determine whether or not the Mules’ offense will succeed. Michaeles also has the option of junior Christian Sparacio who gained some experience in 2015 and will definitely compete for snaps. The one position that has been locked in since the end of 2015 is the starting running back position. Jabari Hurdle-Price looks to continue where he left off last season as he was arguably one of the best athletes in the NESCAC. Hurdle-Price was the only consistent spark in the Mules’ offense a year ago. Behind Hurdle-Price is running back Carl Lipani. Lipani provides Colby with plenty of depth at running back. A big asset for the Mules offense this season is the return of wide receiver Ryder Arsenault. Arsenault missed major time in 2015 due to injury and has been a consistent target for them in the past, leading the team in receptions in2014. Alex Kramer and Mark Snyder will look to compete for reps at wide receiver. Braden Wilson will be at tight end for the Mules after starting the final four games of last season. With improvements in the air attack, Colby could be a dangerous football team on offense.
On defensive, Colby will look to fill the void of leading tackler and captain Stephan O’Grady as well as All-NESCAC defensive end Ryan Ruiz and defensive tackle Harry Nicholas. Replacing the graduated O’Grady will be Sophomore Sam Friedman. As a Freshman in 2015, Friedman recorded nineteen tackles in six games. Additionally, the Mules will look towards senior Bryan McAdams and junior Justin Lamere to produce for them at linebacker. Senior Henry Wallrapp provides experience on the defensive line at strong side defensive end. Replacing Ruiz and Nicholas will be Gerry Nvule, Chris Marano, Sam Gomez and Ben Hartford. Colby’s secondary was filled with underclassmen in 2015. Ian Dickey started all eight games at safety as a sophomore and was second on the team in tackles behind O’Grady. The youngest part of their secondary was Will Caffey and Patrick Yale who started at both cornerback positions as freshmen. These three are locks for starting jobs this season but the other safety position is up for grabs. John Baron will be the place kicker and punter for the mules in 2016. Last season, Baron went four for five in field goal opportunities, including a thirty-seven yarder against Tufts. He was seven for eleven in extra point opportunities. With a more productive offense in 2016, Baron will have more opportunities to put points on the board for Colby.
We’re very sad to see football season go. Covering all of the drama, success and disappointment this season, it’s felt at times like we were on the field ourselves, living through the ups and downs. On a grand scale, Amherst took a lot of the drama out of the season by so consistently dispatching its opponents, but let’s not downgrade the exceptional performances of so many individuals on every team across the league. Even amongst so many standout showings, a few deserve recognition above all else.
Offensive Player of the Year: Tufts RB Chance Brady ’17
Brady was on our radar coming into the year, but we had no idea he was this good. Not only did he split carries last season with Zack Trause ’15 practically 50-50, but Tufts has historically been one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NESCAC. That completely changed this season with Brady serving as a workhorse for the Jumbos. Brady had 187 carries (two behind Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17), and led all qualified running backs in yards, yards per game and yards per carry while also tallying 11 rushing scores, two shy of the Tufts single-season record.
Honorable Mention: Middlebury QB Matt Milano ’16, Middlebury WR Matt Minno ’16, Amherst QB Reece Foy ’18, Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo ’18, Colby RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17
Defensive Players of the Year: Wesleyan DE Jordan Stone ’17 and Bates LB Mark Upton ’17
Adam – Sheer production is the best way to describe Mark Upton’s career at Bates, and he gets my vote for DPOY because of his leadership on a young defense to go along with those gaudy stats. Bates lost a lot from their 2014 defense, including the majority of the linebackers who played besides him. Teams game planned towards Upton unlike before, and while he couldn’t quite match the 84 tackles he had last year, he came close. Upton finished with 71 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception. He played best down the stretch averaging 9.8 tackles per game in his final five games.
Joe – I went with Jordan Stone because he was a physical monster. Not only that, but Stone played alongside a bunch of freshmen on the D-line, and the Wesleyan defense as a whole was very green, so his numbers stand out that much more – and boy are they impressive. Thirty-five total tackles, 5.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Ten! When thinking about these kinds of awards, my biggest question is always, Which player would it hurt the most to lose? I think this season it was Stone.
Honorable Mention: Amherst LB Evan Boynton ’17 , Middlebury DL Gil Araujo ’16, Bowdoin LB Branden Morin ’16, Middlebury CB Nate Leedy ’17, Trinity S Paul McCarthy ’16, Tufts LB Zach Thomas ’18
Kicker/Punter of the Year: Trinity K/P Kyle Pulek ’16
Pulek was consistently great punting the football (15 inside the 20, including six against Middlebury alone, which was a huge difference in the Bantams winning that contest), but it was his proficiency once thrust into the kicking role that gives him the edge over Amherst’s Jackson McGonagle ’16. Last season, Trinity’s kicking faults more or less directly led to a pair of Trinity losses. This season, kicker Eric Sachse ’19 was doing a fine job before he went down with an injury. Pulek came on and looked like a seasoned vet, making 10-10 extra points and 5-8 field goals – two of those misses were blocks, and the other was from 39 yards out.
