Saint Anselm football off to a perfect 3-0 start in their historic 2022 season


Courtesy/Jim Stankiewicz

QB Drew Willoughby looks for a pass

Luke Sugar, Sports Editor

The Saint Anselm football team is red hot to start the season, a perfect 3-0. The Hawks have dominated on both sides of the ball, outscoring their opponents 111-17. Saint Anselm football is making history this season and setting all kinds of school records.

The Hawks have the whole NE-10 conference on notice and are sending a message to their opponents and doubters.

“We’re going to play our brand of football, and we’re not going to listen to the outside noise,” said fifth-year senior offensive lineman Brian Kosicki.

“We play hard, gritty football, and this is a different era of Saint Anselm football,” said graduate student and defensive lineman Mac Barry.

The captains of this Hawks squad are senior wide receiver Anthony Brown, senior linebacker Liam Flynn, senior wide receiver Bobby Long and senior running back Vincent Wagner.

The Hawks came prepared for their season opener, stomping Millersville 28-10 at home. Star quarterback for the Hawks, Drew Willoughby, put on a clinic, throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns. The three offensive captains led by example, each finding their way into the endzone. Brown, Long and senior running back J.C. King all caught touchdown passes from Willoughby, while Wagner plowed his way into the endzone on the ground with a nine-yard rush.

The Hawks have been dialed in all season, and their enormous amount of heart, unbreakable confidence, and tenacious teamwork have all played a part in the recipe for success so far.

“The biggest thing is that everyone is bought in. Whether it’s an energy guy on the sideline, or a role player, or a starter, everyone is attacking their roles with 100% effort and intensity,” said senior offensive lineman Will Cunningham.

There’s a different kind of energy in the air this season for the Hawks – a buzz of hunger. This team has a special connection with one another and have great team chemistry on the field as well as in the locker room.

“We’re an older group and that attributes to our leadership too.

It starts from the guys up top because coach always tells us that a player led team is better than a coach led team. As long as we keep it within the confines of policing ourselves, while involving the coaches, we can go wherever we want to go,” said fifth-year senior offensive lineman Zion Hughes.

The Hawks preach fairness on and off the field. This team is a family and a brotherhood. Nobody comes before another.

“We establish relationships with all grades, and we don’t care how young or old you are. This year we’re all friends, we’re all brothers, and that’s really influenced our play,” said Kosicki.

In the Hawks’ second game of the season, they utterly dominated American International with a high-powered, relentless offensive performance. The Hawks scored an unbelievable eight touchdowns in their 56-7 blowout home victory. Willoughby was unstoppable, finding the endzone six times. Star receiver Brown was a nightmare for the AIC defense early on, reeling in three receiving touchdowns in the first quarter. The Saint Anselm defense was also tough as nails.

Joe Adam is entering his seventh season as the Head Coach of Saint Anselm football. The Hawks have a combination of strong leadership from their student-athletes and coaches, which is incredibly important for a winning culture.

“Coach Adam preaches to execute and not be complacent. If we go 11 for 11, and all 11 guys on the field execute their job, good things will happen. We talk about ‘respect everyone, but fear no one,’” said Cunningham.

In their first away game, the Hawks shut out conference foe Franklin Pierce 27-0. It was the Hawks first shutout in 18 years. The X factor was the suffocating Hawks defense, which stymied Franklin Pierce — holding them to 134 yards of offense. The Hawks made sure FPU never got comfortable on a drive. Junior defensive back Devin Wood had seven total tackles, and senior linebacker Taylor Pawelkoski had six total tackles to lead the way for the Hawks defense.

In football, it all starts with a trustworthy and confident QB. Luckily, the Hawks have one of the very best in the country. Drew Willoughby has already been named the NE-10 offensive player of the week twice and has earned the highly coveted Golden Helmet Award, given to the top-performing Division I, Division II and Division III student-athletes in New England. Willoughby’s stats speak for themself. He’s averaging 276 passing yards per game with 12 touchdowns and a 70% completion percentage.

As a big-time receiver and someone who has caught five touchdowns from Willoughby, Brown had plenty of praise for the man behind center.

“We’re both from the same area in Texas. On his recruiting visit, he stayed the night with me, so coming in day one, we had a deep connection. The confidence that he gives our offense is really good, and whenever we both see something on the field, we look at each other and know that it’s a touchdown.”

Saint Anselm football has very high expectations for this season, and they are confident in the talent, hard work and high quality of play they bring to the field every single day.

“Every rep has to be the most important rep of the season and a championship effort. You have to compete every practice like you would in a game. The end goal is definitely to win an NE-10 championship,” said Barry.

Be sure to come support the Hawks in their family weekend game at home on Saturday versus Southern Connecticut State.