Two years ago, the Husson University football team won the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference and earned a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Last season, the Eagles played in an ECAC bowl. While the goal is to win another conference title and head back to the NCAA tournament, Husson and Maine Maritime are among the New England college football teams that will have another postseason option this season if that goal isn’t met.

The inaugural New England Bowl will be played Nov. 19. The game will be a chance for members of the ECFC, the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC), New England Football Conference (NEFC), Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) to play one more game. Following the announcement of the 32-team field for the NCAA Division III playoffs on Nov. 13, the commissioners of those conferences will select two teams to play in the New England Bowl, as well as a host for the game.

To be eligible for the New England Bowl, teams must have an overall winning percentage of .667 or higher. The league commissioners will consider overall record, conference record, conference standing, head-to-head results, and results against teams selected for the NCAA tournament in selecting teams to play in the New England Bowl.

“Division III football in New England has a long and storied tradition,” NEFC and CCC Commissioner Gregg M. Kaye said in a release.

In 2016, teams competing in the ECFC, MASCAC and NEFC, as well as NEWMAC teams competing in other conferences based outside the traditional New England footprint will be eligible for the New England Bowl. In 2017, the NEFC will become the CCC, while the NEWMAC will offer football for the first time. The new program at the University of New England will compete in the NEWMAC.

If the initial New England Bowl is successful, the four commissioners plan to expand into two annual bowl games, possibly played at neutral sites, as early as 2017.

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Maine Maritime Academy opens the season at home on Saturday with a non-conference game against SUNY-Maritime. One of the Mariners’ captains this season is Lawrence graduate Josh Doolan. A senior running back, Doolan is coming back from a foot injury that caused him to miss the second half of last season.

Because of his injury, Doolan was awarded a medical waiver. While he’s a senior academically, athletically Doolan is a junior, meaning he can play in 2017 if he elects to attend grad school at MMA.

Before his season-ending injury, Doolan had 289 yards rushing for the Mariners, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. He also had three catches for 71 yards.

“Rehab was definitely a day to day process this offseason, but I feel strong and faster than ever,” Doolan said. “I am excited to get out on the field again with my team and truly play like every game is my last. We have a great group of guys who are ready to compete in every game.”

Doolan’s twin brother Jake also is in the Mariners’ backfield this season. Jake Doolan ran for 384 yards and three touchdowns last season.

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Husson opens the season on Saturday, making the long trip to western New York to take on Alfred University. The Saxons won the season opener at Husson last season, 39-25. One of the top teams in the competitive Empire 8 Conference, like Husson, Alfred played in an ECAC Bowl last season. The Saxons defeated Fitchburg State, 11-10, while Husson lost to Salve Regina, 42-39.

Alfred is a great early season, non-conference test for the Eagles. The Saxons have won at least eight games in nine of the last 12 seasons. This is the third straight season Husson and Alfred open the season against each other. Alfred won both of the last two meetings.

Cony graduate Rick Orio, a defensive back, will serve as a captain for Husson this season, along with linebacker Ellis Throckmorton and running back John Smith. Orio made 33 tackles and had an interception last season.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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