Honorable Mention: Amherst P Jackson McGonagle, Tufts K/P Willie Holmquist ’17, Hamilton P Pat Donahoe ’16
Return Man of the Year: Trinity KR/PR Darrien Myers ’17
Not a ton of options on this one, and Myers is a more than deserving candidate, mostly because of his work on punt returns. He averaged 13.5 yards per return, a pretty sick number. Two of his returns went for touchdowns, and his 74-yard punt return for a touchdown against Middlebury was a huge lift in their eventual win. Myers was not as dynamic on kickoffs as he has been in the past averaging 22.3 yards per return, but he still was a clear choice for us.
Honorable Mention: Tufts KR/PR Mike Rando ’17 and Williams KR/PR Mark Pomella ’16
Rookie of the Year: Hamilton DE Tyler Hudson ’19
Hudson exploded out of the gates with as good a debut in the NESCAC as anyone has had in awhile. Against Tufts he had 15 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss. Keep in mind that he plays defensive end! He wasn’t that productive the rest of the year, but the final stats of 47 tackles, four sacks, and 12.5 TFL (second in the NESCAC) are pretty nifty. Hudson is so good that he even was on the field for the Continentals goal line package, though he never was able to bring in a reception. Hudson will be fun to watch for the next three years.
Honorable Mention: Tufts DB Tim Preston ’19, Trinity LB Shane Libby ’19, Trinity RB Max Chipouras ’19, Bowdoin DB Cam Rondeau ’19
Coach of the Year: Tufts’ Jay Civetti
With apologies to EJ Mills who cranks out 8-0 seasons like they can be made on an assembly line, Coach Jay Civetti deserves this one. The Jumbos went 6-2 and took another big step forward as a program. This season Tufts turned into a team that ran the ball first and forced big plays on defense. That is the EXACT opposite of what this team was just two years ago. It took Civetti a little time to have the results show up on the field, but what he is building at Tufts both on and off the field is impressive, and we were impressed with how he fit his game plan to his players’ talents.
Honorable Mention: Amherst’s EJ Mills, Wesleyan’s Dan DiCenzo
Breakout Player of the Year: Amherst QB Reece Foy ’18
Our biggest worry for Amherst coming into the year was that they would be plagued by subpar QB play. Foy was not perfect this year, but he was the catalyst for the Amherst offense. He played his best football in the first half putting up more than 250 yards of total offense between running and passing in each of his first three games. He didn’t surpass that mark again the rest of the way, but he still made enough plays down the stretch of games. He ranked in the top five amongst starters for passing yards, yards per attempt, completion percentage, and touchdowns, so calling him above average is a pretty easy call.
Honorable Mention: Hamilton WR Charles Ensley ’17, Tufts LB Zach Thomas ’18, Bowdoin WR Nick Vailas ’18, Trinity LB Liam Kenneally ’18, Bates CB Trevor Lyons ’17
Most Surprising Team: Tufts
Well this couldn’t have been easier. Tufts was the most surprising team a year ago, and they still managed to up their play this season. By beating one of the big dogs in Week 8, Tufts really made a statement about their ability to compete in the future. Two years removed from a 31-game losing streak, Tufts might be a title contender in 2016.
Honorable Mention: Hamilton
Best Single Unit: Amherst LBs
Given that Amherst graduated two VERY good linebackers from the 2014 team, not many would have thought this unit would end up here. But Evan Boynton ’17, Tom Kleyn ’16, Parker Chapman ’17 and Jack Drew ’16 were phenomenal. Their individual statistics are all great of course, and you can look at them here. As a group they were great tacklers, never allowing for big plays. Unlike many linebackers in the NESCAC, this group was equally good against the run and pass, making the Amherst defense able to adjust to anything.
Patricia gets this award not just for his performance in 2015, but for the entire body of work that is his stellar career. The California native came all the way to Vermont to play ball and made an impact right away. Patricia started 32 games in his career and amassed 289 tackles – the third-most in Middlebury history since 1994 when they started recording individual defensive statistics. It’s rare to see a player lead an entire defense from Day One and never miss a beat.
Honorable Mention: Amhest WR Devin Boehm ’17, Amherst DB Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16, Bowdoin TE Bryan Porter ’18, Chance Brady, Jabari Hurdle-Price
Well, the best that can be said about this weekend’s match ups is that three of the following four games feature teams within one game of each other in the standings. I know, I’m supposed to be a salesman and get you excited for the rest of the article, but I’ve already got your click, so I really don’t care….
I do care, of course, and even though none of the game’s below will factor into the Championship race (barring the upset of the millenium – and I mean that), there’s still a lot of intrigue around these games, and it definitely means something to all of the senior playing their last game of football on Saturday.
