Western New England Picked as CCC Football Favorite

Western New England Picked as CCC Football Favorite

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Western New England, winners of three straight league titles (two New England Football Conference (NEFC), one CCC Football), was once again picked to top the conference in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) Preseason Coaches' Poll.

The Golden Bears earned 48 points in the poll, including six first place votes cast by the league's seven CCC Football head coaches.

WNE took the inaugural CCC Football title in 2017 with a perfect 5-0 season in league play (8-3 overall). The Golden Bears outscored conference opponents 218-82 and advanced to the First Round of the NCAA Division III Football Tournament. However, they would lose to a tough Delaware Valley team that advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals.

Landing in the second spot in the poll was Salve Regina. The Seahawks claimed 36 points and the final first place vote.

Curry and Endicott were right behind Salve as they tied for the No. 3 spot with 35 points.

Last season Curry finished as the league runner-up with its only conference loss coming against the league champions. The Colonels also represented CCC Football in the 2017 New England Bowl Series.

Endicott will be looking to bounce back into the championship conversation under the tutelage of a new head coach.

Nichols (19 points), Becker (15), and the University of New England (8) close out the poll in that order. UNE will be competing as a varsity program for the first time this year after a sub-varsity season a year ago.

The CCC Football season begins on Thursday, Aug. 30 as UNE plays its first-ever varsity game against Coast Guard with the remaining six CCC Football schools in action over the weekend. The six-game league schedule begins Saturday, Sept. 29. The team with the best conference record at the end of the regular season will be named the CCC Football Champion and will earn the conference's automatic qualifier into the 2018 NCAA Division III Football Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2018 CCC Football schedule.

 

2018 CCC Football Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. Western New England 48 (6)
2. Salve Regina 36 (1)
T-3. Curry 35
T-3. Endicott 35
5. Nichols 19
6. Becker 15
7. University of New England 8

 

2018 CCC Football Previews

Contributed by each school's sports information department.

1. Western New England

Coming off NEFC championships in 2015 and 2016 and the inaugural CCC Football crown last fall, the Western New England football team has its sights set on capturing its fourth straight conference title in 2018.

Jason Lebeau takes over as head coach of his alma mater after serving on Keith Emery's staff for the previous eight seasons. Eight All-CCC performers from the 2017 squad return, including junior running back Peter Hoff (Shelton, Conn.), senior linebacker Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.) and sophomore cornerback Zhaire House (Greenwich, Conn.). Senior Chris Quarles (Naugatuck, Conn.) will serve as Western New England's team captain.

The Golden Bears open their season on Friday, Aug. 31 with the sixth annual Pynchon SAW rivalry game at Springfield College, before returning home to host Westfield State on Saturday, Sept. 8. Western New England's non-conference slate also includes matchups with Husson (Sept. 15) and Anna Maria (Sept. 22) before CCC play gets underway on Sept. 29 at Salve Regina.

  Chris Quarles, WNE

2. Salve Regina

Kevin Gilmartin begins his sixth season as head coach of the Seahawks. The team graduated 26 seniors from last season, which presents some challenges, but Gilmartin is confident that his group will respond. "Losing a senior class of that magnitude is going to be difficult, but we will see how the next group steps up," Gilmartin said. "Every year is exciting to see the development of the potential and see how the culture and chemistry of the team grow based on the leadership of the seniors. This year we have a great group of seniors who have brought together the Salve Football Family."

Three of the Seahawks 13 seniors, defensive end Brandon O'Neill (Madison, Conn.), defensive end John Salute (Mahwah, N.J.), and linebacker Tyler D'Errico (Cheshire, Conn.) will serve as captains and each was an All-CCC performer last season. On offense the team will return two All-CCC players from last season, wide receiver Brendan Nunes (Attleboro, Mass.) and tackle Michael Saunders (Westwood, N.J.).

