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.
Now to the top 10.
10. Taysean Scott ’17 (Williams)
This 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)
Nothing 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)
There 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)
Ruiz 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)
First 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)
Lovely, 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)
Oh, 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)
Mane 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)
One 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.
Frank Bruni ’19 (Bowdoin)
Bruni 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.
This is a week full of intrigue for NESCAC teams and loyal ‘CAC fans alike. There’s something for everyone in Week 6. For the championship hopefuls, two games have major implications. The Game of the Week features Amherst traveling to Tufts and trying to extend the 16-game winning streak. Up in Middlebury, the undefeated Bantams will fight to avoid another late-season slide like the one suffered years ago. For other teams not fighting for a title there is still plenty to play for. Bates and Colby open up CBB play this weekend, always a point of pride for these football programs. Elsewhere in Maine, Wesleyan still has a lot to prove. They’ve played to the level of their competition all season long, and the Cards would like to do some damage against what should be a weaker team in Bowdoin. Bowdoin will also be dealing with a question mark at quarterback, as Tim Drakeley ’17 is expected to be healthy, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll take the reins from impressive first-year Noah Nelson ’19. Hamilton heads to Williamstown for the final game of the weekend. Hamilton is, yet again, trying to get off the schneid and get its first win since 2012. The streak has stretched to 25 games now, and is coming up on the Tufts’ record of 31 straight losses. Meanwhile, the home team might be playing to save the boss’ job. There is widespread discontent over a program that has gone from an 8-0 season in 2010 to 5-3 in 2011, 4-4 in 2012 and 2-6 the past two seasons. It’s hard to say which team needs this win more.
Players to Watch
Middlebury RB Diego Meritus ’19
The Panthers are rushing for 2.1 yards per carry. Not good. It’s not all Meritus’ fault, of course. He’s actually a good runner, and has shown his ability to make guys miss in the screen game. He’s a big body and fast, so it’s surprising that Middlebury hasn’t had more success on the ground. Head Coach Bob Ritter seems committed to the first-year, though, and no one else has gotten significant carries since Week 1. Especially with WR Conrado Banky ’19 out now, the rushing game will take on more importance for Middlebury.
Bowdoin TE Bryan Porter ’18
With the first-year Nelson under QB, Porter needs to play a big role to help out the youngster. Two weeks ago, when Nelson had a phenomenal debut, Porter caught five balls and a touchdown, and last week his one catch was a 37-yard TD. Don’t expect there to be a lot of room downfield for the Bowdoin wideouts, meaning that Nelson is going to have to rely on Porter. It’s going to be huge for Bowdoin to convert on third downs in order to keep the ball out of the Cardinals’ hands. If Wesleyan is able to milk the clock with the running game, this will be over early.
Colby DE Ryan Ruiz ’16
When playing the triple-option, it’s imperative for the defense to keep to its assignments and not fly up field. Therefore, the impetus is on Ruiz, the Mules’ best defensive lineman, to lead the charge. He needs to keep the Bates slot backs from breaking out wide by getting outside leverage on the guy blocking him and allowing his teammates to make plays. If Colby can get a sizeable lead, though, then Ruiz will have a chance to pressure Pat Dugan ’16 and improve on his team-leading 2.5 sacks.
Hamilton RB LaShawn Ware ’18
I could essentially copy and paste the summary for Meritus from above, except that Hamilton Head Coach Dave Murray has shown a willingness to give some carries to Jason Nastovski ’18. Any time a team is having as much trouble running the ball as Middlebury and Hamilton are, a lot of that comes down to offensive line play. Running backs need holes to run through. The problem is exaggerated for Hamilton, though, because they aren’t having much success in the passing game, either. Ware averaged 3.9 yards per carry a year ago with 3/5 of the same offensive line. Things won’t change around for the Conts until Hamilton can get the ground game going.
Five weeks ago, we had no idea what to think about the Wesleyan Cardinals. A year removed from a senior class that brought the program back to relevance and competed for a championship three years in a row – earning a shared title in 2013 – Wesleyan had a plethora of questions coming into 2015. They’ve performed admirably, scaring Middlebury at home in Week 1 and putting up a good fight and outplaying the Lord Jeffs in every aspect but points scored a week ago in Amherst. Now the Cardinals are 3-2 and if they want to even have a minuscule shot at sharing a NESCAC title this year – and they’ll need a lot of help – they can’t lose again. I think this is a case of an inexperienced team coming into its own, and things are just looking up for them.
As for Bowdoin, the 30-20 win two weeks ago over Hamilton and the debut of Nelson gave hope to Polar Bear fans, but it now appears that it was false hope. No first-year should be expected to put up the kind of eye-popping numbers every week that Nelson posted against Hamilton, but without that kind of play Bowdoin doesn’t have enough fire power to topple the Cardinals. Losing their top two running backs has really hurt Bowdoin, which has only 58.4 rushing yards per game this season.