No more clichés need be wrought about the sentimental value of this weekend’s games, so let’s get into the meat of the matter.
Four to Watch: Senior Edition
Bates Defensive Lineman Tucker Oniskey ’16
Oniskey has been possibly the Bobcats’ best lineman three years running. The big man has gone from 23 tackles and nine pass break ups in seven games in 2013 to 26 tackles and five break ups in seven games a year ago to 37 tackles and four break ups in his first seven games this year.
Oniskey’s ability to get in the face of the opposing quarterback will be important against Hamilton, which likes to air the ball out downfield. We saw last week how a good secondary can take advantage of Hamilton QB Cole Freeman ’19, who was picked off four times by Middlebury last Saturday. The Bates secondary has been exploited at times this year, although CB Trevor Lyons ’17 has had a pick-six in two straight games. If Oniskey can get pressure on Freeman, Lyons might just get his third INT TD of the season.
Williams WR Mark Pomella ’16
Pomella had been exclusively a quarterback in his first three years in Williamstown. He had hoped to be the team’s starter last season until BC-transfer Austin Lommen ’16 beat him out for the gig. Head Coach Aaron Kelton hinted in the preseason that Pomella could switch roles because of his athleticism, but it took three games for Pomella to finally make the switch. Between Weeks 3-7, Pomella has 33 catches (6.6/game) for 421 yards (84.2/game) and one TD. Pomella has been the team’s clear top option since Week 3. He’s also served as the team’s punt returner, especially with RB Connor Harris ’18 out. He will need a monster game in Week 8 to help the Ephs upset Amherst.
Colby D-Linemen Ryan Ruiz ’16 and Harry Nicholas ’16
Bowdoin’s top three running backs are out for the year, and the Polar Bears rushed for negative six yards last week. They’ve broken 63 yards rushing just once this year. By default, Bowdoin has to throw the ball. Ruiz and Nicholas have a combined eight sacks this year. Bowdoin QB Tim Drakeley ’17 is back in starting lineup, but he hasn’t really played since Week 3, which will provide Ruiz and Nicholas a chance to capitalize and have one of their best games.
Tufts RT Justin Roberts ’16 and LT Akene Farmer-Michos ’16
I’m not sure about this, but I think Roberts and Farmer-Michos are the only offensive linemen we’ve ever featured as players to watch or X-factors, and now we’ve done it twice. Apologies to all the other great O-linemen out there around the league.
Roberts and Farmer-Michos are big reasons why RB Chance Brady ’17 is running his way towards history, and the Jumbos need to run well on Saturday to beat Middlebury. The Panthers have been very hit or miss against the run defensively, surrendering 301 yards on 59 carries (5.1 ypc) against Wesleyan, 190 yards on 49 (3.8 ypc) against Amherst and 204 yards on 61 carries (3.3 ypc) at Bates, while also allowing just 33 yards on 31 carries (1.1 ypc) against the vaunted Trinity attack. Inside LB Tim Patricia ’16 will have to make a lot of stops this weekend, and per usual he is leading Middlebury in tackles. If he can’t, Roberts and Farmer-Michos will be opening up some wide lanes for Brady to bounce through.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Elo Ratings. I hadn’t until very recently. But recently a little NbN fairy whispered sweet nothings in my ear, and now we have Elo Ratings. If you want the history of what Elo Ratings are, read here. If you want to know about the mainstream sports applications that inspired this fairy to do some great statistical work on NESCAC football, check out FiveThirtyEight.com. If you are averse to clinking on links that may take you to strange places, I’ll give you the rundown here.
Elo Ratings are a system that quantify the gains and losses to each team after each contest. Wins produce gains in ratings, and losses produce reductions in ratings. In our system (again, I can’t take any personal credit for this work), margins of victory compared to expected winning margin also effect the changes in Elo Ratings. At the end of each season, team ratings are regressed towards the mean, which makes sense because in college athletics there is often a lot of turnover between seasons, so teams have to prove it both on the field and in the Elo Ratings.
Our timeline currently stretches back to 2005. In our ratings, all teams begin with an “average” rating of 1500, meaning that at the beginning of our timeline, teams were very closely clustered together. I’ll spare you the math – because I don’t want my brain to start hurting – but trust me when I say that there is a way to convert each team’s Elo Rating into their probability of winning their next game, and by comparing two teams’ win probabilities and putting them into some kind of magical/mathematical cauldron, you can conjure up a spread for every game. It’s also important to note that home teams are allotted a four-point advantage throughout the spreads.
Below is a graph that depicts each team’s Elo Rating from the beginning of the 2005 season through Week 7 of the 2015 season. This should give you some idea of how each team’s stock has risen and fallen over the past decade.
What’s the point of showing you this? Well, if you’re a stat nerd, the value is obvious. This is pretty cool. Secondly, though, this week we are sharing the spreads for each game in our predictions and discuss the spread a little bit. In the information you will see which team is giving points this week.
