Purple (And White) Reign: Will Amherst’s Dominance Continue?

Will the reigning champs feel the losses of some of their stars? Or will they be posing for another picture like this come November? (Courtesy of Clarus Studios, Inc; Amherst Athletics).
Will the reigning champs feel the losses of some of their stars? Or will they be posing yyr another picture like this come November? (Courtesy of Clarus Studios, Inc; Amherst Athletics).

Projected Record: 3- 5 (kidding Amherst parents, please don’t burn down my house) 6-2

Projected Offensive Starters: (*Five Returning)

 QB: Alex Berluti ’17

RB: Jack Hickey ’19

WR: Devin Boehm ’17*

WR: Nick Widen ’17*

WR: Bo Berluti ‘20

TE: Rob Thoma ’17*

OL: Elijah Zabludoff ’18*

OL: Mitch Arthur ’18*

OL: Austin Park ’17

OL: Kevin Sheehan ’18

OL: Jack Carroll ‘19

 Projected Defensive Starters: (*Six Returning)

 DL: Paul Johnson ’17*

DL: Niyi Odewade ’17*

DL: Isaiah Holloway ’17*

OLB: Andrew Yamin ’19

ILB: John Callahan ’18

ILB: Evan Boynton ’17*

OLB: Parker Chapman ’17*

CB: Nate Tyrell ’19*

FS: Jon Rak ’19

SS: Derek Ward ’17

CB: Stephan Soucy ’17

 Projected Specialists: (*Two Returning)

 K/P: Charlie Wall ’18*, Andrew Ferrero ’19

KR/PR: Devin Boehm ’17*/Myles Gaines ’17

 Offensive MVP: Jack Hickey ’19

Amherst certainly has a claim to the worst break of preseason, with starting quarterback and Player of the Year candidate Reece Foy ’18 suffering a torn ACL. Amherst is certainly loaded enough to remain in contention for the NESCAC crown, but those chances rest heavily on the shoulders of sophomore running back Jack Hickey. The Melrose, Massachusetts native shone as the change-of-pace option to senior Kenny Adrinka, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. With Adrinka gone and Foy sidelined, the Purple and White will likely have to rely on Hickey, with assistance from Nick Kelly (’17), for far more carries, positioning him for a breakout season.

Defensive MVP: Evan Boynton ’17

Like Hickey on offense, Boynton has been elevated to the top of Amherst’s defense by nature of graduated seniors. Amherst boasted a stellar corps of linebackers in 2015, with Tom Kleyn ’16 making First Team, and Boynton himself making Second Team. However, Kleyn and Jack Drew ’16, are off to wherever Amherst Football graduates go (Goldman Sachs, I assume), leaving Boynton as the senior leader of the unit. Additionally, Defensive Player of the Year Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 graduated from the defensive backs, leaving a gaping hole for Boynton to fill, both for Amherst and possibly for DPOY accolades.

 Biggest Surprise of Camp: LB Andrew Yamin ’19

Defense has long been one of the calling cards of Amherst’s success. Offense as well, and special teams, but defense is certainly one of their three best units. Unfortunately, many of their toughest losses personnel-wise came on the defensive end, making new talent crucial to maintaining their dominance. Enter Andrew Yamin. The sophomore linebacker from Cheshire, Connecticut didn’t play much his freshman year, only garnering six tackles. But in a testament to how crucial an offseason can be in college football, Amherst lost two linebackers in Tom Kleyn and Jack Drew, allowing Yamin to work his way into a starting role. It’s these kind of stories that keep Amherst dominant year after year, they don’t rebuild after stars graduate, they reload.

 Biggest Game: November 5 @ Trinity

 Entering 2016 with a 19 game winning streak, the Artists Formerly known as the Lord Jeffs have to be considered the preseason favorite. However, the injury to Foy and the graduation of stand-outs like Fairfield-Sonn, Kleyn and Adrinka has Amherst looking considerably more fallible than they have in the last few years. And if you had to pick a co-favorite, the Bantams (and their FRESH new helmets) would have to occupy that spot. These two teams have dominated the league for much of the 2000’s, and this game offers Trinity the chance to fire a laser into the Death Star, so to speak.

Best Tweet:

 I know this guy power cleans a lot of weight, but he’s actually best known on campus for his poetry.



 I want to preface this, and every other article I write for the rest of the year, by saying that none of this matters. Brangelina is over and love is dead, and pretending that anything else is the case is ultimately a futile endeavor.

All right, back to football. Amherst has been the class of the league for much of the century thus far, but they’ve been particularly unbeatable in the last two seasons. In 2015, they led the league in scoring at 27.6 points per game AND in scoring defense at 9.9 points per game. They have won 19 games in a row, and back-to-back outright league titles.

But the Purple and White have more than a few obstacles to overcome if they want to continue their reign of terror. Even if Foy hadn’t gotten hurt, they lose six First or Second Team All-NESCAC performers. In addition to Adrinka, Fairfield-Sonn and Kleyn, they lose receiver Jackson “Professor” McGonagle ’16 (my nickname, not his), offensive lineman Sam Hart ’16 and defensive back Jaymie Spears ’16. These losses, in conjunction with Foy’s injury, make for a distinctly less intimidating Amherst lineup than last season.

Of course, the other side of that coin is that Amherst also returns six First or Second Teamers. Boynton returns to lead the defense as a DPOY candidate, as do senior defensive linemen Niyi Odewade ’17 and Paul Johnson ’17. On the offensive end, receiver Devin Boehm ’17 averaged over 100 all-purpose yards per game last season and seems poised for an incredible all-around season. Furthermore, running back Jack Hickey was stellar in small doses last season and might well be the best back in the league come November.

Amherst has a long way to go to continue their winning streak, but anyone counting them out hasn’t been watching NESCAC football over the last two years. At this point, the rest of the league feels about Amherst the way that Wes Mantooth feels about Ron Burgundy: they cold, dead hate them, but gosh darn it do they respect them.


NbN 2015 End of Year Football Awards

Big plays, big hits, and jaw-dropping performances - We love NESCAC football. (Courtesy of Michael O'Hara/Middlebury Campus)
Big plays, big hits, and jaw-dropping performances – We love NESCAC football. (Courtesy of Michael O’Hara/Middlebury Campus)

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

Chance Brady '17 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
Chance Brady ’17 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

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

Mark Upton '17 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)
Mark Upton ’17 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

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.