With that in mind, Bowdoin is forced to drop back and throw the football more often than not, which has to have Wesleyan DE Jordan Stone ’17 salivating as he wakes up this morning. Stone is one of the most physically-talented defensive players in this league and doesn’t get talked about too much on this blog, but that’s not because of his play, and more so because we just don’t talk about line play a ton. But Stone has 4.5 sacks, which is tied for second in the NESCAC with Micah Adickes ’18 of Tufts. Tufts teammate Zach Thomas ’18 leads the NESCAC with 5.5 sacks. Here’s the kicker, though. The Wesleyan defense has faced 150 pass plays. Tufts? 188 pass plays.
With the Cardinals starting to figure things out as a team and still a bevy of concerns for the Polar Bears, it’s going to be a frightful Halloween for Bowdoin.
A year ago this week the championship-hopeful Bantams were stunned in the Coop by Middlebury, breaking a more than decade-old home winning streak of 53 games. That loss sent the Bantams spiraling to three losses to end the year. Once again, these teams meet with Trinity undefeated and Middlebury with an outside shot at a shared title. The ramifications will be large no matter which way the result ends up.
This matchup bodes well for the Bantams. The Middlebury run defense, expected to be stout this season, has bent pretty considerably against some top rushing attacks. The Panthers allowed 5.1 yards per carry to Wesleyan in Week 1 and 3.9 per carry to Amherst in Week 3. They’ve effectively shut down the rushing games of Colby, Williams and Bates, but Trinity’s freshman tailback Max Chipouras ’19 will provide a stiff challenge. What’s more, the Panthers have to be prepared for the dual-threat at QB that Sonny Puzzo ’18 provides.
The key for Middlebury, as always, is to score early and force teams to throw the football – something that they haven’t done particularly well this year. Their halftime scores so far this season: 7-13 at Wesleyan, 21-2 vs. Colby, 7-10 at Amherst, 9-7 vs. Williams and 14-10 at Bates. In all but one game, Middlebury was within four points at halftime. When they’ve started to get the offense rolling in the second half and forced teams to throw, the Panthers defense has responded with some big takeaways and shut down the opposition. That strategy could be particularly effective this week given Puzzo’s recent struggles – he had two picks at Tufts and only completed 10 of 20 passes last week vs. Bowdoin.
Offensively for Middlebury, the rushing attack has been bad, plain and simple. Only once, in the Panthers’ blowout victory over Williams, has the running game been effective. But, frankly, Middlebury has proven that they don’t need to run the ball in order to be successful. It would be nice, but Middlebury makes up for its rushing deficiency with short passes and running back screens. With Banky apparently out for the season with an ankle injury, the impetus now falls on slot-turned wideout Ryan Rizzo ’17, slot receiver Tanner Contois ’18 and All-League player Matt Minno ’16 on the other side to make some big plays in the receiving game for Matt Milano ’16. I think they do just enough to squeak by the Bants.
The CBB is under way, and with both of these teams populating the bottom of the standings, the Maine championship becomes the primary focus. This game turned into a high-scoring OT affair a season ago at Bates, but I don’t see the same thing happening this time around. Though RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 has really turned it on for Colby as of late, the offense still ranks last in the ‘CAC with 13.4 points per game. Gabe Harrington ’17 has really struggled with eight interceptions in five games, but he’s also been sacked 10 times and his receivers aren’t exactly running free all over the field. It’s hard to tell who’s to blame on the Colby offense because nothing is going right at the moment, but if they are going to break out – particularly throwing the ball – this could be their chance.
The Bates defense has been only slightly better than Colby, allowing 27.0 points per game, and is last in the league with 305.6 passing yards per game allowed. Wideouts Mark Snyder ’17 and Mbasa Mayikana ’18 are big targets on the Colby offense even if they haven’t been that productive so far, and could be found on a couple of deep balls for big plays.
The Bates offense, as we know, relies on misdirection and the running game. The loss of slotback Shaun Carroll ’16, who had been averaging 5.3 yards per carry, really hurts, but the Bobcats hope to offset that loss with the return of Sean Peterson ’18 to the lineup. His debut a week ago against Middlebury was not very impressive in the running game, but he caught a few passes and was able to show off his athleticism in open space. That he garnered 14 carries despite averaging just a yard per rush shows that he is expected to be a big part of the offense down the stretch. Peterson and crew will need to have a big-time day on the ground in order to get their second win. I think Colby will land the first punch in the CBB battle but hitting on a couple of deep throws and burning clock with Hurdle-Price, and as long as that defensive line stays disciplined the back seven can make enough plays to continue Bates on offense.
