Put It Over the Fireplace: The Postseason Awards Blog

Darrien Myers and Trinity ran away with the title this weekend in Hartford (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Darrien Myers and Trinity ran away with the title this weekend in Hartford (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

First of all, congratulations to Trinity on an amazing season. In a league that featured four real threats to win the NESCAC title this year, Trinity was dominant from start to finish. The Bantams had the most consistency of any team, and it was this consistency that brought the championship trophy back to Hartford. This marks Trinity’s 7th 8-0 season in the current format, with Amherst and Williams being the only two other schools to put together perfect seasons. Congrats Trinity on another phenomenal season. We’ll discuss your accomplishments in greater depth tomorrow, but for now, let’s get to the awards.

The actual awards will be coming out presently, so these are less of a blog necessity and more of an excuse for Rory and I to talk about NESCAC football all day on a Sunday instead of doing homework. The main evidence that we used to make our decisions was statistics, as our biggest weakness as bloggers is our inability to watch every game at once. However, we also tried to spread the wealth fairly evenly throughout the league. There is of course a natural bias towards more successful teams (better teams tend to have better players), but we looked to get every school represented. The toughest call was probably QB, as Middlebury’s high volume passing attack led to Jared Lebowitz having by far the highest numbers. But we couldn’t overlook Puzzo’s consistency and performances in big games.  As always, any complaints can be directed to our “Suggestion Box.”

Image result for recycling bin
We recycle our suggestions here at Nothing But NESCAC.

First Team Offense:

QB: Sonny Puzzo (Trinity)

(16 TD, 4 INT, 186.5 YD/G, 60.1)

RB: Chance Brady (Tufts)

(17 TD, 1099 YD, 137.5 YD/G, 5.4 Y/A, 0 fumbles lost)

RB: Max Chipouras (Trinity)

(7 TD, 910 YD, 113 YD/G, 5.8 Y/A)

WR: Conrado Banky (Middlebury)

(925 YDS, 115.6 YDS/G, 12 TD)

WR: Darrien Myers (Trinity)

(485 YD, 69.8 YD, 8 TD)

WR: Bo Berluti (Amherst)

(498 YD, 62.3 YD/G, 8 TD)

WR: Devon Carrillo (Wesleyan)

(349 YD, 49.3 YD/G, 13 TD *twelve rushing*)

TE: Bryan Porter (Bowdoin)

(310 YD, 14.1 Y/C, 2 TD)

OL: Chris Simmons (Trinity)

OL: Joe Wilson (Wesleyan)

OL: Beau Butler (Wesleyan)

OL: Joe Farrah (Trinity)

OL: Gian Calise (Tufts)

First Team Specialists

PK: Eric Sachse (Trinity)

(13-13 FG, 38-38 XP)

P: Justin Foley (Bates)

(81 P, 37.9 Y/P, 20 IN20)

RET: Darrien Myers (Trinity)

(9 KR, 22.7 Y/KR, 1 TD, 17 PR, 14.6 Y/PR)

First Team Defense

DL: Tyler Harrington (Bates)

(34 TKL, 6.5 SCK, 9 TFL)

DL: Micah Adickes (Tufts)

(32 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 5.5 TFL)

DL: Robert Wood (Middlebury)

(28 TKL, 5 SCK, 9.5 TFL)

DL: Patrick Fabrizio (Bowdoin)

(19 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 7.5 TFL)

DL: Jordan Stone (Wesleyan)

(26 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 7 TFL)

DL: Niyi Odewade (Amherst)

(32 TKL, 4.5 SCK, 9.5)

LB: Mark Upton (Bates)

(87 TKL, 7 SCK, 14 TFL, 1 INT)

LB: Greg Holt (Tufts)

(98 TKL, .5 SCK, 6 TFL)

LB: Parker Chapman (Amherst)

(66 TKL, 2 SCK, 2 FF, 1 INT)

LB: John Jackson (Middlebury)

(61 TKL, 7.5 SCK, 11.5 TFL, 2 FF, 1 INT)

DB: Spencer Donahue (Trinity)

(46 TKL, 3 SCK, 3 FF, 2 INT, 5 Break-ups)

DB: Tim Preston (Tufts)

(28 TKL, 5 INT, 6 Break-ups)

DB: Ian Dickey (Colby)

(52 TKL, 1 FF, 3 INT)

DB: Kevin Hopsicker (Middlebury)

(37 TKL, 1 TFL, 2 INT)

DB: Nate Taylor (Wesleyan)

(19 TKL, 1 TFL, 3 INT)

DB: Joe Frake (Bates)

(43 TKL, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT)

Offensive POY: Running Back Chance Brady ‘17  (Tufts)

Chance Brady
Chance Brady ’17 (Courtesy Tufts Athletics)

If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of picking Brady for this award, just ask any of the corpses he left strewn all over Middlebury’s field on Saturday. Middlebury and Tufts’ matchup had tremendous championship implications, but it also effectively decided the Offensive POY race. Brady and Jared Lebowitz were the two front runners heading into the game. Lebowitz struggled in the first half before mounting an impressive comeback in the second, and Brady absolutely buried the Panthers throughout afternoon. He had five total touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving), including three in the decisive second quarter that saw Tufts take a 34-7 lead into halftime. Brady eviscerated the entire league this season, and his work put him in the NESCAC history books – on Saturday, Brady set the record of most rushing touchdowns in a single season with 17. What a stud.