Jordan Stone '17 (Courtesy of Wesleyan University Athletics)
Jordan Stone ’17 (Courtesy of Wesleyan University Athletics)

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

K/P Kyle Pulek '16 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
K/P Kyle Pulek ’16 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

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

KR/PR Darrien Myers '17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
KR/PR/WR Darrien Myers ’17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

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

DE Tyler Hudson '19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)
DE Tyler Hudson ’19 (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

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

Tufts Head Coach Jay Civetti (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
Tufts Head Coach Jay Civetti (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

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

QB Reece Foy '18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
QB Reece Foy ’18 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

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

Tufts took the lead by storm this season. They are for real. (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
Tufts took the lead by storm this season. They are for real. (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

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

Thomas Kleyn ’16 (#52) and Evan Boynton ’17 (#40) led Amherst’s dominant linebacking corps. (Photo by Joe MacDonald)

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.

Honorable Mention: Trinity OL, Middlebury DBs, Wesleyan RBs, Amherst K/P

Consistency Award: Middlebury LB Tim Patricia ’16

LB Tim Patricia '16 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
LB Tim Patricia ’16 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

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

Amherst Goes Back to Back: Stock Report 11/17

Nothing but smiles across the board for Amherst once again. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Nothing but smiles across the board for Amherst once again. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

The past week was, and excuse my language, a real shitty time. NESCAC campuses in particular have been tumultuous (not all bad, too). I will focus on the games that happened on Saturday, though, and I encourage you to read the student papers like the Amherst Student and the Bowdoin Orient (to name just a few) to learn more about how NESCAC campuses responded to global events. The football games on Saturday couldn’t wash away or solve these issues, but for me at least, watching a football game on Saturday helped me a little to focus on other things. Let this article serve as another piece of escapism if you need it.

The dominant NESCAC story of the weekend was the win by Amherst which clinched back-to-back 8-0 and NESCAC championship seasons. On the one hand, I feel like we’ve written tons about Amherst this fall. On the other, I don’t think the Jeffs have gotten enough credit for what has been a truly dominating season. A weirdly dominant one, but a dominant one all the same. The Jeffs had an average margin of victory of 17.63 points, a number that puts them just above the 2011 Amherst team that Peter Lindholm named the third best in modern NESCAC history.

Perhaps more impressive is that Amherst won every single game by multiple scores meaning that their opponents never had the chance to tie or take the lead on their final offensive possession. They faced deficits in the first half of several games, but by the end of 60 minutes they had stamped their style on the game. In fact, even though the Jeffs did seem to start the game slowly, they were still so good that in their eight games, they only were tied or trailed in the second half in one game: against Wesleyan for just two minutes and forty seconds at the beginning of the third quarter.

The calling card for the Jeffs continues to be their defense, which was not quite the same monster as the 2014 one but was probably closer than you think. Amherst allowed 9.9 points per game in 2015 compared to 8.9 points per game in 2014, and they allowed 20 more yards per game this year, with most of that difference due to an uptick in passing yards given up. This year’s unit was content often to let teams move the ball between the 20’s, giving up plays of four or five yards in order to not allow any big plays. The depth of the unit was exceptional with a different player stepping up every week. From Evan Boynton ’17 to Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 to even part-time nose tackle Rob Perdoni ’16, everyone on the defense had a specific role that they filled well.

What this defense was great at was improving as the game went along.  The best way of looking at the way that Amherst shut down teams as time progressed is to isolate the statistics of the four games against teams with winning records: Wesleyan, Trinity, Middlebury and Tufts. In those four games they allowed an average of 9.75 points, impressive when you consider the caliber of those offenses. The numbers get even better when you look at just the second half. Amherst allowed six points total in the second halves of those four games. They held Tufts, Trinity and Middlebury completely scoreless in the second half, and Wesleyan was the only team able to score at all.

Still, what for me enabled Amherst to so comfortably go 8-0 was the big play ability in all areas. On offense big plays were predicated on QB Reece Foy ’18 and the receivers on the outside like Jackson McGonagle ’16 and Devin Boehm ’17. Three long touchdowns against Wesleyan were the difference in that one. The defense and special teams came up with massive turnovers that gave the Jeffs’ offense a short field to score critical touchdowns against Trinity and Middlebury. They weren’t the sexiest or most exciting team, but you can’t help but respect the performance of the 2015 Amherst squad.

Stock Up

Home-Field Advantage

For all those words I just wrote about how Amherst is better this year than last year, an argument can be made that what helped Amherst the most was that they played Middlebury, Wesleyan and Trinity all at home. This weekend four home teams won, and two of the results are because of the victor being at home. Hamilton beat Bates 14-0 in what looks like a case of the Bobcats never getting off the bus from that long ride to central New York. The Bobcats barely had more than 100 yards of offense in a lackluster effort. Even more impressive was Tufts outlasting Middlebury 31-28 to get Tufts to 6-2. Home-field advantage in the NESCAC is less about the impact that the crowd can have on the field than the comfort level of players at home. Any athlete prefers to have a set rhythm before a game, and the ability to have that at home has a real effect, even if it is a difficult one to quantify.

QB Tim Drakeley ’17 (Bowdoin)

The starter at the beginning of the year, Drakeley got injured and then saw his job get stolen from him by Noah Nelson ’19. Nelson was hurt this weekend so Drakeley got the start. Things began terribly with Drakeley going 0-5 with an interception in the first quarter. Then the junior shook off the rust and played great the final three quarters, finishing with over 300 yards passing and three touchdowns as Bowdoin rolled over Colby 35-13 in the consolation game of the CBB. The game was a good finish for the Polar Bears, especially after the disastrous 31-0 shutout loss to Bates. Both Drakeley and Nelson will be back next season, and whoever wins the job already has one game on their resume that gives Bowdoin supporters hope.


Just putting the whole Bantam team here because it was a complete team win (the defense in particular played well). The win over Wesleyan 17-13 makes Trinity the NESCAC runner-up at 7-1 in what constitutes a rebound season. The Bantams did things the old-fashioned way running the ball 57 times for 216 yards with both Nick Gaynor ’17 and Max Chipouras ’19 carrying the ball a lot. Defensive end Preston Kelly ’16 led the way on defense with nine tackles, three for loss. The Bantams lose Kelly and several other key cogs along the offensive and defensive lines, but they are bringing back a whole raft of talent next year. They continue to be the biggest threat to Amherst in terms of top dog status.

Upward Mobility

Long a pretty staid league, the hierarchy of NESCAC football has changed in recent years, and there is the possibility that even more upheaval is afoot in the future. Wesleyan, long the littlest of the Little Three, has proven this year that their move into the upper reaches of the NESCAC is sustainable and likely to last. Tufts, as noted, has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of their long losing streak. The Jumbos could potentially stay close to the top of the heap because of advantages like the large size of the Tufts undergrad population and the more urban setting of Medford and Boston.

