Week 9 Thoughts
by, 10-29-2012 at 06:15 AM (1105 Views)
When your top running back is injured, you would expect your running game to suffer a little bit. But that has not been the case for Assumption. In fact, their ground game now has more weapons than ever.
In their 59-31 victory over Pace, Assumption running backs Uly Gibson and Nick Bolio each went over the 100 yard mark. They combined for 245 yards, four scores and a 7.8 yard average each time they touched the ball.
The Greyhounds have played well two weeks in a row and now have a chance to host one of the NE-10 championship weekend games. If they defeat Merrimack on the road, they will take the fifth seed in the league and host St. Anselm. If they drop the game at Merrimack, they will travel to Bentley.
St. Anselm has been near the bottom of the NE-10 for too many years now. Head coach Pat Murphy is in his fifth season in Manchester and has seen a lot of tough days on the sidelines. Despite a losing record, St. Anselm seems to be starting to turn the corner.
They have played several of the top teams in the league tough especially at home. The latest example was last Friday night when they faced AIC. Despite falling behind in the first half, the Hawks did not quit and nearly pulled off the comeback. They scored 20 points in the fourth quarter before falling 37-34 at the end.
The Hawks are a very young team and it all starts with their freshman quarterback Andrew Murphy. He threw the ball 66 times last Friday night against AIC for 466 yards and three touchdowns. But the four interceptions is what the coaching staff will focus on and something that needs to be cleaned up in future games.
Coach Murphy knows that quarterback Murphy is still a freshman and has a lot to learn to be better in this league. But he continues to absorb the spread offense and has had success at times this season especially against some of the tougher defenses in the league. Injures focused Murphy to see playing time that he might not have seen this year.
St. Anselm continues to get better through recruiting more skilled players and making it fun for Murphy to come to work each day. He has started to build the foundation for a good football program and knows that the next step is winning more games.
When a good defense meets a good offense, it challenges both teams to find the holes in each other games. This past weekend, the defense won out as Bentley was able to slow down Merrimack to stop their two game losing streak.
The Falcons had lost two tough games to New Haven and AIC and needed a game like this to regain their confidence. They held the explosive Merrimack offense in check most of the day to officially clinch the third seed in the league and a home game to close out the season on November 10th.
The Bentley defense held Merrimack to 370 yards and picked off Joe Clancy three times in the win. This was just one week after Merrimack scored 81 points and had over 800 yards of offense in their victory over St. Anselm.
The Bentley offense offense also found their groove in the game as well. Danny Guadagnoli led the offense with his arm and legs. He was the leading rusher for the Falcons and accounted for four touchdowns.
Coach Thom Boerman is happy to win the game but will still look back at the two tough losses the previous weekends and wonder what could have been. If they had won one of those games, they might be looking forward to playing for the NE-10 title in two weeks.
Elm City Trophy
With one team nationally ranked and the other team with their first losing record since the 1990's, the outcome of the New Haven/Southern Connecticut game was not too much of a surprise. The Chargers easily handled the Owls to win their third straight game over their cross-town rival.
New Haven was strong early but Southern Connecticut answered in the second quarter. The Owls had success running the ball but were not able to slow down the New Haven offense. The Chargers scored the game's final 35 points to win the game going away and claim bragging rights with the Elm City Trophy for another year.
It is ironic that since New Haven started their football program again in 2009, Southern Connecticut has fallen on tough times. They will have their first losing record in 19 seasons and seem to be well behind New Haven right now. The Owls are an extremely young team and are hoping that the future will bring success.
Game of the Year
Now that both New Haven and AIC have taken on all comers in the NE-10, they can finally turn their attention to each other. They are both undefeated in the league and have both clinched spots in the first ever NE-10 championship game.
But there are other things at stake when they kick off at 1 PM on Saturday afternoon in Springfield. New Haven has won 15 straight NE-10 games which is a league record. The Chargers have not lost to an NE-10 team since 2010 when they fell to St. Anselm at home to close out the season.
Both teams are also right in the middle of the playoff rankings and a loss will hurt either team for Super Region One. Neither team has the strongest strength of schedule right now to absorb a loss and still make the playoffs. A sweep either way will help to vault that team into the playoffs.
This game has all of the makings to be one of the best NE-10 games in recent memory. Both teams are solid on both sides of the ball and it going to be very physical in the trenches. Both defenses play like brick walls and don't allow much yardage. Both offenses have had success in moving the ball and will face their toughest competition of the season. But something has to give and one team is going to do enough to win the game.
We are just one week away from the first ever NE-10 championship weekend. Besides the championship game, the top eight in the league will be in action that weekend to close out the season.
Besides the top two teams playing each for the right to hoist the championship trophy, three other games will be played. The sixth seed team will play the third seeded team. The seventh seed will play at the fourth seed and the eighth seed will travel to the fifth seed.
Based on the current standings and if the season ended today, here are the potential match-ups:
2. AIC @ 1. New Haven.
6. Assumption @ 3. Bentley
7. Southern Connecticut @ 4. Stonehill
8. St. Anselm @ 5. Merrimack
Home field has been clinched for both Bentley and Stonehill. They are both locked into the third and fourth seeds, no matter the results this weekend. The winner of the Merrimack/Assumption game will be the fifth seed and become the final host for the weekend. Since they both lost to Stonehill, they will lose the tiebreaker in case of two teams with a 4-4 record in the league.
Southern Connecticut and St. Anselm are also both locked into the seventh and eight seeds and will hit the road next weekend. The Owls will travel to Stonehill to try to avenge their 13-0 loss earlier in the season. The Hawks will travel to the winner of the Merrimack/Assumption.
Lastly and certainty not least, the winner of the New Haven/AIC game will host the NE-10 championship game and they will line up for a second straight weekend. First, it is for home field advantage and then for the trophy and a potential spot in the playoffs.