The foes: Looking at a week-by-week breakdown of the teams Williams football plays in 2018
Williams College opens its second season of a nine-game schedule at Bowdoin Saturday afternoon.
Last year was the first year that NESCAC presidents had approved that every football-playing school in the conference play each other. Previously, NESCAC football teams played eight-game schedules.
Williams would alternate games between Maine schools Bowdoin, Colby and Bates, playing two of the three every year.
This year, Williams will play five road games and four home games.
The Ephs' home schedule begins next week when Colby visits, followed by Trinity.
The season will end up with the Little Three games between Wesleyan and Amherst. The Ephs will host Wesleyan on Nov. 3, and travel to Amherst on Nov. 10.
In addition, NESCAC coaches have agreed to an experimental kickoff rule. Kickoffs will take place from the 40-yard line, instead of the 35 as is currently NCAA policy.
"The well-being of student-athletes remains a primary focus among our institutions," NESCAC executive director Andrea Savage said in a statement. "This is another measure to reduce injuries and improve player safety."
The goal of moving the kickoff, according to a release, is to increase the rate of touchbacks and reduce injuries, including concussions.
The NCAA has also instituted a new rule that if a returner calls for a fair catch on a kickoff inside the 25-yard line, the kick will be considered a touchback and will be placed at the 25.
Here's a look at the teams that Williams will be playing this season, listed in order of when the Ephs will play them.
BOWDOIN (0-9) — The Polar Bears enter the game with a 17-game losing streak. They have not won since beating Colby 35-13 in the final game of the 2015 season. Coach J.B. Wells is starting fresh, as only five starters from last year's team will start on Saturday. Sophomore Griff Stalcup, who played at Burr & Burton in nearby Manchester, Vt., beat out Noah Nelson as the starting quarterback. Stalcup took over the starting reins last year after the loss to Williams. Junior running back Nate Richam is the only returning weapon. The offensive line has veteran A.J. Mansolillo, who moves from center to guard, and four newcomers. The same can be said on defense, as linebacker Joe Gowetski and defensive backs Cam Rondeau and Jack Whiting return.
COLBY (1-8)— Jack Cosgrove took over as the head coach in Waterville, Maine. He retired as head coach at Division I-FCS Maine after the 2015 season, and his 123 wins in Orono are the most by any coach there. Cosgrove has a challenge ahead of him, as the Mules went 1-8 last year. Colby does return much of its skill position players, including junior quarterback Jack O'Brien, senior running back Jake Schwern and top target sophomore wide receiver Bernie Snyder. On defense, the Mules return four of their top five tacklers from last year, including senior linebacker Sebastien Philemon, now a senior. Colby hosts Trinity in its opener.
TRINITY (8-1) — The Bantams won their 10th NESCAC title last fall, and their second straight. Trinity, coached by Jeff Devaney, won six games by at least 22 points, scored at least 28 points in six of its nine games and extended winning streaks of 19 games or more against Hamilton, Bates, Bowdoin and Colby. Devaney has 50 letterwinners back, and 14 of them are starters. If there is a hole it is at quarterback where the coaches have to find a replacement for two-time, All-NESCAC quarterback Sonny Puzzo. Senior David Ryan is the returning veteran, but keep an eye on Rhode Island transfer Jordan Vazzano. Running back Max Chipouras will look to be a three-time, first-team selection. Koby Schofer is the top receiving target. The Trinity defense was seventh in the nation last year, 11th in pass-efficiency defense and sixth in turnover margin. Five All-NESCAC picks earned their diplomas. Defensive lineman Nick Rose anchors the front. Trinity heads to Colby in its opener.
BATES (2-7) — The Bobcats are the other NESCAC team with a new coach. Malik Hall, who had been defensive line coach at Pennsylvania, replaced Mark Harriman. Harriman had been the coach at Bates since 1998. More than any team in NESCAC, early opponents can throw out last year's Bates game tapes. The Bobcats switched from a 3-5-3 defense to a 3-4, which isn't the biggest change. Bates used to run a triple-option, but now goes to a spread formation as most of the teams in the conference play. Brendan Costa didn't start at quarterback until the fourth game, but was under center the rest of the season. Costa's first start came against Williams. He was 6 for 12 for 109 yards and four interceptions in a 47-14 Eph victory. The Bobcats have four wide receivers, all of them first-year starters. Veteran linebackers Tyler Harrington and Chase Fulton anchor the new defense. The Bobcats open the season at home against Amherst.