The tendency for schools when they see the ability of some schools to climb up the standings is to say “why not us?” The difference between the top and bottom of the league is not a huge one: a few real impact players are capable of making a difference. However, in many ways NESCAC football is a zero sum game. If someone is up, then someone else is down (Williams is the primary culprit here). Of course, one has to remember the express purpose of the NESCAC.

“The primary mission of the Conference is to organize, facilitate, support, and regulate intercollegiate athletic competition among member institutions in a manner consistent with our commitment to academic excellence and our core values.” (From the NESCAC website)

At a certain point, a metaphorical arms race in pursuit of wins will lead almost inevitably to a violation of academic excellence and core values. For all of the positives that a football program has, those can become negatives when priorities become rearranged and compromises are made. Part of the reason for our affection with the NESCAC is our belief and hope that on balance, though not always, the league does things, for lack of a better terms, the right way.

These worries of compromised values are obviously not at all new ones, and we recognize that. We just wanted to take a moment to sort of step back and recognize that in part because I have spent much of the fall dissecting

Stock Down

We’ve made it a tradition to not put Stock Down for any team or player the final week of a season, mostly because it doesn’t seem completely necessary to point out areas where teams can improve when there are no games to show improvement upon for nine-plus months. We’ve still got a few loose ends in our football coverage to finish up like postseason awards before we move onto basketball. Thanks again to all of our readers and especially to our other writers who have made this an awesome fall for us.

Senior Days: Weekend Preview 11/13

QB Pat Dugan '16 OL Sean Lovett '18 after something good happened. Clearly. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)
QB Pat Dugan ’16 and OL Sean Lovett ’18 after something good happened. Clearly. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

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

Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts
Akene Farmer-Michos
Akene Farmer-Michos

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.

Elo Ratings

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.

NESCAC Elo Ratings 2005-2015
NESCAC Elo Ratings 2005-2015

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.

Game Previews

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

LB Tim Patricia '16 is the heart of the Panthers defense. (Courtesy of Brad Banky)
LB Tim Patricia ’16 is the heart of the Panthers defense. (Courtesy of Brad Banky)

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.

Prediction Middlebury 28 – Tufts 21

The Picks (Straight Up)

NbN Staff Last Week: 3-2

NbN Staff This Season: 26-9

The Amherst Dynasty: Power Ranks 11/12

SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn '16 hauls in one of his two INTs of the day as Amherst pulled away in the NESCAC Championship race. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)
SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 hauls in one of his two INTs of the day as Amherst pulled away in the NESCAC Championship race. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)

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.

WR Jackson McGonagle '16 incredibly hauled in this twisting grab to help dispatch the Bantams. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
WR Jackson McGonagle ’16 incredibly hauled in this twisting grab to help dispatch the Bantams. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

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)

Slotback Tyler Janssen '17 lays a tender kiss on the CBB trophy. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Slotback Tyler Janssen ’17 lays a tender kiss on the CBB trophy. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

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.


The 2015 All-Hair Team

Two years of blogging has all led to this. All of the analysis and articles have invariably come together in this one seminal piece of art. The methods for formulating this team were simple. I, the committee of one, looked at the head shot for every single NESCAC player. Every single one. For some teams it was easy to look through all of them quickly, but for other teams it took a little while. I know that just looking at head shots is not the fairest way of going about this. Many fine looking heads of hair were left out because I couldn’t get great angles on them. Note also that facial hair was not included in these rankings. Know a great head of hair that got left out? Leave a comment.

Honorable Mention:

Garrett Thomas ’17 (Bowdoin)
Jeffrey Jenkins ’16 (Hamilton. Note: Jeff only made it because of the dyed beard)
Luke MacDonald ’18 (Bates)








Joey Cheri-Valentin ’18 (Hamilton)
Blake Cunningham '16 - Lawrenceville, GA
Blake Cunningham ’16 – Lawrenceville, GA
Elias Camacho '18 - Canton, MA
Elias Camacho ’18 – Canton, MA






Now to the top 10.

10. Taysean Scott ’17 (Williams)

HC_Taysean_ScottThis hairdo is basically the Tyrann Mathieu. Scott isn’t getting a lot of verticality on the mohawk which is holding back from a higher ranking. This is a pretty good start to the rankings given the time needed to have this look.

9. Seamus Power ’16 (Bowdoin)

powerNothing too crazy here, just real long straight blond hair. A little more upkeep on this one and it could be a top contender. One does have to wonder, however: is Power hiding something with this hairdo? That hairline looks suspiciously high.

8. Colin Brown ’16 (Williams)

HC_Colin_BrownThere are a lot of other players with hair that looks similar to this one, but Brown takes it above and beyond. The swoosh of the hair to one side is exsquisite. That hairline leading up the left side reminds me of those pictures they use to show how to draw a receding line. For the record I am not saying Brown has a receding hairline.

7. Ryan Ruiz ’16 (Colby)

COL_Ruiz_HS2Ruiz was one of the original inspirations for the hair team, but he lands at seven in part because of a not flattering angle in his hair. Even so, Ruiz has a real quality man bun going on. It looks good with the hair down, too.

6. Jackson McGonagle ’16 (Amherst)

McGonagleFirst of all, the lighting Amherst uses makes their players look almost angelic. McGonagle has a good quality mohawk, the best one in the NESCAC. There is for sure a good amount of product going into that sculpting, and I for one don’t hate it.

5. Eric Sachse ’19 (Trinity)

DSC_4330Lovely, lovely flow going on here. I have to admire Sachse coming in with this hair as the freshman kicker. Underrated part of this hair is the color that he has going on. That wavy dirty blonde look is not easy to come by.

4. Kent Blaeser ’19 (Williams)

HC_Steven_ServiusOh, now we are getting into the glorious part of the rankings. Yes, I’m not counting facial hair, but the fact that there is no space between the hair and beard is fantastic. Just look at the way the hair curls inwards at the end.. absolutely exquisite.

3. Micah Adickes ’18 (Tufts)

AdickesMane on top of mane here, folks. Great hair requires care, and this kid conditions, let me tell you. Does he blow dry his hair too? I don’t know, but if he is then I’m going to start, too. Adickes is putting in solid work for the Jumbos.

2. Shaun Carroll ’16 (Bates)

Carroll_0271One word for you: volume. You want it, and Carroll has it. The headband does a nice job of enunciating the volume even further. Carroll’s hair has been an ongoing evolution for him, and the 2015 edition is the best yet. And yes, it’s great hair, but it isn’t number one.