Things are not good in Clinton and Williamstown these days. For the Continentals part, there has been a lot of moral victories, including an OT loss against Tufts and two close games with Wesleyan and Colby. The defense has really stood on its head at times despite playing some younguns, and Cole Freeman ’19 stepped into the limelight two weeks ago at QB and would have lead Hamilton to a victory if not for Nelson’s Godly performance for Bowdoin. At the end of the day though, you can’t argue with the scoreboard, and Hamilton is still 0-5. The Ephs, meanwhile, amidst some rumblings of discontent from people around the program (nothing concrete), started off well with two wins sandwiched around a handy and expected beatdown against Trinity. However, the last two weeks have been disastrous for Williams, and with a roadtrip to Wesleyan in Week 7 and a rivalry game with Amherst in Week 8 looming, this might be the Ephs’ last shot at a victory to move to 3-5 and avoid a third straight 2-6 record, something that seems impossible for such a storied program.
Williams has allowed just 198.0 yards per game through the air, but they’ve also been behind for considerable amounts of a few games and have faced Bates, so coincidentally they rank eighth in rushing yards allowed per game. Nevertheless, I think that Williams is better against the pass than the run, which is good when matching up with Hamilton, who hasn’t been able to get a sputtering running attack going whatsoever. LaShawn Ware ’18, a talented runner who showed some potential a season ago, is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, and subsequently Jason “Bane” Nastovski, previously cast as a fullback, led the squad with 12 carries last week to Ware’s nine. Combined, the pair had just 62 yards rushing on 21 carries. Clearly, a lot of pressure will be placed on Freeman and his receivers, particularly Charles Ensley ’17, a dynamic playmaker who just needs to get the ball in his hands, and the reliable Pat Donahoe ’16.
So do the Conts finally get the monkey off their back this week, or do the Ephs get mad and pull out a victory? I’m expecting an ugly game, with, as usual, a turnover being the difference. That Williams is at home I think benefits them, and Hamilton has been much worse on the road, losing 29-4 at Trinity and 30-20 at Bowdoin. Williams gets its third win of the season.
I’m eager for the final three weeks of the season where a lot of teams will bounce around the rankings. There was not too much movement this week due to predictable outcomes to Saturday’s games. Just Amherst and Trinity remain undefeated, though any of the top five teams could be crowned or co-crowned NESCAC champions. This week is particularly interesting with the two undefeated big dogs traveling to take on the league’s 2nd tier as Middlebury hosts Trinity and Tufts hosts Amherst. A win from the Panthers and Jumbos would create a four-way tie for 1st place going into the last two games of the season.
1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (5-0; Last Week: 1)
The Lord Jeffs looked shaky against Wesleyan. Reece Foy ’18 was not on his A-game in the first half as he threw three interceptions on the first four drives. He picked it up after that point and lead Amherst to a come-from-behind win. On Foy’s nine completions he passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns. A lapse in the Amherst running game this week should be credited to Wesleyan as they possessed the ball for the greater portion of the game (38:46). Amherst will take on Tufts this weekend in a prelude to the awaited Trinity game. The Jumbos pose a serious threat as they nearly knocked off undefeated Trinity last week in their first loss of the season. Foy will likely pass for a ton of yards Saturday because the Jumbos contain the running game well.
2. Trinity Bantams (5-0; Last Week: 2)
Despite allowing a last second touchdown pass to put Bowdoin on the board, the Bantams looked up to speed this week. The Bowdoin game should be seen as a tune-up, though. Trinity will take their talents to Middlebury, Vermont this Saturday to face the first of three teams eyeing a NESCAC championship ring. Trinity can control this game on the ground especially with RB Max Chipouras ’19 coming off of a three touchdown game Saturday. Trinity needs to limit their penalties this week, and the secondary needs to stay strong because the Panthers will continue to throw the ball.
3. Middlebury Panthers (4-1; Last Week: 3)
Coming off a win against Bates, the Panthers have solidified their spot on the totem pole. Matt Milano ’16 accumulated five touchdowns and 3 picks on 405 passing yards, completing 31 of 53 passes at Bates. However, Diego Meritus ’19 only averaged 2.2 yards on 16 carries. The Panther defense held Bates to 3.3 yards per carry while letting up 204 yards, nine first downs, and one touchdown on Bates’ 61 rushing attempts. Middlebury needs to be ever better in defending the run if they want to stick it to the Bantams for the third straight year.
4. Tufts Jumbos (4-1; Last Week: 5)
The Jumbos looked good shutting down the Williams running game. Chance Brady ’17 played a huge role, running in two touchdowns on 27 carries. Alex Snyder ’17 threw the ball well despite a pick on the third play of the game. Tufts proved they could play with the top-tier teams when they took on Trinity, and now they are looking to show they can beat the elite in Amherst this Saturday. A win puts them in great position to bring a ring back to the city of champions. They finish the season off against Middlebury, which could end up being a championship game – crazy, considering that that game has been a cake walk for the Panthers the past few seasons.
5. Wesleyan Cardinals (3-2; Last Week: 4)
At this point, the Wesleyan Cardinals may find themselves depending too much on the results of other teams for a chance at a NESCAC title. Despite losing to Amherst this week, Wesleyan looked strong ousting Amherst in total offense. Gernald Hawkins ’18 caught a touchdown pass from Devon Carrillo ’16, but he was unable to get enough going behind center to upset the Lord Jeffs. They held Amherst to just 320 offensive yards, but the yards they did get were lethal. Wesleyan should slide by Bowdoin with ease this week.
