Trinity Football Bantam Blog by Matt Glasz'04: Entry #2
The Coop: A Decade of Dominance?
Trinity versus Williams may not garner the same national attention as the Ephs rivalry with Amherst dubbed “The Biggest Little Game in America” but those who follow NESCAC football know that the annual tilt between the Bantams and the Ephs is undoubtedly the biggest game on the football calendar with the winner gaining the inside track for a run at the league championship.
In the 40-year history of the NESCAC, Trinity and Williams have had or shared the league’s best record 25 times. Their recent history is even more impressive; over the past decade Trinity and Williams have won all but two NESCAC titles. While the two programs have historically dominated the rest of the NESCAC their contests with each other have been exceptionally balanced. Over the last 60 meetings the series stands at 29-29 with two ties. In these meetings the average score differential per game favors Williams by a mere half a point.
While the rivalry is extremely competitive it is anything but predictable. The famous 1991 Trinity-Williams game saw 3 lead changes in the game’s final minute with Trinity miraculously scoring a touchdown on the game’s final play to upset the Ephs, 30-27 and snap Williams’ (then NESCAC record, 23 game win streak). The Bantams would eventually break that streak in 2005 by beating, who else but, Williams 34-6. Trinity’s streak would ultimately reach 31 games before finally ending in a 41-16 loss to… you guessed it, Williams.
Speaking of winning streaks; Trinity is in the midst of one of the more remarkable feats in league history. A win Saturday would mark Trinity’s 40th consecutive victory at Jessee/Miller Field; a streak dating back to 2001 when Williams defeated Trinity 31-10. The Ephs nearly ended the Bantams home win streak in 2007, but a botched extra point attempt by Williams at the end of regulation extended the game and the Bantams eventually won 46-40 in triple-overtime.
Trinity has held the advantage lately, winning 6 of the last 8 contests, but Williams is coming off an undefeated season in 2010. Both teams enter Saturday’s game 1-0 after opening the season with road victories. Trinity defeated Colby 28-10 while Williams held off Bowdoin 24-21. Neither squad was particularly impressive while showcasing a very limited portion of their playbooks. Williams attempted just 20 passes while Trinity only threw the ball 12 times, a league low.
You can expect more footballs in the air on Saturday, Williams returns All-NESCAC wide receivers JC Stickney and Darren Hartwell, who torched Trinity’s secondary last year for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns. Additionally, the Eph’s starting tailback Alex Scyocurka ’14 left the Bowdoin game with an injury after only two carries. A rotation of three different tailbacks filled-in admirably and combined for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns, though Williams struggled to run the ball in the second half.
A talented Trinity front seven will need to shut down Williams’ run game early and create opportunities for Rae Haynes ’13 and the Bantam secondary to create turnovers. Offensively, Trinity must establish the run with their own trio of backs, sophomores Astheimer, Bunker and Crick. However, if Trinity hopes to beat an experienced Williams squad, one of the Bantams young receivers needs to step-up to make big plays in the passing game.
History indicates this game will be close and could come down to
the final seconds. Therefore, the kicking game will be a
crucial factor and both teams have issues. Williams kicker,
sophomore Luke Faust, missed an extra point and a chip-shot field
goal. His replacement, classmate Joe Mallock, hit the upright
on a successful 30 yard attempt. Meanwhile, Trinity’s
veteran senior kicker Tim Costello sustained an injury against
Colby. His replacement, freshman Zach Conte converted his only
extra point attempt.
On Saturday it will be 3,654 days since the Bantams’ last home loss and a very large and raucous crowd is expected. Can Trinity complete the decade of dominance in “The Coop” or will Williams end another Bantam winning streak? Either way we should be in store for yet another Trinity-Williams classic.