November 2, 2010

Williams thrives under the radar

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Williams Dan O'Mara
Dan O'Mara and Williams have held opponents under 50 percent passing in a 6-0 start.
Williams athletics photo

SUNY-Maritime, Amherst and Williams remained unbeaten.

Maritime and Amherst have been doing it with plenty of fanfare  Maritime's story has been trumpeted because this amazing 9-0 season is coinciding with the upcoming deployment of its head coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes to Afghanistan right after the season.

Amherst is getting plenty of attention because of its 14-game winning streak.

Williams might be playing in the shadow of its New England Small College Athletic Conference rival Amherst, but the Ephs have put together a 6-0 season under first-year coach Aaron Kelton.

And that shadow will be no more if the Ephs can keep it going this week. They are about to meet Wesleyan in a Little Three Game, one of those revered traditions in the NESCAC.

That would set it all up for Nov. 13 when Williams and Amherst clash in the Biggest Little Game in America before 12,000 or so fans.

But Kelton doesn't even want to go there. He and his staff are keeping that one week, one game at a time approach that is a cliche, but something cocahes know is vital.

And there's much more wrapped around this week's homecoming game with Wesleyan than the Little Three (Williams, Wesleyan, Amherst). thing.

Wesleyan is coached by Mike Whalen, who was the coach at Williams until he changed his address to Middletown, Conn., this season.

Williams quarterback Pat Moffitt has not missed a beat in making the transition to a new coach and a new system. He threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-7 victory over Hamilton and has passed for 1,768 yards and 17 scores through the six games.

"We haven't changed a whole lot," Kelton said. "We're using a little more two-back stuff, but the base package is similar to what they have done in the past."

A former quarterback at Springfield, Kelton appreciates what Moffitt brings to the team.

"He is eager to meet with the coaches every week about the game plan. He's a great student of the game," Kelton said.

"Most impressive to me is the way he takes command of the huddle and his poise. He's on an even keel out on the field."

Kelton has already experienced the NESCAC philosophy which precludes its champion from going to the playoffs. He was previously in the Ivy League on the Columbia staff.

"I appreciate it it here. I love it here," Kelton said. "Sure, I'd like to play more games."

Like most coaches in the NESCAC, he says he's fine with not being eligible for the playoffs, but he would like to see the league add a ninth game and have everyone in the 10-team league play everyone else.

He will try to approach this game against the players' old coach as simply the seventh game of the season or business as usual.

But he knows it will be more than that.

"It's going to be an emotional game for a lot of reasons," Kelton said.

Amherst did its part to keep pace in an offensive extravaganza against Tufts. The Lord Jeffs outgunned the Jumbos 70-49 as Alex Vetras became Amherst's all-time passing leader with 4,679 yards.

Vetras threw for 265 yards in a game that featured 1,303 yards of total offense.

Tufts quarterback Anthony Fucillo set a school record by throwing for 503 yards in the game. Three of his 42 completions went for touchdowns.

Amherst's Eric Bunker ran for 193 yards with three scores and Matt Rawson scored his first career TD. And for good measure, Rawson was 10- of-10 on extra points.

And speaking of those treasured NESCAC traditions, Colby held off Bates 10-6 in the first leg of the CBB (Colby, Bates, Bowdoin) series.

The Mules won by stopping Bates quarterback Trevor Smith on the 5-yard line on fourth down.

Tom Duffy led Colby's inspired defense with 10 tackles and leads the team with 58.

There's more CBB action coming to spice up the late season in Maine. Bates is at Bowdoin on Saturday and Colby hosts Bowdoin Nov. 13. 

Lone Star flavor in Castleton

Nancy Knight heard the Chad Bentz story one day recently on the radio.

She immediately called up the Castleton State 265-pound short-yardage fullback who once pitched in the major leagues despite having only one hand.

You see, Nancy's son Alex Cossman plays high school football, basketball and baseball for Goldthwaite High School in Texas where he is a junior. Alex was born without the bone that runs all the way from the elbow down.

"I was a little more fortunate than he was," Bentz said.

Bentz looked at his phone and nearly didn't take the call.

"I usually don't take calls when I don't recognize the number," he said.

But he did answer and Nancy told him she thought her son and Chad should get together.

"I said, 'Great. Do you have a computer with a camera so we can talk to each other.' I was flabbergasted when she said she thought they would fly up from Texas to meet me," Bentz said.

Castleton president David Wolk and football coach Rich Alercio heard about it and became very excited. They decided to prepare a royal Spartan welcome.

Cossman was part of the coin flip ceremony on the field, complete with an introduction. He went to all the meetings with the Spartans and was an honorary captain, leading them onto the field with the Spartan flag as the band played the fight song. He remained with them on the sideline and attended the big Halloween parade Saturday night.

Sunday, Wolk opened the gym so Bentz could give Cossman some special pitching instruction.

"It's just been great hanging out with him," Cossman said. "It would be great playing college football on the Division II or III level."

"I know you are not supposed to have heroes when you are an adult, but Jim Abbott (the former major league one-hand pitcher) is my hero. He gave me the courage to try it," Bentz said.

A high school junior from Texas might have just found a new hero in Chad Bentz. 

