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Springfield College Football: What To Know About The NEWMAC Program

Springfield College Football: What To Know About The NEWMAC Program

Springfield College football boasts an impressive history with notable names and a variety of milestones. Get to know more about the Pride.

Jun 4, 2024 by Kyle Kensing

Springfield College football owns one of the richest histories of any program at the Div. III, if not the entire sport. The Pride adopted football in the 19th Century, not long after the first-ever game was played in 1869. 

From its many noteworthy alumni, to its collection of championships, Springfield has established its place among the most consistent Div. III programs of the 21st Century. 

Get to know the Pride as they pursue a fourth consecutive NEWMAC title in 2024. 

Amos Alonzo Stagg brought football to Springfield College in 1890 

Few figures were as instrumental in growing the game of football in its infancy as Amos Alonzo Stagg. The first stop in a legendary coaching career that spanned the continental United States as well as seven different decades was Springfield. 

Then still the YMCA Training School, Stagg began the tradition that continues at Springfield today, reflected in the Pride playing at a venue that bears his name, Stagg Field.  

Springfield alum Mike DeLong belongs to the 200-Win Club 

Fewer than 100 coaches across all levels of four-year college football have 200 or more wins ahead of the 2024 season. Count Springfield alum and longtime Pride head coach Mike DeLong among that exclusive group. 

DeLong didn't make much of an impact on the field in his time as a Springfield defensive end — "I only weighed about 190 pounds. I was mostly a reserve player, a ham-and-egg kind of player," he said in a 1981 interview with the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. 

But as Springfield's head coach, no one was more successful. 

DeLong coached the Pride from 1984 to 2015 after being promoted from assistant. He won 189 games at Springfield, combined with his 12 in a two-year stint heading up Maine Maritime. 

Five of DeLong's Springfield teams from 1998 through 2006 played in the NCAA Div. III Playoffs, a number that current Pride coach Mike Cerasuolo will look to match in 2024. 

Springfield is after a fourth straight NEWMAC championship in 2024 

Cerasuolo filled some big shoes when he succeeded DeLong in 2016 but proved to be up to the task immediately with a perfect regular season in 2017. 

That year, Springfield's first in the NEWMAC, produced the Pride's first NEWMAC championship. They won another three since, all in a row from 2021 through 2023. 

Cerasuolo, also a Springfield alum, can accomplish an unprecedented feat with a four-peat in 2024. 

Making the Pride's NEWMAC dominance all the more impressive is that they have run the table in the league all three seasons. Last year, Springfield won its seven NEWMAC games by an average margin of 31.7 points. Only a 21-14 win over Merchant Marine was decided by a single-digit-point margin. 

The Pride have finished No. 1 or No. 2 in rushing offense each season since 2019 

College football's most consistent rushing attack fuels Springfield's dominance. Thanks to the one-two punch of running back Blane Hart and 2023 NEWMAC Offensive Player of the Year Arsen Shtefan at fullback, the Pride racked up a Div. III-best 380.5 rushing yards per game. 

Only Div. II national champion Harding ran for more yards per game among all NCAA programs in 2023. 

Springfield's outstanding run production a season ago was also a byproduct of All-American tackle Thomas Evans helping to plow open holes. The combination of dynamic ball carriers and productive blocking has been the program's hallmark, resulting in 345.5 rushing yards per game in 2022 (No. 2 in Div. III); 354.3 in 2021 (No. 2); and 357.4 in 2019 (No. 1). 

The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff features two Springfield products 

As noted, the list of coaches to have come through Springfield is among the sport's most impressive. Look no further than the National Football League for evidence. 

The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have two former Springfield players on the coaching staff: defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a wide receiver for the Pride in 1978-1980; and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Dave Toub, who played on the Springfield offensive line in 1980 and 1981. 

Jack Quinn, a Springfield safety and teammate of Spagnuolo, said in a 2024 interview with WGBH that Spagnuolo was someone who "would never give up." 

John Cena is a Springfield College football alum 

Another Springfield football alum who became known for a "Never Give Up" mantra is John Cena. 

The former Pride offensive lineman used Never Give Up as a slogan during his professional wrestling career — a career in which he became among the most famous the performer's in the medium's history. 

Cena was inducted into the Springfield College Hall of Fame in 2015, and honored with a NCAA Silver Anniversary Award last December. 

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