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 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

First Impressions Matter: The Weekend Preview

The best time of year is back. Football returns to the NESCAC tomorrow. (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

The first week of the season is a special time. After 10 long months of waiting, NESCAC football is back to fill up our early Saturday afternoons for eight weeks. Yet, one can’t help but feel like right now is almost a better time to be a NESCAC football fan. After all, by Saturday night half of the teams will be 0-1. The expectations that every team and fanbase has can’t possibly all be met, and so for some, times are better before those expectations come crashing down.

This is the point where my friends tell me that I’m way too cynical. That football games are one of the best events ever created, and we should welcome them like a crying baby does the embrace of a parent. They are right of course. Enjoy tomorrow, and if at all possible get yourself to a game in person. Thanks to the Northeast Sports Network and improvements in technology, watching a NESCAC football game at home is now a great alternative, but nothing beats the ability to watch a game in person. Alright, enough of me rambling: on to the analysis.

Five to Watch

  1. Quarterback Reece Foy ’18 (Amherst): Coach EJ Mills has been loathe to disclose who his starting QB is, but the game preview on the Amherst website and one source have tipped us off to the fact that Foy is getting the nod for the start. Foy has talent, as he actually played at the University of San Diego (DI-AA) for a year before transferring to Amherst before last season. Foy battled for the starting position early in the year before Max Lippe ’15 retook control of the position down the stretch. At only 5’9″, Foye can have trouble seeing all of his reads. He is a good athlete though we didn’t see him run much last year. Even though Foy might start, I still think we see Alex Berluti ’17 play quarterback at some point, also.
  2. Safety Justin Sanchez ’17 (Wesleyan): As one of the two returners on defense for the Cardinals, Sanchez has to be spectacular against Matt Milano ’16 and Middlebury. Stars Donnie Cimino ’15 and Jake Bussani ’14 helped allow Sanchez to roam free and make plays in the run game (he led the Cardinals in tackles last season with 58), but Coach Dan DiCenzo will ask him to do more in pass defense this game. The Wesleyan defense might struggle to stop Middlebury, but if they get a couple of turnovers, that would also be huge. A noted ball-hawk, Sanchez is their best bet to make that happen.
  3. Defensive End James Howe ’16 (Williams): Does dominant 2013 James Howe return or are teams still able to scheme and stop him like in 2014? That question is one Ephs fans are hoping to see answered on Saturday. Top level talent like what Howe displayed in 2013 is rare in the NESCAC, and it can swing games. The defensive line besides Howe is young, but that is no excuse for him as a senior now. I will be watching Howe in person at Bowdoin while (shameless personal plug alert) I am doing the color commentary for NSN, so rest assured that I will keep a close eye on him.
  4. Outside Linebacker Patrick Williams ’16 (Tufts): This is a name you might not know right now, but I have a feeling that Williams is going to have a big senior year. He had 43 tackles and an interception a year ago; solid numbers but nothing special for sure. However, at 6’2″ and 220 he has exceptional size for his position and he moves pretty well. He was only moved to linebacker last season, and he has a better understanding of the position this year. Also, his dream job is to see the world while making money. Me too, Patrick, me too.
  5. Wide Receiver Darrien Myers ’17 (Trinity): Myers has a lot of hype around him after being selected fifth in our Fantasy Draft. Not actually, but Myers is important to watch because he could help create big plays in the passing game for Trinity. That was something the Bantams struggled with last year after relying on AJ Jones ’14 to be a game breaker for them for a long time. In 2014, Myers was targeted on a lot of short passes near the line of scrimmage in order to get him the ball in space and make plays, but it really makes more sense to allow him to use his speed and get behind the defense for big plays.

Game Previews

Editors Note: We are going to cover Wesleyan vs. Middlebury in depth this afternoon. Just sit tight on that one.

Amherst at Bates: Lewiston, Maine, 1:00 PM.

So Foy is the QB, but that doesn’t change much about the Jeffs. Nick Kelly ’17 is going to get the ball a lot, and Kenny Adinkra ’16 and Raheem Jackson ’17 should also get nearly 10 carries apiece. That offensive line had trouble creating holes in 2014 as the Jeffs ran for only 126 yards on 37 carries (42 yards came on one run too). Look out for any tweaks to the Amherst scheme like them rolling Foy out of the pocket or using the read option more because they knew whomever won the starting job would be better suited for that type of offense. A major concern for Foy is just limiting mistakes and taking care of the ball.

#2 Jackson McGonagle '16 is hoping the Amherst passing attack can break out this year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
#2 Jackson McGonagle ’16 is hoping the Amherst passing attack can break out this year. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Outside of Wesleyan, nobody lost more from its roster than Bates so I am not quite sure what to expect from them. The game last year was touch and go to the end, but the defense for Bates will have difficulty keeping this one low-scoring. The best hope for a Bates victory comes from being able to control the clock and hit Mark Riley ’16 on a lot of third downs. The Jeffs of course get the benefit of playing the Bobcats first and have had ample time to get ready defensively to defend the triple option. The 3-4 defense that Amherst runs is already well-suited to stopping it, and the Jeffs have more than enough athleticism in the front seven to make plays. This one won’t be as close as it was last year, but Amherst doesn’t blow many teams out either.

Prediction: Amherst 23 – Bates 7

Williams at Bowdoin: Brunswick, Maine, 1:00 PM

The first game for JB Wells is a chance for Bowdoin to wipe the slate clean and put last year’s 36-0 blowout loss to Williams in the rear mirror. That moment turned out to be the high moment of the year for Williams who face a lot of questions entering the season.

The loss of safety Justin Harris ’17 for the season is a tough one especially since the Ephs also lost Tom Cabarle ’15 to graduation. Corners Taysean Scott ’17 and Mike Davis ’17 are still very good, but the Ephs will really have to hope that their front seven can handle Bowdoin’s running attack without having to bring one of the inexperienced safeties into the box. That running attack is led by Tyler Grant ’17, who didn’t do much in this game last year. The new Bowdoin offense will look similar when they line up, but the action after the snap will be very different. The Polar Bears want to throw the ball more than they did last year, and Dan Barone ’16 will be targeted in the passing game early and often. Because he works out of the slot a lot, I’m not sure how Williams will matchup with him, but he could give the outside linebackers fits.