  1. Frank Bruni ’19 (Bowdoin)

bruniBruni has what nobody else does: that fire flames red hair. The background here takes away from the luminosity a little unfortunately. Even still, the hair is something. What puts Bruni over the top is the curls on top of the length. That hair could be in National Geographic, it’s so luscious.

It’s Not Your Imagination, Passing Is Up in the NESCAC: Part One

There was a time when we never thought we’d see statistics like those put up by Mac Foote ’14 again. Now it seems like every team is airing the ball out more than ever, but is that true? (Courtesy of the Middlebury Campus)

From 2011 to 2014, only 25 percent of teams finished the season throwing for more than 200 yards per game. If you take out Middlebury, that number becomes 16.6 percent.  This year, there has been a noticeable departure from that norm. Through six weeks of the 2015-2016 season, seven of the ten teams are averaging over 200 yards through the air, and Tufts is just off that mark with 199.7 YPG. As usual, Middlebury is pacing the league with 332.8 passing yards per game. Bowdoin, a team that finished eighth in the NESCAC in passing just one year ago, showcases a new and improved aerial attack under new Head Coach JB Wells that ranks third.

Other teams like Amherst and Williams have seen large upticks in their numbers in part because of strong quarterback play. The league’s higher passing numbers point to the possibility that the NESCAC is moving away from the ground heavy attacks they have long featured. Are defensive lines closing gaps like never before causing teams to turn to the pass? Are teams starting to envy Middlebury’s capacity to consistently throw up 300 passing yards a game? The reason is unclear, but there is no doubt that change is happening. The best way to answer this is to examine the numbers and go team-by-team to see whether the change is temporary or systematic.

2015 Passing numbers through Week 5 in below graph. All other stats are through Week 6.

overallchart  Middlebury

middleburyPeople who follow NESCAC football understand the prestige of the Middlebury Panthers passing attack. Its program employs the pass-heavy offense, which is made explicit by the impressive passing numbers it has put up in recent years. In each of the past four seasons, Middlebury has finished with a commanding lead in passing yards per game, and you would have to go back to 2007 to see Middlebury not finishing toward the top. The 2014 season marks the only time that Middlebury has dipped under 300 yards in the last five. Still, in 2014 QB Matt Milano ’16 threw for over 24 touchdowns, which was good for fourth in the last 23 years for which the NESCAC has records, with only three interceptions.

Despite graduating top WR Brendan Rankowitz ’15 (36 receptions, seven touchdowns), Milano’s offense hasn’t missed a beat in 2015. Through six games, Milano has thrown for an average of 317.3 yards per game with 17 touchdowns. He has already thrown nine interceptions, but he connects with his receivers roughly 60 percent of the time. Milano continues to connect with WR Matt Minno ’16 at an impressive rate. Last season, Minno lead the Panthers with nine receiving touchdowns, and he has remained one of Milano’s top targets. Ryan Rizzo ’17 had also picked up where he left off last season, hauling in 23 receptions and two for touchdowns, before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury on the first drive against Trinity. When Milano graduates, Jared Lebowitz ’18 will inherit the offense, and any betting man would predict that Middlebury will still rely on the pass heavily with him.

Verdict: Enduring. Middlebury will continue to throw the ball all over the place.


bowdoinAfter finishing eighth in the NESCAC in passing yards per game in 2014, it may be surprising for some to see Bowdoin close to the top of the pass rankings. Under new head coach JB Wells, the Polar Bears’ new offensive approach is a complete 180 from the one it displayed last fall. Last season, Tyler Grant ’17 was a workhorse for Bowdoin, rushing the ball 226 times for 893 yards and eight touchdowns. This season, after the implementation of Wells’ offensive scheme, the Bears’ have become one of the most pass-heavy in the league. Last season, Bowdoin scored ten touchdowns, nine of which came on the ground. This season the Polar Bears have found their way into the end zone 12 times, but 10 of those scores have been through the air. Last fall, the Bears only threw the ball 244 times in eight games, and they have thrown the ball 241 times through six games.

In the three starts he has had, Week 4 POW QB Noah Nelson ’19 has done an admirable job in replacement of Tim Drakeley ’17, averaging 196.5 pass yards per game and firing seven touchdowns. WR Nick Vailas ’17 has emerged as a top threat in Bowdoin’s aerial attack, leading the team in receptions (34) and yards per game (67.2). TE Bryan Porter ’17 has become a crucial part of the offense, accounting for 26 receptions and four touchdowns. There has been a renaissance in the Bears passing offense

Verdict: Enduring. With a new coach, Bowdoin is committed to throwing the ball.


trinityTrinity is passing the ball at a rate higher than any of its past four seasons. Having not exceeded an average of 188.5 since 2011, the Bantams are averaging 243 through the air in 2015. Due to the success of emerging RB Max Chipouras ’19, only 5 of Trinity’s 19 touchdowns on the season have been receiving, but make no mistake that the Bantams are moving the ball through the air much more. QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 has burst back onto the scene and found immediate chemistry with his receiving core.

In 2014, only four Trinity receivers reached double digits in receptions. This season, Darrien Myers ’17 (27 receptions, two TDs), Ian Dugger ’16 (22 receptions, 296 yards), and Bryan Vieira ’18 (21 receptions, three TDs) are evidence of a deep and consistent passing attack. Through eight games last season, the Bantams only threw the pigskin 173 times; through six in 2015, that number is already more with 176 attempts. The return of Puzzo is the clear catalyst of the uptick in passing, and he has two more seasons after 2015. However, the Bantams still want to be known as a smash-mouth physical team, and they are likely to retain that philosophy.

Verdict: Enduring-ish. Puzzo has two more years of eligibility, but after that…


williamsAveraging 247.2 passing yards per game, Williams’ passing game is the most prolific it has been in the last five seasons, but the Ephs have had very successful quarterbacks in the past. Coming off a season in which he threw for an average of 181.4 yards per game with seven touchdowns, QB Austin Lommen ’16 has improved upon his success through the air. This season, that average jumps up to 248.8. Going up against two top five pass defenses in the NESCAC to close out the season (Wesleyan and Amherst), it’ll be interesting to see if Lommen can maintain the numbers he has put up thus far.

Since 2011, Williams has employed a balanced offense, passing and running the ball at a similar rate. That has not been the case this year with the Ephs passing much more. Going into this Saturday, the Ephs have already almost matched their receiving touchdown count from last season with six. Williams showcases an experienced receiving arsenal which includes Darrias Sime ’16 (29 receptions, 2 TDs), converted-QB Mark Pomella ’16 (23 receptions, 1 TD), Alex Way ’16 (18 receptions), and Colin Brown ’16 (15 receptions). With the exception of Way, each of the highlighted receivers has topped their numbers from last year, and Way is three catches away from doing the same.

