Thursday’s night’s action kicked off the Division III season, but Pat Coleman and I kicked off the D3football.com travel season with Friday night’s trek to Union N.J. to watch Kean and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (nee Kings Point).
After a competitive first half — partially due to some Week 1 sloppiness — we came away impressed with the Cougars, a team that returned 21 starters from a 7-4 team, and received considerable preseason notice from observers here in New Jersey and on D3football.com.
The 48-7 final didn’t completely reflect what kind of game it was, as Merchant Marine’s defense held the Cougars to field goals three times in the first half and went in at the break trailing 18-7. Kean was much more impressive in the second half, coming out with a dominating rushing attack and bowling through the middle of the Kings Point defense to blow the game open.
It being the opener for everyone on site, there were on-air glitches, there were photographers getting their bearings shooting game action for the first time since last year and there were people like me, fumbling for the correct terminology to describe wingback sweeps. And I wasn’t on air, I was just talking to Pat.
Still, rustiness aside, it was great to have football back again. Those of you who went to games Thursday night or are headed to them Saturday I’m sure feel the same way.
I’ll get into more in this week’s Around the Nation, but Kean’s got some beautiful new facilities to go with an unprecedented-for-them run of athletic success (the Cougars were baseball champions last year, something that’s very evident when you walk into Harwood Arena, adjacent to Kean Alumni Stadium).
The football season got off to a crazy start Thursday night, as Mississippi College rallied for 21 fourth-quarter points to beat rival Millsaps, a playoff team last season, 27-26 in the annual Backyard Brawl. The message boards have been buzzing since, and with nearly 150 teams getting underway Saturday, the buzz doesn’t figure to stop. Even if stunners don’t follow, a couple top 25 teams are sure to drop when Rowan plays at Christopher Newport and UW-La Crosse goes to Hardin-Simmons.
We’ll be back on the sidelines Saturday checking out No. 6 Wesley and another team that attracted a lot of preseason attention in North Carolina Wesleyan (20 returning starters). There was some serious discussion about splitting up and having me travel to Newport News for Captains-Profs, but we have opportunities to see those teams again soon, so I guess we’ll just have to hear about it from you guys.
What are the biggest stories and concerns on your minds on opening weekend?