Dan Crane (80) and his Golden Bears' teammates meet Endicott in a key Boyd Division contest on Saturday (Oct. 30).
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Two of the most improved teams in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) will square off when Western New England College visits Endicott at 5:00 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 30) in a key Boyd Division contest.
The Golden Bears, ranked fifth in the New England Division III poll, have a 7-1 record and lead the division with a perfect 5-0 mark. The Gulls, eighth in the region, are 6-2 and tied for second (with Plymouth State) in Boyd action at 4-1.
Coach Keith Emery's highly regarded squad can capture its first ever Boyd title with a victory while the Gulls can climb into a tie for the top spot with a win.
Western New England College continued remarkable season with a terrific 14-6 decision at Plymouth State last Saturday (Oct. 23). It was the Golden Bears' first victory ever over the Panthers in 13 all-time meetings and extended their school record win streak to seven games.
Sophomore free safety Phil Tsopanides (Fairfield, CT) intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game and returned it 36 yards to help preserve the win. He compiled a team high 10 tackles in earning NEFC Defensive Player-of-the-Week accolades for the second time this season.
It also was a record-setting day for senior linebacker Dylan Chandler (Durham, ME) who made eight tackles, the last one giving him a school record 309 career stops for his brilliant career.
Junior quarterback Bryce Brown (Guilford, CT) directed two long scoring drives (both 78 yards) and had a 21-yard touchdown run in the first period. Junior running back JJ Jachym (Milford, CT) ran for 122 yards and had a fur-yard score in the second quarter.
"It was great to win at their place. Plymouth is a tough team and especially good at home. Our guys played hard and executed the game plan on both sides of the ball," said Emery.
Through eight games, Jachym is seventh in the NEFC in rushing with 679 yards and nine touchdowns. Brown is second on the team with 490 yards on the ground with eight scores. He also has passed for 623 yards and two touchdowns, and has only one interception in 89 attempts for a tidy 124.64 rating, which is third in the conference. His favorite receiver is junior wide receiver Kenny Muhlack (Groton, CT) who has 31 receptions for 320 yards and a TD.
Tsopanides leads the Golden Bears with 53 tackles followed by senior linebacker Justin Bailey (Northborough, MA) with 48 and Chandler with 46.
Looking ahead to the much-anticipated Endicott game, Emery said his team is continuing its usual practice routine.
"It's one step at a time and one day at a time, just like anything else," he remarked. "We know Endicott is an extremely talented team. They have one of the best offenses in the conference and a defense that pursues to the ball very well. Endicott also has the best kicking game in the league. This is an uphill challenge and we need to start climbing in practice."
Endicott has numerous skill players on both sides of the ball led by junior quarterback Phil Konopka (Shelton, CT) who is second in the NEFC in both passing average (185.4 avg.) and pass efficiency (130.3 rating). He has thrown for 1,483 yards and 14 touchdowns. Junior running back Mike Lane (Medfield, MA) is eighth in the conference with 675 yards rushing and three TDs.
Junior split end Ryan Carino (Stratford, CT) leads six players who have double-digit receptions with 29 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore linebacker Craig Lussier (Dracut, MA) and junior tackle Kevin Eagan (West Hartford, CT) have 64 and 62 tackles, respectively.
Freshman Dylan Rushe (Palos Verdes, CA) leads the league in kick scoring with 51 points (a perfect 24-for-24 in PATs and 9-of-13 in field goals).
Endicott is second in the league in passing offense (198.6) while Western New England College is sixth in pass defense (140.0). The Gulls are third in scoring (27.4) with the Golden Bears third in scoring defense (13.1). WNEC, meanwhile, is third in rushing offense (22.1) with EC fourth in rushing defense (123.2).
This is only the eighth season of varsity competition for Endicott who came into the 2010 campaign with a 34-34 all-time record.
This will be the eighth meeting between the schools with Endicott leading the series by a 4-3 margin. WNEC posted a 26-21 victory last year in Beverly and has captured three of the last four meetings.