Defensive POY: Defensive Back Spencer Donahue ‘17 (Trinity)

Spencer Donahue
Spencer Donahue ’17 (Courtesy Trinity Athletics)

It is the mark of a truly great defensive back when they can have an impact on the activity in the backfield as well as in coverage, effectively putting their finger on the pulse of the game in all areas on the field. At times this season it seemed like there were three or four Spencer Donahues running around all over the field; that’s how dominant he was from the safety position. He was particularly effective at getting into the backfield, recording three sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Donahue wraps up a tremendous career with an 8-0 season, and we think he should take home some personal hardware as well.

Rookie of the Year: Greg Holt ‘20 (Tufts)

Greg Holt
Greg Holt ’20 (Courtesy Tufts Athletics)

As one great defensive player leaves in Donahue, another one rises up in Greg Holt. Holt led the entire league in tackles with 98, and was the centerpiece of a defense that helped the Jumbos surprise many in the league and finish at 7-1. Early in the season Holt didn’t really get into the backfield, recording no sacks or forced fumbles in the first four games of the season despite 14 and 20 tackles in his first two college games. However, something clicked in the second half of the year, and Holt tallied .5 sacks and six tackles for loss over the final four games. Holt gives the Jumbos a player to build a defensive dynasty around.

Image result for steve holt
There is no relation between Greg Holt and Steve Holt…that we know of.

Coach of the Year: Jeff Devanney (Trinity)

Not a very tough call here. If your team finishes 8-0 with an average margin of victory of over 24 points, your status as coach of the year is pretty hard to argue. Trinity was the best team wire to wire this season (even though it took a couple weeks for the geniuses over at NbN to put them at #1 in the power rankings), and look poised to continue their run next year.

An Update to the Defensive Player of the Year Race

Last week I gave an update on the Offensive Player of the Year Race, and now heading into our final week of NESCAC football I’m here to provide you with the final defensive player of the year update. Clearly, Rory knows little about defense as he only predicted one member of this list back in September. Rory’s stupidity, however, is beside the point. Many newcomers have emerged in 2016, and without further adieu here is the final version of the NESCAC football Defensive POY race.

Safety/Outside Linebacker Spencer Donahue ’17, Trinity

Spencer Donahue '17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Spencer Donahue ’17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Trinity has dominated the NESCAC the entire season and a big part of this is due to their defense. Anchoring this defense is senior co-captain Spencer Donahue. In 7 games this season Donahue has logged 37 tackles (leading Trinity), 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries (2 for touchdowns), and 2 interceptions. Donahue has a knack for finding the football, and his ability to force turnovers has won games for the Bantams. Don’t be surprised if you see Donahue with the football in his possession in his final collegiate game, week 8 against Wesleyan. He already has already 3 (!!!) NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week nods this fall after all. Donahue is the frontrunner at this point.

Linebacker Greg Holt ’20, Tufts

Greg Holt '20 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
Greg Holt ’20 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

Watch the Tufts defense for one drive and you are likely to see number 54, Greg Holt in on pretty much every play. Only a freshman, Holt is tied for first in the NESCAC with 89 tackles. After graduating two valuable linebackers in 2015, the position was a big question mark heading into 2016 and Holt has filled that void for the 6-1 Jumbos. Though he may be at a disadvantage as a freshman in contention for the Defensive POY award, he will surely be terrorizing the dreams of NESCAC offensive coordinators for the next three years.

Linebacker Mark Upton ’17, Bates

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

An All-New England and First Team All-NESCAC selection in 2015, it is to no surprise that Mark Upton is back on this list. Upton has had a stellar career at Bates, but his senior campaign looks as though it is will be his most impressive. The stud linebacker has 78 tackles (12 TFL), 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 interception. In a 12-7 week 2 loss to Tufts, Upton totaled 17 tackles, 4 of which were behind the line of scrimmage. He will leave Bates as one of its best defensive players, totaling 263+ tackles in his four-year career, a pretty impressive feat. If Bates had a better record, it would definitely help Upton’s odds to win the Defensive POY, but by no means is he out of the running.

Linebacker John Jackson ’18, Middlebury

John Jackson '18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
John Jackson ’18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)

Our third and final linebacker on the list is John Jackson. Starting his college football career as a running back, Jackson has come a long way, proving that he is one of the best linebackers in the NESCAC. In 2016, Jackson has compiled 47 tackles (9 TFL), and his 6 sacks leads the NESCAC. The junior has also forced 2 fumbles and tallied 1 interception. With a stellar week 8 performance against Tufts, Jackson could potentially jump ahead of fellow linebackers Holt and Upton to rival Donahue as the favorite for defensive POY. Stay tuned…

Cornerback Tim Preston ’19, Tufts

Tim Preston '17 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)
Tim Preston ’17 (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics)

In 2015 Preston surged  onto the scene, leading the NESCAC with 6 interceptions. Fast forward a year and Preston is once again atop the NESCAC in interceptions with 5. And after his 99 yard pick-6 versus Colby this past weekend, the Tufts Bookstore began selling Preston Island T-shirts at halftime. Darrelle Revis even cut me in line to buy one. Tufts will rely heavily on their secondary to minimize the passing threat of Lebowitz and Middlebury this weekend, and I expect Tim Preston to be a huge part of this. At some point, you’ve gotta wonder when NESCAC quarterbacks are going to shy away from Preston as they drop back to pass.

Everyone’s Watching the Scoreboard in Hartford: Week 7 Game of the Week

It's going to take a full-team effort for Amherst to take down the Bantams tomorrow (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
It’s going to take a full-team effort for Amherst to take down the Bantams tomorrow (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Amherst (3-3) at Trinity (6-0), 12:30 PM, Hartford, CT

This matchup doesn’t have quite as much on the line as last weekend, but the eyes of every team still in the running for the crown will be glancing towards this game’s scoreboard. So while this game carries tremendous implications for Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Middlebury, it’s like this is the NLCS series and the World Series happened last week. I’m not trying to discount Amherst, but there isn’t quite as much excitement here. Now, optimistically, could Amherst be like the Cubs and make an improbable comeback into the NESCAC race? Or could they play the role of spoiler and really spice up the race to the top as the season winds down? Well, we thought that last weekend could’ve been the quasi-championship game, but who knows what could happen if Amherst tops the favored Bantams. Amherst won’t win the NESCAC and comeback from a 3-1-esque deficit like Chicago, but they do certainly have a strong enough team and rush defense to give Trinity a good run for their money and mess with their plans of bringing the title back to Hartford. Let’s dive into it.