6. Williams Ephs (2-3; Last Week: 6)
Williams’ running game was weaker than usual only compiling 35 yards against Tufts. Austin Lommen ’16 threw the ball 53 times, passing for 363 yards and two touchdowns on 33 completions. Darrias Sime ’16 and Mark Pomella ’16 served as receiving targets for Lommen all game, as they both picked up a touchdown and 100-plus yards. The Ephs played from behind the whole game and never really had a chance of winning. Williams takes on Hamilton this week and they are hoping to expunge their losing record.
7. Bates Bobcats (0-5; Last Week: 7)
While their Week 3 loss to Williams left them bitter, Bates has put up a fight the past two weeks against Wesleyan and Middlebury. Look for Bates to push themselves through to the top of the bottom half of the NESCAC in the coming weeks. Bates gets the easier part of its schedule down the stretch, and has a chance to win out and take home the CBB crown. The Bobcats competed well with Middlebury, holding them to 68 rushing yards and possessing the ball for 38 minutes. With Shaun Carroll ’16 out with an injury, the Bobcats need to find a new lead back. That could turn out to be Mickoy Nichol ’18, who ran well last week but only tallied three carries, or Sean Peterson ’18, who returned to the backfield this week and took 14 handoffs, but only racked up 14 yards.
8. Bowdoin Polar Pears (1-4; Last Week: 8)
The Polar Bears struggled against Trinity, only scoring in the dying embers of the game which cut the deficit to 28-7. They only had 220 total offensive yards. Bowdoin shouldn’t argue with being left in the eight spot this week considering their display against the Bantams. Their season can be salvaged starting with a win against Wesleyan this week, then taking down Bates and Colby.
9. Colby Mules (1-4; Last week: 9)
Colby left Hamilton to dust with Bates as the two winless teams by defeating the Continentals this week. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 had consistent runs the whole game. Colby takes on Bates this week, and plans to keep them winless. Gabe Harrington ’17, who threw his first touchdown pass Saturday, will need to play well in order to keep the Bobcats on their heels. This is going to be a tough game for Colby.
10. Hamilton Continentals (0-5; Last week: 10)
“Losing is a disease … as contagious as polio,” at least that’s what the Doc from The Natural theorized. We all hope the Continentals losing plague ends soon. Cole Freeman ’18 came up short Saturday against the Mules. He passed 42 times, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns while completing just 40.5 percent of his passes. That will not do the job against Williams, Middlebury, or Bates in the final three games. It was just his second game as the primary QB, but he needs to sharpen up if the Conts want to snatch a win.
Our season long vanity project rolls on into week three with ever improving results. Emerging studs like Jack Hickey ’19 are rapidly getting snagged off of the waiver wire, but there is still plenty of talent to be mined going forward. Let’s look at the results.
Matchup 1: Joe over Adam 114-112
Feeling like George Bush after the 2000 election because of how close this one was. Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 and Chance Brady ’17 basically cancelled each other it with their big days. So Devon Carrillo ’16, who I have long had a definite soft spot for, made the difference because of his receiving ability this week. Adam should be most upset about Shaun Carroll ’16 not getting any points because he is usually good for at least a couple running the ball. More than anything, our high scores tell me that week by week we are getting a handle on the NESCAC fantasy landscape.
Matchup 2: Nick over Carson 86-70
With each passing week, newcomer Nick DiBenedetto is looking smarter and smarter. His win this week moves him to 3-0, and he did so in part because of strong production from the Bowdoin duo of QB Tim Drakeley ’17 and receiver Dan Barone ’16. The key for him is that every guy is getting a little bit of production, allowing him to win close matchups. For Carson, his first pick LaDarius Drew ’15 is not healthy and didn’t play this weekend. Priority number one for him is finding a second quarterback since Jake Lebowitz ’18 is not seeing the field enough. Carson will likely also try to get Trinity running back Max Chipouras ’19 off of waivers in order to get his first win.
Amherst and Middlebury is the main attraction this weekend, and Joe broke that down in detail yesterday, but the other four games still offer plenty to chew on. Trinity and Wesleyan are heavy home favorites against Hamilton and Colby respectively, but those games are still important measuring sticks. Bowdoin has beaten Tufts five straight times, and it would certainly behoove the Polar Bears to extend that streak to six in order to get their first win of the year. Bates and Williams meet in Western Massachusetts as both teams are in need of a win.
Four to Watch
1. Defensive End Zach Thomas ’18 (Tufts):
Last year Thomas saw the field mostly as a kicker filling in for the injured Willie Holmquist ’16, and he has played great through two games at DE after playing there sparingly in 2014. He had 2.5 sacks against Bates, two of which came on third down to end Bates’ drives. Bowdoin allowed six sacks last week (admittedly Amherst is a different animal than most), and Thomas will get plenty of chances to rush the QB if Tufts gets up early. Along with Shane Thomas ’17 (no relation), the sophomore is part of a young group who are emerging for Tufts as difference makers, something that the Jumbos have lacked for a long time.
