By Brittany Burke
Spring training has come and gone for the reigning Northeast Conference Champion CCSU Blue Devils football team. Beginning on April 1 with practices, the Blue Devils’ spring season came to a close, culminating in the annual Blue and White scrimmage game.
The day’s events included more than just a football game. The 2011 team captains were announced during half time, preceded by a performance from the CCSU dance team. The senior athletes taking over as Blue Devils captains are Brendan Brackett, Brian Fowler, Dominic Giampetro, Gunnar Jespersen and Gene Johnson.
While the new captains celebrated at the half, the entire team was able to rejoice as the NEC Championship rings were handed out on the 50-yard line. The first ring to be presented on the field was the one belonging to the belated Rich Royster. Royster’s ring was given to his parents by Head Coach Jeff McInerney, followed by the rest of the team.
Once awards and rings were handed out the game got underway. The eventful and productive game ended in a tie with a score of 31 all. The fact that the team was playing against one another didn’t stop McInerney, who oversaw both squads, from making the match interesting by putting out all the stops.
“Overall I felt really good about it, I always like these games to be tight and close and fun its boring if you come out and win 38-16,” said McInerney. “It’s just flat out boring. You got to see balls thrown around and people running for touchdowns. I am all about that, I am about putting on a show and so overall I thought good.”
Junior Kevin Woolfolk struck first for the blue team with a nine-yard run to put his team up 7-0. Woolfolk went on to be named the game’s most valuable player. By the end of regulation, Woolfolk had racked up 119-yards in eight carries, with three touchdowns. Following his initial touchdown, Woolfolk managed to find the endzone twice for back to back scores in the fourth quarter. In his last touchdown run Woolfolk ran for 48-yards to put the blue team in front 31-23.
“Kevin’s always been a great player,” said McInerney. “Kevin’s had some unfortunate things happen. He was a star in high school, he went to Trinity college, was an extremely talented player since he’s been here in the freshman year, played a little bit then he got hurt, then he came back, then he got hurt again…Kevin can play and he’s really, really, really good and he’s just got to get his confidence, this was the best medicine for him.”
In his second spring game as a Blue Devil, and last year’s game MVP, Jespersen was more comfortable with his line, which only comes with experience. The second year quarterback finished the game
14-of-18 with 210-yards and a single touchdown.
“I threw the ball a lot less, but I felt more comfortable on the field. This year I know what I’m doing,” said Jespersen. “Last year I kind of felt like a deer in the headlights, they were signaling plays I didn’t know what they were calling, half the time I just let the receiver run and see where he’d go and throw him the ball late.
“This year we’re a little more fine tuned, like I said I feel more comfortable and that helps…Last year we put in a brand new offense this year’s our second year in the offense in the system so everyone has an idea of what we’re doing instead of trying to piece together a bunch of different position groups all at once.”
While Jespersen is next year’s starting quarterback, freshman quarterback Denzell Jones also had a big game, serving both as a quarterback and wide receiver. The 6-foot-6 rookie from Bloomfield completed five of his seven attempts for a total of 39-yards. His ground statistics proved to be better than the ones he gained in the air, as Jones ran for 63-yards, caught for 54-yards and took the ball in for a touchdown.
“Denzell Jones like to compete, he’s a Big East player at receiver he’s 6’6’’ and can run,” said McInerney. “I don’t know if he’d be a star in the Big East but he can play at that level and in this league he should be extremely, extremely good, and obviously you’re gonna see him make plays.
“I want him to be the quarterback here in ’12, he’s gonna be the quarterback here in ’12 …but we’re still trying to develop him on both sides to keep his horns sharpened at quarterback because I want the transition to be better than it was the last time.”
The offensive side of the ball was in sync, but like McInerney predicted prior to the game, the defense needs work, which is the opposite of last season. Despite only being a scrimmage, the defense allowed for 31 points by both teams.
Freshman kicker Steven Calitri also struggled on the field taking over for Joe Izzo, but McInerney has confidence in his young talent.
“We probably got about 16 defensive players that can play and are ready to play in a game,” said McInerney. “When you divide two teams out there you’re gonna have some guys who are just not ready to play at this time, but you don’t have to be, that’s why you have summer and 29 days of camp to get them cranked and ready to roll.”
The Blue Devils will have a small break to finish out the school year, but will pick things back up over the summer, before the team opens up at home against the Southern Connecticut State University Owls on Sept. 3 at 12 p.m.