I’m higher on Austin Lommen ’16 in his senior year than most, and he needs to prove in this game that he can lead the offense even if the running game isn’t working. The Williams receivers will have a large height advantage in at least one of their match ups, but that has often been the case, and they haven’t found a way to exploit it.

As a reminder, I (Adam) played for Bowdoin my freshman year and do not pick their games because of that. So the prediction is from Joe.

Prediction: Bowdoin 17 – Williams 13

Trinity at Colby: Waterville, Maine, 1:00 PM

In case you forgot, Trinity comes into the season with a three-game losing streak. They are going to come ready to play. Sonny Puzzo ’18 is the QB with Henry Foye ’16 ready to play, also. The big battle is in the trenches between the inexperienced Trinity offensive line and the veteran Colby defensive line. The Bantams ended up running all over Colby in the second half last year, but that was after the front seven had been worn down. Chris Marano ’17, Ryan Ruiz ’16 and the rest of that defensive line have to get penetration and stop those big Trinity running backs before they get a head of steam going. When Puzzo does go to throw the ball, he should have great success with all of his talented receivers back against the very inexperienced Colby secondary.

Jabari Hurdle-Price '17 become the team's feature back once Carl Lipani '17 went down with an injury last season and proved that he can carry the load, averaging 4.1 YPC. (Dustin Satloff/Colby College Athletics)
Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 become the team’s feature back once Carl Lipani ’17 went down with an injury last season and proved that he can carry the load, averaging 4.1 YPC. (Dustin Satloff/Colby College Athletics)

Running back Carl Lipani ’17 had great success running against the Trinity front seven last year, and the Mules have to keep that level of commitment to running the ball in order to not have their defense tired at the end of the game. That also means quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 has to complete above 60 percent of his passes. The entire linebacking group for Trinity is new, and so Harrington should put pressure on them to make tackles in space by getting the ball to either his running backs or receivers in the flats. Trying to throw the deep ball against Trinity safety Spencer Donahue ’17 is not a winning proposition. The Mules keep it close again for a while, but the strength of Trinity wins out over four quarters

Prediction: Trinity 22 – Colby 16

Tufts at Hamilton: Clinton, New York, 1:00 PM

Year two of Dave Murray’s tenure begins with a Tufts team coming to town eager to prove they are a better team than the one that beat Hamilton a year ago and that they can win on the road. The key for Hamilton is improvement on defense. They held opponents to under 30 points just three times all season in 2014. The good news is that most of the defense is back, and they had to fend off competition for their spots. The offense should be decent overall, but I don’t like the way that things matchup for Hamilton against Tufts. The Continentals had over 400 yards of offense last year, but they didn’t finish drives.

Tufts will run the bubble screen until the Continentals prove they can stop it, and that isn’t easier given the skills of the Tufts slot receivers. I am worried about the quarterback play for Tufts, though. Alex Snyder ’17 has not grabbed the job in the fashion that the coaches were hoping he would, and the Tufts offense will have to be more effective than it was last year when they relied heavily on their defense and special teams to create points. I’ve actually gone back and forth on this one a little because I do like what Murray is selling at Hamilton, but I don’t think his first win comes in this one.

Prediction: Tufts 19 – Hamilton 13

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

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

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

Projected Record: 26

Projected Starters (*Seven Returning)


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

Defense (*Five Returning)

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

Special Teams

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

Offensive MVP: The O-Line

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

Defensive MVP: DE James Howe

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

Biggest Game: Williams vs. Amherst Nov. 14

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

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

Biggest Surprise in Camp: WR Darrias Sime

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

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


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

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

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

Previewing the Player of the Year Races

If you have a better picture from the paper, by all means use that Joe
Matt Milano ’16 looks to defend his POY title (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Yesterday we tackled all the players who have a chance to rise from relative obscurity into stardom. Now it’s time to talk about the ones who already are big names and might take home the shiniest hardward at the end of the season.

Offensive Player of the Year Race

The question is whether a non-QB will be able to win this award. Eight of the last nine Offensive Player of the Year Awards have gone to a QB with Amherst’s Evan Bunker the only running back to win in 2011. In the six years from 2000-2005, non-QBs won the award in four of the six years.  As you will see below, among our five favorites, only one is a QB, Matt Milano ’16. Of course, Milano is the odds-on favorite to win the award provided he stays healthy, but if for some unforeseen reason he does not put up amazing statistics, there does not appear to be another QB ready to win the award. While it is possible someone like Austin Lommen ’16 (Williams) makes a big jump, it is probably Milano or bust in terms of QBs, so that is something to keep in mind.


Running Backs LaDarius Drew ’15/Lou Stevens ’17 (Wesleyan): Stevens enjoyed a strong end to the 2014 season to earn First Team All-NESCAC honors in 2014, and Drew was First Team All-NESCAC in 2013 before missing all of last year because of a foot injury so both of these guys are very talented. In the end, these two might be each other’s worst enemies. There are only so many carries to go around. However, in 2013 with Drew and Kyle Gibson ’15 splitting carries, Drew still finished second in the NESCAC in YPG. If these two were one player, LouDarius Drevens would be the favorite to win the award.

Tyler Grant '17 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Running Back Tyler Grant ’17 (Bowdoin): The league’s leading rusher from 2014, and the only player who averaged more than 100 YPG, Grant racked up an incredible amount of carries over eight games. He finished the year with 226 rushing attempts, 76 more than the next highest total by Trinity’s Chudi Iregbulem ’15! Grant surely will not run that much this year, but he could benefit from a more open scheme that will put him in space more often where he is best. Health is a definite concern after all of the carries a year ago. He was banged up for much of the offseason and is out of practice now, though he is expected to be fully healthy by the time Week 1 rolls around.

