|Western New England and Curry both bring gunslingers to the table this coming Saturday when they'll meet for a conference-defining game. Anthony Service (above) is the WNE's all-time touchdown passing leader, and Curry's Alex Corvese has three years of starting experience under his belt.
WNE and Curry athletics photos
By Tom Haley
There is plenty of excitement swirling around the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
A red hot race that finds Western New England and Curry unbeaten going into a meeting with one another this week is part of it.
The new football league also gets some pizzazz in the coming seasons with start-up program University of New England beginning play in 2018 and ECFC titan Husson jumping on board in 2019.
Western New England was the survivor of Showdown I this past week, beating Salve Regina 35-26 to pare the league down to two unbeaten teams.
WNE was leading 28-20 when Kurtis Jolicoeur returned an interception 49 yards for a score to give the Golden Bears a cushion.
But the game still didn't feel like it was over at that point to WNE coach Keith Emery.
"It didn't feel like it was over until five minutes after the game," Emery said. "This rivalry just keeps going."
Anthony Service threw three touchdown passes for WNE with Mark Dietrich catching two of them.
Dietrich, a senior, is two touchdown receptions away from the school record, and he had the type of game he has been wanting to have.
"He has high expectations of himself," Emery said. "He had a tremendous week of practice. He got the award we give out each week for practice. He caught about everything he was targeted for."
Now, it another must-win game and this time it is on the road.
The seniors have some special incentive for the trip from a game at Curry when they were freshmen.
"It was cold and pouring rain. We lost 7-0. That is still buried in our heads. That's a lot of mental demons," Emery said.
Service is WNE's all-time leader in touchdown passes, but the Colonels have their own blue-chip quarterback the Golden Bears must contend with. Alex Corvese ran for two touchdowns in keeping Curry unbeaten through the three league games in a 17-7 win over Endicott. Each week he has been beating teams with his arm, legs and, Emery says, his head.
"He is a three-year starter, and he makes great decisions," the WNE coach said.
Emery said he believes the key to WNE leaving Curry with a win will be successfully moving the ball on the ground.
"Curry's front seven is as good as it gets in our area," Emery said.
Emery expects a big crowd including a large representation of WNE fans.
"A lot of our alums from the Boston area will be in the stands," he said.
"It's great for the league to have Curry back. Skip [Bandini] does a great job with the program."
Up in Biddeford, Maine, Mike Lichten is getting the University of New England team ready for its baptism.
"It's conjuring a program up out of thin air," Lichten said. "I don't think I understood that until I got in the middle of it.
"But we have had tremendous support. We have a 40,000-foot addition that will provide space for a training room, meetings rooms, a locker room and expanded weight room. The next step is a stadium.
The community, not to mention the state, is excited about the new program. Biddeord is a football community.
"Biddeford has a ton of tradition and the high school has a number of gold balls [emblematic of state championships]. This is a community where football is very important. Maine as a whole is a football state."
"They've got a great recruiting network already," Salve Regina coach Kevin Gilmartin said. "UNE is good in all their other sports, and I am sure they are going to get good in football real fast."
"We are recruiting on a national scale. We are looking for the players who fit our program whether they are from Biddeford, California, Texas or Florida," Lichten said.
"I think the conference is a great fit. They are all private schools at a high academic level. It is small in that there are no monstrous trips."
Husson is the Cadillac in the ECFC garage, and a state rivalry with sizzle is expected to develop between the Eagles and UNE.
Bates got its first victory and got a leg up on the CBB championship by beating Colby 27-24. Grant DeWald helped provide the difference with two field goals, and Brendan Costa ran for a score and threw for another.
Alfred State's first win came at the expense of Mount Ida, 18-8. Kiegan Brown rushed for two touchdowns.
Husson scored 70 points and SUNY-Maritime 61.
Husson's John Smith rushed for 247 yards and four touchdowns in a 70-13 thumping of Anna Maria. Jean Gabriel had seven tackles and forced two fumbles for the Eagles.
Thomas Wright threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns for the Privateers in a 61-7 win over Castleton. Curtis Smith caught three of the touchdown passes. Matt Murphy had five kickoffs for touchbacks and Maritime's scary fast linebacker Kendal Parker had 10 tackles, recovered a fumble and had an interception.
Western Connecticut outgunned Fitchburg State 55-34 with Quinn Fleeting throwing for 242 yards and four touchdowns.
Noah Brun threw for 364 yards and five touchdowns to lead Worcester State to a 48-0 win over Mass. Maritime.
Quick kicks: Nichols' Brett McEvoy became the program's all-time leader in tackles with 361 in a 14-13 loss to Becker. ... Becker's Michael Bianco tied the NCAA record with five interceptions. Becker won when David Collins scored with 49 seconds left. ..... Sean McAllen rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown for WPI in a 24-21 win over MIT. Spencer Herrington was instrumental in the win with a field goal and two punts that pinned MIT inside the 20. ... Timel Benton threw for two touchdowns to help Gallaudet past Dean, 28-7. ... Nick Della Jacono had 15 tackles and forced a fumble for Catholic in its 10-7 win over Norwich, Pearce Bartlett nailed a 33=yard field goal and Pedro Garcia scored for the Cardinals with 8:49 remaining. ... Plymouth kept itself in charge of its fate (6-0 in the MASCAC) by blanking Westfield State 17-0. Zach Edwards threw two touchdown passes, and Blair Zentek keyed the shutout with a fumble recovery and interception. ... Framingham State went to 7-1 with a 34-14 win over UMass-Dartmouth. Andy Wojenski threw four touchdown passes. Trinity won its 16th straight by beating Middlebury 27-7 as Sonny Puzzo rushed for two touchdowns and Eric Sachse converted both of his field goal attempts. ... Mike Breuler caught three touchdown passes as Wesleyan topped Bowdoin 21-10. ,,, Bobby Maimaron tossed two TD passes as Williams beat Hamilton 24-6. ... Ollie Eberth threw for two scores as Amherst defeated Tufts 31-26.
The big games
It's the big one in the CCC with WNE and Curry matching 3-0 league records in Milton, Mass.
Bates can win the CBB Championship when it hosts winless Bowdoin. Bowdoin can salvage the season by beating the Cardinals to earn its own shot at the CBB title on Nov. 11 when it hosts Colby.
Trinity can clinch the NESCAC championship at Amherst.
The most attractive game in the MASCAC is Western Connecticut's trip to Framingham State.