By Joe Arruda
The Springfield College football team took the field at home for the first time in 693 days on Saturday to a roar from the packed Stagg Field bleachers. The sea of maroon and white erupted with cowbells, cell phones out, excited to be back. The energy never slowed as the team did everything it could on the field to incite it from the very first play in the 60-0 onslaught of conference-foe Coast Guard Academy.
Springfield won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. On the opening kickoff, star placekicker Christian Hutra pushed an onside kick that fooled everyone – except the Pride of course. Hutra let the ball go its 10 yards and jumped on it himself, setting the Pride up with their first offensive possession of the day.
The crowd erupted and seven plays later, fullback Tim Callahan punched the ball in from the goal line to give Springfield an early 7-0 lead.
On the very next drive, Springfield’s defense forced the first of seven Coast Guard punts. This one, however, was fumbled by the Bears’ punter, Finnegan Hall and recovered by Springfield’s Richard Boni at the Coast Guard 16 yard line. Senior quarterback David Wells ran 15 yards to the one yard line where his classmate, Pat Ladas, powered his way into the endzone.
Again, the Stagg Field bleachers shook.
“It was awesome,” Pride head coach Mike Cerasuolo said after the game. “The excitement back at Stagg was awesome for the kids and it was just surreal. It was so long leading up to this and just watching these kids compete today, the energy they brought throughout the entire game for each other – it was really special.”
The Pride fed off that energy from the moment they ran on the field to when they celebrated their way off of it after the final victory formation.
The Pride takes the field! pic.twitter.com/1WoXd4UqVp
— Joe Arruda (@joearruda9) October 9, 2021
The Coast Guard defense could do nothing to stop the renowned Springfield College triple option and after the first half, Springfield led the game in total yards, 328 to one. The Pride finished with 548 total yards compared to Coast Guard’s 42.
The blowout allowed for Springfield to get players into the game that don’t often get a chance, while the typical stars were able to cheer along the sideline. Six different players scored touchdowns on Saturday, including Callahan (two) and Ladas (two).
“Honestly, it’s more fun than having the touchdowns myself,” Callahan said. “Just seeing Joe Cannizzaro, even Pat Ladas, getting out there and scoring touchdowns. It’s great to see everyone buzzing around making things happen.”
Callahan, who had just 19 of Springfield’s 434 rushing yards, only needed to carry the ball five times. Senior running back Isaiah Cashwell-Doe also carried the ball just five times, but finished with 68 rushing yards and added on a 35-yard reception. Wells led the attack from the quarterback position with 79 yards passing, including a touchdown and 75 rushing yards, until he was replaced by first-year Chris Keefe.
Q2, 8:28 — TOUCHDOWN Springfield. David Wells completes an 18-yard pass to Ian Porter who makes a spectacular catch in the end zone. Hutra’s extra point is GOOD.
37-0 Springfield pic.twitter.com/FA9hJgou7a
— Joe Arruda (@joearruda9) October 9, 2021
“It was a lot of fun. It’s been a long time, two years we’ve been away from it (Stagg). Obviously, scoreboard, things went great for us. It was just good to see everybody getting plays, everyone getting in and everyone having a good time,” Callahan said.
Typically in blowouts, the crowd tends to disperse before the final play. That was not the case at Stagg Field on Saturday where fans chose to soak in every minute of Springfield College football after COVID got in the way of a 2020 season and the team started the year with four games on the road.
Coming off of a tough loss to Husson the last time out, the Pride worked hard in practice through a bye-week last week in preparation for Saturday’s conference opener.
“A lot of kids have continued to step up and obviously the coaching staff did a great job,” Cerasuolo said. “We are just really proud of the effort they put in and the energy they brought today.”
Springfield, which came into the season projected to win the NEWMAC, will hope to use this performance as a launching pad for something special. Though the team will return to the road for the next two weeks, Stagg Field will be waiting for them on Oct. 30 prepared to battle Merchant Marine.
Photo courtesy of Caio Costa/The Student