Matt Milano '16 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Quarterback Matt Milano ’16 (Middlebury): Milano is the reigning co-Offensive Player of the Year (he split the award with Wesleyan QB Jesse Warren ’15 a year ago) so he is an obvious choice for this list. We are pretty sure that he will be starting Week 1 over transfer Jared Lebowitz ’17 because Milano has more experience with the offense. Make no mistake, Milano was amazing last year. After an uneven first start against Wesleyan, he threw 22 TDs against one INT over the final seven games of the season. He does have to play more consistently against the top defenses in the league, as he had average or subpar games against Wesleyan, Amherst and Williams. Middlebury will rely on him even more than they did last year with the team’s leading rusher from a year ago, Drew Jacobs ’18, out with a Lisfranc fracture.

Nick Kelly '17 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Running Back Nick Kelly ’17 (Amherst): Kelly entered 2014 splitting carries with Kenny Adinkra ’16, but with Adinkra injured for the final five games of the season, Kelly became the feature back. A tall back, Kelly is somewhat in the mold of a Derrick Henry from Alabama who possesses breakaway speed once he gets moving downhill. His 59-yard touchdown against Middlebury last year was the difference in that game, and he had a run of at least 20 yards in each of the first five games of the season. Kelly did struggle mightily down the stretch averaging less than 3.0 yards per carry in his final three games. He will also have to fight off a lot of talented backups including a healthy Adinkra.

Mark Riley '16 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Wide Receiver Mark Riley ’16 (Bates): Having a wide receiver from Bates, a school known for their triple option running attack on offense, as a preseason favorite for this award is unusual. Then you have to realize that Riley has the statistics to more than back up his inclusion. He led the league in receiving YPG and was second in catches. He has the speed to run past defenders and also runs good routes underneath. With no other clear passing option, he will have to overcome a lot of double teams. New QB Patrick Dugan ’16 is known as a good passer so I’m not worried about a big drop in targets for Riley. Winning this award as a wide receiver is hard, but Riley has a lot of the ingredients to make it happen.

Others to Watch: Wide Receiver Matt Minno ’16 (Middlebury), Quarterback Austin Lommen ’16 (Williams), Quarterback Sonny Puzzo ’17 (Trinity), Running Back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 (Colby)

Defensive Player of the Year

The past winners of this award exhibit a lot more variety than the QB-heavy Offensive award, but the most common position to win it is linebacker because of the big tackle totals. This season there are more than a fair share of worthy competitors for DPOY, and we left off a lot of players who will make a run at it.

Jaymie Spears '16 (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Cornerback Jaymie Spears ’16 (Amherst): The best corner in the NESCAC, no questions asked. A year ago Spears was second in the league with six interceptions, tied for first with eight pass breakups, and blocked two kicks, just because he can. One worry for Spears’ candidacy? That teams simply ignore his side of the field and target other receivers. You see that in the NFL for corners like Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis. NESCAC teams haven’t done that yet, but if Spears’ numbers drop precipitously it might be because he simply isn’t getting opportunities.

Mark Upton '17 (Courtesy of Bates Athletics)

Linebacker Mark Upton ’17 Bates): The presence of multiple senior linebackers on Bates couldn’t keep Upton from racking up 84 tackles a year ago. Now, as the centerpiece of the Bates defense, he could have eye-popping numbers from the middle linebacker spot. He is more than just a steady player in the middle too. He led the league with four forced fumbles and had the most sacks on Bates with 3.5. A severe drop in the overall talent of the Bates defense could spell trouble for Upton, but he has a very good shot if he plays at a similar level to what he did last season.

Tim Patricia '16 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Linebacker Tim Patricia ’16 (Middlebury). Patricia is just one of several Middlebury defenders who could make a run at this award. He gets the nod because of his job as the middle linebacker. He is nothing if not consistent with three NESCAC Second Team honors back-to-back-to-back years. Some might worry that Patricia has hit his ceiling as a player already, but he improved his play-making ability by doubling his TFL total from 2013 to 2014. Patricia’s greatest skill is a nose for the ball. He just knows how to make tackles. And even if he doesn’t win the award, one of his teammates, the Pierce bros (they’re not actually brothers), S Dan and LB Addison, just might.

Mike Stearns '17 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Safety Mike Stearns ’17 (Tufts): Nobody had more solo tackles than Stearns’ 60 in 2014, and the fact that they came from the corner position makes it all the more impressive. Now at safety Stearns should have even more opportunities to make tackles. A great instinctive player, Stearns will be all over the field as a safety. Of worry is a significant tapering off of production as the year went along. He had only 18 tackles in his last four games. At safety, Stearns will have to show that he can make plays in the air and not just on the ground.

James Howe '16 (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

Defensive End James Howe ’16 (Williams): Joe and I talked about this in our video on Monday (Williams part begins at 3:40), but there is no bigger enigma than Howe entering this season. After totaling 10 sacks as a sophomore, he had zero all of 2014. He still had 38 tackles, a good amount for a defensive end, but a year ago I was ready to call Howe the JJ Watt of the NESCAC. I put him on this list because he obviously has the talent to make a ton of plays. He might not be quite as much of a focus for opposing offenses this season, which could give him more opportunities to get into the backfield.

Others to Watch: Linebacker Alex Daversa-Russo ’16 (Wesleyan), Safety Dan Pierce ’16 (Middlebury), Linebacker Addison Pierce ’17 (Middlebury), Linebacker Frank Leyva ’16 (Trinity), Linebacker Thomas Kleyn ’16 (Amherst)

WATCH: 2015 Football Storylines

Today we grace you with our beautiful mugs and some grade A insight on what to watch for this season. These are our top eight storylines of 2015, but there are an infinite number of intriguing nuggets to follow all season long, so surely there will be some big things that we don’t talk about here. Maybe if you’re lucky we’ll do another video. And sorry for the lack of production value. That was supposed to be Adam’s job but he was too busy sipping Bud Lights alone in the library.

Elation and Heartbreak in Hartford: The Stock Report 11/4

In another thrilling game between two of the top teams in the NESCAC, Amherst managed to give Trinity their second consecutive home loss by a 7-6 score. The win all but wraps up the NESCAC championship for Amherst assuming they can hold serve at home against Williams.

