September 27, 2011

Endicott's Eagan shines in a week of offense

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The old Dartmouth quarterback Steve Stetson had to appreciate the work of his quarterback in Hamilton's season-opening 24-16 victory over Tufts. Jordan Eck completed 29 of 33 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in the Continentals' victory.

Stetson would have been blown away if he could have watched Castleton State's Shane Brozowski as he threw for 458 yards and seven touchdowns in a 56-52 victory over Anna Maria.

But for all the basketball-on-grass shootouts that included 61 points by Coast Guard, there has to be space in the week's hall of honor for a defensive player.

That is because Endicott's Kevin Eagan is as good as they come. He had 13 tackles, including six for a loss, in the Gulls' 24-17 victory in the New England Football Conference showdown with Salve Regina.

The guy who must get his team ready for the 6-4, 276-pound lineman this week is Curry's Skip Bandini.

It's a big game with Curry and Endicott each 1-0 in the Boyd Division. Defending NEFC champion Endicott is 4-0 and the Colonels are 3-1 but unbeaten in Division III.

"He is a handful," Bandini said of Eagan. "He has been the best defensive player in the league the last two years.

"If any coach in the league would pick a defensive player it would be him, although Salve has some very good defensive players, too.

"He is a dominating force. He could be playing at a higher level."

And he very nearly did. He came out of Northwest Catholic in Connecticut where he played on the same line with Mike Golic's sons. The Golic boys took off for Notre Dame and Eagan was set to go to Rutgers to play.

But Eagan's older brother Mike did not have a great experience at at D-I school and finished his career playing for JB Wells at Endicott where he enjoyed his time.

Kevin's parent put down a deposit at Endicott just in case he had a change of heart. Sure enough, he did, the summer he was set to go to Rutgers.

"He's a once-in-a-career player," Wells said. "You probably get to coach someone like this once in a lifetime.

"It's a perfect situation. You put together a player who is your hardest worker with his talent and this is what you get.

"He's having a great time here; always has a smile on his face."

"He also has the speed to track you down from behind. You have to figure out what to do against him. You have to game plan for him; he's that good, Bandini said."

Curry lost to Endicott last year for the first time as the Gulls fashioned a 28-24 comeback victory.

Bandini knows there is more to worry about than Eagan and the defense. Endicott's offense is also high-powered.

"Their quarterback Phil Konopka is outstanding," Bandini said. "They are the defending champions for a reason."

If all that isn't enough for him to think about, the Gulls feature an outside linebacker named P.J. Bandini. "That will be something between us and the family," Skip said of his son.

Endicott's Mike Lane rushed for 164 yards and a score in the win against Salve, Konopka threw a TD and Dylan Rushe kicked a 30-yard field goal.

Curry did its part in setting up the showdown by beating MIT 27-12 as Phil Bigelow ran for 167 yards and a touchdown and Robert Bambini had eight catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

"Endicott-Curry is a special rivalry," Wells said.

"It was a big game last year and it is the same this year, except this time it's down at their place under the lights.

"And you have the subtext with Skip's kid. I was very pleased with how he played last week. He is getting less green and playing very well at outside backer."

Lancers, Mariners stay perfect

A hot team on the other side of the NEFC (Bogan Division) is Worcester State. The Lancers went to 4-0 by outlasting Westfield State 42-40 in three overtimes. Marcus Price had the winning touchdown. His work included 149 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries.

Maine Maritime also remained unbeaten, hiking its record to 3-0 with a 40-7 pasting of Fitchburg State.

It was business as usual for the gang from Castine. The Mariners threw a grand total of four passes. They rolled up 313 yards of offense in the first half alone. Ian Champeon led the bruising ground game with 126 yards. Nate Duford made the most of his chances as a receiver in an offense that shuns the pass. He had 65 receiving yards with a touchdown.

A big 'D' in UMD

UMass-Dartmouth's defense pitched a shutout. The Corsairs blanked Plymouth and Patrick Orlando threw for a touchdown and ran for another.

Homecoming to remember

Western New England freshman Andrew Walz won't forget his first Homecoming Game. He caught his first collegiate touchdown pass. That was one of his five catches as he helped the Golden Bears to a 38-23 victory over Nichols.

And speaking of memories, Coast Guard's Tyler Hames made some. He crossed the goal line five times in the Bears' 61-30 victory over Mass. Maritime. He ran for four touchdowns and caught a pass for the other. Jacob Shackelford was good on both of his field goal attempts for Coast Guard.

