Williams football begins Little Three action with trip to Wesleyan
WILLIAMSTOWN — The Williams College football team won its fifth game last week, meaning the Ephs will finish over .500 for the first time since 2011. That's all well and good.
But the Ephs' second season, the Little Three, begins on Saturday.
"We have a chance to turn a good season into a great season," senior wide receiver Adam Regensburg said after last week's win over Hamilton.
The Ephs head to Connecticut on Saturday to play Little Three rival Wesleyan in Middletown. It's the first game of the Ephs' annual "post-season."
"It's an incredible feeling, but it's just momentum into the Little Three," Williams defensive tackle Chris Hattar said in the aftermath of the 24-6 win over Hamilton. "We want Wesleyan. That's what we're focused on."
For Williams coach Mark Raymond, getting to the five wins was the culmination of more than a year of work. Last year, the Ephs were 0-8.
"You always hope for the best," the head coach said. "As I said before, we never looked past the [season-opening] Bowdoin game. We take one step each week. The fact that we're where we are now, I'm very proud of the guys."
Williams and Wesleyan are playing their 123rd meeting, with the Cardinals holding an edge by not having lost in the last four games.
As a head coach and an assistant elsewhere, Raymond has been part of numerous traditional rivalry games. This is his second Little Three season.
"I don't know how much different it feels," he said. "We're just excited. The kids are really excited. The staff is excited, and the school is excited."
Williams is coming off the aforementioned quality win over Hamilton. It was a game that saw freshman running back T.J. Dozier rush for 112 yards, the Eph offense scoring 24 points in the first half and Raymond's offense holding the ball for almost seven minutes at the end of the game to put an exclamation point on the victory.
The Cardinals and Ephs have identical 5-2 records, and both teams won last week after suffering a loss.
Wesleyan lost at Amherst two weeks ago, 21-17. Coach Dan DiCenzo, a Williams graduate and former assistant coach under Mike Whalen, bounced back from the loss with a 21-10 win over Bowdoin last week in Maine. The Cardinals scored 21 unanswered points, and did not give up a touchdown until the final five minutes of the game.
Junior quarterback Mark Piccirillo was 22 of 31 for 259 yards and touchdowns of 10, 20 and 14 yards to Mike Breuler. Piccirillo also ran for 54 yards. He has recorded stats similar to those of Williams freshman quarterback Bobby Maimaron.
"They're driven by a really good quarterback. He's a playmaker. He's accurate. He can run," Raymond said of Wesleyan's offense. "He has the best receiver in the league. They have two high-end football players, surrounded by some good talent. The defense is tough. Absolutely, a good football team."
The Cardinals average 421 yards per game on offense and almost 29 points per game. Defensively, they hold teams to 16.7 points per game.
One key to Saturday might be in turnovers. Williams is a plus-one in turnover ratio while Wesleyan is a minus-6.
The Ephs will host Amherst next weekend, and the second-year coach said that game will come up on their radar in due time. This week, it's all about Wesleyan.
"We're just going to try to play our best," Raymond said. "It's about being better every week, and we're looking to get better on Saturday."
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.
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