Move over Chiefs-Broncos! The NEC is on linear TV! For the first time in the history of the Northeast Conference, an intra-conference matchup will air on national TV. The defending champion, St. Francis, plays Wagner in a game that may be more competitive than expected at the start of the season. Casual football fans may not be as familiar with the stars of the NEC, but Redshirt Sports is here to help with a Beginner's Guide to #NECatNite
St. Francis is one of the elder statesmen in the NEC with program roots dating to 1892. Unfortunately, season results and records from this era are unavailable due to fire. (I am not even kidding). St. Francis represented the NEC in the playoffs last year with a 9-2 regular season record and double-digit wins over every conference foe.
This year, the Red Flash are a disappointing 1-4, but they were competitive against Western Michigan, trailing by only 11 at the start of the 4th quarter before falling 35-17.
Cole Doyle is the star of the offense. The diminutive 5'10" 170-lb quarterback threw for 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions and ran for 300 yards on the ground at a six-yard per carry rate. This effort earned him a 25th-place finish in the Walter Payton Award voting.
Doyle has thrown more interceptions this year, yet he remains an electric (no pun intended) player on offense. Doyle has 857 passing yards and seven touchdowns through the air and 152 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground in 2023.
The Red Flash also have star power on defense as Carter Glassmyer and William Middleton lead the front seven with over four tackles for loss (TFL) each. Glassmyer's 13 tackles and 2.5 TFLs against Stonehill earned him NEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Wagner is another time-tested program with a football history dating back to 1927. Many may not know the Seahawks have a national championship, as they defeated Dayton in the 1987 Stagg Bowl.
The Seahawks are one of the country's most underrated stories. They are 2-3 a year after a winless campaign that included a blowout loss against Syracuse that was so lopsided, that the two teams agreed to play a shortened second half. One of those wins came against a Merrimack team that finished 8-3 last year. Wagner also competed well against Navy, holding them to 24 points in a shutout loss.
The Seahawks have a face familiar to FBS fans in Steven Krajewski, who threw for over 1500 yards and ten touchdowns from 2018-2021 for UConn. This year, Krajewski has thrown for 638 yards and five touchdowns while adding two scores on the ground.
Zachary Palmer-Smith has quietly had a solid year for the Seahawks, with 303 yards in the first five games, while Mark Didio anchors the short passing game with 20 receptions.
John Gioia and Justin Reilly lead the Seahawk front seven with over 40 tackles apiece, while Junior Wily is a ballhawk with 38 tackles and two interceptions at the safety position.
Although not the powerhouse that the Missouri Valley Football Conference is or a colossus like the CAA, they deserve this weeknight showcase on CBS Sports Network. An engaging and competitive game goes far to advance the reputation of the conference