Around the Region

East season in review

Another regular season has come and gone, so I thought I would take this week’s final column to review and wrap up another fantastic season of Division III football Around the East.

Two of the conferences featured in the column, the Empire Eight and New Jersey Athletic Conference, debuted new alignments as we entered the 2015 season. Christopher Newport, Frostburg State, Salisbury and Wesley joined the NJAC; while Cortland State and Morrisville State moved into the E8.

These movements created two super competitive conferences. Just two weeks ago, it was theoretically possible there could have been a six-way tie for the E8 title.

Overall, when you include the Liberty League and Middle Atlantic Conference, not a single preseason favorite captured their conference’s championship outright. Albright took home the MAC title after being picked to finish at .500. St. Lawrence became the LL champs to dethrone four-time defending champion Hobart despite not beating them. Salisbury upset Wesley to capture the NJAC’s automatic bid, while Cortland State captured the E8 bid.

Each of the four conference winners and Wesley, who received an at large bid to the NCAA playoffs, which start Saturday. Seven others will also be in action this weekend in bowl games.

Best Team. I still don’t know. For most of the season, it was Wesley. But Salisbury (who beat Wesley) and Albright (who beat Salisbury) have good arguments too. Cortland State could jump into the conversation if they beat the Sea Gulls this weekend. Wesley would seem to have the best chance of advancing the farthest based on their draw in the bracket and remained number one in the regional rankings even after they were upset by Salisbury on November 7.

Best Shootout. Cortland State 61, Framingham St. 49. On September 12 these two team combined for 110 points and 1071 total yards of offense. The Red Dragons lead wasn’t safe until Matt Goodman returned a fumbled punt for a touchdown with just two seconds left in the game. Both teams earned playoff bids.

Biggest Upset. Salisbury 38, Wesley 35. The Sea Gulls knocked of the fourth-ranked team in the nation in Dover. Alex Potocko booted a 36-yard field goal just over two minutes left in the game and the Sea Gull defense was able to hold the top-ranked offense in D-III scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Biggest Surprise. WPI. The Engineers were picked toward the bottom of the LL standings but finished at 7-3 and by winning their last two and ECAC Bowl bid. It was their first winning season since 2008 and just the second in the last 17 seasons.

Biggest Disappointment. Ithaca lost its last five games after consecutive playoff appearances to finish at 4-6. Oh, and archrival Cortland State captured the E8 crown in their first year as a member of the conference. Runners’ up include Montclair State and Lycoming, traditional powers, who also finished 4-6.

Best Turnaround<...

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Jason Bowen

Jason Bowen has 10 years of Division III coaching experience at Wesley, where he was also the Sports Information Director. He currently provides color analysis on broadcasts of Wesley games on WDEL Radio 1150AM and has served as a staff and freelance writer for the Delaware State News in Dover. He has been a contributor for since 2006. By day he teaches high school biology. He is a 1992 graduate of and three-year letter winner at linebacker for Mansfield (Pa.) University.

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov
2011-14 columnist: Andrew Lovell


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