Shootout at the Castleton corral

Anna Maria's Mike Joseph planted his face in the end zone and stayed motionless for a few seconds, expressing the agony of the AmCats as Adam Farmer caught the touchdown pass from Brozowski with 15 seconds left.

The 56-52 loss was likely the toughest one of all of them as Anna Maria went to 0-22 in its young history. It was frustrating because the AmCats had the lead much of the day.

"It felt like we could score every time we went out on the field," Castleton offensive lineman Chris Kiernan said.

Brandon Boyle caught eight passes for 126 yards and a TD.

"Brandon Boyle is amazing. I could throw to him all day," Brozowski said.

But he distributed the ball, throwing to everyone.

"We have a great quarterback and everybody got the rock today. That''s the way it should be," Farmer said.

Zack Waitkus, who made it onto the depth chart when Mike Patterson was scartched before the game, tied a program record with three TD catches in the game. That record was set by Boyle last year.

A Castleton homecoming crowd of 3,640 was treated to the offensive extravaganza and saw first-year coach Marc Klatt get his first win.

Framingham combo strikes twice

Framingham State quarterback Matt Silva threw two touchdown passes and both went to James McCarthy as the Rams outgunned Bridgewater State 28-20.

Gallaudet tears down Builders

Gallaudet barely missed picking off D.C. rival Catholic earlier, coming within a play of beating their neighbor in 26 meetings.

This time the Bison did end a losing streak against a longtime nemesis. They beat Apprentice 14-3, Gallaudet's first win against the Builders since 1934. Apprentice had won 12 straight against the Bison in a span from 1960 through 2002.

You might remember Gallaudet's Tony Tatum. Hundreds and hundreds of fans do. He was the Gallaudet player who made the incredibly athletic play that turned into an interception and was viewed on YouTube by over a million fans in two days and also made a splash on ESPN, D3football.com, Sports Illustrated and so on.

He might not get on the national stage every week, but he does play well every week. Against the Builders, he returned an interception 43 yards and made a tackle for a loss.

Ida strikes blow for ECFC

Mount Ida struck a blow for the fldegling ECFC by picking off a good Hartwick team, 7-3 as Scott Drosendahl threw for 237 yards and the touchdown.

Johrone Bunch added 125 yards on the ground.

Cadets on the march

The Norwich Cadets got in the win column on the fourth try and, more importantly, are 1-0 in the ECFC after their 38-20 win over Becker. Quarterback Kris Sabourin ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns and Andrew Fulford had 117 yards rushing with a TD as the Cadets thrilled a crowd of 4,200.

It was the first win for new coach Mark Murnyack.

Jeffs have a kick

Amherst's Matt Rawson kicked field goals of 38 and 42 yards as the Lord Jeffs defeated Bates 20-7 in a New England Small College Athletic Conference opener.

Wesleyan also got its season off to a winning start in the NESCAC, edging Middlebury 16-15 with Matt Coyne scoring the game-winner on a draw play with 1:57 remaining.

Middlebury led 15-7 when Wesleyan's Sebastian Aguirre sliced the lead with a 34-yard field goal.

McCallum Foote made his debut at quarterback for Middlebury and threw for 228 yards and a score.

Bantams love openers

Trinity won its 16th consecutive season opener, topping Colby 28-10 as Ben Crick led the way with 84 yards on seven carries, including a 42-yard touchdown run.

Ephs say 'whew'

Darren Hartswell had to intecept a pass in the end zone on the last play of the game to preserve Williams' 24-21 win over Bowdoin. He was inserted into the defense for that play. He also caught five passes for 84 yards.

The Big Games

When they turn on the lights in Milton, Mass., for the Endicott-Curry game it will be quite an atmosphere with high stakes.

An intriguing game in the ECFC has Mount Ida at Norwich. Defending champion SUNY-Maritime is the favorite, but Ida, Norwich and Gallaudet seem to be the teams poised to pounce if the Privateers stumble. Ida-Norwich is a rematch of the 2009 ECFC championship game.

Stetson's Continentals would love to be in the unfamiliar environs of 2-0 and they will try to get there by hosting Wesleyan, also 1-0.

Another NESCAC game pitting 1-0 teams has Trinity hosting Williams.

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter.

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