The NESCAC could be accurately described this year as a two-tiered league. Middlebury, Wesleyan, Trinity, and Amherst were all well above their competition. The only losses those teams had were against each other with Middlebury’s overtime victory over Williams the closest call to an upset. So while a lot of games lacked drama, when those teams matched up, it more often than not resulted in great games.

Stock Up

Wesleyan Defense: If you don’t give up any points in two games, we are going to recognize your level of play. Bowdoin and Williams are two of the lesser offenses in the league, but it is still quite an achievement. This is a senior laden defense with stars all across the board. Because of that, it can be hard for one player to stand out. Safety Justin Sanchez ’17 is the leading tackler for the Cardinals but has only the 17th most in the league. The one exception that has stood out even on Wesleyan is Jake Bussani ’14. The defensive back has a whopping six interceptions, two of which he brought all the way back to the house. Even though they are only fourth in points given up, Wesleyan has allowed 20 fewer yards per game than any other team. At this point it seems unlikely that Wesleyan is able to capture a NESCAC championship, but they still want to beat their arch-rival Trinity badly. Another shutout from the defense would do just that.

Wide Receiver Greg Lanzillo ’15 (Tufts): In his final home game, Lanzillo went out with a bang turning all three of his catches into touchdowns. He opened up the scoring with a 61 yard completion from Alex Snyder ’17 who was filling in for injured senior Jack Doll ’15. Then Lanzillo scored the final two touchdowns for the Jumbos as well to stretch the score to 28-0 in the third quarter. The Jumbos ended up cruising to the 28-7 victory over Colby and finished the season undefeated at home. Lanzillo played the role of the deep target man in a Tufts offense that threw the ball underneath on the vast majority of their passes.He ranks fourth on the team with 14 catches but actually leads the team in yards with 312. His 22.3 yards per catch would be first in the NESCAC if he qualified. Lanzillo along with all the other Tufts seniors were rewarded for their hardwork by a magical season. The legacy they leave will extend well past this year.

Running Back Shaun Carroll ’16 (Bates): One of the biggest problems for Bates all year has been their inability to gain consistent yards on the ground. Coming into Saturday, no player had more than 200 yards rushing. That made Carroll’s 80 rushing yards on 10 attempts all the more impressive. The performance was by far his best of the season, and he also scored the only touchdown for Bates on the day. Because of the cold wet conditions in Brunswick, offense was at a premium, but Carroll did a great job all game of getting to the outside and picking up yards. Bowdoin was never able to get the ball moving consistently against a very good front seven. The victory for Bates clinched the CBB title for them, the second time in three years that the Bobcats have won the title. This year was an especially sweet victory because of all the off the field tragedy for Bates. These seniors have gone through a lot and more than deserved the victory Saturday.

Stock Down

Trinity’s Luck: Absolute heartbreak for the Bantams who for the second consecutive year have lost to both Middlebury and Amherst. Trinity hasn’t slipped much, but it has slipped just enough to lose close games. Yet this was a game that the Bantams really felt they should have won. This was the second straight year that the margin of victory for Amherst was a missed extra point by Trinity. The missed extra point would not have mattered either if Ben Rosenblatt ’17 had been able to make a 24 yard field goal in the final minute of the game.

Being unlucky is also having to play your fourth string freshman quarterback for the first time all year against the most opportune defense in the NESCAC. Hayden Jardine ’18 struggled in his action of the year throwing for only 10 yards, and the Bantams were forced to become completely one-dimensional and turn to running QB Spencer Aukamp ’18 for most of the second half. All of this should not take away from Amherst of course. They went into Hartford against a team that had more motivation than anyone all year after what Middlebury did. The Jeffs played their game, keeping the ball on the ground, and winning the turnover battle. They played a great game and have proven themselves to be the class of the NESCAC this year, but the game Saturday leaves Trinity thinking: what if?

Photo Courtesy of Greg Sullivan (
Photo Courtesy of Greg Sullivan (

Williams: Look, we don’t know the details of the Williams football program, but something has gone wrong in Williamstown the last few years. Before the year started, Ephs fans (and us) thought that 2013 was a bottoming out for their proud squad. A 2-6 record is not what Williams fans expect, but there were a lot of good signs going forward. The Ephs really did play better than their record, but an 0-4 record in games decided by seven points or less doomed them. The defense was a strength with a breakout star in James Howe ’16. Most importantly for this year, Williams was returning 17 starters and brought in transfer quarterback Austin Lommen ’16 to improve the passing game. Everything looked great when in week one the Ephs laid the boom on Bowdoin and won 36-0. Since then the season has been a debacle in many ways. The offense has now been shut out twice at home, and the defense has allowed the second most yards in the NESCAC. After a lot of hope before the season, Williams can’t wait for 2015.

Next Week: The expectation before the season began was that the league championship would come down to the final week of the season. While the scenario of Williams stunning Amherst and Wesleyan beating Trinity to cause a tie between Amherst and Wesleyan at the top is still possible, it appears very unlikely. Given how bad Williams has looked this year, Amherst should have no trouble with the Ephs. The game in Middletown between Wesleyan and Trinity will be a good one, but the teams are playing for second place. Even beyond the championship race, the other games lack drama. Colby-Bowdoin last year was an instant classic that ended with one of the wildest endings in memory while also robbing Colby of the CBB title. This year, with Bates already having won the CBB, the two teams are playing simply for pride. Elsewhere, Middlebury-Tufts and Bates-Hamilton lack much in the way of a traditional rivalry.

Here is the thing however: rivalry games are still rivalry games. Maybe hypothetical television ratings are down next week because some fans won’t tune in, but don’t expect the game day experience to change much. All the motivation that players need is the combination of playing against a team you don’t like and trying to send the seniors out with a victory. Thousands of alums, students, and community members will still flock to Amherst for the Biggest Little Game in America. Though most of the usual drama is already played out, a lot still is left to be played for, and we will have every second of it covered.