Verdict: Temporary. Lommen and all those receiving threats are graduating.


hamiltonHamilton is another team whose passing numbers are the highest they’ve been since 2011. As the above graph indicates, the passing game has steadily been on the rise. Despite an 0-5 start to this season, QB Chase Rosenberg ’17 started the season under center but has since lost the starting spot to Cole Freeman ’18. As opposed to Rosenberg’s 115.8 passing yards per game and 4:3 touchdown to interception ratio, Freeman has averaged 190.8 yards through the air with a 4:1 ratio in two fewer appearances.

Last season, Hamilton threw for only seven touchdowns; this season, 10 of their 13 scores have been via pass. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 is replicating his production from last year but the receiving core is producing at a higher level than in the past. Pat Donahoe ’16 and Charles Ensley ’17 each are enjoying great seasons. With the team’s expanding trust in its passing game, and Bates’ last place pass defense left on their schedule, Hamilton may finish with four players having 20+ catches.

Verdict: Enduring. No matter who’s playing QB next year, they will throw the ball.


amherstAmherst’s 214.7 passing yards per game in 2015 is impressive in that the Lord Jeffs also boast the NESCAC’s best running attack (209.3). With the exception of the 2014 season, Amherst’s passing numbers have seen jumps in each of the past five seasons. In 2014, a dynamic duo made up of sophomore running backs Nick Kelly ‘17 and Raheem Jackson ‘17 gave Amherst incentive to take advantage of its success on the ground. This season, the emphasis has returned to Amherst’s passing game. Kenny Adinkra ’16 has assumed leading running back duties because of an injury to Kelly.

The offense for Amherst has morphed into one more than happy to take chances down the field. Wide receivers Devin Boehm ’17 and Jackson McGonagle ‘16 have paced the Amherst receiving core with 30 and 26 receptions respectively, both averaging nearly 70 yards a game. Foy has also connected with WR Nick Widen ’17 and TE Rob Thoma ’17 regularly, despite them being non-factors just a year ago. Amherst’s 282 passing yards through the air in Week 1 against Bates may be skewing the data, but their passing numbers are no fluke. With his arsenal of receivers, Foy is primed to terrorize Trinity and Williams.

Verdict: Enduring. Foy will be around for two more years.

Check back tomorrow for the final four teams and a conclusion about what this means for the NESCAC.

Jumbos vs. Jeffs: Week 6 Game of the Week

Amherst has quite the streak going ... will it continue when they travel to Medford this weekend? (Photo by Joe MacDonald)
Amherst has quite the streak going … will it continue when they travel to Medford this weekend? (Photo by Joe MacDonald)

Game Info: Amherst (5-0) vs. Tufts (4-1): 1:00 PM, Medford MA

There are two big games this week, and we will have plenty of talk about the big Trinity at Middlebury game. For now, let’s focus on Tufts vs. Amherst for two reasons. One, Amherst is the reigning champion and owner of a 16-game winning streak; until they lose, any game involving them where there is at least any chance of them losing is the biggest game of the week. Two, Tufts might be making a mini-leap in season.

Let’s talk about the second point a little more. I’ll admit that I have been very wrong about my predictions for Tufts the past two weeks. I thought they would get blown out by Trinity and lose to Williams in a close game. Instead they lost in overtime to Trinity and blew out Williams 30-15. In making my predictions I fixated on Tufts’ results from the first two weeks when they sneaked by Hamilton and Bates. That was a mistake. Tufts still can’t be considered equal to the top four in the NESCAC until they beat one of those four (Tufts and Wesleyan miss each other on the schedule, unfortunately). However, they are closer to the elite than the bottom half of the conference and a better team than they were a few weeks ago.

Tufts X-Factor: Linebacker Matt McCormack ’16

Yes, Amherst is throwing the ball more than they have in the past, but they still run the ball on 59.3 percent of plays, compared to 61.6 percent of the time last year. McCormack returned to the lineup last week after a three week absence because of injury, and the leading tackler for Tufts from 2014 had just one solo tackles (five assisted).  His 88 tackles last season were best in the NESCAC, and he has to be more at full speed to pair with outside linebacker Patrick Williams ’16 to keep Amherst from gashing the Jumbos. The Tufts run defense has been hit or miss; they held both Hamilton and Williams to less than 50 yards but allowed an average of 197.5 yards against Bates and Trinity. Amherst still has the best run offense in the league, even after a subpar week running the ball against Wesleyan.

Amherst X-Factor: Wide Receiver Jackson McGonagle ’16

I’m not going to overthink this one. Tufts struggles against the pass, and Darrias Sime ’16 had a career day with 10 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown last week. McGonagle is another big, physical wide receiver who can take the top off a defense and is playing better every week. He won two jump balls last week for touchdowns against Wesleyan because the Amherst offense needed a spark. He can do more than just haul in jump balls, but that is where he is most deadly. He has caught all four of his touchdowns in the last three weeks, and most of those came on contested throws. The Jumbos are allowing a jaw-dropping 304.6 yards per game through the air. That is not going to cut it against McGonagle and fellow receiver Devin Boehm ’17.

Everything Else

Long known for their spread offense that tried to make up for their lack of size on the offensive line by getting the ball out in space quickly, Tufts has transformed into a run-first offense because of their experienced offensive line (two seniors and three juniors). The scheme hasn’t changed; they still spread you out and work out of the shot gun, but the play-calling is focused now on getting the ball in the hands of Chance Brady ’17 or backup Dominic Borelli ’19. Their commitment to the run is real: they have the third most rushes in the league, trailing just very run-heavy Bates and Wesleyan.

The problem is that running against Amherst is usually a losing proposition. On the surface, Amherst has not been as good against the run, allowing 114.8 yards per game on the ground, the fourth best mark. However, when you change those stats to yards allowed per carry (this was done by hand as it’s not available on the NESCAC website), that mark changes to 2.46 yards per carry. (That still isn’t the best in the NESCAC as Trinity allows 2.37 yards per carry.) Middle linebacker Thomas Kleyn ’16 had a casual 13 tackles in the FIRST half of last week, finishing with 18 for the game. The linebacking group altogether has not dropped off at all from last season, more than answering one of the big worries heading into the season. Yes, Tufts might have some success completing short passes, but good luck getting many yards after the catch because the linebackers and secondary prides itself on their tackling ability.

