First-year Head Coach Dan Mulrooney, Trai Weaver, Paul Robitaille and Bailey Braga preview the 2017 AMCAT football season.
Paxton, Mass.— "Ring The Bell" is the 2017 slogan for the Anna Maria College Football program. When the bell rings the athletes know it is time to go to work. It is all about culture change, hard work, and perseverance this year. The program welcomed new head coach, Dan Mulrooney back in the late fall of 2016.
Mulrooney comes to Anna Maria following three years serving as the Defensive Coordinator at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He looks to implement an entire new culture to the Anna Maria football program.
The seven returning seniors are excited about the culture change that coach Mulrooney along with his staff have created. Together they are preparing to set the tone for the future of the Anna Maria College Football program.
"It happened so quick and fast, but it's like a gift sent from God," said senior wide receiver Trai Weaver. "The culture here is changing and I love it. I mean, I loved football before, but I love it even more now".
"The coaching staff is great. They're put in night and day hours. They want to make this the best program it can be. It's fun again."
The rest of the returning players agree with Weaver that intensity on and off the field is higher than ever before. It starts with the coaching staff and trickles down to each individual player.
"We have a slogan this year and that's, 'Ring the bell.' Basically, (Anna Maria) is a school where it's criminal justice, fire science and business majors thrive — when the bell is rung, we go to work…It's exciting, passionate and loud — the bell is our team slogan," said Mulrooney.
Mulrooney and his first-year staff that includes offensive coordinator Steve Croce, linebackers coach Charles McIntosh, special teams coach Dan Letteriello, lineman coaches Josh Hill and John Alicea, running backs coach Nick Romeo, and second-year defensive backs/conditioning coach Raffi Sarajian, will look to players like Weaver and junior running back/return specialist Joe D'Onofrio to lead the way.
Weaver and D'Onofrio have a big task at hand – 80 tasks to be exact. The Anna Maria football program welcomes 80 new high-energy freshmen to the team this season. Talk about a culture change. Returning players are excited with what they see so far from the newcomers.
"They listen when we tell them something, they actually want to get better" said the AMCAT'S offensive leader, Joe D'Onofrio. "There's been a 100 percent change — it's a whole different atmosphere here. We want to win every game and do our best…we have a lot of freshmen and they are following in my footsteps every day. I see the smiles on their face when they do something right".
D'Onofrio was named to the Worcester Colleges All-Star second team and was recognized by the ECFC last season as a return specialist. He returned 36 kicks for 846 yards, and ran 25 punt returns for 120 yards. He rushed for 371 yards on 122 carries and two touchdowns.
Weaver is entering this fall off a 22-reception, 234-yard, two-touchdown season. He has been leading the way and working closely with Jayson Wallace, Emmanuel Leake and Kevyn Brown who are all competing for the starting QB job.
"I am thrilled about the quality of young men we have in our first recruiting class here at Anna Maria College. I want to thank my outstanding staff who has done a great job targeting high character people throughout the process. We filled all of our needs by position with players who are not only excellent athletes, but are proven leaders and good students. The 2017 class stretches over 9 states with our main focus being New England. This class of young men will embrace the new culture we are creating here at Anna Maria," said Mulrooney.
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Anna Maria College is a four-year, private, co-ed, Catholic, liberal arts college accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Founded by the Sisters of Saint Anne in 1946, AMC is located on a 192-acre campus in Paxton, Mass., minutes from the vibrant college-town of Worcester. AMC provides quality programs that integrate liberal education and professional preparation that is committed to the fundamental value of liberal arts and sciences education rooted in the traditions of the Sisters of Saint Anne.