November 13th, 2022 12:00pm
2022 Awards Season
It is that time of the season when my Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards are handed out as well as Coach, Team, and Game of the Year.
Here are my selections for the 2022 season.
Offensive Player of the Year
Connor Degenhardt, QB, New Haven
The sixth-year player has had plenty of game experience and it showed at key times during the season. He had plenty of weapons to get the ball to and that is exactly what Degenhardt did week in and week out.
He finished the season with 28 touchdown passes to just five interceptions while completing 59% of his passes. He crossed the 2,000-yard mark for the second straight year as he used the speed to score long touchdowns.
Only one time this year was he held without a touchdown pass in a game. But Degenhardt was at another level in games on the blue turf. 20 of his 28 touchdowns were thrown in the friendly confines of DellaCamera Stadium.
Degenhardt seemed like a man among boys on the field and for that reason for the second straight year, he is my 2022 Offensive Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year
Salvatore Lupoli, Jr., Bentley, LB
The junior linebacker has been a major force all season long for Bentley. He is all over the field and seemed to be involved in every single defense play for the Falcons.
Lupoli averaged 10.1 tackles per game including five games over 10 tackles in a game. His season high was 15 tackles against New Haven in September. He was credited with seven tackles for a loss, three sacks, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and an interception.
He was a big part of a defense that allowed a mere 13 points in the entire month of October that helped to keep Bentley in the hunt for the league title.
Lupoli was the heartbeat of one of the better defenses in the league and for that reason, he is my 2022 Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year
Andy McKenzie, Assumption
When McKenzie stepped onto campus in 2018, he had some big shoes to fill. The program had made three straight playoff appearances including being one of the final eight teams standing in the 2017 season. He inherited some talented players but was not able to replicate the prior success.
Four seasons later, McKenzie has built a team with his own stamp on it. The defense has been lights out. The offense is not the flashiest, but it scores the necessary points to win games. And he has been able to recruit players that helped to win the NE10 title in 2022.
The defense started with a shutout on the opening weekend of the season to upset a playoff team from the previous season. And then they took care of business in the league. The league was won in late October after the Greyhounds knocked off defending champ New Haven to win the tiebreaker.
Assumption was picked to be competitive in the league in 2022 and exceeded those expectations. Because of the 2022 NE10 title and a playoff berth, that is the reason why he is my 2022 Coach of the Year.
Team of the Year
Assumption was picked to finish second in the league in 2022 by the coaches in the preseason poll. But eyes were opened for the league and the region during the first game.
The Greyhounds defeated Kutztown 3-0 in what most people thought was a misprint. But the defense came to play in Week One and has been the major reason for their success in 2022.
After a tough loss to Division I Merrimack, Assumption went on to take care of business in the NE10. Three straight games of similar final scores set them on the path to being in the mix for the league title.
A tough loss to Bentley as the defense was outstanding but the offense couldn’t find its rhythm made it look like it was going to be a competitive season in the league. They went to American International and won a game before the showdown against the defending champs.
Assumption found a way to walk away with a 14-13 victory over New Haven that would help them to win the regular season title. After they had another defensive gem against Saint Anselm, coupled with a Bentley loss, the Greyhounds clinched the 2022 NE10 title.
They finished the season with a decisive victory over Post and have qualified for the 2022 playoffs. The Greyhounds will host a playoff game for the first time since 2017 and are undefeated in the playoffs on their home turf.
Assumption was a team of destiny in 2022 and for that reason, they are my 2022 Team of the Year.
Game of the Year
Franklin Pierce 7 American International 3
It was a typical September day. Bright sunshine and nice football weather for a game in Springfield, MA. It was a great day for football and some history.
Franklin Pierce and American International both entered the contest 0-3 and 0-1 in the NE10. Someone was going to leave the field with the first victory of the season.
The first half featured nine drives by both teams for 261 total yards of offense and zero points. The defenses were in control for the opening 30 minutes. The Ravens had the lone scoring opportunity but missed a field goal.
The second half started the same way, all about the defenses. Franklin Pierce stopped the first Yellow Jacket drive and forced them to punt. The Ravens had the ball on their own 36-yard line.
A couple of rushes by EJ Burgess and a face mask penalty by American International quickly moved the ball into Yellow Jacket territory and to the 35-yard line.
Bryce Macina found Austyn Howe for a 30-yard line completion, and it was first and goal for Franklin Pierce. Macina called his own number and advanced the ball to the one-yard line.
Christian Keeling took the second down handoff and found the end zone. With the extra point, the Ravens were up 7-0 early in the third quarter.
Both teams then had decent drives in the third quarter, but they ended without points. The Yellow Jackets turned it over on downs and then Franklin Pierce was forced to punt.
American International used their next drive to finally get some points on the scoreboard. A combination of rushes and passes got the Yellow Jackets in position to hit a 41-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four, 7-3.
The Raven defense then took control of the game. Jaden Clark picked off a pass followed by Tyvarius Daniels who sealed the game with an interception. Franklin Pierce went into victory formation and the game was over.
It was the first Division II and NE10 victory for Franklin Pierce. They had lost the previous 21 Division II games in their three-year existence. And they had a 17-game NE10 losing streak that was snapped.
It was the second victory in program history as they defeated Division III Curry College in the second week of the 2019 season. It will be a day to remember for the program as they were in the first three games of the season but were on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
The first NE10 victory for Franklin Pierce in program history is the reason why I chose this as the 2022 Game of the Year.