Football: Michael Casinelli finds perfect fit at Springfield

Michael Casinelli of Shelton did all he could to make his Gael football team the best it could be. In earning All State, All-Walter Camp, All-Southern Connecticut Conference, as well as USA Today All USA Connecticut honors, Casinelli put in his time in the weight room and went over video of opponents.

He was as diligent with his studies. Casinelli was a member of the National Honor Society and the Italian National Honor Society, as well as becoming an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America.

Casinelli, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, will play defensive end for coach Mike Cerasuolo’s Springfield College Pride, which opens its season on Friday with a home game against Western New England.

“Michael is a great player, and more importantly a fantastic kid,” Shelton head football coach Jeff Roy said of the New Haven Football Foundation Scholar Athlete. “Michael was our team leader, both on and off the field. He was the liaison between the coaches and the players. He is everything you would ever want in a student athlete.”

Casinelli also prepared for a college degree in sports biology.

“As part of my senior Capstone project, I shadowed an Orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist with the Connecticut Orthopedic Specialists the past two years,” he said. “I wanted to to learn more about the profession. It solidified my desire to purse PT for college and a career.”

Casinelli also found time in his schedule to assist with Shelton Flag Football and American Youth Football.

“I like to help the younger kids,” said the Legends of Lafayette Field Award winner. “I remember being little and having a Gael football player help me get better and it was the best experience.”

Last year, Springfield College produced an undefeated regular season with a 10-0 record en route to winning the inaugural New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Championship.

The Pride returned to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament for the first time since 2006, and finished the year with a number of single-season program records, including team rushing yards (4,787), team total offense (5,170), total points (480).

Additionally, Springfield registered the most rushing yards in all of college football and ranked seventh in Division III in scoring with 43.9 points per game. As impressive as Springfield's offense was, the Pride's defense was just as dynamic as it set a program record for fewest total points allowed (132), while ranking fifth in Division III in total defense (233.8) and sixth in scoring defense (12.0).

Springfield returns seven starters on the offensive side of the ball, including five offensive lineman, and six defensive starters. It is ranked seventh in the Lindy's Sports Division III preseason poll, 21st in Street & Smith's preseason poll, and and has receiving votes in the preseason poll.   

In the Lindy's poll, Springfield appears in the top 10 alongside some of the other premier programs in Division III. Mount Union, the defending NCAA Division III national champion, sits at No. 1 the poll, followed by Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Mary Hardin-Baylor. Brockport, St. John's, St. Thomas and Springfield. Trine, Muhlenberg and Wesley round out the top 10.

Michael Casinelli, a two-way standout at Shelton High, will play defen