New England Football League NEFL History – 2010’s | New England Football League


New England Football League

NEFL History – 2010’s

1990’s2000’s — 2010’s


In 2010, the NEFL added five new teams; the Seacoast Vipers, the Cape Cod Crusaders, the Connecticut Panthers, and the Northeast Bulldogs and the Fairfield County Ravens who both moved up from our NEFL2 conference. All five joined the NEFL “A” Maritime Conference and it was the Connecticut Panthers that rose to the top by going undefeated to win the NEFL “A” title, defeating the defending champion, New Hampshire Wolfpack.

Our “AA” North Atlantic Conference saw the Western Mass Warriors and Connecticut Gamblers both make their first championship game appearance. The Warriors claimed their first ever NEFL title by defeating the Connecticut Gamblers in what was the most closely contested championship game that the league had that day. A rematch of the 2009 “AAA” title game had the Connecticut Bearcats going head-to-head once again with the Greater Lowell Nor’easter. This time, however, it was the Bearcats that defeated Greater Lowell to capture their first NEFL championship. The Bearcats then went on to defeat the Empire State Demon Knights of the Five Star Football League, to win the Harvest Bowl Regional Championship. Our NEFL2 conference saw the Seacoast Hawks, who were previously in our “AAA” conference, defeat the Northeast Bulldogs developmental team 14-0 to win the NEFL2 championship.

The premier season of the Yankee Collegiate Football Conference, which kicked off in 2010 and featured exclusively club level type football teams from colleges and universities throughout New England and New York that previously did not have an official league to participate in, had a tremendously successful year. The Southwest Connecticut Grizzlies defeated the University of Vermont Catamounts in the inaugural Yankee Bowl Championship Game.


In the NEFL’s eighteenth year, the 2011 season, saw our league go through the largest reorganization, restructuring and realignment of teams to date. The Middleboro Cobras, the Weymouth Sharks, the Leominster Razorbacks, the Central Mass Fury, the Bay State Renegades, the Connecticut Thunder and the Ocean State Vipers did not return to the league. The NEFL, however, added seven new teams to its roster in 2011. Our “AAA” Colonial Conference added the Hartford Whalers who moved up from NEFL2, the North Atlantic “AA” Conference saw the Gardner Sabercats and the Western Connecticut Militia both make their debuts, and joining the “A” Maritime Conference as first year teams were the Southern Rhode Island Riptide from Westerly; the Woburn Warlords; the Mid Coast Falcons from Augusta, Maine; and the East Coast Ducks from South Boston. The Pioneer Valley Indians changed their name to the Knights, the Tri-County Fightin’ Sprites became the Green Valley Blackhawks, and the Cape Cod Crusaders moved down to NEFL2 and are now known as the Seadogs. With a newly expanded 16 team “AAA” Colonial Conference, the NEFL in 2011 now had one of the most elite levels of semi-professional, minor league football in the entire country.

The Connecticut Bearcats defeated the Boston Bandits to claim their second straight “AAA” conference title. The Bearcats then went on to defeat the Long Island Tribe 19-14 in the Harvest Bowl Regional Championship Game. The North Atlantic Conference and Maritime Conference gave us two of the most exciting championship games in league history. The New Hampshire Wolfpack, moving up from our “A” conference the previous season, defeated the first year Western Connecticut Militia to win the “AA” crown; and the expansion Southern Rhode Island Riptide edged out the Green Valley Blackhawks and became champions of the Maritime Conference. The NEFL2 in its third season had co-champions with the Cape Cod Seadogs and Tri-City Charge developmental team sharing the championship title for the 2011 season.

In the Yankee Collegiate Football Conference’s second season, the South West Connecticut State Grizzlies once again faced the University of Vermont Catamounts in the Yankee Bowl, and for the second straight year the Grizzlies defeated the Catamounts, this time by a score of 6-2 and claim their second straight Y.C.F.C. title. The South West Connecticut State Grizzlies finished the season ranked as the number one collegiate club football team in the nation by the Intercollegiate Club Football Federation.

The addition of both NEFL2 and the Yankee Collegiate Conference has proven to be instrumental in the overall growth of our organization by providing the NEFL two additional avenues to increase both its team and player base, and further solidifying the NEFL as one of the largest and most successful adult amateur football leagues in the United States.


