Chargers' Winning Ways Continue After Six-Year Football Absence.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – College Football celebrates its 150th anniversary in the 2019 season, as programs at all divisions of the NCAA will commemorate this milestone with game presentations all year long – celebrating their programs' history as well as the existence of the sport at the collegiate level.
The Northeast-10 Conference celebrated this achievement throughout the season by highlighting its nine current football programs – focusing on one each week – between September and November. This week's highlighted team is the New Haven Chargers, which is the final edition of the CFB150 series.
The NE10 has sponsored football since 2001, but has provided football to its student-athletes since 1997 – known back then as the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.
The actual birthday of college football is November 6, 1869, as it was a matchup between Princeton and Rutgers that marked the first collegiate football game. College Football's official 150th Anniversary was celebrated on Wednesday of this week. The NE10 enters its 23rd season in 2019 and is proud to display its history as part of the #CFB150 celebration.
The New Haven football program was reestablished in 2009 and the program's winning tradition began right where it left off. The Chargers won three-straight Northeast-10 Conference Championships from 2010-12 and has advanced to the NCAA tournament three times in 2011, 2012 and most recently in 2018.
After a five-year hiatus, the 2009 season marked the football program's 32nd season and was the first year since the conclusion of the 2003 campaign that New Haven fielded a team. The return of football was of great interest and excitement to University of New Haven students, alumni, fans and friends of athletics.
Charger football has a storied tradition of gridiron success, including seven NCAA Division II playoff appearances. The program posts an all-time record of 249-168-5 in 41 seasons, including a 219-121-1 mark after moving to the Division II level in 1982.
When the Charger football team advanced to the NCAA Championship game in 1997, New Haven was, at that time, the smallest school in NCAA history to play for a national title. UNH also advanced to the NCAA semifinals in 1992 and the quarterfinals in 1993, 1995 and 2011.
In addition to team success, many individuals in New Haven Football history have earned national and regional accolades. New Haven had 126 All-New England award winners in 19 seasons between 1983 and 2001, and 63 All-ECAC picks during the same time period. Perhaps the program's most famous alum is running back Roger Graham, who won Division II's most prestigious award - the Harlon Hill Trophy - after leading the NCAA in scoring and ranking second in rushing in 1993. New Haven has had a player finish in the top four in the Harlon Hill voting on five occasions.
In 10 seasons back on the gridiron, the Chargers have made their presence known across the collegiate football world. New Haven was ranked as high as No. 3 in the AFCA Coaches Poll in 2012, after winning their third-straight conference championship and advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs. Former head coach Peter Rossomando was named the 2012 Liberty Mutual Division II National Coach of the Year for his sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence on and off the field. Additionally, numerous student-athletes have earned postseason accolades and five have been invited to NFL training camps.
New Haven has a proud tradition of coaches that have gone on to find great success in the professional and college ranks as well. Longtime NFL coach Tony Sparano led New Haven to the 1997 national championship game and is second all-time in victories at New Haven. Chris Palmer (coach, 1986-87) has been an NFL head coach, NFL quarterback coach and most recently the senior offensive assistant for the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The programs all-time wins leader, Mark Whipple (coach, 1988-93), piloted UMass to a Division I-AA national championship in 1998 and won a Super Bowl as quarterbacks coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After spending seven seasons in the NFL, Whipple returned to UMass for the 2014 season in hopes to return to Minutemen to the national spotlight.
TEAM OF DESTINY…..
The 1997 team is widely considered the most successful in Charger football history, advancing to the National Championship game, falling just short of a national title with a loss to Northern Colorado. New Haven was the first school from Connecticut to play in a college football title game and at the time was the smallest school, enrollment wise, to ever play for the Division II national title.
Led by quarterback, and New Haven Hall of Famer, Cazzie Kosciolek, the Chargers finished with a school record 12 wins while also being named the ECAC Team of the Year. Following a 9-1 regular season, the Chargers opened up NCAA tournament play with a dominating 47-7 performance over Glenville State before defeating Slippery Rock 49-21 to advance to the national semifinals.
Then ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Chargers defeated UC Davis 27-25 in front of a crowd of 4,712 at the Yale Bowl. In the end it would be the Chargers defense against UC Davis that made the difference, stopping the Aggies just short of a fresh set of downs with 23 seconds remaining to secure the victory and the program's first ever championship game appearance.
Roger Graham, 1991-94
The first and only Harlon Hill Trophy winner in the history of New Haven football, Roger Graham is perhaps the most heralded collegiate player in the program's history.
His record-breaking career consisted of 5,953 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns – both UNH records. Graham was a three-time All-America honoree and was twice chosen as the Sports Illustrated Small College Player of the Year. Also a two-time New England Gold Helmet winner, Graham owns the three most prolific rushing seasons in New Haven history, led by a program-record 1,717 yards with 22 touchdowns in 1992 as the Chargers advanced to the NCAA semifinals.