MIDDLEBURY (7-2) — The Panthers provided Eph freshman quartetback Bobby Maimaron with his first signature moment. Maimaron's 15-yard touchdown pass to Frank Stola on the last play of the game gave Williams a 27-26 win over the Panthers. Coach Bobby Ritter's Panthers return 10 offensive starters and six on the defensive side of the ball. Quarterback Jack Meservy started the final three games, throwing only three interceptions while getting eight touchdowns. Drew Jacobs and Peter Scibilia are the running backs, while the top target is Conrado Banky. On defense, junior Martin Williams is the only returning starter on the line, while Kevin Maxwell and Clay Hunt are the top tacklers at linebacker. Maxwell is the top returning tackler on the team. Middlebury opens up at Wesleyan.
TUFTS (5-4) — Coach Jay Civetti's Jumbos are going for a fourth-consecutive winning season in 2018. Quarterback Ryan McDonald leads an offense that returns the bulk of last year's starters. McDonald now holds the school record for total offense. Tufts scored 26 points and averaged almost 400 yards per game. McDonald was 25 for 40 against Williams last year with a touchdown pass in a win at Farley-Lamb Field. Dom Borelli and Mike Pedrini will do most of the running, while Jack Dolan is McDonald's top target. Linebacker Greg Holt is Tufts' all-time leading tackler and anchors the Jumbos defense. Tufts managed 30 sacks last year, but only Nmesoma Nwafor returns along the front line. The Jumbos open the season at Hamilton.
HAMILTON (3-6) — The Continentals were somewhat like the Ephs a year ago, young and improving. Coach Dave Murray's team returns its top 10 tacklers from last year, led by middle linebacker Tyler Hudson, who had 92 tackles. Defensive end Alex Ganter had 4 1/2 sacks to lead the club. Defensive back Colby Jones was the final NESCAC defensive player of the week in 2017. On offense, quarterback Kenny Gray returns and has all of his weapons back. Mitch Bierman is the top running threat, while Gray has receivers Billy Wagner, Joe Schmidt and Eli Saucier to choose from when he wants to throw. Hamilton hosts Tufts for the season opener.
WESLEYAN (6-3) — The Cardinals have beaten the Ephs five consecutive times, two of those wins coming in the Purple Valley. Former Williams lineman Eric Ludwig is head coach Dan DiCenzo's offensive coordinator, and Ludwig pushed the right buttons in 2017. DiCenzo, a former Eph player and assistant coach, saw his team rank first in several categories, while placing second in total offense, passing, passing touchdowns and third-down conversions. Quarterback Mark Piccirillo is a three-year starter and broke 11 school records last year. He is adept at running as he is at throwing the ball. Keep an eye on wide receiver Dario Highsmith, who joined the Cardinals last year after starting at West Point. Linebacker Brandon Morris is the anchor for the Cards on defense. Grant Williams, a two-time, All-NESCAC pick, is a big force on the line while defensive back Ben Thaw led the conference with four interceptions. The Cardinals will host Middlebury in the season opener.
AMHERST (7-2) — Last year's Williams-Amherst game was an instant classic. Maimaron's 11-yard run in overtime put Williams ahead. But the play of the game was made by corner Amhyr Barber, who tackled James O'Regan one yard shy of a first down. Reece Foy's fourth-down pass was incomplete, and Williams had a 31-24 win. Foy has graduated, but Ollie Eberth takes over at quarterback. Eberth has a lot of tools at his disposal. On defense, linebacker Andrew Sommer and defensive end Andrew Yamin are the top two returning tacklers for coach E.J. Mills. For many, Nov. 10 can't come soon enough. Amherst is on the road at Bates for the season opener.
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