Bates (2-5) (-10) at Hamilton (1-6), Clinton, NY, 12:00 PM
Despite the ugly records, both of these teams are on the upswing. Bates is coming off of two straight wins and a CBB title, the program’s third in the past four years, making the 2016 class the first since 1900 to claim three outright CBB titles in its tenure. A win will also make the 2016 class 16-16, which would tie last year’s class as the winningest since 1983. Finally, Hamilton is the only program which Bates holds the series advantage over, with the Bobcats currently in the lead 19-18.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has returned to relevance this year. Not only did the Conts get their first win in over three years at Williams, but they’ve been very competitive, losing to Tufts by three in double OT, Wesleyan by five, Bowdoin by 10, Colby by five and Middlebury by five. With a lot of young players making impacts, specifically on defense and at QB Cole Freeman, there is a lot of hope for this program next year.
As for this year, though, the focus for both teams is finishing on a high note and giving its seniors a great last memory. When analyzing a Bates game, the first thing to ask for its opponent is whether they can stop the run. In Hamilton’s case, they’ve done a pretty good job of that this season. Tufts, Wesleyan and Trinity put up big rushing totals, but they also ran the ball around 50 times against Hamilton, and on the season the Continentals are allowing 3.28 yards per rush. Not exactly 1980’s Steelers, but passable, and I actually think that practicing against Hamilton’s new Wildcat read option will actually have prepared the Continentals to stop the Bates attack. If Hamilton can force QB Pat Dugan ’16 to the air, it will be a long day for Bates. No one besides Bats WR Mark Riley ’16 scares you in the passing game.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, need to step up their pass defense. Hamilton, as a team, has the highest yards per completion average. They don’t necessarily complete that many passes, though. Freeman and Chase Rosenberg ’17 have combined for a 43.9 percent completion rate. DB Brandon Williams ’17 will be on alert and trying to add to his league-best five interceptions.
The Continentals won a big game two weeks ago, and are still feeling good about themselves after taking Middlebury to the wire. They’ll be good enough to cover the spread, but the final decision goes to Bates.
Prediction: Bates 24 – Hamilton 21
Amherst (7-0) (-22.5) at Williams (2-5), Williamstown, MA, 12:00 PM
If you take a peek at the Elo Rating chart above, you might notice that Amherst is currently at the highest it’s ever been, and Williams is at the lowest. The spread of (-22.5) is actually lower than last year’s (-24), but it definitely feels like more of a lopsided matchup this year. That’s what I meant when I said it would take the upset of the millennium for the championship hunt to be impacted this weekend. Williams would have to cover a 22.5 point spread and beat Amherst in order to give Trinity a shot at sharing the title.
On paper, this game is clearly a blowout. The Jeffs have played some competitive games, but none have really ended up that close besides the 16-7 win over Trinity a week ago. The next closest margin was a nine-point win over Wesleyan in Week 5 in which Amherst needed a five-plus minute drive late in the fourth to clinch the win. The only question for Amherst is which QB Reece Foy ’18 will show up? The efficient, dual-threat Foy, or the clumsy turnover-prone Foy? He’s had five picks the last three games after having one pick in the first four. All he has to do is get the ball near his awesome receivers, including WR Jackson McGonagle ’16, who is a big play threat when Foy is able to hit him downfield, and rely on the bruising rushing attack lead by Kenny Adinkra ’16. As an entire team, Amherst is averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Enough said.
If Williams has one thing going for them, it’s experience. Five starters on offense and five on defense are all seniors, so they won’t shy away from the daunting task ahead of them. DE James Howe ’16 has had massive expectations heaped on him the past couple of seasons, but teams have been able to neutralize him much of the time by scheming for him, but he’s been productive this season with two sacks, and has opened the door for fellow D-lineman Jack Ryan ’16 to get 3.5 sacks of his own.
Despite Williams’ significant series lead (71-53-5), Amherst is expected to win its fifth straight contest against their rivals and clinch not only the NESCAC title, but also its 32nd Little Three title, which we’ve barely even talked about because it’s seemed like a formality for awhile now. And yes, I think they cover that massive spread.
Prediction: Amherst 35 – Williams 7
Colby (1-6) (-0.5) at Bowdoin (1-6), Brunswick, ME, 12:30 PM
This game is basically a pick ’em, and that’s all I can do, because I don’t know what to think about either team. For the most part, it’s been a lot of meaningless second halfs for these teams this season. Bowdoin has no running game right now, and Colby is afraid to throw the ball and might have a QB battle in camp next season.
The Mules’ rushing attack has been solid after a slow start though, thanks to RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and the heavy lifting of FB Robert Murray ’16. They just can’t do anything through the air. QB Gabe Harrington ’17 has one touchdown and 11 interceptions, and Christian Sparacio ’18 has gotten time in spurts, but he’s completed less than half of his attempts and is more like a Wildcat QB with the ability to throw right now. Defensively, LB Stephen O’Grady ’16 has been a workhorse, leading the team in tackles.