10 Statistics That Might Surprise You

The Crowd storms the field after Tufts' first win of the season (courtesy of Tufts University)
The Crowd storms the field after Tufts’ first win of the season (courtesy of Tufts University)

Editors Note: This article was co-written by Joe MacDonald and Adam Lamont

Between our statistics page and the wealth of information over at the NESCAC site, a football aficionado can spend hours pouring over statistics if he/she were to feel so inclined. However, most of us don’t have that kind of time to do that type of thing. Fortunately for you, we make it our job to do just that. So here are 10 statistics that don’t jump out but nevertheless tell us a lot about how the conference has been shaking out, and frankly are just plain interesting.

1. Wesleyan Defensive 3rd Down Percentage: 23 percent

This is the lowest mark in the NESCAC by a good deal and is an insanely low percentage in general. The lowest NFL percentage is the Indianapolis Colts at 31.1 percent, and Wesleyan is sixth nationwide in Divison-III for defensive third down percentage. Even in Amherst’s victory over the Cardinals, the Jeffs only converted 3-14 third downs. Primarily responsible for this is the Cardinals all-star secondary which is the best in the NESCAC. Windows simply don’t exist downfield on clear passing downs. Another statistic for how good the Wesleyan secondary is: they are allowing 4.6 yards per passing attempt, the only team allowing fewer than five yards.

2. Williams Tackles For Loss Per Game: 4.33

Coming into the season the expectation was that the William defensive line was its strongest unit, capable of keeping the Ephs in games. After all it was a unit that had 19 sacks in 2013 and returned their three top sack performers this year. But the line has not repeated its production from last year. James Howe ’16 has enjoyed steady play but has not had a single sack after his breakout campaign last year. That has not necessarily been because of offenses focusing on him since nobody else has seen an uptick in production this year. A big reason for Williams’ disappointing season is their inability to make big plays on the defensive front.

3. Hamilton First Downs Allowed Per Game: 15.16

Given the Continentals record of 0-6, it would seem likely that the defense allows a lot of first downs per game, but their defense actually ranks second behind Trinity (13.83) in the category. Maybe they just let up a lot of big plays? That has something to do with it but not a lot as Hamilton is still only fifth in opponents’ yard per game. The reason for it is that the Hamilton defense doesn’t see many plays. Opponents only run 63 plays against them a game, the lowest mark in the NESCAC.

4. Number of Consecutive Years that Middlebury Has Had the NESCAC’s Leading Passer: 6

And Matt Milano ’16 appears ready to make it seven years in a row. Mac Foote ’14 led the league for three years in row after Donnie McKillop ’11 started the streak in 2008. Jesse Warren ’15 is only 64 yards behind Milano and Austin Lommen ’16 is also only 92 yards back. Still those two have to face very tough defenses in their remaining games while Milano has to face Hamilton and Tufts, two defenses that he should be able to exploit. The most likely possibility that keeps Milano from winning the passing crown is if the Panthers get up big early in both games and they run the ball the entire second half.

5. NESCAC Rank of Middlebury’s Top Receiver: Ninth

Last year Middlebury boasted three of the top four receivers in terms of yards, but this year has not seen any one player dominate. Grant Luna ’17 was the number one target the first couple of weeks, but injuries have kept him out the last two games. In his absence Matt Minno ’16, the team’s leading wideout last year, has risen to the occasion with Luna out and supplied five touchdowns in two weeks. Brendan Rankowitz ’15 has been a consistent threat having multiple catches in every game. Those three rank ninth through eleventh in receiving yards. Following them, running back Drew Jacobs ’18 is the safety valve tied for the lead in receptions for Middlebury, and Ryan Rizzo ’17 has come on strong in the past two weeks with 14 catches in place of Luna. Oh, by the way, with the exception of Rankowitz, all of these guys are back next year.

6. Solo Tackles for Mike Stearns ’17 (Tufts): 56

The next closest total in the NESCAC is 41 by Dan Pierce ’16 (Middlebury). What makes it so amazing it is that Stearns plays corner. The Tufts coaches trust his instincts and give Stearns free reign to come up quickly on run plays in order to seal off the edge. Stearns’ ability to avoid blockers and make a sure-handed tackle also helps the Jumbos to send extra pressure up the middle because they know they won’t be burned on the edges. Two things to keep in mind however: firstly, Tufts faces the most plays per team and secondly, Stearns’ solo tackles are likely inflated a little by scorekeepers because they are able to clearly distinguish his plays.

7. Carries for Bowdoin’s Tyler Grant ’17: 162

That’s 134 more carries than the next man on the depth chart, Garrett Thomas ’17, and Grant has accounted for 70 percent of the Polar Bears’ carries in 2014. Grant has 53 more carries than Chudi Iregbulem ’15, who is second in the NESCAC. His six touchdowns are tied for second in the league. And Grant has already surpassed last year’s carry total by 65. Time to give credit where credit is due to this Bowdoin workhorse.

8. Colby’s Field Goal Percentage: 25 percent

Granted, kicker Louw Scheepers ’15 has only attempted four field goals, but he’s still only knocked one through. Funny enough, his make, from 46 yards, was longer than any of his misses (42, 40, 31). Scheepers has been solid on his extra points though, making 11-12. Scheepers miss in OT from 42 last week was the only real significant miss he’s had, but still he could be called on over the final two weeks to make a big kick or two. What’s surprising is that Scheepers was 7-11 on field goals last season, so he’s better than he’s put forward so far.

9. All-Purpose Yards for Tufts’ Zack Trause ’15: 871

Trause leads the league in all-purpose yards, and it’s not particularly close. The utility man averages 145.2 yards per game, while Iregbulem clocks in at second with 122.4. Trause is the league’s leading punt returner and is second in kick return yards (but first in average with 36.4 yards per kick return) in addition to his efforts on the offensive side of the ball.

10. Tufts’ Total Attendance: 10,993

We can’t put too much stock into the recorded attendances for NESCAC football games, because there’s no gates and spectators often come and go. But just have faith in the numbers for a moment. That Tufts has put 3,000 more proverbial butts in the seats than any other team in the NESCAC goes to show how the football culture is shifting in Medford. It also helps if you win.

