NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina University football head coach Kevin Gilmartin enters his fifth season and the team has participated in postseason play in all four of Gilmartin's previous seasons. Today the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) released its first-ever pre-season coaches' poll for football which has the Seahawks in contention for the title.
Western New England, which claimed the final two New England Football Conference (NEFC) titles, was picked to finish first in the now rebranded Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) league. The voting was conducted by the league's six head coaches last week.
WNE, which is ranked #24 in the D3football.com preseason Top 25, earned 34 points in the poll and claimed five of the possible six first place votes.
As the NEFC Champions, the Golden Bears earned the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament. They hosted future CCC Football member, Husson, in the first round and advanced to meet a tough Alfred squad in the second round. The Golden Bears had a late surge in that game and were almost able to scrape out a victory, but came up just short.
Salve Regina was picked second in this year's poll grabbing 28 points. The Seahawks were championship contenders in the final season of the NEFC, but came up shy of the title with a 6-1 NEFC (8-2 overall) record. However, the NEFC runner-up did have the opportunity for postseason play as it was selected to host the Inaugural New England Bowl, a collaboration between four Division III football conferences in New England.
2017 CCC Football Pre-season Coaches' Poll
- Western New England University 34 (5)
- Salve Regina University 28
- Endicott College 26 (1)
- Curry College 16
- Nichols College 12
- Becker College 10
On offense the Seahawks will be stout in the middle, returning both guards Joe McDonald (Braintree, Mass.) and Ian Bomely and last year's Offensive Lineman of the Year, center Nico Aronson (Wayne, N.J. Aronson anchored the Seahawk offensive line from his center position last season as Salve Regina allowed only two quarterback sacks the entire regular season. Other key returners on offense are senior running back James Dawson (Oradell, N.J.), tight end Tommy Seaver (Rocky Hill, Conn.), and wide out Connor Sullivan (Lowell, Mass.). Defensively the Seahawks return two of last season's breakout defensive lineman, juniors John Salute (Mahwah, N.J.) and Brandon O'Neill (Madison, Conn.). Seniors Connor Russo(Franklin Lakes, N.J.) and Nate Gonzalez (Durham, Conn.) will patrol the secondary, and junior Tyler D'Errico (Chesire, Conn.)will hold down the middle of the Seahawks defense at linebacker.
Follow more from the Commonwealth Coast Conference at http://cccathletics.com/sports/fball/2017-18/releases/2017FBALLPoll
Salve Regina University
Salve Regina athletics sponsors 20 NCAA Division III varsity sports for men and women. The Seahawks compete in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC - baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's ice hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, women's track and field, women's volleyball), New England Hockey Conference (NEHC - women's ice hockey), New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association (NEISA - sailing). Beginning in 2017-18, Salve Regina will also sponsor equestrian as a varsity sport, and adds junior varsity programs for baseball and men's lacrosse.