It’s going to be a challenge for Tim Drakeley to be effective in the passing game for Bowdoin with no rushing threat. He’ll be looking to find WR Dan Barone ’16 early and often, and there will be a lot of pressure on All-NESCAC C Matt Netto ’16 and his squad to keep Drakeley upright. On the defense, it will have to be a big day for LB Branden Morin ’16 and companion LB Phillipe Archambault ’19, who’s stepped right in and tallied 49 tackles in six games.
It’s going to be low-scoring, with neither team able to move the ball quickly. With that being the case, I have to tip the scales in favor of Colby, who will be able to move the ball on the ground and get after the passer on third and longs. It’s going to be a sad Senior Day in Brunswick.
Prediction: Colby 23 – Bowdoin 17
Middlebury (5-2) (-6) at Tufts (5-2), Medford, MA, 12:30 PM
When was the last time this game was relevant? Probably 2008, when the Panthers beat Tufts 38-24 to finish 5-3, ahead of the 4-4 Jumbos. Tufts hasn’t beaten Middlebury since Nov. 10, 2001. That’s 5,116 days. However, for the first time in a long time, Tufts and Middlebury come into the game with the same record, and in all honesty, I’m not sure Middlebury deserves to be favored in this game.
We’ve talked a lot about the injuries to the Panthers, and that is a big reason why they’ve played some close games recently and I’m feeling like Tufts can pull this off. Early in the week, though, Head Coach Bob Ritter was hopeful that some of his offensive linemen would be healthy by Saturday, which was probably directed at C James Wang ’16, though Ritter didn’t say for sure. Wang’s been dealing with a lingering leg injury all season, which is pretty much par for the Panthers’ course.
I still think the Middlebury passing attack will be productive. In the finale of two brilliant careers for QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16, don’t be surprised to see those two connect early and often. Very often. Minno is chasing history, needing two touchdowns to become the all-time TD reception leader in Middlebury history and 40 yards to reach second in receiving yards for a career. Those two milestones are pretty much a lock. Elsewhere, TE-turned-slot receiver Trevor Miletich ’16 should have a big game, too. When he’s been healthy this season he’s been a favorite target for Milano.
I’ve already discussed the need for Tufts to run the football, but will they be able to move the pigskin through the air? If so, they’ll need to attack the corner opposite boundary CB Nate Leedy ’17. PSA to NESCAC teams: Don’t throw at this kid. Leedy picked off two balls a week ago, and if every team challenged him like Hamilton did he’d have two picks per game. He is also probably the hardest hitter on the Panther defense. Sometimes his shoulder-first launches result in missed tackles because he doesn’t wrap up, but it actually happens less than you’d think. When he connects, the ball carrier goes down. Hard. So, if Tufts QB Alex Snyder ’17 is smart, he’ll try the other side of the field, putting pressure on CB Andrew McGrath ’18 if he’s healthy, but more likely CB Matt Daniel ’19. Safety Dan Pierce ’16 will be a huge factor in plugging up the run, as well.
Maybe it’s just too hard to pick against my team in the last game of my classmates’ careers, or maybe I’m jaded because I’ve watched the Panthers trash Tufts for the last three seasons, but in either case, I’m taking Middlebury even though they’re (-6). There are a lot of Midd haters out there right now because they’ve played some close games against teams that they “should” have blown out. But they’ve still won those games. And that kind of resiliency and winning attitude will play the difference in this one-touchdown game.
The Lord Jeffs enjoyed (proverbial) champagne showers following their victory over the Bantams. It will likely be their sixth NESCAC title since 2000, sharing the reigns with Trinity on the modern-era All-Time Championships list. There was no better way for the 2016 class to go out on Senior Day than by earning their third consecutive ring. Besides Amherst, the rest of the NESCAC has an opportunity to move up the ladder as the final week is filled with exciting rivalry games dating back to the 1800s. Should be a beautiful week of football, and it will be thrilling to see where teams end up.
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (7-0; Last Week: 1)
Amherst essentially walked away with their third consecutive NESCAC title Saturday as they took down Trinity. The Lord Jeffs took advantage of Trinity’s mistakes, and that seemed to be the biggest difference between these two teams Saturday. They controlled the second half, running all over the Bantams, with Reece Foy ’18, Kenny Adinkra ’16, Nick Kelly ’17, Jack Hickey ’19, and Jackson McGonagle ’16 all averaging at least 3.6 yards per carry. Amherst SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 went out with a bang with two interceptions and a crucial blocked field goal to end the first half. Amherst will wrap up their season against the Ephs in Williamstown, Mass for the Biggest Little Game In America — a game that dates back to 1884, and is the most-played Division-III game in the country.
