November 14th, 2021 5:00pm
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 2021 season.
Offensive Player of the Year
Connor Degenhardt, QB, New Haven
The graduate student come into New Haven with his hopes, and he left no doubt. He led the Chargers to their first NE10 title since 2012 and was the leader of one of the top offenses in the league.
He led the league in completion percentage during league play as he had a solid receiving core to spread the ball around to. He was only intercepted four times all season long and went a stretch of five weeks between interceptions. He was also a dual threat as he was second in the league in rushing touchdowns including four times that he had multiple scores in a game.
His coach called him a “grown person” when asked to describe his presence on the team and for that reason, he is my 2021 Offensive Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year
Cole McCubrey, LB, Bentley
The graduate student was the rock for the Bentley defense this year. He transferred from UMass-Amherst and his experience helped to make a good Falcon defense even better.
He finished the year third in the league in tackles, picked off two passes bringing one of them back for a score, and was just in the middle of every single play every weekend. He forced fumbles, broke up passes, and pressured the opposing quarterback to help Bentley get to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
He even caught a touchdown pass against Southern Connecticut and his leadership was the main reason why Bentley was nationally ranked. For those reasons, that is why he is my 2021 Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year
Chris Pincince, New Haven
A coach gets a lot of credit for victories for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. But great coaches win games on the recruiting trail in the offseason and that is exactly what Chris Pincince has done for the New Haven football program.
He has been able to recruit solid players and in the face of COVID last year, he was able to keep his top players on the roster and give them a chance to win the elusive NE10 championship in 2021.
He is well-liked by his players and coaching staff as I heard when talking to his team after the Bentley victory. His players said that they were happy to come back for a fifth season but happier to win a championship for their coach. Most players are in it for themselves but the connection between the coach and his players was solid and it shows on and off the field.
New Haven has high expectations year in and year out and Pincince knows that and tries to exceed them. Because of the 2021 NE10 title and a playoff berth, that is the reason why he is my 2021 Coach of the Year.
Team of the Year
New Haven Chargers
This team has plenty of experience and had a huge chip on their shoulder. They had been to the playoffs in 2018 but nobody on the roster had won a league title. That all changed in 2021.
New Haven was the team to beat in the league, but nobody was able to do it. In fact, they have gotten better as the season has progressed. They have saved their best football for the final weeks of the season as they defeated the three contenders trying to knock them off. But they dominated two of three of those teams and did enough in a rainstorm to win the third.
They had a lot of players return to complete their goal of winning a title and that goal was met with a major statement. They crushed Stonehill in Week 8 and then did the same to Bentley in Week 10 to officially capture the 2021 NE10 title.
New Haven was a team of destiny in 2021 and that is why they are my 2021 Team of the Year.
Game of the Year
American International 40 Pace 33
I was watching the stream on a Friday night in September. Once Pace scored and went up 26-6, I almost turned off the game. I figured it was Pace’s day and the game was over. Boy was I wrong.
American International scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to walk away with an improbable win in a non-conference matchup. It was the second straight win for the Yellow Jackets to help them to an impressive start of the season.
American International got on the board first and gained early momentum. But the duo of Carlton Aiken and Ramir Tann-Davis was just getting going. They connected for two second-quarter scores and the Setters had all the momentum heading into the half.
American International fumbled the ball midway through the third quarter and Pace recovered it in the end zone. It was 26-6 Pace and seemed like they were going to win the game.
American International was not phased and scored on their next drive. They did the same thing on their next several drives and before you knew it, the Yellow Jackets were leading 33-26 and had reeled off 27 straight points to have the lead.
With just over two minutes to play, Pace had the ball on their own 13-yard line and needed a quick drive to tie the game. 10 plays and 1:36 of game time later, Aiken found Tann-Davis to tie the score at 33 with 39 seconds to play.
American International has the ball at the 30-yard line and we looked like we are heading to overtime. But Jayson DeMild and his receivers have other ideas.
DeMild found Jackson Ramsey and he scampered 43 yards to get the ball to the Pace 27-yard line. After an incompletion, DeMild caps off his incredible night with a touchdown strike to Jahei McGuire for the Yellow Jackets to regain the lead.
Pace was not finished yet. They had 18 seconds and 75 yards to tie the game again. Aiken finds Lamar Moore to get the ball into American International territory. But he is picked off in the end zone as time expires.
The teams combined for over 900 yards, 73 points, and one incredible comeback. That is the reason why I chose this as the 2021 Game of the Year.