Sarah DeWolfe | Staff Writer

As students filed back to Newport for the fall semester many were worried about classes, the cost of textbooks, and professors. However, 99 students returned to campus with another thing on their minds: Football. The Seahawks were back in action and ready to build off of the success they found in the 2016 season, finishing 6-1 in the Coastal Commonwealth Conference (CCC) and 8-2 overall. The mission of any sports team is always bent upon improvement, and although they finished the season just short of this year’s bowl game with a 3-2 record in the CCC (6-3 overall), the team was able to continue to develop many aspects of their game. They started the season on a positive note by winning their 9th straight home opener against the Worcester State Lancers.

The game was immediately taken over by the Seahawks when Sophomore Charlie Connell intercepted the first pass of the game and returned it for a pick six. The offensive depth did not go unnoticed as their 7 touchdowns of the game all belonged to different players. Standout player Senior James Dawson carried a career high 32 times and continued the momentum from last year with his 3rd straight game carrying for over 100 rushing yards. The Lancers were outmatched in the rush game completely, with Salve nearly doubling their numbers in both running attempts (36 to 17) and average yards gained per rush (3.3 to 1.9). One should be careful to judge a team based on their first game of the season, but it was clear that this team had the potential to be an offensive menace with the defense to back it up.

Senior Ian Bomely celebrates Seahawk style in their 26-20 win over Montclair State. This was the first time Salve Football played on Toppa Field in 8 years. Photo by Zan Carver.

This season also saw the anticipated return of Salve Football to Toppa Field in Newport, which acted as the home field to the Salve Regina “Newporters” until 2008. The pressure of such a grand homecoming proved to be no challenge to the Seahawks, who brought home their second W of the season. However, the opposing Montclair State Red Hawks didn’t give up without a fight. There was a total of 6 lead changes throughout the game, and with MSU blocking the tying PAT, Salve was down by one going into the 4th quarter. With the game on the line, the defense did not disappoint. MSU did not make it past the 50 yard line for the entirety of the 4th and was forced to punt three times. The defense gave up just 4 yards in the last quarter of the game to hold off the Red Hawks for good. Senior QB Danny McDermott passed for 131 yards and three touchdowns, including the sole TD to Sophomore Brendan Nunes which proved to be the game winner.

In their first conference match up, the Seahawks faced the Nichols College Bison and walked away undefeated in the CCC. This came in part due to the Bison amassing over 100 yards in penalties throughout the game. The defense worked to keep the Bison at bay and forced 6 turnovers. Notable defensive performances include Senior Damian Dell’Anno who recorded a team-high 9 tackles and Freshman Matt Messner who had 5 tackles and recovered 3 fumbles. McDermott also had his 11th TD pass of the season, the most in the league. They capitalized on this momentum by adding another W to their CCC record when they faced the Endicott Gulls.

The Gulls game was full of record highs and outstanding effort for both the offensive and defensive fronts. The Seahawks broke through the Gull’s defense for a season high 541 offensive yards, which was no doubt responsible for their 1st quarter shutout and 20 points in the 4th. Senior Jake Gelb rushed for a career high 156 yards on 13 carries, one of which going just short of all the way at 74 yards. McDermott once again showed his all-star capabilities, bringing a career high 321 yards to his performance and went 14 for 26 in their 41-14 win over the Gulls.

The real test came when they went head to head with Western New England University. The Seahawks and the Golden Bears were two of the three teams to remain undefeated in the CCC, so the game determined who would be leading the conference. Unfortunately Salve was on the wrong side of the celebrations as the Bears outscored them in all but the 4th quarter, walking away with a 35-26 win. That isn’t to say that there weren’t any exceptional showings by Seahawks. Junior Brandon O’Neill was able to force a fumble while also recording 5 tackles and 2 sacs. Danny McDermott threw for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns, despite getting picked off late in the 4th. Senior Tommy Seaver also played well, receiving for 75 yards and one touchdown.

Junior Defensive Lineman Brandon O’Neill sacks Dean’s QB. O’Neill was ranked third in the conference in sacks with 5.5. Photo by Zan Carver.