2. Wide Receiver Colin Brown ’16 (Williams):
Brown and fellow wide out Darrias Sime ’16 probably spent much of the week drooling at the tape of Jack Cooleen ’16 ripping up the Bates secondary. Brown is 6’5″, but he was shut down last week against Trinity. A year ago he had by far his best game of the season against Bates hauling in eight catches for 96 yards. The young Bates secondary has to figure some way of forcing Brown and Sime to be physical, not just when the ball is in the air but also at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, that lies outside of how Bates usually plays, meaning that Brown should get a lot of clean breaks off of the line. Once he gets moving, he is much more difficult to stop.
3. Running Back Nick Gaynor ’17 (Trinity):
Hats off to Gaynor who has transitioned to running back almost as smoothly as one could hope. Given the long history of Trinity backs, nobody expected the Bantams to have to turn to a wide receiver. He has answered the call averaging 4.5 yards per carry so far. He still retains some of his receiver instincts to cut outside and only try to run through arm tackles, but that is also playing to his strengths as a shifty runner. The one concern for Gaynor is his three fumbles so far. Those are the only turnovers that Trinity has had all year. Freshman Max Chipouras ’19 could take carries away from Gaynor as the year goes along, but for now Gaynor is the signature back for the Bantams.
4. Defensive Lineman Tyler Hudson ’19 (Hamilton):
The Continental defense has looked much better in 2015, and Hudson has been a stud for them already as a freshman. He was everywhere against Tufts with 4.5 TFLs, and he proved that it wasn’t a fluke against Wesleyan with a sack and pass batted down. His 5.5 TFL are the most in the league. Hudson is from Whitesboro, New York which is a 15-minute drive away from Hamilton. Coach Dave Murray is a longtime coach and recruiter in Central New York, and Hudson is exactly the type of football player that Murray is trying to convince to stay close to home. Already……….
Bowdoin (0-2) at Tufts (2-0): Medford, Massachusetts, 1:00 PM
These two met last year with the same records, and the result was Bowdoin’s first win of the year. The Jumbos have found a way to take that magic oil that helped them win all four home games on the road the first two weeks, eeking out an overtime win and a one-point win. They are still not a great football team, but they are coming close to good and that’s enough to beat the lower half of the league. Chance Brady ’17 might not play because of a concussion, but Dom Borelli ’19 has looked good as the backup running back so far.
Bowdoin has looked pretty listless in their first two games. QB Tim Drakeley ’17 has thrown the ball well, but the Polar Bears have been forced to get away from running the ball with Tyler Grant ’17 because they have fallen behind so quickly. The defense, especially that secondary, has to play better as a unit. Until Bowdoin wins a game, you have to pick against them.
Prediction: Tufts over Bowdoin 19-13
Hamilton (0-2) at Trinity (2-0): Hartford, Connecticut. 1:00 PM
The easy opening schedule for Trinity continues, though the Bantams beat Hamilton by just 12 points last year. That game was at Hamilton, and the Bantams don’t have to worry about a long bus ride this year. Sonny Puzzo ’18 is playing great, attacking the defense downfield and not making any mistakes.
Hamilton is going to struggle unless Trinity suddenly catches the turnover bug. They don’t have the athletes to match up with Trinity in the open field, and they can’t sell out against the run like they did against Wesleyan. Charles Ensley ’17 and Pat Donahoe ’16 are underrated receivers, but even they will have trouble against the Trinity secondary. The scoreless streak ends, but the Bantams still cruise.
Prediction: Trinity over Hamilton 28-6
Bates (0-2) at Williams (1-1): Williamstown, Massachusetts. 1:00 PM
On the surface this is the same Williams team we saw last year: an easy win over Bowdoin before a shutout loss to Trinity. However, I think the Ephs have more going for them this year. Much of that rests on the shoulders of Austin Lommen ’16, and despite subpar statistics from him last week, I think he bounces back against Bates. Mark Pomella ’16 is there as a change of pace quarterback, but the Ephs will win or lose because of Lommen. The running game has not improved much, and the Ephs can be made one-dimensional. That might not be a terrible thing against Bates.
Williams’ biggest worry is that their young defense wilts against the triple option, though the Bobcats haven’t been very successful moving the ball so far this year. Shaun Carroll’s ’16 statistics are inflated by one 80-yard run, and the Bobcats have not sustained enough drives. After their tough loss last week, this game is a test of the Bobcats leadership and resilience. Bottom line for me is I see the Williams offense capitalizing at points a week after Trinity gave them chances to make plays and the Ephs failed every time.