  Brandon O'Neill, SRU

T-3. Curry

The Curry College football program opens the 2018 season with more than 50 new faces on the roster. The Colonels return three of their All-CCC Football Selections from a year ago in Second Team Offense selections junior guard Chris Girouard (Arlington, Mass.) and junior wideout Nick Villanueva (Hanson, Mass.). The lone returning All-CCC Football selection from a year ago comes from the defensive side of the ball in senior defensive back Joseph Patti (Woburn, Mass.) who landed on the Second Team Defense. Curry looks to improve in all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) and to improve their overall and conference records.

   Nick Villanueva, CC


T-3. Endicott

Under first-year head coach Paul McGonagle, the Endicott football program has its sights on being a championship contender in 2018.

The Gulls will embark on that journey behind its four captains - Christian Pizzotti (Melrose, Mass.), William Rivera (Orangeburg, N.Y.), Connor Schinderman (Chappaqua, N.Y.) and Shane Toland (Canton, Conn.) – and the remainder of its senior class.

Endicott's non-conference schedule will also play a major role for the Gulls in returning to championship glory as the Blue and Green will take on Framingham State (Sept. 1), Bridgewater State (Sept. 7), MIT (Sept. 15), and Hobart (Sept. 22) before opening conference play against Curry on the road on Sept. 29.

  Shane TolandEC

5. Nichols

The Nichols football team is looking to regain its form from two season ago, when it closed the season with four-straight wins and posted its highest win total in more than a decade. Head coach Dale Olmsted welcomes back leading rusher, senior Jacob Duffrene (Boston, Mass.), along with sophomore Joshua Pierre-Charles (Millis, Mass.), who is back after a one-year hiatus. In 2016, 'JPC' rushed for program-record 228 yards against Anna Maria. Junior and two-time All-Conference First Team pick Tony Martignoli (Santa Rosa, Calif.) returns to his natural position at WR, where he has a combined 75 receptions over the past two seasons. The QB position features a pair of transfers in junior Michael Pina (Brockton, Mass.) (Mount Ida) and sophomore Chauncey Lowman (Taylor, Mich.) (Monroe CC) Defensively, juniors Christopher Lawrence and Michael Spraulding (Lithonia, Ga.) are the top two returning tacklers while senior McCoy Scott (Bronx, N.Y.) (52 tackles in 2016) is back and was named one of three team captains following training camp.

  Tony Martignoli, NC

6. Becker

Frank Forcucci returns for his third year as head coach of the Becker football program.

This year, the Hawks return senior linebacker Michael Bianco (Manorville, N.Y.), who was tabbed the CCC Football Defensive Player of the Year and was also named to the New England Football Writers Division III All-Star team in 2017. Bianco posted a single-season school record 119 tackles, along with 12.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups and five interceptions. In the Hawks' 14-13 victory over Nichols, Bianco picked off an NCAA record-tying five passes, returning one for a touchdown. Also on defense, the Hawks return senior defensive back Brandon Mole (Bovina, N.Y.) (captain) and defensive lineman Christian Perkins (Melrose, Mass.), senior linebacker Joseph Linnehan (Dedham, Mass.), and junior safety Vincent Thron (Wantagh, N.Y.).

On offense, the Hawks welcome back senior captains Ryan Fernandez (Miami, Fla.) (WR) and Daniel Whittenburg (Eastford, Conn.) (OL), junior offensive lineman Austin Ryan (Apopka, Fla.), senior offensive lineman Nicholas Rogerson (Pomfret, Conn.) along with running backs Kenneth McMurphy (Gilbert, Ariz.) and Emeka Carranza (White Plains, N.Y.).

 
Michael Bianco, BC

7. University of New England

After the experience of eight pre-varsity contests in 2017, the University of New England and head coach Mike Lichten enter the conference with a roster of 80 student-athletes.

 
UNE begins its first varsity season in 2018.

 

ABOUT COMMONWEALTH COAST FOOTBALL

Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) is a single-sport football conference operating under the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) umbrella. The league has been in operation since 1965 (formerly as the New England Football Conference (NEFC)). The league currently consists of seven members – Becker, Curry, Endicott, Nichols, Salve Regina, the University of New England, and Western New England. Husson will join the conference in 2019.

 

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