November 18th, 2019 3:00am
With their 38-0 victory over American International, Bentley is the 2019 NE 10 champs. It is the first title for the Falcons since 2010 when they finished in a four-way tie that season.
Bentley finishes the season with five straight wins to grab the title. It looked like they were going to be in the middle of the pack after losing consecutive games to Assumption and Southern Connecticut in the middle of October. But the Falcons rallied and used their victory over New Haven in Week 4 to break the tiebreaker.
It was a tough start for the Falcons. They lost close non-conference games on the road to West Chester and American International before they made their way towards the championship run. It might have been the bye week in Week 3 that helped regroup the team and get them on the same page.
It is the fifth overall NE10 champion for the Bentley program.
With the 2019 season in the books, let’s look back at the season by team:
1. Bentley 6-4, 6-2 NE10
As mentioned above, the Falcons are the regular-season champs. They had their chances to win more games but finished the season in style with five straight victories.
They have some key players graduating but they also have Stephen Sturm and Austin Ryan back for their senior seasons. They are always in the mix and next year will be no different.
2. New Haven 7-3, 6-2 NE10
The Chargers were the preseason favorite but were not able to live up to the hype. They had big shoes to fill at the quarterback position and that is what cost New Haven the outright title.
It took weeks to find the signal-caller and have him feel comfortable in the role. The Chargers will be competitive in 2020 as they just seem to reload year after year.
T-3. Assumption 6-4, 5-3 NE10
The Greyhounds were crushed in the opening weekend against playoff participant Kutztown but rebounded nicely to be in the mix for the NE10 title. Assumption lost tough games to Pace and New Haven in the final minute and that is what cost them on the season.
Jordan McAfee emerged as the quarterback and gives the Greyhounds some depth for next year with Easton Turner back.
T-3. Stonehill 6-4, 5-3 NE10
The Skyhawks were the surprise team of the season. They were picked for the bottom tier of the league but emerged as a title contender in the middle of the season. Justin Felder was unstoppable and will be back in 2020.
They have their quarterback back and their defense is also strong so they will be solid in 2020.
T-3. Pace 6-4, 5-3 NE10
The Setters were good at times in 2019 and immature at others. They had the weapons to compete for the title, but injuries and tough losses put them in the middle of the pack.
Pace will need to replace several offensive weapons for 2020 but will be in the mix once again.
6. St. Anselm 4-7, 4-4 NE10
The Hawks won four of their final six games including defeating New Haven and Assumption on their home turf. It was quite the turnaround for St. Anselm as they looked like they were on their way to another long season. But they rallied to defeat New Haven in the final minutes of the game and their confidence grew.
They have several key players graduating but they have some key cogs back in the mix for next year.
7. American International 4-6, 3-5 NE10
The Yellow Jackets had some success in 2019 after a couple of tough seasons. They were competitive at times and defeated eventual conference champ Bentley in Week 2.
AIC has a couple of running backs back for next year and a quarterback that played well at times. If they are able to keep their defense at a high level, they always have a chance.
8. Southern Connecticut 2-8, 2-6 NE10
It was a tough season for the Owls. They had high hopes to compete for the title but started the year 0-4 and were never able to recover. They had chances late in those four games to win but were not able to pull out any of the games. The highlight of the season will be a 31-17 victory at conference champ Bentley in mid-October.
Jackson Ostrowsky emerged a solid quarterback and has three years of eligibility to help the Owls get back to the top of the league.
9. Franklin Pierce 1-10, 0-8 NE10
They got their first program victory in Week 2 against Curry College but were not able to end up on the right side of the scoreboard over the final nine weeks of the season.
Head coach Russell Gaskamp is just building the foundation of the program. He had limited numbers in spring ball and most of the players that arrived on campus in August were playing college football for the first time. They were learning on the fly and it showed at times.
If you give Gaskamp a couple of recruiting classes to build the program, you will see progress and they will be a competitive team week in and week out. It is tough to build a program from scratch and it takes some time.
As expected, the NE10 had zero teams in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. In fact, that was the second straight season of no teams in the playoffs. The league has taken huge strides over the past decade and has been competitive in the region.
But the loss of LIU Post and Merrimack hurt the league this year. Both went Division 1 and forced the league to fill in gaps in the schedule. They welcomed Franklin Pierce but a first-year program is not going to help in strength of schedule.
The playoff absent is mainly because of the first weekend of the season. The league went 1-8 outside of the conference and that doesn’t help in the long run. Some teams had a chance to pull out some victories but were not able to seal the deal.
Imagine if Bentley knocked off West Chester or New Haven held on to beat IUP, we would be talking about playoffs right now. But that is in the past and we need to focus on the future right.
The league needs to win out of conference games and have a team emerge within the league to make the playoffs. It was an exciting year to watch games in the league. The league was extremely balanced, and anyone could knock anyone else off week in and week out.
The 2020 season will be here before you know it.