Prediction: Williams 27 – Bates 20
Colby (0-2) at Wesleyan (1-1): Middletown, Connecticut. 1:00 PM
Colby has struggled to run the ball and is going up against a Wesleyan team that suffocates teams when they run. Gabe Harrington ’17 might throw the ball 30 times in this game, and he needs receivers like Ryder Arsenault ’17 to get open much more consistently than they have. Last week against Middlebury the only success that Colby had in the passing game was a few go-up-and-get-’ems from young wideout Mark Snyder ’18.
If Wesleyan’s talent is going to coalesce into a very good football team, this is the week for them to do it. A big victory would give the team a huge boost in confidence. Justin Sanchez ’17 has been relatively quiet, and tomorrow would be a great time for him to intercept Harrington once or twice. The front seven has already proven that it is up to snuff with Shayne Kaminski ’18 and Jordan Stone ’17 helping to lead the way. The Mules don’t have the horses (bad pun intended) to hang for four quarters.
As Trinity blew past Colby in the season’s opener in Maine, it became apparent that the loss of running back Joe Moreno ’19 to an ACL tear may not plague the Bantams as much as previously thought. While QB Sonny Puzzo ’18 piled up 278 passing yards, the Bantams also accumulated 161 rushing yards, which gives credit to their depth at running back. Trinity’s defense emerged as a menace shutting out Colby and limiting them to a total of 159 yards while making three sacks and three interceptions. The hype is up – the Bantams are the real deal.
2. Amherst (1-0; Last week: 2)
Amherst had a strong first week accumulating, the most points in the NESCAC. The defense had a hiccup allowing Bates to rush for two touchdowns, one which came on Bates’ first play, an 80-yard run by slotback Shaun Carrol ’16. Their offense looked very balanced, splitting their 556 net yards between rushing and passing. Reece Foy ’18 has a lot of receiving options, and they will continue to mix it up with an array of running backs.
3. Middlebury (1-0; Last week: 1)
The Panthers had a nail-biter last week. Wesleyan could have easily stolen the number three spot in these ranks with a win, but Middlebury got the job done like we all expected. Quarterback Matt Milano ’16 threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Middlebury was on their heels all game and averaged a half yard on 22 carries. The Panthers were lucky to come away with a win last week.
4. Wesleyan (0-1; Last week: 4)
Despite losing in Week 1, the Cardinals showed some real promise taking a good Middlebury team to the finish. Despite Gernald Hawkins ’18 throwing two interceptions, he showed flashes of excellence, and if he is able to tune up his passing game, this team could go the distance and win a NESCAC championship. The Wesleyan defense completely shut down the Middlebury running game, but the Cardinals walked away from last week’s game very disappointed.
5. Williams (1-0; Last week: 8)
A good Williams team moves up to the fifth spot this week after a convincing win over Bowdoin. They were able to control the game rushing for 150 yards and holding the ball for 38 of 60 minutes. However, the Ephs manhandled Bowdoin last year in the season-opener, too, and went on to finish 2-6. Williams will be put to the test Saturday as they travel to Hartford to take on the Bantams.
6. Bates (0-1; Last week: 7)
Bates lost to a great team in Amherst, and despite allowing 37 points, they were able to put up 316 total yards on offense and two touchdowns. Still, besides Carroll’s 80-yard touchdown run, he picked up an average of 2.25 yards per carry. Bates will take on Tufts this week, who escaped an overtime win against Hamilton.
7. Tufts (1-0; Last week: 5)
Tufts mixed up the pass and run game to edge out the Continentals by three points in overtime. Chance Brady ’18 racked up 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns, so look for him to help lead the Jumbos to more wins this season.
8. Hamilton (0-1); Last week: 10)
Hamilton put up a great fight against Tufts and showed great passion. Despite being down 21-0 at the half and losing their starting QB to an ankle injury, they were able to force the game into overtime. I am not sure Hamilton will break the losing streak this season, but you must give credit where credit is due, and the Continentals don’t deserve the 10 spot this week.
9. Colby (0-1; Last week: 6)
Colby did not look good in Week 1 – the only team unable to get on the scoreboard. Part of the equation, too, is that Colby ran into an inspired Trinity team on Saturday. The Mules’ Gabe Harrington ’17 was unable to get it done behind center, and wide receiver Ryder Arsenault ’17 needs to make more of an impact at wide receiver.
10. Bowdoin (0-1; Last week: 9)
Last in the ‘CAC is a tough pill to swallow, but it is no surprise as Bowdoin is in a rebuilding season. On the upside, Tim Drakeley ’17 did pass for 248 yards, so there is some hope with his arm if he can sharpen his completion percentage (53.8 percent).
Game Info: Saturday, Oct. 3, 1:30 PM at Garcelon Field in Lewiston, Maine
As two 4-4 teams last season, both Bates and Tufts head into this season fighting for the last spot among the league’s upper half. While the top four teams seem to be heads above the rest, Bates and Tufts – along with Williams, who looked strong last week against Bowdoin – offer the best chance out of the rest of the NESCAC to close the ever-widening gap between the 4th and 5th place teams.
