“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)
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.