– It's one of the best small college football rivalries in the region and the series continues when Western New England visits Westfield State in the 23rd Annual President's Cup contest starting at 7:00 p.m. Friday (Sept. 16) at Alumni Field.
This is a non-divisional New England Football Conference (NEFC) meeting for both Western New England (Boyd Division) and Westfield State (Bogan Division).
The Golden Bears won last year's exciting game 17-10 when junior free safety Phil Tsopanides
(Fairfield, CT) returned an interception a school-record 98 yards in the third quarter for what proved to be the winning points. The Owls, however, lead the series that started in 1982 by a 14-8 margin.
Western New England enters the game with a 1-1 record after dropping a 19-14 decision at Massachusetts Maritime last Saturday. The Golden Bears trailed 6-0 after the opening period before taking a 14-6 lead at halftime behind sophomore backup quarterback John Krafick
(New Milford, CT) who finished with 165 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception. The team punter, Krafick replaced senior Bryce Brown
(Guilford, CT) who was out with an injury.
The Buccaneers scored two touchdowns in the third quarter with the winning score coming on a 54-yard punt return.
"We played really poorly on special teams and put ourselves in too many negative situations to operate effectively. We have to pick-up our game in all areas," said WNE coach Keith Emery
. "I thought John played well for his first start. He made a couple of really nice plays and limited his mistakes. Our problem on offense was penalties and playing behind the chains."
Brown, the 2010 New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division Offensive Player-of-the-Year, is expected to start against Westfield State. He compiled 393 yards (career high 248 passing, 145 passing) and accounted for all four touchdowns, including the game-winner on a three-yard run with 1:43 remaining, in the season-opening 28-24 victory over Norwich. Brown was the weekly New England Football Writers Division II/III Gold Helmet recipient for that performance.
In the game against Massachusetts Maritime, sophomore defensive tackle Kevin Soule
(Medfield, MA) made a career high 12 tackles and was selected to the weekly NEFC honor roll. He leads the squad with 19 tackles followed by junior linebacker Nolan Rickard
(Southington, CT) with 17 stops. Sophomore linebacker Brandon Ormsby
(Windsor, CT) (14) and senior linebacker Joe Ciccarella
(Guilford, CT) (13) are right behind.
Junior receiver Brendon Thompson
(Enfield, CT) leads the Golden Bears with six receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown followed by a pair of promising freshmen wideouts, Andrew Walz
(Groton, CT) (5-106-0) and Kareem Hines (South Burlington, V) (5-102-1).
Krafick is second in the NEFC in punting (41.1 avg.) with three kicks inside the 20 and two over 50 yards (long of 60 against Massachusetts Maritime).
Western New England is averaging 382.5 yards through two outings (206.5 passing, 176.0 rushing) while allowing 297.0 yards (227.5 rushing, 69.5 passing).
Westfield State also is 1-1 and looking to bounce back from a 45-24 home loss to defending NEFC champion Endicott last Friday. The Owls opened their season with a 21-20 victory at Nichols.
Senior quarterback Tyler Dow
(Franklin, MA) leads the way with 412 yards passing and three touchdowns. He threw for 180 yards and a score with an interception in last year's meeting with Western New England. Sophomore tight end Jeff Winchell
(Scituate, RI) leads the Owls with seven receptions for 94 yards while sophomore receiver Kane Terilli
(Cranston, RI) has six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior linebacker Justin Ehrhardt
(Stoneham, MA) has a team-high 18 tackles followed by junior defensive back Mike Szydlowski
(Wilbraham, MA) with 17.
Westfield State leads the NEFC in special teams thanks to freshman Andrew Buanno
(Enfield, CT) and junior Kevin Parnell
(Berlin, CT) who are first and second in kickoff returns with averages of 33.2 and 29.2 yards, respectively.
Westfield State is averaging 305.5 yards a contest (211.0 passing, 94.5 rushing) while giving up 392.0 yards (227.5 passing, 164.5 passing).
"Westfield State has a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and we need to play our game, reduce the mistakes and be sound and efficient in the kicking game. They had over 200 returns yards in the game against Endicott," noted Emery.