Trinity Bantams (6-1; Last Week: 2)
Despite analyst Joe MacDonald’s bold prediction of a Bantam victory, Trinity was unable to get it done down the stretch. Amherst did a good job depriving kick and punt returner Darrien Myers ’17 in the forms of pooching and squibbing, which put a lot of pressure on the offense to move the ball up the field. The Trinity faithful felt some home cooking involved between a questionable touchdown catch and the Bantams racking up 12 penalties resulting in 98 yards opposed to Amherst’s three penalties.
Despite edging Amherst’s 247 offensive yards with 314 of their own and possessing the ball for 38 minutes of the game, Trinity had too many blunders. A fatal sideline pass intercepted at the Trinity 37 yardline resulted in Amherst taking the lead and never looking back. Trinity’s Max Chipouras ’19, Sonny Puzzo ’18, and Myers averaged 3.8 yards per rush, but the Amherst running game was even more efficient. Trinity still has life to live as they take on long-time rivals Wesleyan in the homecoming game that will be featured on CPTV Sports.
3. Middlebury (5-2; Last Week: 3)
Middlebury took care of business Saturday against Hamilton, but their stock dropped with such a tight game. They were able to keep their spot at No. 3 for Week 7, but that could change as they take on the Jumbos this weekend.
Middlebury trailed late in the first half, when QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16 connected to even the score pending a QB Jared Lebowitz ’18 two-point conversion rush. Milano threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with one pick, while Diego Meritus ’19 picked up 75 of the Panthers’ 89 rushing yards. Minno leaped out of the water catching a season-high three touchdowns on six catches for 171 yards. Naples native and CB Nate Leedy ’17 picked off Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 twice. S Kevin Hopsticker ’18 also added an interception and 10 tackles in what was probably his best game as a Panther.
4. Tufts (5-2; Last Week: 5)
Tufts outscored Colby 28-10, and QB Alex Snyder ’17 only passed 13 times for one touchdown caught by WR Mike Miller ’18. Chance Brady ’17 averaged 7.9 yards on 27 attempts scoring two touchdowns. His longest run was 49 yards. Brady also was the Jumbos’ leading receiver, with two catches for 49 yards, en route to being named NESCAC Offensive POTW and the second NESCAC player this season to be dubbed the New England Football Writers’ Gold Helmet winner. Colby was able to move the ball on Tufts, nearly gaining more offensive yards than the Jumbos. Tufts return man Mike Rando ’17 ran one kick back 85 yards for a touchdown, and he took a second one back for 37 yards. The Jumbos’ Zach Thomas ’18 racked up 3.5 sacks. It is tough to say how Tufts will fair with Middlebury next week; I could see either team taking that game. A Tufts upset could stir up rival tensions between the two foes.
5. Wesleyan (5-2; Last Week: 4)
Wesleyan will have a chance to move up the ranks next week when they take on Trinity for the rivalry game that dates back to 1885. The Cardinals took on Williams Saturday in a convincing win. QB Mark Piccirillo ’19 stepped up and completed 11-14 passes with one touchdown for 105 yards, and he continues to show off his accurate arm. It was just the freshman’s second game playing a pivotal role, as Gernald Hawkins ’18 threw just 12 times and only completing six. They will likely continue to keep with their dual quarterback threat to keep the Bantams off balance, so it will be interesting to see how Trinity is able to respond. S Justin Sanchez ’17 picked a ball off and forced a fumble with six tackles. K Ike Fuchs’17 missed a short field goal wide right, and also missed an extra-point that was pushed back five yards due to a penalty, and things have just not been right with the formerly reliable Fuchs. If Wesleyan is going to win next week, they will probably need Fuchs at his best.
6. Hamilton (1-6; Last Week: 8)
The Continentals gave Middlebury a run for their money, something they have done to every team besides Trinity this year. They proved they can hang with the big dogs which has pushed them up to the No. 6 spot, a big jump from where they began the season. Yes, QB Cole Freeman threw four interceptions, but none of them resulted in a Panther score, and it seems like Coach Dave Murray is fine with Freeman taking shots down field as part of his learning process. The Continental defense did a good job containing the run game, keeping Middlebury to 2.6 yards per rush, but Matt Milano’s 14 completions were too deadly. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 played well – especially in the first quarter – picking up 77 yards on 21 carries, and WR Charles Ensley ’17 caught a 78-yard touchdown pass. Hamilton did not lay down easy as they posted a safety in the fourth quarter on Sean Tolton’s ’19 blocked punt. The whole league has been impressed with the Continentals this year, and is excited as it raises the competition. Hamilton has a chance to earn their second win of the season as they take on a rolling Bates.
7. Bates (2-5; Last Week: 6)
CBB Champions. Bates shellacked Bowdoin, shutting them out 31-0, waltzing their way to a killer recruiting tool in the CBB —Bates has won three of the last four CBB Titles. The Bobcats are on the cusp of – in the words of the great Lou Brown – a winning streak.
