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AMCATS Hoping Off-season Wins Translate to On-Field Success

AMCATS Hoping Off-season Wins Translate to On-Field Success

By James Baker

Anna Maria College has only won two games in the past two seasons, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that based on the AMCATs and their young head coach’s social media presence.

If there was any doubt, we’re here to tell you that Anna Maria head football coach Dan Mulrooney has won the offseason – he got married to his wife Kate, went on a honeymoon to Hawaii and the Napa Valley, pulled in a very large recruiting class, and watched as the school completed work on a brand new turf field--Mulrooney was even seen helping with some of the final install.

If you follow Division III football closely, then you may also know Mulrooney helped his friend Chris Robertson of WPI have one of the best defenses and successful seasons in program history before taking the plunge as a head coach at only 27 years old. Mulrooney has been recognized as a top coach under the age of 35 by the American Football Coaches Association and is a leadership buff. He consumes information on CEO’s and leadership development on a regular basis and jumped at the opportunity to shadow his former college coach, Ryan Day, who now leads the program at The Ohio State University. During recruiting season, you couldn’t miss yet another AMCATs commit smiling in a brand new, red Adidas game jersey (although they also have white, black, and a few other color schemes), white and gold championship belt slung over his shoulder, next to Coach Mulrooney with his GQ good looks, fitted suit, raised fist and million-dollar smile.

Anna Maria: The first decade

The AMCATs -- which stands for Anna Maria College Athletic Team(s) -- started football in 2010. The program has yet to breakthrough. Dan Mulrooney is the third head coach in program history.

2018

1-9, 1-5

2017

1-9, 1-6

2016

1-9, 1-6

2015

1-9, 1-6

2014

0-10, 0-7

2013

2-8, 1-6

2012

2-8, 1-6

2011

2-8, 2-5

2010

0-10, 0-7

2009

0-9, 0-0

Mulrooney is more than just a pretty face, however, having been a scholarship athlete at Boston College and Stony Brook. He knows football, but he also understands today’s modern student-athlete and is very deliberate and thoughtful in his approach to running his program. In rebuilding Anna Maria - which has been playing football for a decade, but hasn’t won more than two games in a single season - he’s doing so by changing the mentality and creating a brand that gets his player’s believing in their potential for success.

While confident, Mulrooney is also humble, and recognizes his 2-18 record is what it is. Speaking tongue in cheek, and relating as a long-time Mets fan, he says “everyone loves a loser.” While Anna Maria has struggled, the box scores – and five losses last season by a score or less – show that Mulrooney’s turnaround effort is gaining traction. It’s a pretty remarkable effort, when you consider he started with only eight players when he was hired. Since then, Mulrooney has built up the AMCATs to what is the largest roster in New England, around 150 players. He’s excited by the constant changes he’s seen in the ECFC and the fact that he has 25 juniors returning makes him cautiously optimistic regarding Anna Maria’s chances in what could be a wide-open conference race.

While the AMCATs have taken their lumps, the second half of the 2018 season showed improvement, and with a couple of recruiting classes under their (championship) belts, Mulrooney and the Anna Maria coaching staff believe the third time could be the charm. Given that a three-win season would be the best in their program’s relatively short history, it’s not out of the question.

According to Mulrooney the team has great character and energy despite their early struggles.

“We are realistic with our approach towards a reboot program regarding time and patience," he said. "We have a motto here: 'Crawl – Walk – Run – Fly.' We are getting better each day and hopefully we are closer to running this year than walking.”

Anna Maria will have its work cut out however, as the AMCATs have aggressively scheduled themselves against top East Region teams like Union and RPI from the Liberty League. The silver lining is the games that really count don’t start until Week 6, as the ECFC title is effectively up for grabs with the departure of defending champion Husson, which jumps to the CCC this season. Although Anna Maria is definitely a dark horse, the AMCATs and their young, confident coach believe they stand as good a chance as anyone else.

Mulrooney has the wedding band. Now he and the AMCATs are hoping to add a conference championship ring to their collection.