NFF Presents Divisional Championship Trophies at AFCA Convention

South Dakota State wins school’s first national title; Ferris State (MI) claims back-to-back DII titles; North Central College (IL) notches second DIII title in three years; and Northwestern College (IA) adds third NAIA title in school history.

IRVING, Texas (Jan. 11, 2022) – In front of more than 1,500 coaches at the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Annual Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame presented the NFF divisional national championship trophies to the coaches of the 2022 winning teams on Jan. 9.

“Each year at the AFCA convention, the NFF presents the championship trophies to the coaches who have taken their teams to the pinnacle of success,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “It is fitting that we present the trophies in front of their peers, the very people who know the commitment, dedication and effort that goes into winning a national championship. We are extremely pleased to join with AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry to continue this tradition of honoring the nation’s most successful coaches each year at the convention.”

NCAA Football Championship Subdivision – John F. Kennedy Trophy
South Dakota State University – Coach John Stiegelmeier
Head Coach John Stiegelmeier led No. 1 South Dakota State (14-1) to its first FCS national championship in school history with a 45-21 victory over No. 3 North Dakota State (12-3) Jan. 8 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Stiegelmeier, who has coached the Jackrabbits for 26 seasons, orchestrated an offensive effort that saw the Jackrabbits score on six of their first seven offensive possessions. The defense caused three turnovers. Running backs Amar Johnson rushed for 126 yards and Isaiah Davis for another 119 yards. Both rushed for touchdowns. Quarterback Mark Gronowski threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns, claiming game MVP honors. Linebacker Jason Freeman led the Jackrabbit defense with 10 tackles and an interception.

NAAA Division II – Asa S. Bushnell Trophy
Ferris State University (MI) – Coach Tony Annese
Head coach Tony Annese and No. 1 Ferris State (14-1) notched back-to-back national titles Dec. 17 with a 41-14 win over No. 2 Colorado School of Mines (13-3) in the NCAA Division II National Championship game at McKinney ISD Stadium in Texas. The win marked the school’s second football national title, and Annese, heading the Bulldogs for 11 seasons, has tallied an overall record of 115-17, including 55-3 during the past four seasons. The Bulldogs totaled 432 yards of offense in the game while holding one of the nation’s highest scoring offensive units to only 212 total yards. Quarterback Carson Gulker notched three rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Mylik Mitchell completed 14-of-18 throws for 170 total yards. Slot wide receiver Marcus Taylor led the Bulldogs on the ground with 103 yards rushing on 13 carries. On defense, safety Cyntell Williams had six tackles while defensive tackle Jordan Jones had five stops, including two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.

NCAA Division III – Amos Alonzo Stagg Trophy
North Central College (IL) – Coach Brad Spencer
Head Coach Brad Spencer led North Central College [IL] (15-0) to the team’s second Division III national title in three seasons with a 28-21 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl victory over Mount Union [OH] (14-1) Dec. 17 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis [MD]. In his first season as head coach, Spencer guided the Cardinals to the school’s first undefeated season while also setting a new all-time Division III record for rushing yards in a single season (5,325). Running back Ethan Greenfield was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player, rushing for 119 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Luke Lehnen ran 10 times for 98 yards and passed for three touchdowns. Wide receiver DeAngelo Hardy caught three passes for a game-high 107 yards. Defensive back Sam Taviani paced the Cardinals’ defense with nine tackles (eight solo) while linebacker Angelo Cusumano finished with seven.

NAIA – Dwight D. Eisenhower Trophy
Northwestern College (IA) – Coach Matt McCarty
Head Coach Matt McCarty steered No. 3 Northwestern College (13-1) to a 35-25 win over No. 12 Keiser University [FL] (10-4) in the NAIA Football National Championship at Durham County Memorial Stadium in North Carolina, winning the Red Raiders first national title since 1983 and the first for McCarty. Northwestern amassed 472 yards of total offense. Quarterback Jalyn Gramstad led the way, rushing for 128 yards and one touchdown while completing 14 of 19 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Defensive lineman Tyler Jones led the defense with seven tackles and two tackles for loss, and safety Noah Van’t Hof had two interceptions. The title marks the Red Raiders third in school history, having won crowns in 1973 and 1983.