Even after three consecutive postponements because of COVID-19 issues and uncertainty over this weekend’s football game, the University of New Hampshire still plans to finish the Colonial Athletic Association’s six-game spring season.

Coach Sean McDonnell said as much in a conference-wide Zoom call on Monday. And that should be good news for the University of Maine, which is scheduled to play the Wildcats on April 17 at Alfond Stadium.

New Hampshire has played only one game this year, the season opener against Albany on March 5. It had a bye the next week but has since had games against Delaware, Villanova and Rhode Island – the latter announcement coming less than 24 hours before the schools were supposed to kick off in Kingston, Rhode Island – postponed because of “COVID-19 related protocols within the New Hampshire program,” according to the league.

Albany opted out of the remainder of the spring football season last week, its decision not tied to COVID-19 but instead a rash of injuries. McDonnell was asked Monday if the Wildcats also considered opting out. His answer was succinct: “Nope.”

He then expounded, “There’s always people telling you ‘What-ifs.’ And ‘What-ifs’ stop at this office. We signed up in October, in November, in early January, to do what we thought was the right thing, to play a football season. As I told my coaches, and I told my kids, we’re going to go forward with what we have, with who we have and how we have it. That’s what our plan is, that’s what our plan will always be. It’s not in my DNA, it’s not in this program’s DNA, to think any way  differently.”

McDonnell and the Wildcats aren’t alone in dealing with COVID-19 issues. As Maine Coach Nick Charlton said, “This has affected everybody’s life on this call.”


Maine’s game last Saturday with Villanova was the only one of five CAA games scheduled for last weekend that was actually played. And this week, the James Madison-Elon game has already been postponed (for COVID-related issues with the Elon program) and the Villanova-Albany game was canceled.

James Madison reached out to Villanova to play this weekend, but the Wildcats have chosen to take the weekend off – for what is essentially their third bye of the season. “How often do you have that?” asked Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante. “Never.”

On Saturday, Maine (2-2) is scheduled to play at Rhode Island, which had some COVID-19 issues last week as well. This is a big game for the Rams (2-1), who should be considered for an FCS playoff berth if they win the final two games. Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming said this season has become all about “managing distractions.”

“You put in COVID testing and you put in guys who were expected to play and all of a sudden they’re not there,” said Fleming. “There is a tremendous letdown there, there’s a tremendous distraction for your football team to get ready to play. But at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for kids who may not have played, to have to step up and do their best.”

Charlton was asked if he thought the Black Bears – who haven’t had a positive COVID-19 test result yet – would actually play the final two games, given what’s gone on across not only the CAA but all FCS conferences.

“We’re just worried about what we can control and we expect to play these games,” he said. “As I’ve said this a number of times on this call before, this is an extremely contagious virus. … We’ve been able to avoid it fortunately but it doesn’t take much to get it. I think the guys have handled it really well and I’m very proud of them.”

NOTES: Maine freshman running back Freddie Brock was honored as the CAA Rookie of the Week for his performance in the Black Bears 44-17 loss to Villanova. Brock, from Rochester, New York, rushed for a career-high 88 yards on 14 carries, scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter. Brock also caught four passes for 13 yards and returned five kickoffs for 46 yards to finish with 147 all-purpose yards. Brock leads the Black Bears with 169 rushing yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

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