The past two weeks have seen Amherst dominated in the box score but still win comfortably. Now, obviously you play the scoreboard, not the box score, and so simply saying that Amherst is getting lucky is wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this Amherst team, and they are still the best team in the NESCAC until somebody beats them. Nick Kelly ’17 was back at least somewhat healthy last week carrying the ball seven times for 62 yards. He is unlikely to carry that heavy a load, even if he does prove to be fully healthy just because of all the other talented running backs like Kenny Adinkra ’16 and Jack Hickey ’19.

Tufts is coming into this game confident after last week, and Amherst had to endure a physical battle last week, so one could make the argument that this is a body blow game for Amherst, especially since it comes sandwiched between Wesleyan and Trinity. However, it’s not like a 4-1 team is going to sneak up on Amherst. They will come ready to play. Coach EJ Mills will make the right adjustments as the game goes along, and Amherst will pull away in Medford.

Prediction: Amherst 28- Tufts 13

Flex Those Muscles: Stock Report 10/5

#11 Reece Foy '18 has been a revelation through two weeks for Amherst. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
#11 Reece Foy ’18 has been a revelation through two weeks for Amherst. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

When Amherst scored with 3:43 left in the first quarter to go up 24-0 against Bowdoin, the message was clear: the champions are still on top. They were simply on a different level than the Polar Bears. The Jeffs took their foot off the gas pedal and cruised to a 37-6 win. Elsewhere, Trinity went out and pitched their second consecutive shutout against Williams, and Middlebury cruised to a 28-9 victory against Colby. Combined the three won by a score of 89-15, and the scores could have been even more lopsided than that. Of the Fantastic Four of NESCAC football, only Wesleyan struggled as it took a late fourth quarter comeback to keep Hamilton in the winless column.

Nine out of the 10 games so far had the same result as last year (Middlebury beating Wesleyan is the only different result), and the results so far have mostly reinforced the idea that the league is built on two levels. Jumping up or down a level is possible (William’s descent has been coupled with Wesleyan’s and to a lesser extent Middlebury’s rise), but for the most part a team’s performance from year to year remains within that tier. The top of the bottom tier is occupied by Bates and Tufts, and the Jumbos win on Saturday affirmed their status as the team closest to making the jump from the bottom to the top tier – though they’ve win by slim margins in both weeks.

Stock Up

Wide Receiver Jack Cooleen ’16 (Tufts)

Cooleen’s statistics from 2014: 13 catches, 195 yards, two touchdowns
Cooleen’s statistics from Saturday: seven catches, 178 yards, two touchdowns

Tufts really only had one way of moving the ball on Saturday. That actually worked pretty well in the second half when Alex Snyder ’17 threw the ball up for grabs to the 6’5″ Cooleen. All 17 of Tufts’ points were a direct result of long balls to him. The two touchdowns came on 45- and 27-yard catches by Cooleen, and the game-winning field goal was set up by another 45-yard reception. Cooleen was beating mostly one-on-one coverage on the outside against much shorter defensive backs, and other teams have had success with being physical against him. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, and the Jumbos escaped with a win mostly because of his efforts. If he is able to sustain that threat of a deep jump ball, the Tufts offense suddenly adds a whole other dynamic to it.

Quarterback Reece Foy ’18 (Amherst)

Well, Amherst has found a quarterback, and that should scare every team in the NESCAC. The defining moment of the game against Bowdoin was when Foy was forced to step up on a pass play and took off to run. He quickly made it into the second level, and once he got going it was clear that he was faster than every Bowdoin defender. The play was a 90-yard run, and Foy finished with exactly 300 yards of total offense. Having thrown for 242 YPG, he is second in the NESCAC in that category. He is still not the most accurate quarterback, but as long as he can keep his completion percentage right around 60 percent (he is at 61.3 percent right now), he will be fine. Foy has the luxury of throwing to athletes like Jackson McGonagle ’16, too, who made a few acrobatic catches where he simply outmuscled Bowdoin defensive backs for the ball. The Amherst coaching staff has made it clear that they are sticking with Foy at QB, and he has given them no reason not to be happy with that decision.

Trinity Defense

Through two games, the Bantams haven’t allowed a point. You don’t need to have created your own sports website about NESCAC sports to know that that means they are pretty good. Their dominance goes even deeper than that. The Bantams have allowed only 167.5 YPG, the best in the NESCAC and 88 YPG less than second place Wesleyan. Their six takeaways through two games is also tops in the league. The scariest part of the defense is their youth: the top six tacklers are all underclassmen and three of them are freshman linebackers. Safety Spencer Donahue ’17 collected NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, making him the second straight Bantam defensive back to win the award (Paul McCarthy ’16 won it last week). Williams had their chances as they got into Trinity territory on five different drives, but the Bantams made the plays in big moments. The play of the game came from McCarthy who wrestled a jump ball away from Darrias Sime ’16 in the end zone to keep Trinity up 14-0 at the beginning of the second half. The Trinity defense still has yet to face the best offenses in the league, but so far so good for the Bants.

This is just a really great photo we wanted you to see. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens and Bates Athletics)
This is just a really great photo we wanted you to see. (Courtesy of Josh Kuckens and Bates Athletics)

Stock Down

Bates’ Decision Making

Bobcats faithful are still at a loss for how they let the game Saturday against Tufts get away from them. Bates was up 14-0 at halftime, and their young defense was playing well. The Jumbos stormed back, but after a Tufts safety made it 17-16, the Bobcats were in a position to win with a 4th and goal from the one-yard line with just under seven minutes to play. However, instead of taking the field goal and the lead, Coach Mark Harriman went for it and watched Ivan Reese ’17 fumble the ball into the end zone for a Tufts touchback. Harriman has been aggressive near the end of games before, but this decision was puzzling because it amounted to an extra point for kicker Grant DeWald ’18, who is 4-4 on the season on PATs. I can see the logic of Harriman wanting to go for it so close to the end zone – and in a sense it worked, since Reese had the first down – and thinking that even if they got stopped that Tufts was pinned deep. But, hindsight is 20-20, and in this case he should have trusted his kicker and defense.

Quarterback Gernald Hawkins ’18 (Wesleyan)

The Cardinals struggled to move the ball all day against a very game Hamilton defense, and their inability to throw the ball downfield was a big part of that. Hawkins was just 14-31 (45 percent) for 157 yards, and Coach Dan DiCenzo went to backup Mark Piccirillo ’19 for short spurts as well as leaning on Devon Carrillo ’16 to run the Wildcat offense. Hawkins did not look comfortable sitting in the pocket and tried to make plays with his legs without great success. He did have one rushing touchdown that was negated by a Wesleyan penalty. Quarterback Jesse Warren ’15 was at times under appreciated for his importance in the Wesleyan offense and ability to keep defenses honest. Hawkins threw the ball more than 20 times in the first half, and the Cardinals put too much pressure on him without trying to wear down the Hamilton defense. Wesleyan has two weeks to get their offense right before they face Amherst.

