Another year, another conference championship for the Springfield College football program.
With their emphatic 51-6 win over Maritime, the Pride clinched their third consecutive NEWMAC title, and fourth since 2017.
“I couldn’t be happier for this group of kids,” head coach Mike Cerasuolo said. “They work extremely hard, are really fun to be around and have grown quite a bit this year.”
For the second straight game the Springfield offense put up over 50 points, showing their ability to control the line of scrimmage.
In the first half it was the Pride’s top three rushers that set the tone. Arsen Shtefan scored the first touchdown of the game from 10 yards out to put the Pride up 6-0.
This was only the start for the standout fullback, as he eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the seventh time this season – finishing the regular season with 1,339 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Just trust my [offensive line],” Shtefan said. “I wouldn’t be as successful as I am without them.”
Blane Hart, who set a career high in rushing yards last week, scored his first of two touchdowns on the day on the Pride’s second possession to take a 13-0 lead.
Both Hart and Shtefan made the most of senior night, combining for over 200 total yards and three touchdowns.
Jacob Silvester and Sean Brown also each scored first-half touchdowns, before Christian Hutra kicked his program-record 32nd field goal before the half to put Springfield up 30-0 at the halfway point.
Despite the offensive fireworks, it was the defense that stepped up big in the first half – holding the Privatiers to zero points, and quarterback Steven Stassi to under 100 passing yards.
“They’ve been impressive all year,” Cerasuolo said. “It’s a great group back there.”
The second half was a continuation of dominance from the Pride, scoring three more touchdowns.
Blane Hart scored his second touchdown on Springfield’s first offensive drive of the second half, and Dante Vasquez added another before Stassi found Luke Caliendo to put Maritime on the board.
Silvester responded, finding Noah Wagnblas on a fade route in the back of the endzone for the Pride’s seventh touchdown of the day.
With Shtefan, Hart and Silvester all scoring, the Pride showed its versatility on the offensive end – whether it’s up the middle, pushed outside or through the air – they can score.
“We’re a ground and pound team,” Shtefan said. “We’re gonna wear out teams everytime we’re on the field. We start fast, we finish faster.”
The Pride came into Saturday winners of 18 consecutive conference games, and extended that to 19 against the Privatiers.
“We got really good kids and good coaches,” Cerasuolo said. “When you recruit good kids and good people, good things are gonna happen – and it has here.”
For Shtefan and the rest of the seniors, winning the NEWMAC is just another goal checked off on a long list of them.
“This was on our list in the locker room,” he said. “This is what we strive to do. The next step is now to win in the first round of the playoffs. This is just the beginning for us.”
Springfield finishes the regular season 9-1 and will now await the selection show tomorrow to see who and where they’ll be playing in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Photo courtesy of Springfield Athletics