Football Wrapped Up 2021 Season After a Year Hiatus


Steve McLaughlin Photography

The CCSU football team lifts kicker Joe Zoppi in celebration after he hit a game winning kick at Arute Field on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.

Andrew DeCapua, Sports Editor

After being crowned the Northeast Conference Champions in 2019 and then missing the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a disappointing 2021 season for the Central Connecticut State University football program.

The Blue Devils finished the 2021 season in fifth place in the Northeast Conference standings with a mediocre 4-7 (.364) overall record and a 4-3 (.571) conference record.

Out-of-conference games for the Blue Devils included matchups against Southern Connecticut State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Miami (Fla.), and Columbia University. All were losses, including a record-breaking 69-0 loss at Miami.

CCSU’s four wins came within the conference, including wins over Wagner University, Merrimack University, Bryant University, and Saint Francis University.

The Blue Devils averaged 21.1 points per game while averaging 329.5 yards per game. The CCSU defense compiled 684 tackles, with 23 being quarterback sacks. They also intercepted passes nine times and had two defensive touchdowns.

Both sophomore Romelo Williams and graduate student Shon Mitchell saw snaps at quarterback. Williams completed 130 of his 230 (56.5%) passes, while Mitchell completed 61 of his 126 (48.4%) passes. Williams threw for ten touchdowns with five interceptions, while Mitchell threw for six touchdowns with two interceptions.

The Blue Devils were led in rushing by senior Nasir Smith, who ran for 607-yards on 125 carries with just two rushing touchdowns. Junior Aaron Dawson was right behind Smith with 400-yards on 98 carries and two touchdowns.

Senior Tyshaun James led the team in receiving with 674 receiving yards on 45 receptions with five touchdowns. Freshman Isaiah Williams was second in receiving for the Blue Devils. He compiled 243-yards on 23 receptions.

The Blue Devils had seven players receive All-Northeast Conference honors after the 2021 season. Seniors Kelvin Apari, JJ Colimon, and James were selected to the All-NEC First Team, while senior Tre Jones, junior Jahlil Brown, junior Chizi Umunakwe, and sophomore Tyler Boatwright were all named to the All-NEC Second Team. Apari and fellow senior Niam Coward were recognized by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame as members of the 2022 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, an honor awarded to college football players for maintaining a 3.2 GPA throughout their careers.

With some players such as Tyshaun James graduating and others like Dexter Lawson Jr. entering the transfer pool, the Blue Devils have brought in some new talent to hopefully fill the holes left by the great players moving on after the 2021 season. The Blue Devils currently expect to have 22 new players join the team next fall. Of those 22 players, six are from Connecticut, while the others come from either New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Maryland.

The NEC has released the schedule for the upcoming 2022 season. Some notable games for the Blue Devils include the season opener against the University of Connecticut on Saturday, Sept. 3, and the NEC opener against defending Northeast Conference Champions at Sacred Heart University on Saturday, Sept. 10. The schedule consists of seven conference games and four out-of-conference games.