Croce, a former high school football coach in Connecticut, joined Mulrooney shortly after he was introduced as Anna Maria’s third head coach in December 2016. He has experience as both a head coach and offensive coordinator and has been a full-time firefighter in Waterbury, Connecticut for 30 years.
“Dan and the entire coaching staff built a close-knit football family at Anna Maria College … I will continue to expand on our winning formula as we move forward,” said Croce.
Mulrooney, a former defensive coordinator with WPI, guided the AMCATs to 11 wins in four seasons, along with its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title this past fall. Anna Maria competed in the NCAA Division III postseason for the first time in school history last November but saw its bid for a national title conclude with a 62-10 setback to Delaware Valley in the opening round.
Two months after Anna Maria’s best season in program history concluded, Mulrooney accepted the head coaching role with Lock Haven University, an NCAADivision II squad that posted a 1-10 record last fall.
Mulrooney replaces John Kelling, who was let go from the program last month.
“It is with great pride that I accept the head football coaching position at Lock Haven University … I am ready to build LHU football into a program with a championship culture. A culture that our entire university community, alumni, and our entire fanbase will be proud to support,” Mulrooney said, via GoLHU.com.
Mulrooney certainly transformed the Anna Maria program into a squad to watch, especially in his third season when the AMCATs concluded its 2019 campaign by matching the 2013 team with two wins. Anna Maria’s 2-3 conference record resulted in a four-way tie for third place.
Two years later, Anna Maria produced its most wins in program history with seven victories, including five league wins.
Following the conclusion of the 2021 season, Mulrooney was named the ECFC Coach of the Year, while Steve Croce was tabbed the league’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
Croce, who was the team’s offensive coordinator last fall, has been named the next head coach of the AMCATs.
“It has been an honor of a lifetime to be able to serve as the head football coach at Anna Maria College. Thank you to President Retelle and the administration for giving me the opportunity and resources to lead and positively impact a great group of student-athletes,” Mulrooney said, via GoAMCATs.com.
“It’s an honor to be named the head coach of Dean College,” said Murphy, via DeanBulldogs.com. “I’d like to thank Present (Paula) Rooney and (Dean College’s Director of Athletics) George Martin for giving e such an incredible opportunity to return home and lead this remarkable group of student-athletes. I owe so much to Dean College and I am eternally grateful to serve the Dean Community in this capacity.”
Murphy inherits a Bulldogs squad that finished 2-8 last fall, including 1-5 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC). In 2019, the Bulldogs captured their first-ever ECFC crown with a 4-1 conference record and represented the league in the New England Bowl against Endicott College.
Prior to being named the new head coach of Dean College, Murphy coached for a slew of collegiate and high school programs, including Columbia University where he spent four of the last five seasons overseeing the defensive backs.
Another season of New England college football — and yes, preps and high schools, too — are slowly ending. But the 2021 season is still on my mind.
After not seeing so many local teams compete last fall due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was an amazing feeling to pace the sidelines these last few months and watch numerous student-athletes compete on the gridiron.
There were some of the “usual suspects” that either won or were in the mix for their respective conference title to some new teams, especially in NCAA Division III that deserve our attention going forward.
Before we officially say so long and farewell to a fun season of coverage, allow me to revisit a few stories that I certainly will remember from this season.
Holy Cross not only won its third-straight Patriot League title, including two in the same year, thanks to a shortened spring season to go with their first postseason victory in program history. And despite losing on Friday in the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs to the University of Villanova, the future is very bright for coach Bob Chesney’s squad.
Harvard University captured their 137th meeting with Yale University last month, thanks to a game-winning touchdown pass from Luke Emge to Kym Wimberly. The 34-31 victory by the Crimson clinched their first eight-win season since 2015.
Sacred Heart University made its second-straight appearance in the NCAA FCS Tournament, but came up short to Holy Cross, which edged the Pioneers in the opening round by a score of 13-10. The Red and White will graduate some key pieces from this year’s squad, but will attempt to win their third-straight Northeast Conference crown next fall.