Stock Report September 29: The Jumbo Uprising

After two weeks the NESCAC is playing out according to preseason expectations. Tiers are rapidly developing and becoming defined. Hamilton, Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby are at the bottom of the league capable of giving teams scares but unable to outplay teams for 60 minutes. Middlebury and Williams are the middle class of teams that beat up on the lower teams but can’t handle the talent of the top flight. Finally Trinity, Wesleyan, Amherst, and Tufts will battle it out for the conference championship… wait a second… that can’t be right.


The Jumbos moved to 2-0 after outscoring Bates 35-7 in the final two plus quarters on their Homecoming. Tufts is clearly not yet one of the top teams in the conference, but their start so far is the best story of the NESCAC season. After years of coming up short, Tufts is riding a wave of momentum that might crest at 3-0 if they can go on the road and beat Bowdoin. That’s getting ahead of ourselves though, here is the week 2 stock report.

Stock Up

Middlebury Head Coach Bob Ritter and Offensive Coordinator Joe Early- What everyone wanted to know coming into the season was whether Middlebury had a starting QB that would be able to keep the Panthers in the upper echelon. Matt Milano ’16 has answered those questions, winning NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors after leading Middlebury to a decisive 27-7 victory at Colby. Milano deserves a ton of credit, but the Middlebury coaches also are worthy of notice. Head Coach Bob Ritter, who is also the QB coach, has done a masterful job building Middlebury into what it is today. In a league still very run heavy, Middlebury has carved out its own identity in airing the ball out. There is more balance this year as Middlebury ran the ball 49 times Saturday, yet the passing game is where the Panthers shine. Joe Early, now in his sixth season as the offensive coordinator, has done a fantastic job with every Middlebury QB he has coached, and Milano is merely the latest in line. After winning the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012, Early could be in line for a head coaching job somewhere soon.

Safety Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 (Amherst)- Some players are not able to be properly appreciated until you see them in person, and Fairfield-Sonn fits that description. He lacks the size you want in a safety at only 5’10” and 175 pounds, but he more than makes up for it with his speed and instincts. After not playing in week one, Fairfield-Sonn was all over the field making nine tackles (seven solo) and a fumble recovery at the end of the first half that kept Bowdoin from scoring and making it a one score game. All day he was able to come flying up into the box and delivered big hits on Tyler Grant ’17 and the Bowdoin wide receivers in the flat. The Amherst defense has talented players at all of their positions, and Fairfield-Sonn fits great in the defensive scheme to disrupt opponents rhythm and comfort.

 Running Back Zach Trause ’15 (Tufts)- Like last week, Tufts found a way to win in an unusual way with Trause being the hero this week. After a Mark Riley ’16 touchdown reception put Bates up 24-23, Trause decided that he was going to leave his final Homecoming a winner. He took the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to put Tufts back on top. Then a few minutes later he took a punt all the way back to give the Jumbo defense more than enough cushion to work with. Another excited Tufts crowd loved every second of it. This week’s win for Tufts was a much more complete performance. Not many people expected Tufts to win the game, much less pull away and win so comfortably in the end. For Trause and the other Jumbo seniors, the beginning of this season has been validation of everything they have put in over the years.

Stock Down

The Maine Schools- Bowdoin, Colby, and Bates are now a combined 0-6 for the season after they went 11-13 as a group last year. They have been outscored by a total of 130 points in those games. Bowdoin has not looked competitive in either of their games. Colby’s defense has taken a step back despite bringing back nine starters from last year. And while Bates almost pulled the upset on Amherst, the loss to Tufts by 18 points destroyed any of that momentum. The Maine schools have never been forces in the NESCAC, but they look to all be among the bottom of the league right now. The CBB at the end of the season will shape each of their seasons, as it so often does.

Defensive End James Howe ’16 (Williams)- Expecting Howe to replicate last season’s incredible statistics was always a reach because of how team’s would concentrate on him more, but it is safe to say that his first two games have been disappointments. He has eight tackles and one tackle for loss. You can’t argue that the focus on Howe has especially benefited his teammates as Williams hasn’t recorded a single sack yet. Obviously he is only one player and Williams lost 38-0 for a hundred other reasons before Howe’s performance. Some might liken criticism of Howe to that levied against Jadaveon Clowney last year simply because expectations were out of whack before the season began. Williams has to figure out a way for Howe to make an impact every game in order to avoid another drubbing like the one Saturday.

Drama- The average margin of victory in week two was 24.2 points. The top part of the league had no problems with their opponents. The NESCAC has never been known for its parity, and this season has not been any different. The game we expected to be the closest, Williams vs. Trinity turned into a rout with the Bantams flexing their muscles for 60 minutes. Colby not being able to stay close with Middlebury was also a surprise after the Mules hung tight for a half against Trinity. The lone upset this week came from Tufts of course. The rules around recruiting and roster size are supposed to keep every NESCAC team somewhat close to each other in terms of talent, but that has never really been the case.

Weekend Preview: September 27

The biggest change a team can make from week to week comes after week 1 and leading into week 2. Nothing can replicate game speed, and after coaches are able to look back at game tape for the first time and make adjustments, teams can look very different. Consider in week 1 last year Williams got blown out by Colby 31-6. Then a week later Trinity needed two A.J. Jones ’14 touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter to keep the Ephs from ending the Trinity home winning streak. More on the Williams-Trinity matchup later.

The overarching story line to watch this week is how teams perform on the road. In our opinion, only one team (Wesleyan at home against Hamilton) can be considered the favorite at home. The last time four road teams won in one weekend was actually this same week two years ago with the exact same slate of games. A home underdog springing an upset would mean a disturbance in the early season hierarchy, even if it is a momentary blip.

