The 131st season of Williams College football, and the first season under new coach Mark Raymond, begins Saturday at Farley-Lamb Field.
The Ephs, and the rest of NESCAC, are the last college football players in America to get started. Williams begins its season at home with consecutive games against Colby and Trinity.
The Little Three season begins for Williams on Saturday, Nov. 5, with a home game against Wesleyan. The season finale is a week later when Williams travels to Amherst.
A look at the Eph schedule
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Outlook: The Mules were 1-7 last year. The last time Williams and Colby played was in 2013, when the Mules won 31-8. Williams has won three straight in Williamstown. Coach Jonathan Michaeles has a great weapon at his disposal in senior running back Jabari-Hurdle Price. He was a first-team All-NESCAC pick, running for 728 yards and six touchdowns. Last year, Michaeles' team scored only 12.4 points per game but gave up 26.1 points.
When: Oct. 1, 1:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Bantams finished second in NESCAC last year, and did it with a stout defense that had five first-team picks on the All-NESCAC first team. Senior defensive lineman Matt D'Andrea, junior linebacker Liam Kenneally and senior defensive back Yosa Nosamiefan all return. Junior quarterback Sonny Puzzo is the top returning signal caller in the conference. He was second in NESCAC in total offense, averaging 244 yards per game. Sophomore RB Max Chipouras was third in NESCAC with 649 yards rushing, and led all backs with 12 touchdowns.
When: Oct. 8, Lewiston, Maine, 1 p.m.
Outlook: Like Williams, the Bobcats were 2-6 last year. One of Williams' wins was a 16-14 decision at Farley-Lamb Field. Once again Mark Harriman's Bobcats will run the triple-option offense, one of the few teams in NESCAC to do so. Sophomore QB Sandy Plashkes is the only signal caller with experience. Defensively, Bates runs a 3-5-3 defense, also unusual in the league. LB Mark Upton, a first-team All-NESCAC pick, anchors that defense.
When: Oct. 15, 1:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Panthers, 5-3 a year ago, might be the most entertaining team in the conference. Coach Bob Ritter's offense averaged 409 yards per game and 335 through the air. QB Matt Milano, a first-team All-NESCAC pick, earned his diploma in June, so Ritter and offensive coordinator Dave Caputi turn to Burlington, Vt., native Jared Lebowitz. Lebowitz transferred in from UNLV. Lebowitz won't have Matt Minno to throw to, but there are a lot of good receivers. Defense could be a challenge for the Panthers, who graduated its entire defensive line and LB Tim Patricia.
When: Oct. 22, Medford, 1:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Jumbos flirted with a NESCAC title before finishing 6-2. Coach Jay Civitti's team, which opens Saturday night at home against Wesleyan, brings back five All-NESCAC players. That group includes RB Chance Brady, the reigning offensive player of the year. Brady is one of 21 seniors on the roster. Defensively, the Jumbos had 24 sacks last year, a league best. DE Zach Tomas led the way with nine sacks. Two of the top three tacklers from last year, both linebackers, have graduated.
When: Oct. 29, Clinton, N.Y., 1:30 p.m.
Outlook: When the Continentals beat Williams last year, it was the first time since 1996 that the Continentals had beaten the Ephs. Hamilton won two of its last three games in 2015, and looks to carry some momentum into 2016. Cole Freeman is the QB, while former QB Chase Rosenberg — a high school rival (Atlanta) of Eph safety Alex Brandeis — is now a receiver. The defense is led by LB Matt Glebus and defensive lineman Brent Lobien.
When: Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.
Outlook: Former Williams player and assistant coach Dan DiCenzo has a stacked roster as the Cardinals head into the 2016 season. Eighteen of the 22 starters from last year are back. Mark Piccirillo and Gernald Hawkins will split time at quarterback. RB Jaylen Berry and WR Devon Carrillo are guys who will ignite the offense. Defensively, the Cardinals return all four down linemen. LB Shayne Kaminski is the top returner at the position.
When: Nov. 12, Amherst, Noon
Outlook: The artists formerly known as the Lord Jeffs are coming off back-to-back 8-0 seasons, something that had not happened there. A championship this year would give coach E.J. Mills' team seven — the most ever in the league. Amherst starts off with an issue at QB. Alex Berlutti will start, because returning starter Reece Foy tore his ACL and will be lost for the year. RB Kenny Adinkra graduated, but Nick Kelly and Jack Hickey lead the way. The Amherst defense held five of its eight opponents to single-figure scoring last year. DL Paul Johnson anchors the defense. If there is a potential weakness, it is in the secondary, where three of the four starters graduated.