Bentley University and the University of New Haven were two teams to watch in New England NCAA Division II.
Both teams met twice last month, including in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Two weeks earlier, the Falcons and Chargers squared-off in an early November contest with New Haven not only winning the game, but also securing their first Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown since 2012.
The Chargers lost to Kutztown University last weekend in the second round of the playoffs, but they will certainly be a team to watch next season — the same could be said for the Falcons.
Bentley’s Stephen Sturm was one of a few NE10 signal-callers to watch this fall as he concluded the season with a league-high 23 touchdown passes.
Saint Anselm’s Drew Willoughby, who was named the league’s Rookie of the Year, threw for a league-high 2,803 passing yards to go with 22 touchdowns. He averaged 311.4 passing yards per game.
Anna Maria College won its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title with seven wins, which is the most victories any AMCATs squad has recorded in a single season. And despite losing to Delaware Valley in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, coach Dan Mulrooney’s squad will certainly be a team to watch next fall, both in and outside of the ECFC.
The 2021 Williams College football team made history by becoming the first squad to win nine games in a single season.
The Ephs capped their campaign with three impressive wins over Amherst College (24-19), Trinity College (42-3), and Wesleyan University (25-0) to clinch a 9-0 record, their first perfect season since 2010.
Colby College could be a team to watch next fall as they matched their 2013 squad with four wins.
The Mules captured their second-straight Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown with a pair of victories over Bates College (10-2) and Bowdoin College (21-10).
Tom Kelley and the Framingham State University football team won their third-straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown outright. The Rams concluded their season with an 8-3 overall record for the third consecutive season, as well as posted a perfect 8-0 league mark for the second-straight year.
The Rams will continue to be the team to watch (and yes, follow) in 2022, but will certainly be challenged by a slew of teams in the MASCAC.
Endicott College captured its first conference crown since 2013, as well as hosted its first-ever NCAA playoff game.
Coach Paul McGonagle’s Gulls will certainly be a team to watch next fall — the Green and White are young and will return a slew of talent from this year’s squad on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Mike Ingraffia and wide receiver Shane Aylward.
After starting its season with a 1-3 record, Springfield College bounced back with six-straight wins to capture its second New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown. The Pride ended their season with three important wins against Catholic University (28-14), MIT (17-7), and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (28-23).
NCAA D-III Football Teams to Watch in 2022: Bridgewater State, Husson University, Salve Regina University, Plymouth State, Trinity College, Tufts University, UMass Dartmouth, University of New England, and WesternConnecticut.
Aviles-Santos, who recorded 339 yards of total offense, scored two of his six touchdowns in the opening frame, including a three-yard rushing score with 11:56 remaining that provided UMass Dartmouth with a lead that would eventually grow to 22-3 at the break.
Both teams would trade touchdowns throughout the third quarter – Alfred State did pull within three scores (34-16) when Jake Palmer capped a four-play, 58-yard drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown, but that would be the closest they would get. UMass Dartmouth would tack on one more score in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Aviles-Santos to Winston DeLeon.
Alfred State’s Aaron Jenkins, who was named the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Offensive Player of the Year, ended the game with 287 yards of total offense, including 215 yards passing and one touchdown. Mike Nushar led the Pioneers’ defense with a game-high 21 total tackles, including 12 solo stops to go with one forced fumble.
Despite the loss, the Pioneers concluded the season with six wins, which is the most they have recorded in a single season since their initial campaign in 2013.
Merchant Marine 63, Western New England 35: Coach Mike Toop won his final game on the sidelines as the Mariners jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back as the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) capped its season with a New England Bowl against the Golden Bears of Western New England.
Ian Blankenship recorded seven touchdowns in the win – he rushed for a game-high 137 yards on 30 carries for four scores while completing 4 of 11 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Talsen Smith caught both touchdown passes while finishing the contest with three catches for 120 yards.
Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak led all receivers with 130 yards on six grabs and caught three touchdowns.
As a team, USMMA recorded 579 yards of total offense on 83 plays compared to 412 yards on 85 plays for Western New England.