Three to Watch

1. Quarterback Austin Lommen ’16 (Williams)- I know that we focus a lot on Lommen and Williams prospects for improvement, but this is the week that we really learn how far Lommen can take the Ephs. Last week he was able to lean on a great defensive effort and running attack against Bowdoin. He was efficient going 18-27  for 184 yards and one touchdown. Still Trinity will make him do a lot more in order to beat them. They have the strength to slow down running back Alex Scyorcurka ’14 enough to make Lommen have to make throws. It is clear that Lommen has great chemistry with his high school teammate Steven Kiesel. He will need to find the open receiver as Kiesel will likely face tight coverage from either Mike Mancini ’15 or Brian Dones ’17.

2. Linebacker Addison Pierce ’17 (Middlebury)- The Panther defense rose to the occasion last week especially in the run game, and Pierce was a player who had a breakout game. He played a lot freshman year finishing fifth on the team in tackles, but last week was special. He totaled ten tackles including three and a half TFLs (tackles for loss), equal to his total TFLs for all of 2013. The Panthers got penetration into the backfield all day from their linebackers stopping Kyle Gibson and co. before they could get momentum. This week is another interesting matchup for the Midd defense against a Colby offense that actually ran the ball effectively against Trinity.

3. Running back Ivan Reese ’17 (Bates)- Last week Amherst shut down the inside running game for Bates holding Reese to only 19 yards on 10 carries. In fairness, Amherst was perfectly designed to shut down the interior given all the talent up front on defense. 19 yards should be by far the least amount of yards that Reese gets in any game. The interior of the Tufts defense should not present the same problems Amherst did so look for Reese to be fed the ball early and often in the home opener for Bates. The offense needs to improve on their execution from week one in order not to waste another great performance from the defense.

Austin Lommen '16 in action against Bowdoin (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Austin Lommen ’16 in action against Bowdoin (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)

The Picks

Game of the Week- Trinity (1-0) at Williams (1-0)

Williams fans are riding high after opening their new field with a thumping of Bowdoin. A victory this week would put them into a tizzy. The Bantams are feeling pretty good themselves after taking it to Colby in the second half to run away with the win. Our writers Sean Meekins ’15 and Carson Kenney ’15, both Trinity students, put Williams above Trinity in their power rankings. Maybe it was just a psychological play to fire up the Bantams, but the point remains that after week one, this matchup got a little more interesting.

As we mentioned above, Williams almost shocked Trinity in Hartford last year. The stats tell us this was not the result of any fluke luck. The teams had essentially the same amount of yards, first downs, yards per play, and penalties. The difference was Williams’ four turnovers to Trinity’s one. The play of the game came when Brian Dones ’17 picked off Tom Murphy ’15 in the final minute to set up the winning touchdown for Trinity.

Lommen has to avoid making those type of mistakes for Williams to win. Williams will make a strong commitment to running the ball especially given how Carl Lipani ’17 was able to run for 133 yards last week. Some of Williams biggest plays in week one came on screens and draws where they were able to give Scyocurka and Jean Luc Etienne ’15 space to work with. The experienced Trinity linebackers will likely snuff that type of play out meaning the Ephs will have to manufacture big plays down the field.

On the other side of the ball the decisive matchup is between the Trinity offensive line and the Williams defensive front seven. James Howe ’16 will need to get help from his cohorts which might not include defensive tackle Adam Datema ’15 this week. Chudi Iregbulem ’15 and company enjoyed success mainly in the second half after wearing down Colby because Trinity held the ball for 37 minutes. The Williams defense has to make sure Trinity does not get into a rhythm running the ball. These are two teams similar in ethos that have seen every game between them since 2006 decided by eight points or less.

Prediction: Trinity 22 over Williams 17

Middlebury (0-1) at Colby (0-1)- These are two teams both coming off tough losses that look very comparable. The Mules were feeling good at halftime against Trinity down only a safety and getting the ball to start the second half. Then things fell apart pretty quickly and Colby ended up losing 32-7. Middlebury had a chance to tie Wesleyan at the end of regulation before a near blocked punt turned into a game ending roughing the kicker penalty. Colby has to do a better job of not letting up the big play, whether that’s on offense or defense. How the Colby secondary plays against a Middlebury offense that outgained Wesleyan last week will be the difference.

Prediction: Middlebury 31 over Colby 23

Amherst (1-0) at Bowdoin (0-1)- Quick disclaimer/heads up: I am doing the color commentary for this game on the Bowdoin webcast through NSN. Bowdoin could take few positives away from the game against Williams. Expect them to open things up more on offense to keep Amherst off balance because running against the Jeffs is very difficult. Amherst has to cut down on the turnovers that helped Bates almost beat them last week. Keeping Alex Berluti ’17 in the pocket is a must for the Polar Bears. If he escapes and makes one player miss, he can easily rip off a 30 yard run. Bowdoin always seems to play Amherst tough especially in the first half, but it will be tough for them to make enough plays to win.

Prediction: Amherst 20 over Bowdoin 6

Bates (0-1) at Tufts (1-0)- The Jumbos were able to celebrate their first win in four years last weekend, and it will be interesting to see how the team plays this week. Preparation against Bates is crucial, and if Tufts spent too long in the glow of their victory they will be in trouble tomorrow. The Bates running game should get more traction this week than it did against Amherst.  This is a must win game for Bates to gain momentum before they face Williams and Wesleyan at home in back to back weeks. Expect the Bobcat defense to really clamp down and frustrate the Tufts offense.

Prediction: Bates 23 over Tufts 13

Hamilton (0-1) at Wesleyan (1-0)- The Cardinals blitzkrieged their first four opponents in 2013, and Hamilton was no exception. This game was over last year after the first drive of the third quarter when LaDarius Drew broke off a 76 yard touchdown run to put Wesleyan up 28-0. It is still unclear if Drew will play this week after missing last week due to injury. Chase Rosenberg ’17 will put the ball in the air a lot again this week for the Continentals, but expect the Wesleyan defense to pick a couple of those passes off.

Prediction: Wesleyan 31 over Hamilton 10

Last week: 5-0

Season: 5-0

Handicapping the Player of the Year Races

Predicting the potential Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year is about searching for trends in the voting pattern of the NESCAC coaches. Seven of the last eight Offensive POY were quarterbacks, and six of the last seven Defensive POY were linebackers. With that being said, this season looks like it could be very different.

