Trinity Football Excited For Its Chance At A Third-Straight NESCAC Title In 2018

Trinity Football Excited For Its Chance At A Third-Straight NESCAC Title In 2018
Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College football team, coached by Jeff Devanney (13th Season), captured its 10th New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title in dramatic fashion last fall, clinching the title in the historic ninth game of the season with a 24-3 win against Wesleyan to finish 8-1 in the first nine-game season in conference history.  The Bantams won six games by at least 22 points, scored at least 28 points in six of nine games, and extended winning streaks of 19 games or more against Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, and Hamilton.  Trinity returns 50 letterwinners and 14 starters from last year's squad, including senior tri-captains Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.), Sameir Madden (Norristown, Pa.), and Nick Rose (Arlington, Mass.)in 2018.  Six players who earned All-NESCAC honors in 2017 will grace the roster this autumn, and an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball and on special teams return. 

The Bantams, which also won the 2016 NESCAC crown with an undefeated (8-0) campaign, will play four times at home and hit the road five times for the first time this fall, including a chance at its 22nd-consecutive, season-opening win on September 15 at Colby.  Chipouras is one of the most productive running backs in Trinity history and the Bantam defense will be one the stingiest in the Northeast once again.  Two keys to another title run will be replacing two-time All-American Chris Simmons on the offensive line and two-time All-NESCAC Sonny Puzzo under center.  Trinity has a great chance for its first NESCAC "three-peat" since 2004, and the experts agree as evidenced by a No. 29 national ranking in the College Football America 2018 Yearbook Division III Pre-Season Poll. 

Chipouras was the 2015 NESCAC Offensive Rookie of the Year and has added All-NESCAC First Team honors in each of the last two campaigns while racking up conference bests of 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground last fall.  Speedy sophomore Colin Beaulieu (Bethany, Conn.) showed promise as a rookie in the backfield and as a returner.  Junior Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.) burst on the scene as an All-NESCAC wide receiver in 2017, catching 52 passes for 741 yards in six scores.  Sophomores Jonathan Girard (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and Dakota Foster (Hyattsville, Md.) were impressive as rookies, totaling 28 catches between them, and both averaged over 18 yards per reception.  Senior Matt LaPorta (Ridgefield, Conn.) adds quality depth at receiver and in the return game, while versatile junior Joe Samuelman (North Andover, Mass.) should settle in as the top option at tight end/H-back.

Simmons was nothing short of dominant over four years as offensive tackle, but juniorAustin Baiardi (Smithtown, N.Y.) is of the same mold having earned already earned All-NESCAC recognition twice at the position.  Seniors Sam Bowtell (Darien, Conn.) and Steve O'Reilly (Topsfield, Mass.) have significant starting experience at guard and center, respectively, and junior Alex Wukovitz (East Hanover, N.J.) was solid when called upon to fill in last season.  Senior David Ryan (Woodbridge, Conn.) has been steady in two seasons as Puzzo's primary backup quarterback under center, but has faced stiff competition from several others in camp.  Junior Jordan Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.), who arrived at Trinity in January as a transfer from the University of Rhode Island, senior Brad Whitman (Salisbury, Mass.), and sophomore Ben Brooks (Bel Air, Md.) will also have an opportunity in an open competition for the starting role against the Mules.

The Trinity defense is perennially one of the nation's best and 2017's unit was no exception.  The Bantams finished seventh in the nation in scoring defense, 11th in pass-efficiency defense, and sixth in turnover margin last fall.  Five All-NESCAC honorees graduated from last year's group, but this season's defense is up to the challenge including Rose and 2017 All-NESCAC First Team DT Corey Jean Jacques (Haverhill, Mass.) up front.  Jean Jacques totaled 36 tackles and led Trinity in tackles for loss with nine and sacks with 4.5 (tied) in 2017.  Junior Devyn Perkins (Brookline, Mass.) has been a solid member of the of the defensive line rotation for two autumns, while sophomore DL Jimmie Christiano (Middlebury, Conn.) was a disruptive force and ended his freshman campaign as Trinity's top rookie performer.  Junior Dan McKeeney (Westwood, Mass.) slides down from linebacker to provide further depth in the trenches.

The linebacking corps will also be a team strength, led by All-NESCAC honoree Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) and four-year starter Shane Libby (Scituate, Mass.) on the outside.  Picon-Roura paced the Bantams with 61 tackles, and is equally effective against the pass with four career interceptions, while Libby has amassed 96 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss in his career.  Senior Jacob Martilotti (Wayne, Pa.) is a dependable veteran linebacker, while talented junior Daniel Negron (Hartsdale, N.Y.) is back from an injury-plagued sophomore campaign.  Sophomore Will Dencker (Newburgh, N.Y.) was a weekly contributor as a rookie in 2017 and classmates Charles Barsella (North Baldwin, N.Y.) and Xavier Francis (Bowie, Md.) give Trinity two more promising young linebackers.

Madden will man the strong safety position, after making 24 tackles and picking off a pair of passes last autumn, but the Bantam secondary must replace a pair of All-NESCAC starters. Junior Matt Patry (Medfield, Mass.) is the other returning starter after proving himself as a playmaking cornerback a year ago.  Patry notched 22.5 tackles, made two interceptions, led the team in pass breakups with eight, and forced a recovered a fumble in 2017.  Senior safety Chandler Colberg (Madison, Conn.) is eager to make his mark, and will be pushed by talented sophomore defensive backs Evander Jackson (White Plains, N.Y.) and Matt McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.).  Junior Ian McDonald (Avon, Conn.) and sophomore Hamilton Coiscou (Dorchester Center, Mass.) will battle it out with other young players early in the season for the other cornerback spot.

Senior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) is one of the nation's top kickers and one of the best offensive weapons in the conference.  He is a two-time All-NESCAC selection  collected All-New England Division II/III and All-American honors in 2016 when his perfect percentage on 50 kicks (37 PAT's, 13 FG's) led the nation.  Sachse followed that up with 56 points and seven field goals last fall, while also averaging nearly 60 yards per kickoff and even landing half of his 12 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.  McDonald has been Trinity's primary punter over the last two years, averaging 37.3 yards per attempt, and Beaulieu racked up over 500 yards on kick returns.