Nothing changed. There was an undefeated streak on the line. MIT came in as an unknown opponent, as a ‘formidable’ foe at that. Not for the Springfield Pride. Perhaps ‘formidable’ would have been a necessary term for any other team. The finale against the 7-2 Engineers (who came in undefeated on the road) was the same show it had been all year. Same show. Same result.
The 1965 and 2003 undefeated Springfield football teams, are no longer a duo atop the mountain top of Pride athletics lore. It’s a trio now. With a 43-7 scraping of the Engineers, Team 17 has joined them. Former head coach Mike DeLong commenced years, decades, of mastering an unstoppable weapon – the triple option offense. His former offensive coordinator, and the current head coach of Springfield, Mike Cerasuolo is close to crafting the project to perfection if he hasn’t already. For now, the result is a NEWMAC championship, and a possible appearance in the NCAA Tournament looms large.
Senior fullback Jordan Wilcox started his collegiate football as a member of the junior varsity team following a career at Saratoga Springs High School alongside fellow offensive teammate, quarterback Jake Eglintine.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Wilcox said. “Winning a championship, going 10-0, being perfect. Jake [Eglintine] and I have talked about this our whole lives – it’s all just so special. This is a special team and it just goes to show what we can do when we put in the work for every Saturday. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
After grinding out a 5-5, 4-6, and 5-5 record (2014-2016) in the talented conference that is the Liberty League, the Springfield seniors have their trophy, and are looking to finish their careers on a national level of competition.
“It’s all started with this class of seniors,” said senior linebacker Dom Traversa. “Us 20 strong have stayed together, and with Coach C, we were able to change the culture and turn it into this.”
All game, the Pride looked like the 13 year old kid giving his six year old brother a hard time. Just as they did to Mount Ida, WPI, Norwich, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Catholic, and Maine Maritime. If they weren’t gobbling up the turf 10 yards a drive against the Engineers, MIT could only keep them a yard or two short of the chain. Springfield averaged eight yards per rush, and 11 yards per rush before the fourth quarter.
The MIT defense came out of the gate energized. Three plays, eight yards, and the Engineer defense was able to dispatch the Pride’s dangerous run game on the first drive of the first quarter. But after holding Wilcox to four yards and Eglintine for three on Springfield’s second series, MIT could not stop Eglintine on third and three. The senior quarterback broke through up the middle and took it 48 yards into the end zone for the first score of the game. Four minutes into the contest, and the Engineers were already down 7-0.
Their defense would immediately take another gut punch on the next drive when Wilcox powered up the middle to up the total to 13. MIT managed to block Chris Humulock’s extra point attempt, but Jon Weaver caught the ball in the air to secure a two point conversion. The Engineer offense was staring at a 15-0 hole, and in desperate need of points. But they had the Pride defense to deal with. MIT was held to a 29 percent third down efficiency and averaged three yards per play. It averaged less than two yards per rush. Luke Jimenez and David McMullen recorded one interception each, while Nick Giorgio finished with two sacks and 10 tackles.
“Any time the offense falls three and out we know we have to help get the ball back quick, and we did that today,” Traversa said. “We always know they’ll find their groove so we just have to fly to that football. We did a great job of being physical.”
After three additional scoring drives on the backs of Wilcox (221 rushing yards, three touchdowns) and sophomore Hunter Belzo (50 yards, two touchdowns), Springfield was home free and jumped in the driver’s seat en route to its first NEWMAC title.
“Our mindset’s all gas, no brakes,” Wilcox said. “Full head of steam, we never worry about the other team, we can only control what we do.”
With its 10-0 record, the Pride is eligible for an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III Football Tournament. If granted a spot, Springfield will likely face Husson in the first round.
“We just need to focus on ourselves,” said Traversa. “We know what we’re capable of – we don’t have a target on our back, the other team has the target on theirs.”