Holy cross

Holy Cross Football signs 10 people to join the Patriot League championship program

“The first thing we talked about moving forward,” Holy Cross football coach Bob Chesney said of his team’s mindset, “is that it has to be a championship effort in everything we do.”

Like other football fans, Holy Cross coach Bob Chesney watched the past two weekends of NFL playoff games in amazement as the divisional round featured four walk-in wins and the championships conference two wins from behind, one in overtime.

In all the excitement, Chesney drew some lessons for his players, which the team talked about ahead of a recent conditioning workout.

“Those were just games with a lot of ups and downs and a lot of lead changes, including in the last minute,” Chesney said, “so you have to understand that you never got out of it and you should never be comfortable when you’re in this. I think the whole mentality of ‘we want to play 60 minutes’ and if there’s overtime we also want to play it to the end, and we we should never bow our heads, and we should never be too good. Until the final buzzer sounds, this game belongs to no one.

Cameron Nolan, St. John's soccer star

Cameron Nolan, St. John’s Football Star

The Crusaders, who won their third straight Patriot League championship in 2021, certainly played with that spirit in the first round of last season’s Football Championship Subdivision playoff against Sacred Heart at Fitton Field. Quarterback Matthew Sluka threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Jalen Coker with 14 seconds left to lead HC to a thrilling 13-10 triumph, his first in the playoffs. Next week at Villanova, Holy Cross nearly rallied for another late victory before falling, 21-16.

CONTINUED: Which CMass High School athletes have signed National Letters of Intent?

Since the end of HC’s historic 2021 season in early December, Chesney and his team have moved quickly and have been busy recruiting, evaluating the roster, player strengths and weaknesses, and depth at each position, and build for the future.

“It’s just been a real deep dive into who we are and who we want to be,” Chesney said.

On national signing day Wednesday, Holy Cross added 10 players, including St. John’s High offensive lineman Cam Nolan from Oxford and Loomis Chaffee wide receiver Matt Brunelle from Paxton. HC signed eight players during the first signing period in December.

CONTINUED: “I think what we did was really change everything,” Holy Cross coach Bob Chesney recalls of historic Crusaders season

In addition to Nolan and Brunelle, defensive back Avery Powell, running back Sam Slade, tight ends George Bousum and Nathan Schillinger, quarterback Max Mosey, kicker Luis Palenzuela and defensive linemen Colin Reynolds and Daniel Santiago have signed with Holy Cross on Wednesday.

Linebacker Sam Boyer, offensive linemen Noah Eldridge and Joe Metzger, defensive ends Osahon Noruwa and Christian Ross, quarterback Mark Forcucci, receiver Blake Youngblood and all-rounder Tommy Bestpitch joined the Crusaders in December.

The HC newcomers will join a talented 2022 roster that includes 13 fifth-year seniors, six who earned All-Patriot League first-team honors last season.

Holy Cross finished 10-3, its most wins since 1991.

In four years at HC, including the COVID-shortened spring season, Chesney is 25-16.

Holy Cross football coach Bob Chesney is to hire a new offensive coordinator.

Holy Cross football coach Bob Chesney is to hire a new offensive coordinator.

Holy Cross is set to name a new offensive coordinator to succeed Justin Roper, who left HC last month to join Furman’s staff in the same capacity. Roper was with the Crusaders for two seasons. In 2021, HC averaged 32.2 points and had one of the most balanced offenses in the nation, averaging 203.8 rushing yards and 201.5 passing yards per game.

There will also be a few other personnel changes, Chesney said.

“We lost coaches after the first championship, after the second and after the third,” Chesney said. “It’s the nature of the beast when you win. It puts a little more pressure on me to be successful with the next hires and we look at a lot of things with each of these hires. Children will always be ready; as coaches we have to make sure we are.

Since returning from Christmas break, Holy Cross players have been lifting four times a week and conditioning on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Holy Cross also won three consecutive PL championships from 1989 to 1991. A quadruple would be a league first.

“The first thing we talked about moving forward,” Chesney said, “is that it has to be a championship effort in everything that we do. Coming back back to back is borderline impossible, but doing it a fourth time is the same thing. It’s very, very difficult to do when you’re right on your back.”

—Contact Jennifer Toland at jennifer.toland@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenTandG.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Holy Cross Football signs 10 people to join the Patriot League championship program