November 7th, 2015, Amherst Defeats Trinity 16-7 in Amherst, MA

Last year, Trinity scored first on a Max Chipouras ’19 touchdown but didn’t find the end zone again. Amherst successfully shut down Chipouras for most of the game and held him to just 3.4 yards per carry, not even close to his 2016 average of 6.1 yds/carry. In this defensively dominated game, Sonny Puzzo ’18 got picked off twice, however it is clear that he made great strides to improve his accuracy this year. His TD: INT ratio of 13:2 is worlds better than last year’s 5:8 tally, and he has been nearly perfect through 3/4 of this season. Wide receiver David Boehm ’17 is the only big contributor on offense from Amherst that remains since Reece Foy hasn’t played all year, and unfortunately for the Purple and White, both Alex Berluti ‘17 and Nick Morales ’19 are significant downgrades from the standout Foy. These teams are both different animals from last year, and this season there’s no question that Trinity is more of a beast. However, if Amherst can pull off the upset and stop Chipouras, then Middlebury, Tufts and Wesleyan may yet have hope.

Trinity X-Factor: RB Max Chipouras ‘19

#22 Max Chipouras '19 will be an integral part of Trinity's gameplay this weekend, per usual (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).
#22 Max Chipouras ’19 will be an integral part of Trinity’s gameplay this weekend, per usual (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics).

Chipouras usually would be left off one of my X-Factor lists just because he would be an obvious force and leader during the game. Now, this week is no different – he will be a force- but since each team has a shutdown defense, these teams likely won’t be scoring upwards of 40 points as Trinity usually does. Chipouras rushes for 124.3 yds/game at 6.1 yds/carry and over a TD per game (seven on the year). Without him, Trinity would probably still be 6-0 since the only game that they played that was remotely close was against Tufts, who scored a lot of garbage time points. With that being said, however, since Trinity’s ground game is their main offensive threat, if Amherst can shut down Chipouras and hold him to their average 63 rushing yards allowed per game, then things will get very interesting in Hartford. If Chipouras slows down this weekend, Puzzo will need to find more than his usual 194.7 yds/game. If Chipouras does find some running room, however, this game might not stay close for long.

Amherst X-Factor: QB Alex Berluti ‘19

Alex Berluti '17 hopes to lead Amherst to an upset victory on Saturday (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
Alex Berluti ’17 hopes to lead Amherst to an upset victory on Saturday (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

You might be expecting a couple linebackers here, since I just mentioned how important stopping the dominant Chipouras will be for Amherst, however, it’s pretty plain and simple: Trinity is going to beat Amherst if Chipouras runs all over them. The Amherst rush defense has been solid all year, so it will just come down to who is better: Trinity’s rushing attack or Amherst’s rush defense. Alex Berluti is another big question mark heading into the game for the visitors. A second stringer last year, Berluti finds himself in the lime light for a storied football program, heading to Connecticut to face the big bad wolf in the ‘Coop. Yikes. It’s safe to say Berluti isn’t living the Alex Moran lifestyle anymore, and hasn’t had a lot of luck come his way this year. He fared well against Hamilton, respectably against Bowdoin until he got injured, and returned in what was a mediocre performance last weekend in the loss to Tufts. He did complete 20 of 43 passes, but Berluti didn’t find the end zone at all, he threw two picks and he got sacked four times. Amherst is going to rely on Berluti tomorrow, and for him to take them from the henhouse to the promised land, a lot is going to have to improve from last weekend.

Everything Else

Amherst got absolutely dominated against Wesleyan two weeks ago, however, a change in QB left them a little closer to victory against Tufts. Wesleyan’s defense is statistically the best in the league, and they picked off Nick Morales ’19 five times, but Berluti didn’t fare much better last weekend. All in all, Amherst’s QBs have 0 TDs and 7 INTs in the past two weeks. Ouch. Trinity’s monster defense, including Spencer Donahue ’17 and Archi Jerome ’17, is not going to let the Purple and White walk all over them. The ‘Coop should be a madhouse this weekend as it’s senior day for the graduating Bantams and their undefeated record is on the line. The Amherst signal caller has a lot to be weary of and a great challenge ahead of him.

Regardless of opposing quarterback play, Trinity really seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. Their win against Middlebury last weekend was a nod to how much more dominant they are than any other team. Midd looked like they were primed to come into Hartford and knock the Bantams down, but what a cold world it is for Panther fans. Trinity didn’t bat an eye last weekend, and it wasn’t a fluke. Trinity was better from start to finish, and they never let up – maybe they learned to keep the pedal to the metal after Tufts’  late comeback attempt. Looking ahead, the real NESCAC championship could be next weekend between the Connecticut squads, but the Bantams have to take care of business first. Amherst was the favorite going into the year, but they have fallen mightily these past few weeks and are teetering into the second tier of teams in the league if they get blown out this weekend. The Purple and White have a tough road ahead of them and I have no reason to believe that this is the week for Amherst to turn it around. This game reminds me less of a 2016 Cubs vs. Indians world series and more of a Yankees vs. Padres world series circa 1998 (Yeah, I was one year old when that happened and am still salty about it). Is this game in Hartford or Titletown?

