Three of biggest surprises from 2019 NJAC Football season
As the 2019 college football season winds down, we examine some of the biggest storylines and surprises of the NJAC season.
The New Jersey Athletic Conference football season is winding down as we approach Week 10 of the 2019 Division III football season. However, there have been plenty of shocks in the 2019 NJAC Football Season that have seemingly changed the dynamic of the conference.
From the dominance of Salisbury and Wesley to all of the new star players making their mark this season, there’s been plenty of interesting and pleasant surprises this season.
Salisbury and Wesley’s Utter Dominance Of The NJAC
If you take a look at the NJAC standings after Week 10, it’s been a shock to see the lack of parity in a conference that was supposed to be ultra-competitive.
It’s been the complete opposite of ultra-competitive with Salisbury holding that number one spot in the conference at 7-0 and Wesley right behind them at 7-1. Salisbury defeated Wesley 45-38 on Oct. 12 and will most likely win the conference barring a huge upset loss. Montclair State currently is third at 4-4. Kean, Christopher Newport, Rowan, The College Of New Jersey (TCNJ), and William Paterson rounds out the remainder of the standings.
Competitive teams such as Christopher Newport and Rowan have fallen flat and have looked extremely inconsistent all year. Montclair State, while boasting a solid roster, has yet to beat a team with a winning record. TCNJ and Kean have had some bright spots, but overall, they’ve struggled to put together a string of wins.
William Paterson looks like they’ve taken the steps needed to rebuild the program back to prominence. But with zero conference wins so far and their recent struggles in the passing game, it’ll take time some time for the team to be ready to compete for a conference title.
I previously stated in my “Why You Should Be Watching NJAC Football 2019” article that parity would be one of the biggest reasons you should watch the conference in 2019. I couldn’t have been this far off the mark. Hopefully, we will see a much more balanced field of play next season.
How Deep Is This Year’s Group of Running Backs?
There have been a plethora of new running backs in the conference this season that had some memorable moments this year. Many of these stars have replaced some of the current stars of today.
There has been a massive shift in the pecking order. Freshman running back sensations such as William Paterson’s Terrique Reddick, Wesley’s Marcellus Pack, and Montclair State’s Abellany Mendez has raised the standard for the position this season.
Late bloomers have come onto the scene as well. Senior running back Jessey Asare is having his best season to date after playing a relatively small role in Kean’s offense for the past three years. You also can’t forget about the workhorse of the Rowan’s offense, junior Messiah Divine. Like Asare, he stepped up hugely for his team after receiving limited playing time in years prior.
I feel bad for those who have to do the NJAC Football All-Conference teams this year because picking the best running backs for this conference will be tough.
A Wide Reciever Winning Offensive Player Of The Year?
It’s hard to argue that Ruhann Peele hasn’t been the most dominant offensive weapon in the entire conference. In fact, he might be one of the most dominant players in Division III.
Through eight games, Peele has been the nightmare that has been keeping defensive coordinators up at night. He has recorded six 100-yard receiving games, which is the most in the NJAC this season. Some of his biggest performances include a 131-yard and three-touchdown performance against Franklin Pierce (NH) on Sept. 7. and a 151-yard performance against Montclair State on Oct. 26.
Peele has great size for a receiver who has the size and speed of a Division I athlete and exceptional route-running ability. It’s no wonder he’s been able to dominate the competition the way he has.
There was cause for concern about Peele’s character and his behavior after his tumultuous run at Rutgers University. He’s quickly put that to rest with two stellar seasons with the Wesley Wolverines. He’s turned many heads in the conference and has carried the Wolverines into contention for the NCAA playoffs.
While receivers typically don’t win the Offensive Player Of The Year award, an expectation may be made for Peele. It’s undoubtedly been the biggest shock of the season to see the way Peele has played. It’s going to be interesting to see how far he takes this Wolverines squad in the postseason, should they qualify.
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