September 13, 2011

Winning the neighborhood

More news about: SUNY-Maritime | Worcester State
Kenny Russell had just 41 yards but scored two touchdowns for Worcester State against WPI, including the game-winner.
Worcester State athletics photo 

There's nothing like fighting with the guy just down the street. Or across the water.

Worcester State finally got the best of the rival down the street, beating WPI 21-14. It was the first time the Lancers defeated their Worcester neighbor since 2002.

This week the SUNY-Maritime Privateers gun for their third win in three years against Merchant Marine, a place literally within view across the water.

Gallaudet is coming off its own neighborhood battle. Like Worcester State, the Bison were trying to end a drought, an even longer one.

They nearly succeeded. Gallaudet came so close to beating D.C. rival Catholic for the first time in the last 26 meetings, but fell 45-41.

Still, the Bison have given their Eastern Collegiate Football Conference brethren plenty to think about. They are a very dangerous 0-2 team and after an overtime loss to Otterbein and the battle with Catholic, it appears the ECFC coaches might not have given them quite enough respect by voting them fifth in the preseason poll.

But back to Worcester, Mass. "They are just down the street. A lot of kids on each team played against each other in high school," Worcester State coach Brien Cullen said. "They interact a lot when they go into the city.

"It's a very positive rivalry."

And the mood around Worcester is pretty positive. The Lancers return 18 starters and are off to a great start.

"We're pretty excited. It's been a while since we were 2-0," Cullen said. "But our league is very competitive."

The Lancers lost but one starter on offense and replaced him with 6-5, 250-pound tight end Casey Hippert, a transfer from Sacred Heart. "We just plugged him right in," Cullen said.

"We've got some game breakers with Marcus Price and Kenny Russell." Marcus Price ran through WPI for 137 yards, a good chunk of that coming on an 82-yard touchdown run. Russell caught a touchdown pass.

A couple of Lancers had a big day on the other side of the ball as Cameron Jones had 12 tackles and recovered a funble, and Ray St. Laurent contributed 10 tackles and a sack.

Worcester State and WPI seldom recruit the same student athlete. WPI is known for engineering.

"It's a different type of student," Cullen said.

That's not so when it comes to the Seafaring Scuffle between SUNY-Maritime and Merchant Marine.

"We do recruit the same students," Maritime coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes said.

"It's an industry rivalry. All of our alums work together every single day.

"There are very few situations like that. I played in the Army-Navy game and I didn't work with anyone in the Army until I was deployed last year and I've been in the Navy for over 20 years."

That is why Kendrick-Holmes felt it was so important to institute the rivalry when he assumed the position of head coach of his newly restarted program. He was finally able to get Merchant Marine on the schedule and this will be the third meeting. The Privateers won the first two, but they were very close: one going to overtime and the other coming down to the final play.

The 1-1 Privateers have the momentum of a 48-0 thumping of Western Connecticut in which Jamie Spanopoulos rushed for three touchdowns and Madison Leary kicked field goals of 44 and 47 yards.

Kendrick-Holmes knows the Seafaring Scuffle will be much closer. He expects a game in the mold of the first two.

The rivalry is intensified by the proximity of the similar schools.

"You can see it across the water. It's probably under a mile," said Kendrick-Holmes, who piloted the Privateers to a 10-0 regular season in 2010.

Merchant Marine is also coming off a victory. They edged Coast Guard in a thrilling Secretaries' Cup game 35-28 when Chase Dunn caught his third touchdown pass of the game with just eight seconds remaining.

"We can see their lights on when they are up late at night working," Kendrick-Holmes said of Merchant Marine.

Likely, they are both up late this week.

Maritime magic
The other Maritimes fared well this week, also. Maine Maritime unleashed its usual bruising ground game, piling up 510 yards rushing against Anna Maria in a 42-13 victory.

Headline writers will have a field day with the name Ian Champeon and he has already given them the chance. The MMA sophomore fullback rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown. Matthew Rende added 170 yards and a TD on the ground as Maine Maritime earned coach Chris McKenney his 50th career victory.

Massachusetts Maritime won an opener for the first time in five years, edging Western New England 19-14 as Matt White rushed for 117 yards and two TDs and Stephan Gustafson returned a punt 54 yards for a score.

Passing fancy
Matthew Silva threw five touchdowns for Framingham State in a 54-13 beating of Nichols and Max Gilson threw for three scores for Curry in a 49-14 thrashing of Fitchburg State.

Silva was 14-for-14 for 235 yards and, not surprisingly, his primary target was James McCarthy who led the nation in scoring last year. McCarthy hauled in eight passes for 113 yards and two scores. Alexander Avery got plenty out of his three receptions: 85 yards and two touchdowns.

Foglia hits century mark, again
Plymouth State's Andrew Fogia had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game as the Panthers went to 2-0 by holding off Mount Ida 19-13.

Norwich's Andrew Fulford also ran for 107 yards, but it was not enough as the Cadets fell to St. Lawrence, 29-14. Picked, along with SUNY-Maritime for the top spot by the coaches in the ECFC, the Cadets are 0-2.

Fast start for MIT
MIT scored 28 points in the first half in its season-opening 35-13 victory over Becker. John Wenzel led MIT by throwing for 224 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Don't sleep on the Seahawks
Salve Regina is getting the attention of the New England Football Conference. The Seahawks followed up their impressive win over Union by playing ranked Montclair State tough before falling 18-7.

The feeling around the league has been that Bob Chesney and his staff are building something in Newport, R.I., and this might be the year they make a big splash.

"They probably play the toughest out-of-conference schedule in the league," Cullen said. "I think they've got to be one of the favorites on their side of the league." Salve Regina, in fact, is one of just two NEFC schools to schedule two true non-conference games and the only team in either division of the NEFC to play two teams from stronger conferences, as most teams prefer to play their "non-conference" games against teams from the other NEFC division or the ECFC.

Gulls explode in second half
Endicott went to 2-0 by erupting for 31 points in the second half to erase a 24-17 deficit. They went on to beat Westfield State 45-24.

They did it by land and air. Mike Lane rushed for 237 yards and a touchdown and Phil Konpka threw for 255 yards and two scores.

Spartans never idle
Castleton State had an open week, but the Spartans rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They, along with other students, helped clean up debris and put people's homes back together in an area that received unimaginable devastation from Tropical Storm Irene.

Bears pitch a shutout
Bridgewater State opened with a 27-0 victory over UMass-Dartmouth as Mike McCarthy ran for one score and passed for another.

The Big Games
The game between Bay State programs MIT and Massachusetts Maritime is an intriguing one. It would be a huge injection of excitement for either of these programs to be 2-0.

Plymouth could go to 3-0 against Bridgewater, but the Bears figure to have a good chance to stay unbeaten themselves.

Castleton plays its first ever night game at RPI and, of course, there is the Seafaring Scuffle.

The ECFC's Husson plays Springfield and the Eagles, Castleton and Becker (against WPI) all are underdogs.

The ECFC team with the best chance to win its nonconference game is probably SUNY-Maritime.

The ECFC made its debut in 2009 and most of its schools are still young in football. But the league does have the automatic qualifier, otherwise known as an automatic bid to the playoffs, for the first time this season.

"It's nice we have the AQ this year," Kendrick-Holmes said. "We're all trying to build a resume as a conference. We are what we are. We have a lot of new coaches this year. I'm proud of our conference and the direction we are going in."

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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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