Welcome to the Thunderdome: Middlebury at Trinity, Your Week 6 Game of the Week

Middlebury looks to keep the wheels turning this weekend against Trinity, which will be no easy task (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).
Middlebury looks to keep the wheels turning this weekend against Trinity, which will be no easy task (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics).

Middlebury (5-0) at Trinity (5-0), 12:30 PM, Hartford, CT

On Saturday October 29th the Panthers will challenge the Bantams in their house. Who is scarier? Since it is Halloweekend after all, if we look strictly at the mascots, a Panther is much more intimidating than a little chicken, but it is the guys wearing the costumes this weekend that people should fear. These #1 and #2 squads on our power rankings face off in week six, and no matter what you think their respective order should be on that list, they are clearly alone at the top.  Midd has fared incredibly well so far this year, topping Amherst and handling their business against the lower tier NESCAC teams, but Trinity hasn’t scored less than 36 points this year. So the real question is, if each team showed up to your front door to trick-or-treat, who’s ‘Boo!’ would frighten you more?

 Last Time They Met and What’s On the Line: October 31st, 2015, Middlebury, VT. Trinity defeats Middlebury 26-14

Last year, Middlebury held on to a 14-13 halftime lead, but couldn’t muster any offense in the second half and ultimately let up two 4th quarter TD’s to lose.  However, the last one was on a drive with time running out to tie the game when QB Matt Milano ’16 threw a pick-6. It was a great matchup and is sure to be similar this year, although each team has improved greatly from where they were at last year. It’s a little bit too early to tell if this is going to be the quasi NESCAC championship game (another reason why NESCAC football should have playoffs), but this is going to be a top 3 game of the season. While Sid discussed earlier this week how it’s still possible for Wesleyan to win the crown of the conference, he just casually assumed Tufts would roll over Midd, which is bold to say the least. Barring an unthinkable, unpredictable, and unlikely ending to the year, either Trinity or Middlebury will win the NESCAC and this is going to be a huge game in deciding that future.

 Trinity X-Factor: DB Spencer Donahue ‘17

Spencer Donahue '17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)
Spencer Donahue ’17 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

This isn’t a bold prediction by any means, as Donahue leads the Bantams with two INT’s, 20 tackles, one forced fumble, two fumbles recovered, and one block. He’s good. He’s great. But can he stop WR Conrado Banky ’19? While he might not cover Banky, he will definitely need to play a big part in containing the speedy wide-out who leads the Panthers with 614 receiving yards and eight TDs. Jared Lebowitz ‘18 is a big time passing QB who has thrown 20 TDs this year, but five of them were to Ryan Rizzo ’17. What does this have to do with Donahue? Well, since Ryan Rizzo is now out for the year with a fractured wrist, Banky becomes the center of the receiving core, and if Donahue can neutralize him, with Trinity’s ruthless offensive attack, Middlebury will have a tough time keeping up.

Middlebury X-Factor: The Linebacker Core’s Big 2

Addison Pierce '17 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
Addison Pierce ’17 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
John Jackson '18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)
John Jackson ’18 (Courtesy of Middlebury Athletics)







Middlebury averages 35.8 points a game and Trinity averages 37.4 ppg. These teams are going to score this weekend, and that’s why each team’s X-Factor defensive. Addison Pierce ’17 and John Jackson ’18 are the center of the defensive unit and each have a monsterous 40 tackles on the season, and their ability to stop Max Chipouras ’19 and Lucas Golon ’19, averaging 175 collective yards per game on the ground, is going to be a key to limiting the Bantam’s point to under 36 for the first time this year. The senior captain, Pierce, also adds three sacks and one forced fumble and combined with Jackson’s five sacks and two forced fumbles, the Trinity running backs are going to have their hands full. If Sonny Puzzo ’18 is forced to throw because of the rush defense, only allowing 2 yards per carry last week and -0.4 yards per carry against Amherst on week four, then the Panthers would have the comparative advantage on offense.

 Everything Else

These two offensive juggernauts lead the league in almost every offensive category and are going to hit each other head-on on Saturday. Middlebury offense gains 429.2 yards per game compared to the league leader Trinity at 482 yards per game, while each squad’s defense ranks fourth and third, respectively, in yards allowed per game.

Trinity definitely had an easier game week one against Bates than Middlebury did last weekend, as the Panthers went down 9-0 before rumbling back to score 28 unanswered points. However, each team has played well against the other Maine schools, and beaten all of the teams they needed to, as expected. The only two really interesting games each has played were Midd vs. Amherst, and Trinity vs. Tufts. Each team clearly came out on top, but Trinity did so much more convincingly than Middlebury. Up until last weekend, Middlebury’s year to date strength of schedule appeared to be higher, but Amherst’s brutal loss to Wesleyan drastically lowered their stock, and therefore the quality of the week three win for Midd. Tufts on the other hand is about just as good as expected and has leapfrogged Amherst in the power rankings, showing that perhaps Trinity’s victory over the Jumbos was much more impressive than the Panthers’ victory over the Purple & White.

