Williams, Amherst ready to renew football rivalry in Little Three tilt
WILLIAMSTOWN >> By the time the sun sets in Berkshire County today, the seniors on the Williams College football team will have taken their pads and helmets off for the last time. How they remember their careers could depend on three hours at Farley-Lamb Field.
Williams closes its regular season this afternoon against Amherst. Kickoff is set for noon, and the game will be televised on NESN.
The Ephs head into the game with a 2-5 record and will try to keep Amherst (7-0) from a second consecutive perfect season. The current class of seniors will attempt to end another ignominious streak — the second consecutive senior class to lose four games to the Lord Jeffs.
"I think it would," co-captain James Howe said when asked if a win over Amherst would make the Ephs' season. "Beating Amherst, they're 7-0. It doesn't change a lot of the things that happened, but it certainly would make my whole career to ruin their perfect season in my last game."
The Lord Jeffs bring a four-game winning streak over Williams into the game and an 18-game winning streak overall. Williams hasn't beaten Amherst in Williamstown since a 20-0 win back in 2007. A win by the Ephs would keep a pair of streaks safe. Williams won 23 consecutive football games from 1989-91, and were unbeaten in 23 consecutive games (22-0-1) from 1993-96.
A win by Amherst would give them an outright NESCAC title for the third consecutive year. A Williams win and a Trinity win over Wesleyan would tie the Bantams and Lord Jeffs atop NESCAC. A Williams win would create a three-way tie for the Little Three championship. There has not been a three-way tie for the Little Three title since 2002.
"They're dialed into what it is and what it means because we keep in perspective," said Williams coach Aaron Kelton. "We keep it at the forefront of the conversation because there are guys ending their careers. It is the last game. It is your rival. It is the biggest environment that there is to be in here at Williams, regardless of the sport. They get it."
This game will be an interesting matchup because Williams' strength as a football team plays into Amherst's strength.
Williams enters the game as the No. 2 passing offense in NESCAC and senior quarterback Austin Lommen is second in the conference in passing. The Ephs are, however, playing the No 2 pass defense in the conference.
Safety Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn is the reigning NESCAC defensive player, intercepting two passes and blocking a field goal in last week's 16-7 win by Amherst over Trinity. Linebackers Evan Boynton and Tom Kleyn are also former defensive players of the week.
That could mean Williams will have to run the ball better. Last week, the ground game showed signs of life as freshman running back Noah Sorrento ran for 105 yards for the first time in his career.
On offense, Amherst is led by sophomore Reece Foy at quarterback. The native of Honolulu is fourth in the conference in passing and fourth in total offense. Kenny Adinkra is the top rusher for the Lord Jeffs, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with five touchdowns. Devin Boehm and Jackson McGonagle are the top receiving threats for Amherst.
And as befits a game that has been played 129 times going into this afternoon, Williams' senior players have been hearing from former teammates and alumni about what it means to play — and possibly beat — Amherst one last time
"I'm hearing good things. I'm hearing about their playing days and what this rivalry really means to them," Lommen said. "Just being able to put this rivalry into context is really neat, to understand that this game is bigger than just what happens on the field.
"We can't think of anything more than that when we're on the field."
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.