Offensive Player of the Year

The Favorite: Running Back LaDarius Drew ’15 (Wesleyan) – Both All-NESCAC QBs from last season are gone, and Drew looks to be the feature running back on the most explosive offense in the league. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored 10 touchdowns including a 167 yard performance against Bowdoin last year. However, he slowed down as the year went along, averaging under four yards per carry in three of his final four games. Also, Kyle Gibson ’15 will also take a lot of carries and was actually more productive per rush in 2013. Drew could run into a situation where the Wesleyan coaches decide to only give him about 15 carries a game (he averaged 20.5 in 2013), letting Gibson run more, and keeping Drew from putting up big numbers.


Quarterback Jesse Warren ’15 (Wesleyan) – If carries are split by Drew and Gibson then Warren could win if he repeats his efficiency from last season but with slightly more production. Another 15:3 TD:INT ratio will give him a good shot.

Wide Receiver Luke Duncklee ’15 (Colby) – The most productive receiver in the NESCAC will collect a lot of credit if Gabe Harrington ’17 has a seamless transition to the starting role. Fellow receiver Nick Joseph ’15 will also need a good season to make sure teams can’t key on Duncklee.

Quarterback Matt Cannone ’16 (Bates) – After seeing Cannone in action in the scrimmage against Colby, it was clear the junior has made major improvements to his game especially in the passing game. He will rack up both passing and rushing yards in the Bates offense.

Running Back Alex Scyocurka ’14 (Williams) – Opponents keyed on Scyocurka a lot meaning he averaged only 3.3 yards per carry, but he should be able to punish defenses with a more balanced attack this season, and he’s as healthy as he’s ever been, so perhaps he can get closer to the 5.3 yards per rush he averaged in 2012. An improvement as a team will also help his prospects, though he has to cut down on the four fumbles from a year ago.

Wide Receiver Gene Garay ’15 (Amherst)-  The only other receiver who looks to have a shot at POY honors is Garay. The senior was the leading receiver for Amherst last season and should see even more targets with Jake O’Malley graduated. He is also helped by the potential for big plays in the return game.

The Darkhorse: Running Back Chudi Iregbulem ’15 (Trinity) – Iregbulem has not seen the field very much because of all the talent in front of him, but now he steps to the forefront. He will get the majority share of carries in tandem with Jacob Rivers ’15. His 7.2 yards per carry average is inflated somewhat because it came at the end of blowouts against tired defenses. Consider his potential a tacit compliment to the entire Trinity offensive line who will deserve much of the credit if he has a great season.

Defensive Player of the Year

The Favorite: Defensive End James Howe ’16 (Williams)

Howe was the only sophomore selected to the All-NESCAC First Team in 2013. He tallied 55 tackles, which is impressive for a lineman, especially given the fact that teams would choose to run the opposite way if given the choice, seven more than the next-highest total by a lineman, Colby defensive end Caleb Harris ’15. Howe led the league in sacks with 10, 2.5 more than Harris, and was one behind Amherest linebacker Chris Tamasi ’15 with 17 tackles for loss. Usually linebackers get the most recognition because they are asked to do the most on the field, but Howe is on another level compared to his peers. His pressure and dominance on the line makes the linebackers’ and defensive backs’ jobs easier, and for that he comes into 2014 as the favorite to bring home this honor.


Linebacker Tim Patricia ’16 (Middlebury) It’s been noted before, but the tackle numbers on defenses like Middlebury and Tufts are inflated because their offenses run so many plays. Nevertheless, Patricia is a playmaker. The former Rookie of the Year has been a force in the Middlebury for the Panthers since day one. It’s not his athletic tools that make him a great tackler, but his football IQ. Proof that his numbers are not just a product of high play totals: Patricia accounted for almost 14 percent of Middlebury’s tackles and over 13 percent of solos. Leading tackler Joey Cleary ’14 tallied just over 16 percent of Bowdoin’s tackles and just under 16 percent of solos.

Safety Jake Bussani ’14 (Wesleyan) The only thing that might keep Bussani from making a run for DPOY honors is the wealth of talent surrounding him on defense, but the graduate has made the All-NESCAC First Team in three straight seasons. His stats weren’t as impressive as in the previous two seasons, but that doesn’t mean that his play has tapered off.

Defensive End Caleb Harris ’15 (Colby) We already mentioned Harris above, but it’s worth reiterating that Harris was the cornerstone of the best run defense in the league last season, and was only six off the pace for most tackles on his own team.

Linebacker Chris Tamasi ’15 (Amherst) Much like the next name on this list, what sets Tamasi apart is his ability to penetrate the backfield. Tamasi led the NESCAC with 18 tackles for loss and had four sacks, tying with teammate Ned Deane ’15 for the most among linebackers.

Linebacker Mike Weatherby ’14 (Trinity) A year after making the All-NESCAC First Team for the first time, Weatherby is back for a fifth year at the heart of the Bantams defense. Weatherby is great at stopping the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage, as he racked up just one sack in 2013 but 11 tackles for loss.

Cornerback Brian Dones ’15 (Trinity) It’s tough to leave out Dones’ teammate, safety Mike Mancini ’15, but the corner might be the best pass defender in the league. His three interceptions and 11 pass breakups were both tops in the NESCAC, and his 1.8 pass breakups per game was tied for 11th in the nation. Teams might choose to throw away from Dones this year, but expect him to still make some big plays.

The Darkhorse: Safety/Linebacker Gilbert Brown ’15 (Bates) Brown fills the “down safety” position in Bates’ 3-3 stack defense, a position that requires a great deal of versatility. This allows Brown to be a factor in both the run and pass game, and on occasion he will be called on to create pressure on the quarterback. He racked up 42 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and two pass breakups in 2013. Bates’ defense should be much improved this season with a bunch of starters returning, and Brown could elevate his game and become a game plan player around the NESCAC.

Anyone you think we missed? Let us know in the comments.