Defense hasn’t been Middlebury’s strongest area, as they faltered against Williams during week four, but an underrated key player is Nate Leedy, who had a big interception last weekend against Bates to thwart the early Bobcat threat.  His ferocity should continue this weekend. Sonny Puzzo ‘18 should be scared of this senior captain as he will lurk in the secondary, ready to pounce and add on to his season total of 15 tackles and go for his second straight week with a pick. As I mentioned above, Rizzo’s injury is a big hit to the Panther offense, and while they were able to beat Bates without him, the Bobcats’ defense is not exactly the top in the league. Trinity’s secondary is no joke, drawing my comparison to Seattle’s Legion of Boom earlier in the year. Because of this deficit and Trinity’s balanced offense, on paper it appears that they are the favorite. Puzzo has drastically improved his TD:INT ratio from last season, and still only has one pick on the year. Lebowitz is having a better year, but if RB Diego Meritus can’t take some of the load off of the receivers’ backs, I’m uncertain as to whether the air game will be as sustainable for Middlebury this weekend. Having said that, while the current forecast in Hartford predicts sun and 60 degree temperatures, weather changes rapidly because, after all, this is New England. The Panthers are also not going to go down easily as Wesleyan is creeping behind these top two teams in the standings and none wants to play second fiddle to the undefeated team. Middlebury wants this game, Trinity wants this game, and there is only one King Sized Kit-Kat bar left at the bottom of the candy bin. Who will take it?

All Eyes are Focused at the Top: Week 2 Power Rankings 10/4

(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).
(Courtesy of Amherst Athletics).

“The crickets still sing in October. And lilly, she’s trying to bloom. Tho she’s resting her head on the shoulder of death, she still shines by the light of the moon.”

― Kevin Dalton

This typically describes NESCAC football this time of year. Its week three and every game is crucial at this point. You’re either undefeated, 1-1, or a goose egg, and you don’t want a goose egg. The undefeated will be the likely candidates of becoming NESCAC Champions. Two undefeated teams face off this week in Amherst and Middlebury, arguably the two best teams in the NESCAC, and one will walk away with the upper edge to being Champions. Remember, both of these teams still have to pass through the Coop, and that’ll be tough considering Trinity’s ability and depth this year. It’s a long season fellas, put the shorts and tank tops away, pull out your sweaters and gear up for the haul of the season. Whether you’re playing for the CBB Title or the NESCAC Title, remember its gonna be cold, so lets enjoy these last few weeks of good weather and tailgating. With that being said, theres really nothing like a super chilly November game with the Title on the line, maybe some hot cocoa in hand… anyways I’m just dreaming ahead, it’s gonna be some kind of season. 

1. Amherst (2-0)

Alex Berluti ’17 has stepped up in place of injured Amherst starting quarterback, and seemingly excelled in Garoppolo-esque ways. The win over Bowdoin is nothing to get hot and heavy over as the Polar Bears are now 0-2 being outscored 71 to 13 in their first two games, but Amherst still looks pretty damn good. At this point, however, Amherst still has a lot to prove, and a better testament to their overall ability will be made Saturday against Middlebury. Berluti will need to continue to play mistake-free football as he will face off against Jared Lebowitz ’18 and the Panthers this week in what will decide the top spot in Week Three’s Power Rankings. Amherst has kept it real clean on defense allowing just 10 points and 150 yd/g, so they deserve to carry the torch again this week.

2. Middlebury (2-0)

The Panthers have been led this season by the horse from Burlington, Jared Lebowitz ’18, who has tossed the most touchdowns in the ‘CAC so far with 10. With that being said, the Panthers are a pass heavy team this year, and on any given Saturday it may take grinding through the trenches, something that Middlebury may not have in their repertoire. They have done nothing to disprove their 2 spot on the list thus far, but this week’s jostle with the Lord Jeffs looks promising as Amherst’s defense is a run-stopping defense. We will get to see how Amherst’s secondary handles a real marksman in Lebowitz. On the other side of the ball, the Panthers’ ability to pressure the quarterback (9 sacks) may be too much for the inexperienced Berluti to handle. Middlebury could easily “take the candy from the baby” Saturday, but Amherst could also easily show Leibowitz why they have been the best for the past three years. This could be an all-time classic this weekend, folks.

3. Trinity (2-0)

Trinity always seems to be creeping behind Amherst and Middlebury at this point in the season. We all know its not about how you start, but rather how you finish. Another Bantams slaughter vs Hamilton Saturday will likely keep them in the 3 spot, with potential to move up to number 2. It comes down to Trinity not capitalizing on all of their opportunities so far. The competition has been weak, as the defense held Williams to -10 rushing yards this week. It’s men amongst boys in these games. They could have easily put up another 20 points on Bates in week 1, but that is neither here nor there. The Bantams need to continue to play quality football behind the veteran, Sonny Puzzo ’18, who has demonstrated some flawless connections with wide-out Darrien Myers ’17 so far resulting in 5 touchdowns. Safety/linebacker Spencer Donahue ’17 picked up his 2nd interception of the season and Archi Jerome ’17 got his hands wet with a pick as well. Coach Devanney’s team has a bright future this season.

4. Wesleyan (1-1)

The Cardinals take the 4 spot right from the Jumbos trunk as Tufts just scathed by Bates. Wesleyan did enough to move up a spot this week by putting up 511 total offensive yards on Hamilton. Wesleyan did a fine job controlling the game with possession over 37 minutes, and Mark Piccirillo ’19 had a nice weekend with a few touchdowns, running one in. The cardinals have an interesting test ahead of them as they travel to Waterville, ME and take on the Colby Mules, a team that has shown some grit.

5. Tufts (2-0)

Ryan McDonald, son of Ronald McDonald (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).
Ryan McDonald, son of Ronald McDonald (Courtesy of Tufts Athletics).

The Jumbos are sitting in cool water right now after their win against Bates. Sheriff Willie Holmquist ’17 laid down the law hitting two field goals, one being 48 yards, before the half to put his team up 6-0. He played a big role as the punter as well. It was really a sloppy game where they ran the ball a lot and Ryan McDonald ’19 scored the lone Jumbo touchdown. Happy to get by Bates with a 12-7 win, they take on Bowdoin this week, in a game they should win. Still undefeated, Tufts’ season is in the stars. Assuming they get by Bowdoin as they should, the Jumbos will face their toughest test yet when they head to the Coop to take on Trinity.