The focus for the Bobcats this season has to be on improving their passing game from last season, in which they ranked 10th in yards per game (124.0) and total yards (992). With the graduation of QB Matt Cannone ’15, who threw nine interceptions on the year, Patrick Dugan ’16 takes the reins under center. Seeing as the passing attack of the Bobcats is still trying to figure out their identity, much of the offensive production is still in the hands of slotback Shaun Carroll ’16, who ran for 107 yards in last week’s game versus Amherst.
The Tufts locker room could not be feeling better about where they are, coming off a season that ended their long losing streak, and already starting 2015 with a win under their belt (24-21 in OT vs Hamilton). RB Chance Brady ’17 rushed out of the gates this season, providing his team with 117 yards and two touchdowns on the day, which was by far his best game since becoming a Jumbo. Alex Snyder ’17 did just enough in last week’s win, not turning the ball over once, and throwing for a modest but respectable 188 yards (8.2 yards per completion).
The Jumbos, down 13-17 at halftime, went on to score 29 points in the second half, making what seemed like a close game a 42-24 trouncing. While Tufts QB Jack Doll ’15 torched the Bates secondary, throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns, the real story of the Jumbos’ offensive outburst lay in the special teams play of Zack Trause ’15. In what seemed to be a close 24-23 game late in the third quarter, Trause broke it open with an 82-yard kickoff return, and then a 49-yard punt return, both for touchdowns, making it a 35-24 Tufts lead with 14:02 left in the game. While the Bobcats had plenty of time to carve into this 11-point lead, Doll put an exclamation point on the game with a three-yard touchdown pass to Jack Cooleen ’16.
Not to take away any credit from the Tufts’ return game, which proved to us that special teams is in fact 1/3 of football, the 42-24 score did not completely tell the whole story. Bates did have a lead with little time left in the third quarter, and had sufficient time to build on that lead had their special teams defense held strong. Seeing as both teams ended the year 4-4, it’s obvious that this game held a lot of weight in determining which team rounded out the upper half of the NESCAC, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down to a head-to-head tiebreak again this season.
Tufts X-factor: Wide Receiver Mike Rando ’17
The strong rushing attack of Brady and the Tufts Jumbos is no longer a surprise, so expect the Bobcats defense to limit Brady’s ability to get into the second level of defense by loading the box on Saturday. What Bates will really want to test is the passing attack of Alex Snyder. Who does Tufts have for Snyder to throw to? Junior receiver Mike Rando seems to be a hot pick for a game-changer in this game. While six receptions for 53 yards isn’t the most efficient performance, we know that Snyder will be looking to throw to a receiver he’s comfortable with. In addition, Rando could prove to be a threat in the return game, because, as the Bobcats know all too well, Tufts returners can provide a spark late in the game.
Bates X-factor: Quarterback Patrick Dugan ’16
It’s not often that a quarterback is chosen to be an x-factor, but in this case I think the play of Dugan will dictate how this game ends up for the Bobcats. In his first collegiate start this past week against Amherst, Dugan proved that he could stay composed and not turn the ball over, even against the formidable secondary of the Lord Jeffs, who led the league in INTs last season (17). While 117 yards isn’t a lot, Dugan completed 11 of his 16 passing attempts, averaging 7.3 yards per completion. After holding his own against the best defense in the league, I expect Dugan’s confidence will be on display this Saturday starting for the hometown crowd for the first time.
Prediction: Bates 24 – Tufts 17
If there’s one thing that Bates players have not forgotten from last season, it’s their loss to Tufts last year. The last thing the Bobcats want to see is Tufts marching into Lewiston and walking out sitting pretty at 2-0. For those of you who think human emotion doesn’t actually make a team play better, and that revenge is not a thing; 1.) you must have never heard of the Patriots and 2.) Statistics play into the Bobcats’ favor this weekend. Take a look:
Last year Tufts was ranked last in the league in passing yards allowed with 225.1 per game. Facing a quarterback who just saw the best secondary in the NESCAC, it’s possible that Dugan will throw a few more passes than usual and it could be a big day for Riley at wideout. Another key stat to look at from last year is that Bates was ranked third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (102.6). With Chance Brady being Tufts’ best offensive weapon, Alex Snyder and his young receiving core will be expected to carry a bigger load. That being said, last year was last year, and the teams are not the same. Snyder played well in last week’s game against Hamilton, and Brady will certainly not look at a third-ranked rushing defense as an immovable object. All things considered, I believe the stars are in line for a Bobcats win this weekend.
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.
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.