They have a chance to end on a high note at Hamilton and make up for all those closes losses earlier this year. The Bobcats outplayed Bowdoin last week in all facets, tackling the Polar Bears for a loss five times for 29 yards including three sacks. CB Trevor Lyons ’17 had a pick-six that he took 50 yards all the way back. QB Pat Dugan ’16 put on a show, running and throwing for a touchdown as he piled up 252 of Bates’ total 380 offensive yards. Another big win will vault the Bobcats back over the Continentals in the ranks.
8. Williams (2-5; Last Week: 9)
After a scoreless first 23 minutes, the Ephs let up a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wesleyan’s Eric Meyreles ’18. Williams’ lone touchdown came on a last minute, three-yard pass by Austin Lommen ’16, who threw for 150 yards including an interception. RB Noah Sorrento ’19 got his first crack as the starter and ran for 105 yards on 21 carries, including one for 45 yards. This weekend’s rivalry game will not have as much hype as most years due to the fact that Amherst is a heavy, heavy favorite. Williams moves up from last week, like Colby, more by virtue of the lackluster performance that Bowdoin put on last weekend.
9. Colby (1-6; Last Week: 10)
Colby lost to the better team Saturday when they hosted Tufts. Colby’s QB Gabe Harrington ’17 continued to struggle, throwing two interceptions while completing 53 percent of his passes. RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 got his touches and scored a touchdown on 21 attempts, though only averaging 2.1 yards per carry. John Baron ’18 kicked a 37-yard field goal and an extra point. Despite a crooked score, Colby compiled 320 yards compared to Tufts’ 325.
The consolation game of the CBB will happen this week, and it is a chance for each Colby and Bowdoin to rid themselves of the shame of being part of a one-win program.
10. Bowdoin (1-6; Last Week: 7)
Not to take away from Bates, but that game shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like it did. It was a sad sight to see for Polar Bear fans Saturday as they rushed for negative six yards. Negative six. When they did have the ball in their hands, they fumbled three times, only making it into Bobcat territory four times. The Polar Bears were closest to a score when QB Noah Nelson ’19 threw an interception from the Bates 25-yardline. Bowdoin let Bates run right over them, as they let up 12 rushing first downs. Bowdoin will take on Colby for the runner-up of the CBB this weekend.
Yes, the game between Trinity and Amherst is very important. Yada, yada, yada. Joe has you covered there if you want to read about that. Spoiler alert, it’s a bold prediction. Elsewhere, it’s rivalry season in the NESCAC with the second leg of the CBB and Little Three taking place this weekend. Bowdoin makes the quick jaunt up to Lewiston to face off against Bates who just won the first leg of the CBB against Colby, and Williams visits Wesleyan in the Little Three. For the Ephs, this is the first of back-to-back games against Wesleyan and Amherst, and the final two weeks might be the last two for Coach Aaron Kelton. Since going to 2-1, Williams has lost three in a row with last week’s loss to Hamilton a particularly stinging loss because it broke the long losing streak for the Continentals. Last year the Ephs managed just 123 yards of offense and no points in a 22-0 loss that would have been even more lopsided if Wesleyan hadn’t had to kick five short field goals. Unless the loss last week galvanized the team, expect this year’s result to be similar.
Meanwhile Bates can complete the salvaging of their year if they beat Bowdoin on Saturday. After going 13-11 over the past three seasons, the Bobcats have lost a good deal of close games and are just 1-5. A win over Bowdoin seals the fifth consecutive year of the CBB for Bates and means the graduating Bobcats will have never lost to the Polar Bears. Bates certainly isn’t happy to have the record they do, but their final two games against Bowdoin and Hamilton are both winnable ones. If they can finish at 3-5 with a three-game winning streak and an uncontested CBB title, things would look drastically different than they did just a week ago. However, that is still a ways away.
Four to Watch
Running Back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 (Colby): Despite a disappointing season for the Mules overall, Hurdle-Price has been fabulous. A slow start to this season is long in the past as he has had four straight games of over 100 yards rushing, including 202 yard, two TD performance against Wesleyan in Week 3 that served as the tone setter. What has really made him so valuable though is his receiving as he has 19 receptions for 146 yards. Then you add in his kickoff returns and in total you get the NESCAC leader for all-purpose yards at 171.7 per game, well above the next highest total of 144.7 from Darrien Myers ’17. The Mules are a heavy underdog at home against Tufts, but regardless of what happens, Hurdle-Price is going to get his yards.
Linebacker Branden Morin ’16 (Bowdoin): After having just two tackles in the season opener, Morin has been a tackling machine averaging 10.8 per game, and he now leads the league. Last week he had a sack to go along with his 11 tackles. The Bowdoin defense has been bad overall against the run, allowing 209.5 yards per game, 54.2 more yards per game than anybody else. That stat is probably the biggest reason why Bates is feeling confident entering tomorrow. Morin has to be able to make another dozen or so tackles in order to keep Bates from marching up and down the field all day long. Some of the other linebackers for Bowdoin are very inexperienced and have not played against Bates, and the coaching staff is relying on him to be a steadying force up front.