Kicking Game

Kicking is usually an adventure in the NESCAC, but this weekend was an unusually bad one. In the Colby-Middlebury game, Middlebury blocked a punt that led to a safety, and Colby blocked two extra points and a field goal by Middlebury. Colby’s John Baron’s ’18 first punt went -2 yards (not a typo), and in the second quarter he boomed a 79-yarder that rolled out at the one-inch line – one of the few kicking bright spots on the day, coupled with Pat Donahoe’s ’16 71-yarder to the two-yard line. Trinity had a bad snap on a punt lead to punter Kyle Pulek ’16 having to throw a pass out of desperation that led to a nine-yard loss. Hamilton missed a 32-yard field goal, and Wesleyan almost lost because their extra point was blocked after their first touchdown. The Tufts kicking game was off all day long with an eight and 14-yard punt, two botched snaps leading directly to nine Bates points, and a 22-yard missed field goal – this after kicker Willie Holmquist ’17 went 3-4 on FGs last week, including a game-winner in OT, to earn Special Teams POW honors.

Dreams Never Die: NESCAC Fantasy Football is Back!


We know you were hoping that we wouldn’t do this again. That we’d stop pretending that this is the NFL and just let the kids play. That we’d retire our make-believe fantasies of running an NFL organization and building a perennial championship competitor.

But we did it anyway.

This season, four opponents once again step up to the plate and compete for NESCAC Fantasy Supremacy – editors Joe MacDonald and Adam Lamont, longtime contributor Carson Kenney and newcomer Nick DiBenedetto.

The rules are basically the same as last year. We shrunk the roster size slightly, bringing it down to 14 players. We’ll be starting two each of QBs, RBs and WRs, one TE, one FLEX (RB, WR, TE), a D/ST and a K. Each team has four bench spots.

With this week as an exception, player acquisitions will be made on Tuesdays every week via the very sophisticated method of group chat. The waiver order will always go in reverse order of the standings. If there is a tie in the standings the tiebreakers listed below will take affect.

The following two sections are basically copied verbatim from last year’s initial fantasy article:


Our scoring scheme is essentially the same as an ESPN standard league, so in the interest of saving time and space I won’t put down every point total here.
The only difference is in the points we award for passing. In ESPN standard leagues, QB’s receive one point for every 25 passing yards and four points for a TD pass. However, the NFL is much more pass happy than the NESCAC. Over the three years from 2011-2013 (I chose not to go through the tedious work of adding the 2014 information to this study), there were 316 passing touchdowns and 306 rushing touchdowns in the NESCAC, and 45,452 passing yards compared to 34,181 rushing yards. So, we decided to award six points for touchdowns of any kind (passing, rushing or receiving), and one point for every 20 passing yards as opposed to 25. Running backs and receivers earn one point for every 10 yards on the ground or through the air.
One other miscellaneous note: individual players do not receive points for kick returns. For example, Darrien Myers ’17 is one of the league’s best return men, but if he runs a kickoff back for a touchdown he will accrue no points, while the Trinity D/ST will receive six.

We will be competing in weekly head-to-head matchups. There are four teams, so each team will play each other team twice over the first six weeks. Weeks 7 and 8 will serve as a single-elimination playoff. The top seed will play the fourth seed, the second will play the third, and the winners of the Week 7 matchups will compete for the title.
First tie-breaker: Head-to-head record
Second tie-breaker: Most points in head-to-head matchups
Playoff tie-breaker: QB points
Second playoff tie-breaker: RB points
Third playoff tie-breaker: WR points

We’ve also added one new wrinkle to try and compensate for the most glaring inefficiency in NESCAC Fantasy Football – injuries. So, if an owner plays an individual who ends up not appearing in that week’s game, and there was no prior indication that he would not be playing (meaning that he played the entire game last week, and to the best of our knowledge was healthy going into the current Saturday), then the owner will receive the average of all the players on his bench who are eligible to play that position. Make sense? Good.

Below is how the draft itself shook out. Some picks might raise a few eyebrows. After each round there is a bit of analysis from one of the team owners.


Joe MacDonad: Middlebury QB Matt Milano ’16
Adam Lamont: Amherst RB Nick Kelly ’16
Carson Kenney: Wesleyan RB LaDarius Drew ’15
Nick DiBenedetto: Trinity RB Joe Moreno ’19

Joe: The NESCAC is a running back-heavy league. So I took the gunslinging Matt Milano. No one throws it quite as often or effectively as Middlebury, and that offense is loaded. I really wanted either Drew or Moreno in Round 2 (specifically Drew), but my competitors were too smart for that. Shocker. I also will be interested to see if Moreno can really return this level of value.


ND: Trinity WR Darrien Myers ’17
CK: Middlebury WR Matt Minno ’16
AL: Tufts RB Chance Brady
JM: Wesleyan RB Lou Stevens

Adam: Such a blatant homer pick by Nick to take Trinity WR Darrien Myers ’17 that you can’t help but love it. The Minno pick could be considered high for a WR, but he looks primed for a massive year the way he and Milano found chemistry down the stretch. I love Chance Brady, might have picked him a little high there at seven. Joe showed his respect for the Wesleyan offense by taking another Cardinals running back eighth.


JM: Bowdoin RB Tyler Grant
AL: Williams QB Austin Lommen
CK: Trinity QB Sonny Puzzo
ND: Colby QB Gabe Harrington

Carson: I got off to a great start in my opinion by snagging Drew and Minno, but I needed a quarterback. As a Trin alumn/current employee, obviously my allegiance is with the Bantams. Puzzo didn’t play at all last year so he should have a lot to prove. Word on the street is the kid is about to blow, and since he’ll get fantasy points through the air and on the ground, I thought he was a good choice at QB. Adam taking Lommen that early, in my opinion, was a bit of a panic pick.


ND: Bowdoin WR Dan Barone
CK: Bates WR Mark Riley
AL: Wesleyan QB Gernald Hawkins
JM: Colby RB Jabari Hurdle-Price

Nick: Mac’s pick in the fourth round looks promising. The Colby RB’s should have ample opportunities to put fantasy points on the board. Mark Riley seems to be Bates’ weapon, that may or may not work out for Carson as teams may stack Riley’s side. Adam went with a young Wesleyan QB in the fourth round, which could prove to be the pick of the draft. The Floridian knows what football is, but does he know how to play in the frozen tundras of the Coop. Gernald Hawkins could emerge as a big-time player this year. Lastly, Dan Barone is a solid pick as he should be a big contributor to Bowdoin’s offense at wide receiver.