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: 3–5
Projected Offensive Starters (*Seven Returning)
QB: Patrick Dugan ’16 FB: Ivan Reese ’17* Slot Back: Shaun Carroll ’16* Slot Back: Frank Williams ’18* WR: Mark Riley ’16* WR: Mike Decina ’16 LT: Mitch Hildreth ’17* LG: Will Barstow ’17 C: Lyle Seebeck ’16* RG: Jimmy Fagan ’17* RT: Competition Still Open
Projected Defensive Starters (*Four Returning)
DE: Tucker Oniskey ’16* DT: Collin Richardson ’18 DE: Sean Antonuccio ’17 DS: Ben Coulibaly ’17* OLB: Sam Francis ’17 MLB: Mark Upton ’17* OLB: Max Breschi ’18 DS: Andrew Jenkelunas ’18 CB: Brandon Williams ’17 FS: Trevor Lyons ’17 CB: Chris Madden ’16
Offensive MVP: Wide Receiver Mark Riley ’16
We already talked about Riley and how good he is last week in our look at the Preseason Race for NESCAC Player of the Year. So let’s use this space to talk about the guy throwing to him, Quarterback Patrick Dugan ’16. The senior has had his career interrupted by injuries in his sophomore year when he began the season as the starter. He then played in a few games last season filling in for injured starter Matt Cannone ’15. In both of those short spurts he struggled with his completion percentage and also showed a tendency to hold the ball for too long. Dugan, like most Bates quarterbacks, is an athlete first and a quarterback second, and he will run the ball a fair amount this year. He lacks the size of Cannone, but he is a tad faster and shiftier making the possibility of him busting a long run because of a missed assignment more likely. He is a better passer than he has shown in limited time, but confidence is key for him.
Defensive MVP: Mark Upton ’16
Another one we already covered in the NESCAC Player of the Year portion, so down safety Ben Coulibaly ’17 gets this section. Down safety is the name for the two players who play multiple roles in Bates’ 3-3-5 defense outside of the linebackers. Coulibaly has played a lot of football in his first two seasons in Lewiston. His talent is too good to keep off the field, and he has even returned kicks for Bates because of his athleticism. Injuries and older players like Gilbert Brown ’15 limited his time and he had just 24 tackles a year ago, but the coaching staff is high on him blossoming. Coulibaly is most comfortable coming up to the line of the scrimmage and making plays there. He will get more chances to come off the edge and pressure the quarterback also. Bates has had a habit of seeing part-time players quickly become stars, and he could be the latest in that group.
Biggest Surprise in Camp: Coach Mark Harriman didn’t refer to a specific player on the defensive side that had impressed, but he said he was happy with how the unit has been playing together thus far. A good deal of the new starters played bit roles last year, but they have been in the Bates defensive system for long enough to understand all of the schemes. Some players like FS Trevor Lyons ’17 and DS Andrew Jenkelunas ’18 have had to move positions and will need a little longer to adjust. Also not included on those listed starters are some promising freshman like 280-pound defensive tackle Connor DeSantis ’19 who could have a big impact early.
Biggest Game: October 3 against Tufts: 1:30 PM in Lewiston, Maine
After opening up home against Amherst, Bates gets a second consecutive home game against Tufts. Last year the Bobcats saw a brief second half lead disappear in a wave of Zach Trause ’15 touchdown returns for Tufts. The Jumbo defense had all the answers for the triple option, holding Bates to 98 yards rushing on 39 carries. This was early in the season when the new slotbacks were still adjusting to their roles. Some of the loss from 2014 can also be attributed to the magic dust Tufts had when they played at home. A win for Bates in this game would set them up well as they enter the middle of their schedule. A loss would mean that they start the season 0-2 at home (assuming a loss to Amherst – which is far from a guarantee), and four of their final six games are on the road.
Best Tweet: If there is one problem with this website, it’s the lack of adorable baby pictures.
Summary:The Class of 2015 was one of the most resilient and successful in Bates history. They had to go through the loss of two teammates, Troy Pappas and John Durkin in consecutive years. Over their four years they became a very close-knit group and created a bond that extended well beyond the football field. Replacing that class is not an easy task, and the gains that the Bates coaching staff has worked so hard to achieve could easily slip away. I don’t think that will happen, but this season appears to be a transitional one.
Having Riley and Upton is a great foundation to build upon. Also helpful for the quarterback Dugan is that the top four rushers are all back. Shaun Carroll ’16 and Frank Williams ’18 both ended the year strong as the top slotbacks running on the edges. They are similar players: short, quick and also capable of catching passes. Their presence makes less important for another receiver to emerge across from Riley, a role still up in the air. A major problem last year was the inability to run between the tackles on first down or in short yardage situations. Fullback Ivan Reese ’17 is back, a year after he was disappointing with only 2.7 yards per carry. The offensive line, which has long been a strength for Bates, has three starters returning. The final two spots are still unclear, and Coach Mark Harriman will use a couple of different players there to start the season.
The defense is where this team really has questions. Only three full-time starters from a year ago remain, but Harriman likes the talent and experience that is back. Tucker Oniskey ’16 had two sacks last year at defensive end, and he will play an even bigger role this year. Sean Antonuccio ’17 is the other end and will have to prove that he can be an every down player.
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.
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.
Football Sr Greg Lanzillo’s 3 TD receptions today tied the Tufts single-game record. He’s the 4th to do it and 1st since David Halas in 2008
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.
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?
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.