Defensive End Jordan Stone ’17 (Wesleyan): It’s a given that Williams is going to throw all the time, and that is exactly what Stone wants to hear. He leads the Cardinals with 5.5 sacks, and he has three in the past two weeks. Williams has been decent at keeping QB Austin Lommen ’16 upright, but Stone will be one of their hardest challenges yet. The Ephs are unlikely to get much going on the ground which will allow Stone to pin his ears back and rush the passer. Stone isn’t quite a sack specialist as he is important for Wesleyan’s run defense also, but he is definitely one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Wide Receiver Charles Ensley ’17 (Hamilton): My goodness, Ensley has turned on the jets recently. His statistics from the past three games: 19 receptions for 376 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers coincide with Cole Freeman ’18 becoming the starting QB midway through the game against Bowdoin. Ensley was in this spot two weeks ago, but I don’t feel bad putting him here again because of how well he has done. Freeman also deserves credit for his job coming in after starting the season as the third string QB. Freeman only has one pick in 124 pass attempts. If Hamilton wants to get their second straight win, Ensley must have a big day against the Middlebury secondary.
Hamilton (1-5) at Middlebury (4-2): 12:30 PM
The Continentals got on the right side of the win-loss column last week in part by taking advantage of mistakes by Williams. They also were able to run the ball more effectively than usual as they broke 100 yards rushing for the first time all year. They still averaged just 2.9 yards per carry (amazingly, Hamilton has not had a game this year where they average at least 3.0 yards per carry). They will have a harder time on the ground against the Middlebury run defense led by Tim Patricia ’16 and, if he’s active, Addison Pierce ’17. Even if Pierce is out, Aaron Slodowitz ’18 is more than capable fill-in.
One advantage for the Continentals is how banged up Middlebury is at receiver. Of course, Matt Minno ’16 is still relatively healthy which should cause problems. Every team has injuries, especially at this point of the season, and they really hurt when grouped together in a particular position group. This will be closer than the 37-9 blowout last season, but it won’t be that close. The only worry I have for Middlebury is that they come out flat after last week’s physical loss.
Prediction: Middlebury over Hamilton 26-13
Bowdoin (1-5) at Bates (1-5): 12:30 PM
I already talked about the stakes for Bates. The win against Colby was a huge confidence booster, but they can’t be that confident as the offense took a huge step backwards after the big day they had two weeks ago against Middlebury. Passing for only 43 yards against Colby is not going to cut it versus a Bowdoin team that is weak against the pass. The matchup of corner Jibrail Coy ’16 vs. wide receiver Mark Riley ’16 will be a fun one to keep an eye on. The Bobcats are dealing with injuries to some of their skill players which has hurt them.
Speaking of injuries, Bowdoin will not have its top two running backs, Tyler Grant ’17 or Andrew Tichy ’19 tomorrow. Given how much they have been throwing the ball, one wouldn’t expect that to be too big of an issue. The team that scores first will put a lot of pressure on their opponent as this could be another low-scoring CBB affair.
Prediction: Bowdoin over Bates 17-13
Tufts (4-2) at Colby (1-5): 1:00 PM
So the Jumbos didn’t managed to put much of a scare into Amherst last weekend. It happens. Running against Amherst was never going to be easy, and allowing a defensive touchdown to the Jeffs made things pretty much impossible. The Jumbos will have to go to the air in order to beat Colby because the Mules strength of defense is the defensive line. This is the game that Tufts really wants in order to get to five wins.
The Mules are in a little bit of disarray on offense as Christian Sparacio ’18 got significant playing time at quarterback against Bates and scored the Mules’ one touchdown. Gabe Harrington ’17 had looked better in the previous two weeks, but he regressed back to his early season form vs. the Bobcats. The offense has really been the downfall of Colby this year, and there is no magic formula in Week 7.
Prediction: Tufts over Colby 24-17
Williams (2-4) at Wesleyan (4-2): 1:00 PM
As mentioned above, Hamilton was able to run against the Ephs, and that does not bode well at all for this weekend. Watching Wesleyan last week, I thought that the Cardinals were trying to get too fancy on offense instead of relying on that bulldozing offensive line to get easy yards on the ground. Against Williams, Wesleyan is probably going to keep things pretty simple for whomever ends up starting at QB, Gernald Hawkins ’18 or Mark Piccirillo ’19. The Cardinals still feel like they have plenty to play for in the last two weeks even if they are out of the conference race.
I don’t know what to expect from Williams. They have in the past shown up in rivalry games more so than other games. The Ephs have almost completely given up on running the ball, and the defense is soft against the run. On paper Wesleyan should win this game relatively easily.