JM: Middlebury WR Ryan Rizzo
AL: Colby WR Ryder Arsenault
CK: Middlebury RB Jonathan Hurvitz
ND: Amherst QB Alex Berluti

Joe: If you’ve read anything I’ve written about Middlebury this season, I’ve been hyping up Rizzo like you wouldn’t believe. Full disclosure, he’s a friend of mine, but he’s also a damn good football player. The caveat is that there are some other really good wideouts pushing him right now, and I could see Conrad Banky ’19 taking away some of his reps. But I think when the time comes, Rizzo will produce.


ND: Trinity TE Matt Hirshman
CK: Trinity WR Ian Dugger
AL: Tufts WR Mike Rando
JM: Tufts TE Nik Dean

Adam: Quickly getting into the part of the draft where we say, why not, I’ll take him. Hirshman didn’t have a catch last year so total trust pick. Carson also stays loyal to Trinity and makes a solid pick with Dugger. Then Joe and I go back to back with Tufts guys, two good picks. Nik Dean at tight end is a really good one for Joe because the NESCAC as a league does not tend to use tight ends in the passing game very often, and Dean should get consistent targets.


JM: Colby WR Mbasa Mayikana
AL: Bates Slotback Shaun Carroll
CK: Amherst TE Rob Thoma
ND: Wesleyan TE Ben Kurtz

Carson: I was confident in the team I had picked up to this point. Have a good group of receivers, two running backs I like, a QB, so I figured I needed a tight end. I wanted to take Hirshman since he’s a Bantam and is looking to have a big year, but DiBo had a stroke and forgot how to human, so I let him have him. Amherst is going to be good this year but they are inexperienced at QB. So why not throw quick passes to your TE? Also, I like Monty’s pick with Carroll. Could have a sneaky good year in Bates’s two slotback offense.


ND: Trin D/ST
CK: Amherst D/ST
AL: Amherst WR Jackson McGonagle
JM: Tufts QB Alex Snyder

Nick: I started off the eighth round with a flawless pick in the Trinity D/ST. The Bantams are on brink of another undefeated season, and if all goes well, the Trinity defense will be up to par. Trinity had a solid special teams last year, and Devanney welcomes in a true competitor in a freshman kicker. Carson followed in my footsteps, taking one of the other top defenses in the league. The Amherst defense is gritty and they are looking to repeat as undisputed NESCAC Champions. If all goes well for Amherst, this pick from CK will be the right one. Adam has a nice pick with Amherst wide reciever Jackson McGonagle, coming into his senior year he should be a threat, and we heard that he trained with a lot of D-I talent this summer – potential for consistent points there. Really uneasy about Joe’s pick here. Why go with a QB who is going to win one game this year!?!? Tufts QB Alex Snyder has seemed to grow exponentially since his freshman year, but I’d rather see Joe choose a winning QB.


JM: Hamilton RB LaShawn Ware
AL: Wesleyan K Ike Fuchs
CK: Wesleyan WR Neil O’Connor
ND: Williams RB Connor Harris

Joe: I like my pick better than the rest here. I actually think the Hamilton O can be middle of the pack, as Ware is a good runner, and whoever ends up starting for Hamilton – whether that’s Brandon Tobin or Chase Rosenberg – will be doing so because they had a promising camp. Either Rosenberg will have shown improvement, or Tobin will have come in and wrestled the starting job away. I do think Connor Harris could be a steal, though. He showed off his athleticism in the return game last season. Let’s see if that translates to the backfield now.


ND: Middlebury TE Trevor Miletich
CK: Trinity WR Nick Gaynor
AL: Williams TE Alex Way
JM: Trinity RB Ethan Suraci

Adam: The round started with Nick changing his pick from the Trinity freshman kicker who he couldn’t remember the name of to Middlebury’s tight end Trevor Miletich ’16. Ended up working out pretty nice for him. Then what felt like the 20th Trinity player came off the board. I grabbed my tight end in Alex Way, and then somehow Joe decided that it was necessary to take yet another Trinity player with his pick. Unless the Bantams score 100 points a game, some of these picks are going to look quite silly.


JM: Midd D/ST
AL: Tufts WR Ben Berey
CK: Middlebury K Charlie Gordon
ND: Trinity Kicker

Carson: I’m a big believer that kickers are the most underrated player on your fantasy team. A good kicker can get you an easy 10-12 points a week which can be huge in winning a matchup. I took Mason Crosby in the seventh round of my real life fantasy draft (which I’ve started out 0-2 so what do I know). Gordon should only have to worry about extra points for most of the year, or kicks from 30 yards or closer, so I’m optimistic he can get me quality points every week. Trinity Kicker is a funny name for a person but I trust Dibo knows what he’s doing.


ND: Middlebury RB Diego Meritus
CK: Middlebury QB Jared Lebowitz
AL: Hamilton WR Pat Donahue
JM: Bates QB Pat Dugan

Nick: Diego was my Middlebury RB pick out of the hat, but he is actually nasty after watching his highschool highlight film. Carson went with Middlebury’s hometown (sort of) hero. Jared Lebowitz is a big bodied sophomore QB who may not see the field due to Matt Milano, but I believe Lebowitz is up and coming. Backup QB’s are awkward picks, but in the 12th round he is a fine pick. Adam chose Pat Donahue. Joe went with the Bates senior which is a good pick to get a starting QB this late.


JM: Middlebury WR James Burke
AL: Colby RB Carl Lipani
CK: Bates Slotback Frank Williams
ND: Bowdoin QB Tim Drakeley

Joe: I think Burke is a steal here, and I actually had Banky on my mind but couldn’t pass up on Midd’s starting wideout opposite of Minno. Sure, maybe a bit of a homer pick, but I like Burke’s upside way more than anybody picked after him. Maybe Lipani will make me look like a fool, though, if he can seriusly cut into Hurdle-Price’s carries.


ND: Middlebury WR Tanner Contois
CK: Trinity QB Henry Foye
AL: Wes Defense/ST
JM: Amherst K Charlie Wall

Adam: Taking a Midd wide receiver late is never a bad pick since they throw the ball so often, even though Contois is pretty deep on the depth chart right now. I grabbed the Wesleyan Defense/ST, realizing my mistake of not grabbing one of Trinity, Middlebury, or Amherst too late. Wesleyan had a great defense a year ago, but that unit is almost entirely gone. I think that while the defense will take a step back, this will still be a good unit because of the talent on the roster and the coaching ability of the Wesleyan staff.