6. Colby (1-1)

The Mules have done enough to be 1-1 after the first two weeks, but they’re still last of the winners in the power rankings. While they were way overmatched by Middlebury. they showed some heart putting up 14 points in the 4th quarter to escape the shutout. Colby has a grand opportunity this weekend to host a beatable team in Wesleyan, but they will definitely need to play four quarters of quality football to do so. Look for Colby to ride Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 this weekend, as Wesleyan allowed Chance Brady ’17 to run for 151 yards in week one. For the Mules, the moon still shines bright.

7. Williams (0-2)

Williams has the upper hand in their game against Bates as they have proved they can put a few points on the board (10.0 PPG). However, they also allow the 2nd most rushing yards per game (221.5). The good news? Bates is the only team that allows more, giving up 250 YPG. Williams is tied for the most forced turnovers in the league, having intercepted 2 passes and recovered 4 fumbles. If Williams can get their offense going a little bit, they should remain in the 7 spot come next week’s power rankings.

8. Bates (0-2)

Bates has some serious trouble on offense. They will need to figure out a way to incorporate some passing into their game strategy after only passing the ball 10 times, for just a single completion this past weekend. I know they run the triple option, but their game plan is just a bit too predictable at this point. Sandy Plashkes ’19 is their QB1 and could definitely help open up their running game by mixing in a few completions. Will he come through for the Bobcats in this big game to put a W on the board?

9. Bowdoin (0-2)

The Polar Bears put up a very respectable performance against top ranked Amherst this weekend, losing by just 21 points. Bowdoin will not be lifting the NESCAC Title in 2016, but they are ferociously hunting for the CBB Title. The Polar Bears have a winnable game at home this week against Tufts, and it’s only a matter of time before they find the win column. I would never bet on Bowdoin winning, but any given Saturday could be a win in the CAC, especially when you’re playing at home. Week 4 will feature the bottom of the barrel Continentals against the Polar Bears, which should cause some serious stir if both teams are still winless.

10. Hamilton (0-2)

Winning football games isn’t easy folks. Heck, Hamilton suffered two goose egg seasons in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately for the Continentals, they likely have another beating ahead of them this week as they welcome Trinity to Clinton, NY. It will be good preparation as they take on Bowdoin, Colby, and Williams weeks 4,5, and 6. Any decent game on Saturday will give high hopes to the Continental faithfuls. For Hamilton, the title they are working towards is purely a victory.

Marginal Movements: Power Rankings 11/4

The Hamilton Continentals were able to drag down the Ephs in Williamstown for the first time in nearly four decades. (Courtesy of Williams College Athletics)
The Hamilton Continentals were able to drag down the Ephs in Williamstown for the first time in nearly four decades. (Courtesy of Williams College Athletics)

Saturday’s games were fuming with excitement across the NESCAC, from the Hamilton Continentals earning their first win in over three years to Bates getting their first win of the season in triumphant fashion. With just two games left to play the standings are wide open throughout most of the league. Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, and Hamilton are all tied for last place with one win a piece, then there is Williams with two wins trailing Middlebury, Tufts, and Wesleyan, who share third place with four wins each. It will be a Championship atmosphere (and literally, the de facto championship) this weekend for the Lord Jeffs and the Bantams as Amherst hosts Trinity. That’s where they are in the official standings, but where are they in the all important Power Rankings?

1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (6-0; Last Week: 1)

Coming off a strong win against Tufts, the Amherst team looked good as a whole. The defense compiled eight points with a pick six and a safety; Charlie Wall ’17 connected on his only field goal attempt, making him 7-8 on the year and 21-23 on extra points; and they ran for three touchdowns going on to beat the Jumbos 32-7. The one man who seemed to struggle was Reece Foy ’18, who threw for 170 yards while connecting on 18 of 27 passes including an interception. The past two games he has been inconsistent, and don’t expect the Trinity defense to be any easier a task for him. With that being said the Amherst defense was stellar holding Tufts to 161 offensive yards, and just 19 rushing yards. An Amherst win this weekend would crown them NESCAC Champions and they would tie Trinity for the modern era NESCAC Championships record with six.

2. Trinity Bantams (6-0; Last Week: 2)

Still undefeated, the Bantams have survived two scares against top ranked teams. This Halloween, the Trinity defense was Superman and picked up Sonny Puzzo ’18 and a struggling running game as they took down Middlebury in a late game comeback. Trailing by a point with just over four minutes to go, Trinity’s Paul McCarthy ’16 recovered a fumble forced by Lyle Baker ’16, which led to a Max Chipouras ’19 touchdown with under three minutes to play. Then interceptions in Trinity territory by Spencer Donahue ’17 and a picks-six from Archi Jerome ’17 put the nail in the Panthers’ coffin. Trinity has their biggest test of the season on Saturday, and Puzzo and the running game must be efficient. With the way things looked against Middlebury, the Bantams are in rough shape, but if Trinity can find their mojo, there is no reason they can’t take down the Lord Jeffs.

3. Middlebury Panthers (4-2; Last Week: 3)

Though they earned their second loss of the season, they are not far behind Trinity. They completely outplayed the Bantams, but crumbled at the end of the game when they fumbled the ball and threw two interceptions. The Panthers offense racked up 449 yards, and nearly doubled Trinity in first downs with 27. The Middlebury defense sacked Puzzo five times, with Gil Araujo ’16 getting 2.5 sacks for 20 yards; Araujo also had 3.5 tackles for a loss  of 23 yards. Middlebury lost its chance at a NESCAC Championship, but they are still playing for runner-up as they take on Hamilton this Saturday and then Tufts the following week.