He won the Harlon Hill Trophy on the back of 1,687 yards on the ground in 1993, guiding UNH back to the national postseason, and capped his career as the runner-up for the Harlon Hill Trophy in 1994 with 1,607 yards rushing.
In addition to the yards gained in a single season and career records, Graham also held the single game rushing record with 304 yards against AIC in 1994, which stood until the 2015 season when Andre Anderson ran for 319 yards against Saint Anselm. Graham also holds the record for most rushes in a single season (278) and career (821) as well as touchdowns in a game (5 against Buffalo in 1992). For overall scoring, Graham holds the school record for points in a game (30 against Buffalo), points in a season (138 in 1993) and points in a career (424).
Following his storied collegiate career, Graham signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys and, in 1996, took the field with the Jacksonville Jaguars to become the fourth Charger to appear in an NFL regular-season game.
Ken Suhl, 1989-92
Ken Suhl helped lead the New Haven football team from 1989-92 and anchored the program to its first-ever NCAA Division II postseason appearance. During his career, Suhl quarterbacked the most potent passing attack in the nation and became a legend to Charger football.
Following a senior season where Suhl passed for a third-best 2,336 yards (currently ninth most) and 26 touchdowns (currently sixth most), he was recognized not only at the All-New England Player of the Year but also the ECAC Player of the Year. He was the New England Sports Writer's Association Gold Helmet Award winner, while receiving the weekly Gold Helmet Award twice throughout the season. He was also the first UNH football player to be a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, Division II's version of the Heisman. He finished fourth in voting for the prestigious award in 1992.
Throughout his career, Suhl passed for over 4,000 yards and led New Haven on a NCAA Division II postseason run to the national semifinals. The Greenfield, Mass. product currently ranks all over the UNH passing records, including eighth in career passing yards with 4,355, tied fifth in career passing touchdowns with 48 and ninth in career completions with 302. Along with his individual accolades, Suhl anchored a team which posted a four-year record of 30-13.
Miles McPherson, 1978-81
An All-America and Academic All-District performer, Miles McPherson is the all-time leader for New Haven football with 22 career interceptions.
The defensive back, who was an All-New England selection by numerous organizations, also owns the UNH mark with four interceptions in a game and is one of four student-athletes with seven interceptions in a season – and the only Charger to accomplish the feat twice (1979 and 1980). He also held the school record for assisted tackles with 14 until the fall of 2015.
McPherson was the first Charger to be drafted into the National Football League as a 10th round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1982, and saw regular season action in four seasons with the San Diego Chargers. McPherson totaled two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a sack for San Diego and also saw time as a kick returner in 1983.
Cazzi Kosciolek, 1997
Cazzie Kosciolek quarterbacked the UNH football team to new heights in 1997, helping bring UNH into the national spotlight by leading the Chargers to the NCAA championship game in his only season in the Blue and Gold. Under his leadership, New Haven became the first school from the state of Connecticut to play in a college football title game and was at that time the smallest school in terms of enrollment to play for the national title.
In 1997, Kosciolek finished third in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy - Division II's version of the Heisman - after passing for 3,232 yards and 32 touchdowns to lead the NCAA's highest-scoring offense (43.3 points per game). Cazzie amassed 905 yards and nine touchdown passes in the playoffs, and New Haven finished that season 12-2 overall as the national runners-up. Kosciolek was named to the Associated Press Small College All-America Team and was also an All-New England and All-ECAC selection.
Tyler Condit, 2013-16
The all-time leading tackler in New Haven history, Tyler Condit graduated in 2016 with 452 tackles, also the most in Northeast-10 Conference history. An All-American and finalist for the National Defensive Player of the Year award, Condit closed out his career with 117 tackles as a senior, becoming just the second player in program history to finish with 100 or more stops in three seasons.
Among his numerous accolades was back-to-back seasons earning All-America honors while he was the 2015 NE10 Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time NE10 All-Conference First Team honoree. Additionally, Condit earned numerous All-Region honors and was the New Haven Gridiron Club Defensive Player of the Year following his senior season. In addition, following his junior season, Condit received the Joseph P. Zabilski Award, honoring New England's top offensive and defensive players from Division II and III.
UPCOMING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE.....
The 23rd season of NE10 football continues on Saturday, Nov. 9, as New Haven travels to play Assumption in a crucial battle for the top spot in the NE10 standings (12:00 p.m.). The rest of the Week 10 schedule is below and all games will be available on NE10 NOW:
Saturday, November 9
Bentley at Franklin Pierce - 12 p.m.
Saint Anselm at American International - 12 p.m.
New Haven at Assumption - 12 p.m.
Pace at Stonehill - 1 p.m.
ABOUT THE NE10
The NE10 is an association of 14 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete.
Each year, 4,500 student-athletes compete in conference championships, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.