The Seahawks quickly channeled those feelings of defeat into a merciless performance against the Becker College Hawks, whom they shutout 55-0 in Becker’s final home game of the season. This was the second shutout of the season for Salve; they previously beat Dean College 27-0. The offensive attacks could not be stopped, led by McDermott who threw 12/14 for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jake Gelb was a force as usual, accumulating 96 yards and two TDs in 18 total carries. The attack began when Salve defense forced Becker to punt in the 1st quarter, but the ball didn’t get very far. Sophomore Brandon Caplan rushed forward, blocked the kick, and was able to retrieve it and find the end zone for the first score of the game. Disaster struck the Hawks once more when Junior Haiden Pereira strip-sacked their QB of the ball and kindly set up the offense at the 10 yard line, where McDermott connected with Sophomore Mike Nestor to make it 20-0. In the plays that followed the Becker QB was stripped yet again (this time by Senior Michael Matarredona) resulting in a Seahawk score, a bad snap was recovered by Gelb which also resulted in a touchdown, and Freshman backup QB Tyler McGovern geared up to help lead the offense to two more touchdown runs. The Seahawks were absolutely in control of the game from beginning to end on both offense and defense.

The final game of the season was hosted by Salve as they honored their Senior athletes against the Curry College Colonels, who haven’t beaten Salve in 7 years. Unfortunately, they were defeated 37-20 and did not move on to the bowl game. The game began with Salve striking first with McDermott throwing a 68 yard bomb to Senior Connor Sullivan for the touchdown. Curry couldn’t be kept down for long and tied the game, then taking the lead themselves with a field goal. Sophomore Ronnie Martin rushed into the end zone to steal the lead, but it was short lived. The Colonels scored three unanswered touchdowns until another McDermott-Sullivan connection gave the Seahawks life in the 4th quarter. It was a difficult loss, especially for the Seniors, but they were simply outplayed. Curry recorded far more yards both rushing and passing, and their offense was stronger.

Senior Connor Sullivan catches a pass from Danny McDermott in the last game of the season. McDermott connected with Sullivan for touchdowns twice on the day. Photo by Zan Carver.

The season may not have ended how they hoped it would, but the year was an impressive one for the Seahawks nonetheless. In comparison to the 2016 season, they improved in a variety of areas to bring their game to the next level. Their percentage of passing yards and pass completions both increased this year (50% last year 55% this year), in addition to their average passing yards per game and field goal percentage. They also were able to improve the amount of penalties received and average yards lost. It was also a year of individual success and many career highs. 14 players were named to the CCC All-Star teams and 2 were given distinct honors. The CCC First Team includes Nico Aronson, James Dawson, Joe McDonald, Brendan Nunes, Tommy Seaver, Brandon O’Neill, Haiden Pereira, and John Salute. CCC Second Team members are Ian Bomely, Jake Gelb, Michael Saunders, Connor Sullivan, Tyler D’Errico and David Gelormini. Aronson was named Offensive Lineman of the Year for the second year in a row. Dawson, despite suffering an injury that prevented him from finishing the last three games of the season, was awarded the Hal Chambers award for a Senior Scholar Athlete. He also managed to finish second in the league in yards and third in touchdowns.

Salve Football said goodbye to 26 young men who have played their hearts out and given everything they have to the team in order to make the Seahawks a true contender in the CCC. To them, Salve students extend congratulations and thank you for all of the hard work and dedication to the team during their careers, as well as good luck in all their future endeavors. The Senior Class of 2018:

Francisco Hardacker, Connor Sullivan, Nathan Gonzalez, Robert Askew, John Burke, Damian Dell’Anno, Chris Collins, Andrew Wisialko, Danny McDermott, Connor Russo, Jared Ombati, Jake Gelb, Andrew Harmon, James Dawson, Michael Matarredona, CJ Dipollino, Nico Aronson, Ian Bomely, Elias McDonnell, Joe McDonald, Tom Wagner, Tommy Seaver, Dillon Kuehne, David Gelormini, Mick Pernell, and Anthony Scholz.

This was a team that capitalized on mistakes, found weaknesses, and exploited them. There is no doubt that the team played to its numerous strengths all season long; a strong, active defense, crazy offensive depth that boasts a variety of options in the passing and rushing games to keeps defenses on their toes, and the ability to analyze mistakes and learn from them. The personal growth that many players saw over the season not only proved to level-up their own game, but allowed Salve football to raise their level of play to one which was hardly deviated from. They will have lost many notable players for the next season, so it will be interesting to see how they will adapt to the holes in the offense and who will step up to fill them. The countdown to the 2018 season has begun, and students can’t wait to see what’s in store. Roll, Seahawks.

For more information on stats, rosters, player profiles, and photographs visit salveathletics.com

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