The 30-year-old Bentz has not given up on a return to the major leagues and will be trying to hook up with a club for spring training.

Privateers do it with defense

SUNY-Maritime found itself trailing Norwich 2-0 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference showdown, but came back to win 20-2. SUNY-Maritime's outstanding linebacker Keith Barnes set the tone with an interception on Norwich's opening drive. Pat Lasher also had a pick for the Privateers who scored two touchdowns off turnovers.

The Privateers clinch the ECFC championship with the victory. The ECFC does not have the AQ for the NCAA playoffs, but will have it beginning in 2011.

Endicott gets a big one

Endicott ended Western New England's seven-game winning streak with a 23-15 victory and the Gulls and WNEC are now both 5-1 in the Boyd Division of the New England Football Conference.

Endicott's Phil Konopka threw three touchdown passes and Dylan Rushe kicked three field goals.

Rams reach new heights

Framingham State set a school record with its seventh win. The Rams are 7-2 and are at the top of the Bogan Division in the NEFC with Maine Maritime. Both are 5-1, although the Mariners have beaten Framingham.

That combination of Kurt Leone and James McCarthy continues to do great things for the Rams. Leone threw for 320 yards and five touchdowns. McCarthy had three of those TD grabs and had nine catches for 187 yards in a 34-13 win over Coast Guard.

Joe Treacy had seven tackles and his 257 career tackles puts him at the top of the Framingham list.

Maine Maritime kept pace by winning 35-13 at Bridgewater State. The 7-1 Mariners rushed for 456 yards and had three ball carriers eclipse 100 yards in the game: Jim Bower, quarterback Matt Rende and Nick Bourassa.

Salve on the move

Salve Regina fashioned its first four-game winning streak since 2000 by beating Plymouth State 30-14. Jimmy Connelly threw three touchdown passes for the 5-4 Seahawks.

Berneche burns Bucs

Evan Berneche was a workhorse with 38 carries and got plenty of production out of it. He ran for 158 yards and a score in leading Westfield State to a 28-14 win over Mass. Maritime.

Russell and Russell at Worcester

Kenny Russell caught five passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Russell had 19 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss along with a sack and a forced fumble. They helped lead Worcester State to a 41-6 win over Fitchburg State. Tyler Russell has a whopping 153 tackles in nine games.

Marcus Price piled up 181 yards on the ground with a TD.

It all made homecoming special for the 5-4 Lancers. 

Curry also won in the NEFC as Harold Rose threw two scoring strikes to Robert Bambini in a 28-10 win over UMass-Dartmouth.

Curry receiver Victor Martinez is being deployed as a member of the Army in March.

"We are very proud of him and what he is doing for the country," Curry coach Skip Bandini said.

There were some happy Nichols Bison in the NEFC. They broke through for their first win, 17-14 against MIT. It ended a 10-game losing streak. Irie Perry led the way, running for two touchdowns and Matthrew Bryson had 121 yards rushing.

Brozowski does it again

Castleton State quarterback Shane Brozowski had over 400 yards passing for the fourth time this season. He riddled Becker with 409 yards and three touchdowns in a 53-6 victory. Freshman Brandon Boyle caught all three TD passes and Andrew Cavanaugh caught eight balls fir 152 yards. Brozowski did all this while not playing in the fourth quarter.

Castleton, in its second year, is assured a winning season at 5-3 with one game remaining.

Bantams crow in own barnyard

Nobody protects its turf quite like the Trinity Bantams. They won for the 38th consecutive time at Jessee/Miller Field by beating Middlebury 25-10.

The Bantams lead the NESCAC in rushing at 233.7 per game and got 159 yards on the ground from Evan Bunker. Ben Sherry ran for two touchdowns.

Dwyer on fire

Wesleyan tuned up for its big game with Williams by whipping Bowdoin 41-7 as Shea Dwyer amassed 164 yards on 27 carries. He set a single-season rushing mark at Wesleyan with 1,015.

Gallaudet sets up Homecoming

There should be excitement in D.C. this weekend for homecoming with undefeated SUNY-Maritime paying a visit.

Gallaudet set the stage for the big day by trouncing Anna Maria 33-6 behind Cole Johnson and quarterback Jimmy Gardner. Johnson ran for 178 yards and it included a 67-yard burst to the end zone. Gardner completed five of 11 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bison are 5-4 and have a chance for a winning season under the lights Saturday night against the Privateers.

The Big Games

Gray November days and that chill that comes with them bring plenty of excitement for the teams still playing meaningful games because that meaning only intensifies.

And games that don't have meaning in terms of playoff possibilities and league championships, frequently have tradiition.

Bates and Bowdoin will be scrapping in a CBB series game and Middlebury and Hamilton will be fighting for the Old Rocking Chair. Mass. Maritime hosts Bridgewater State in the Cranberry Bowl.

Norwich and Castleton State will be battling for the Old Sap Bucket and the Cadets might be playing for some sort of postseason game with their 7-2 record.

In the NESCAC, the places to be are at Williams and Trinity.

The Trinity game is really intriguing. Something has to give in Hartford, Conn. Trinity puts that 38-game home winning streak on the line against the Amherst team toting that 14-game winning streak.

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter.

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