4. Wesleyan Cardinals (4-2; Last Week: 5)

Though it was a close win against Bowdoin last Saturday, Wesleyan outplayed the Polar Bears, outweighing their total offense by 429 yards to 223 yards. Lou Stevens ’16 did a good job punching the ball through for two touchdowns on 12 carries. Cornerback Zac Cuzner ’17 had Noah Nelson’s ’19 number all day picking him off three times and breaking up three passes. One thing to keep an eye on is the starting quarterback position. Starter Gernald Hawkins ’18 is less than 100 percent right now, and back-up Mark Piccirillo ’19, who was already too talented to keep off the field completely, was 16-21 when he took over for Hawkins against Wesleyan. The Cardinals look to improve to five wins as they take on Williams this weekend.

5. Tufts Jumbos (4-2; Last Week: 4)

Tufts suffered a disappointing loss to Amherst where they were outscored 32-7. The Jumbos could only compile 161 offensive yards with little success in their rushing game. QB Alex Snyder ’17 was shut down by the LJ’s as he threw a pick and was sacked three times losing a total of 36 yards. The Tufts lone touchdown came on a one-yard run by Chance Brady ’17. We would have hoped this game was much closer, but Amherst was too dominant. Tufts can end the season on a high note though if they are able to take it to Colby and Middlebury. Beating one of them would secure an above .500 season and show improvement from last season.

6. Bates Bobcats (1-5; Last Week: 7)

Though the Bobcats avoid Trinity in their schedule, they have looked good against the rest of the league, losing some close games. Saturday Bates pulled off a 10-9 win against Colby for the first leg of the CBB. Colby had a chance to tie the game with an extra point, but Collin Richardson ’18 stepped up and blocked the kick to preserve the one-point lead. With Patrick Dugan ’16 passing for just 43 yards on four completions, Bates was able to grind out a win. Bates can win the CBB title with a win vs. Bowdoin this weekend.

7. Bowdoin (1-5; Last Week: 8)

While being outmatched by 206 total yards of offense by Wesleyan, Bowdoin was able to keep it close and lose this game by just six points. Nelson had a tough game where he threw three interceptions and one touchdown on 36 pass attempts. The Polar Bears will wash this loss because they have the CBB to play in their final two games. All three teams seem equal, and it would be no surprise to see a three-way tie for the title.

8. Hamilton (1-5; Last Week: 10)

They finally did it. Hamilton beat the Ephs at Williams for the first time in 19 years and the first time in Williamstown in 29 years, and it was Hamilton’s first win in over three years. They competed well and took advantage of Williams’ penalties and mistakes. Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 tossed two touchdowns while compiling 180 yards completing 13 of 27 attempts. Charles Ensley ’17 was on the receiving end bringing in two touchdowns on four catches for 84 yards. Hamilton takes on Middlebury this weekend in Vermont, which will likely send the Continentals back down to earth.

9. Williams (2-4; Last Week: 6)

Losing at home against Hamilton for the first time in 29 years was a low point for Williams this season. They committed 11 penalties that tallied 104 yards, and five of the penalties granted Hamilton a first down. It is hard to win playing like that. Williams will face Wesleyan and Amherst in the final two games of the season. Darrias Sime ’16 was able to add a pair of touchdowns on seven catches. The Eph win column will likely stay at two the remainder of the season.

10. Colby (1-5; Last Week: 9)

Colby will hold down the No. 10 spot for this week. A disappointing loss to Bates leaves them bitter. They can redeem themselves in the final game when they travel to Bowdoin and have a shot at tying up the CBB. The Mules gained just under 100 more yards than Bates, but Gabe Harrington ’17 was less than spectacular throwing an interception and just 82 yards on 11 passes. The bottom of the table has a lot of opportunity for movement with four of the five teams with just one win.

Flex Those Muscles: Stock Report 10/5

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

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

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

Stock Up

Wide Receiver Jack Cooleen ’16 (Tufts)

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

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

Quarterback Reece Foy ’18 (Amherst)

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

Trinity Defense

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

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

Stock Down

Bates’ Decision Making

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

Quarterback Gernald Hawkins ’18 (Wesleyan)

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

Kicking Game

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

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

Taking Back the Coop: Trinity Season Preview

Yosa Nosamiefan '17 (16) leads one of the country's best lockdown defenses from the corner position. Moving the ball on the Bantams is always tough. (Courtesy of Williams Athletics)
Yosa Nosamiefan ’17 (16) leads one of the country’s best lockdown defenses from the corner position. Moving the ball on the Bantams is always tough. (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: 6-2

Projected Offensive Starters (*Four Returning)

QB: Sonny Puzzo ’18
RB: Joe Moreno ’19
TE: Matt Hirshman ’17
WR: Darrien Myers ’17*
WR: Ian Dugger ’16*
WR: Nick Gaynor ’17
LT: Matt Porter ’16*
LG: Franco Serrao ’16
C: Angel Tejada ’17
RG: Steve Krushell ’18
RT: Chris Simmons ’18*

Projected Defensive Starters (*Five Returning)

DE: Lyle Baker ’16*
DT: Matt D’Andrea ’17*
DE: Preston Kelly ’16*
LB: Liam Kenneally ’18
LB: Frank Leyva ’16
LB: Kevin Martin ’17
LB: John Murtagh ’16
Boundary CB: Yosa Nosamifan ’17*
FS: Spencer Donahue ’17*
DB: Dominique Seagears ’18
DB: Archi Jerome ’17

Offensive MVP: QB Sonny Puzzo ’18

QB Sonny Puzzo ’18, RB Joe Moreno’19 and WR Darrien Myers ’17 all stand out as X-factors. However, Puzzo will be the Offensive MVP because if Moreno and Myers are going to have good numbers, it will be a result of Puzzo’s performance. In his first collegiate season two years ago the dual-threat QB was the NESCAC Rookie of the Year, an award that Moreno might have an eye on this season, which would make it a three-peat for Trinity players and the aforementioned award. In Puzzo’s freshman year he threw for 950 yards on 72 completions with a 58.5 completion percentage and chipped in 191 yards on the ground.

