Williams, Amherst meet Saturday in 'Biggest Little Game in America'
WILLIAMSTOWN -- One more game.
For the seniors on the Williams College football team, 2013 hasn't gone as well as they would have liked. But if the Ephs can beat arch rival Amherst on Saturday, they - and Williams alumni - will feel better.
"I got some texts and I've seen some stuff on Facebook," Williams defensive back Nate Saffold said. "Guys are coming up to the game.
"It should be a crazy atmosphere."
Williams brings a 2-5 record into the 128th edition of the "Biggest Little Game in America," while the Lord Jeffs are 6-1, and still have a shot to win a share of the NESCAC title.
It's not just the last game of the season for the two teams, it is also the last game on the current Weston Field. Construction will begin on a multi-million dollar project that will change Weston into a turf field, move the track and have new locker rooms built.
Williams built a 380-123-21 record on the grass at Weston, and hold a 42-21-1 advantage over Amherst at home.
"There's a lot of history on that field," said Saffold. "They're tearing it down and putting up turf. I like playing on the grass.
"I'm going to miss that field."
While Williams has a 71-51-5 edge in the overall series with Amherst, the Lord Jeffs have had the upper hand as of late. Coach E.J. Mills' team has two straight, three of the last four games, and Amherst beat Williams on Weston in 2009 (26-21) and 2011 (31-18). If the Lord Jeffs win on Saturday, it'll mark the first time since the 1983-85 seasons where Amherst has won three straight games against Willliams. That was part of a six-year winning streak for coach Jim Ostendarp and the Lord Jeffs.
"In all of these schools, there's great tradition. One of them is you've been playing football for 130 years and all of those games have been on Weston Field," Amherst coach E.J. Mills said.
A season that started with high hopes crashed with an 0-4 start. Williams turned things around with wins over Tufts and Hamilton before losing 16-14 at Wesleyan last week.
Williams head coach Aaron Kelton said that despite the record, his team's preparation for each game has not hinged on what happened the week before.
"We've been able to transition well all year long. Our preparation has been great and they've focused in because they've talked about it," said Kelton. "We spend time talking about it every single day. Certainly, there's the nervous energy that goes with being in a big game, the last game and all that stuff. It's not just another game, but it is a game that we just have to focus in and do the best we can."
Williams will come to Weston with its third starting quarterback this season. Sophomore Mark Pomella made his first varsity start last week after Adam Marske suffered a mild concussion.
"Mark's going to start and Adam's going to be ready to go," said Kelton.
Pomella was 19 of 31 for 121 yards and two interceptions, but he led the Ephs on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
"I thought he prepared well and there were some sophomore mistakes, but he played a really good game. We were really pleased with what he was able to do, and our team rallied behind him," said Kelton. "He's a lot more mobile. He allows us to get more into a quarterback run game. He stays in there. He's willing to take a couple of shots."
Mills has been in this same position before.
"A quarterback, for bette or for worse, has such an impact on so many aspects of the game," he said. "Instability is never what you're looking for. You're looking for production."
Amherst's big weapon is quarterback Max Lippe. The senior is third in the conference in passing and total offense. His top targets are Gene Garay and Jake O'Malley.
To a large extent, this game is not as much about the X's and O's, as it is about the feelings inside of each Williams and Amherst player. For the seniors, it'll be one last chance to put on pads.
"It's a cliché, but time flies. It's hard to digest," said Williams senior running back Alex Scyocurka.
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