Defensive MVP: FS Spencer Donahue ’17

There have been a few standout defensive players thus far in camp. Donahue and Lyle Baker ’16 at defensive end should make big impacts this season. The defensive MVP could go to either of these guys. Donahue might win the award because of his great instincts in the secondary. Last season, he had 23 tackles and two interceptions in eight games. He has improved this off-season and looks to be in great shape for a great season. His game-to-game preparation will be key in his success. Look for improved consistency from Donahue this fall.

Biggest Surprise in Camp: Coach Devanney feels great about how camp has gone this season.

“We’ve had more surprises – more positive surprises – in camp that I can ever remember. We have some upperclassmen who haven’t really done much for a couple of years, and they’ve worked their butts off to get themselves in a position to be better than I thought they would be. We also have some young players who are acting like they aren’t young players.”

It seems as though the Bantams will have a lot of depth this year, which may be very important considering that last season the team faded while going 0-3 down the stretch, and an injury to the team’s quarterback, Henry Foye ’16, really damaged the Bantams’ chances.

Biggest Game: October 31 at Middlebury

The biggest game will be the Middlebury game on Halloween – the same team that broke the Bantams’ hallowed home winning streak. Both teams hope to be undefeated at that point barring any slip ups. This game will be a grinder, playing in Vermont in October the air will be thinner and both teams are going to have to exhaust their engines in order to win this game. Trinity has lost two heartbreakers the past two seasons to Middlebury.

Jeff Devanney has led the Trinity program to a 60-12 record in nine seasons as head coach, including two undefeated seasons, and in 14 years with the program he has coached the No. 1 defense in the country five times.
Jeff Devanney has led the Trinity program to a 60-12 record in nine seasons as head coach, including two undefeated seasons, and in 14 years with the program he has coached the No. 1 defense in the country five times. (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

Best Tweet of the Offseason:

When a kid has all kind of obstacles thrown in his face, and for three straight years wants nothing but to walk out on the football field geared up and ready to play but for multiple reasons he can’t do it, and still he sticks with the game he loves and finally makes it back to where he wants to be … that’s when we remember what sports, especially at this level, are all about. Congrats, Joe, on making it to this point. Can’t wait to see you in these on September 26.


The Bantam offense is laced with talent this year beyond the three key players mentioned above. There is still a battle at quarterback between Puzzo and Foye, tough it seems to be Puzzo’s spot to lose. Yet when Foye was healthy last season the Bantams did not lose and the Trinity faithful have trust in Foye and believe that either quarterback will be able to lead the Bantams to another undefeated season. Moreno is a gritty downfield type of runner who should be able to produce very consistent numbers running the ball. It is hard to see him breaking into defensive backfields for huge gains, but he is a guy that will get you yards on every carry. On the occasion he does come face-to-face with opponents in the backfield, Moreno can break tackles and get back to the line of scrimmage. Even though he has not played a collegiate game before, he will pose an immediate threat to opposing defenses. He may be a freshman in terms of eligibility, but he’s not a boy anymore at 21 years old. Coach Devanney even went so far to say Moreno reminds him of the dominant Evan Bunker ’14, the NESCAC’s all-time leading rusher. Myers plays the role of the speedster and doubles as the team’s go-to kick returner. As a freshman, Myers set a school record with 455 kickoff return yards. In addition to his light feet, he led the team with 21 receptions last season. Darrien is a clear veteran at this point in his career having played in all 16 games and recording at least one catch in all eight games in 2014. A new role at tight end may emerge this year with Matt Hirshman ’17 in place of the H-back role formerly filled by All-NESCAC player Michael Budness ’14. The big-bodied Hirshman stands at 6’3″ and has converted to tight end from being a quarterback as a freshman. Puzzo and Hirshman put in a lot of off-season work running routes, so look for the two of them to connect throughout the season. Trinity’s offense could prove to be lethal this year, and it may come down to protection at the line. Look forward to seeing Matt Porter ’16 and Chris Simmons ’18 at the tackles. Simmons is coming off a Rookie of the Year season. Franco Serrao ’16, a homegrown boy from right outside of Hartford, is also a lock to start somewhere on the O-line. The other two spots are entirely up for grabs, and in the mix are Angel Tejada ’17, Steve Krushell ’18, Joe Farrah’18 and Mike Castellana ’16. Their roles on the interior have yet to be decided, as well.

Fortunately Trinity’s defense is sound as always. The defensive line boasts some vicious athletes and might be the best in the NESCAC; the starters are DE Preston Kelly ’16, DT Matt D’Andrea ’17 and DE Baker. Beyond their veteran line, their defensive backfield should be consistent with Donahue holding down the reigns at a safety position. Also look for Frank Leyva ’16 to be a force at linebacker. The Florida native had 41 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in 2014.

The Bantams are very solid on both sides of the field this year, and they are hoping for a huge improvement on special teams with a new kicker. The past two seasons have been plagued by poor field goal kicking, so Devanney has brought in a freshman who he claims is a real competitor and an athlete. Beyond all the good, a weakness this year for the Bantams will be their experience, as they are a generally young team. But, their biggest strength is speed, and speed kills. That is exactly what Coach Devanney and the Bantams plan to do this year. And the Head Coach has high hopes, predicting an undefeated season for his team. A lack of confidence will not be what causes the Bantams to fall short this season.