The NEFL’s nineteenth year, the 2012 season, saw our league again expand, this time into both the New York and New Jersey areas by adding the Tri-State Bulldogs from Hillburn, NY and the New Jersey Spartans from Belleville, NJ. In addition, the NEFL also welcomed aboard two Massachusetts based teams: the Coastal Chiefs from Hanover and the Franklin County Greyhounds from Greenfield.

The single “A” championship game had the Gardner Sabercats that moved down from our “AA” conference after the 2011 season, playing the Cape Cod Seadogs who were co-champions of the NEFL2 in 2011. The Seadogs edged out the Sabercats and became the NEFL’s Maritime Conference champion. In the double “AA” North Atlantic Conference championship game, the South Shore Outlaws defeated the Middlesex County Warlords and lay claim to their first NEFL “AA” title. The NEFL’s 2012 triple “AAA” champion was the Western Mass Warriors after they defeated the North Shore Generals in the Colonial Conference championship game. The Warriors then became regional champions when they beat the Long Island Tribe in the 2012 Harvest Bowl. Western Mass then travelled to Florida and went on to defeat the New York City Predators in the U.S.F.A. National Championship Game, making them National Champions and the #1 semi-pro minor league football team in the country.

The NEFL2 championship game was played between the Middletown Connecticut Spartans, who moved down from the triple “AAA” Colonial Conference to reorganize and restructure after the 2011 season, and the Fairfield County Ravens developmental team. The Ravens defeated the Spartans and became champions of the NEFL2 for 2012.

The Y.C.F.C. title game had a rematch from the previous season as the Southwest Connecticut State Grizzlies once again defeated the University of Vermont Catamounts in the Yankee Bowl. The #1 nationally ranked Grizzlies proceeded on to participate in the first ever I.C.F.F. national collegiate club football championship game against the #3 nationally ranked Macon State Georgia Blue Storm in Canton, OH, where the Blue Storm defeated the Grizzlies to win the first ever I.C.F.F. national collegiate club football championship.


The NEFL’s 20th season was one of its best with the addition of the Woburn Titans, the Mystic River Tigers from Medford, Massachusetts and the Brass City Brawlers from Waterbury, Connecticut and the Maine Sabers, all being very successful in their inaugural season in the NEFL. The Twin Valley Nightmare were also added to the NEFL2. The Fairfield County Ravens changed their name to the Bridgeport Connecticut Gators, the Merrimack Valley Maulers became the Merrimack Valley Pride and the Middletown Connecticut Spartans moved up from the NEFL2 to join our single “A” Maritime Conference. The Connecticut Bearcats and Tri-City Charge both took a leave of absence for the 2013 season, and the Southern Connecticut Sting moved to the NEFL2.

The “A” Maritime Conference Championship Game had the Central Mass Sabercats playing in their second championship game in as many years, defeat the East Coast Ducks for their first NEFL title. The “AA” North Atlantic Conference Championship Game saw the Pioneer Valley Knights defeat the Rhode Island Wardogs, and also get their first NEFL title. The “AAA” Colonial Conference Championship Game featured the Connecticut Panthers and the Maine Sabers, with the Connecticut Panthers winning their first ever “AAA” championship game, to go along with their “A” title won just three years prior. The Panthers then went on to defeat the Syracuse Shock of the Empire Football League in the regional final, and then move on to play the Columbus Fire out of Ohio from the Heartland Football League in the National Championship Game in Florida. The Panthers defeated the Fire and captured their first National Championship, and second for the New England Football League.

Pioneer Valley Knights, 2013 North Atlantic Champions

The Y.C.F.C. Championship Game was played between the Southwestern Connecticut Grizzlies making their fourth straight appearance in the title game against the Onondaga Ogres, with the Ogres emerging victorious and capture their first Yankee Bowl title. Onondaga then went on to play in the second annual ICFF National Collegiate Club Football Championship Game against the Columbus Cougars in the Canton Bowl in Canton, OH. Onondaga defeated Columbus to take home their first National Championship title.


In the NEFL’s 21st season, three new teams were added to the league. The Connecticut Chiefs were added to our “AAA” conference, the Granite State Destroyers from Raymond, New Hampshire, and the Twin City Riot, based in Hamden, Maine, both joined our “A” conference as did the Southern Connecticut Sting moving up from our NEFL2 conference. TheTri-State Bulldogs, New Jersey Spartans, Bridgeport Gators, South Shore Outlaws left the NEFL and the Woburn Titans, Cape Cod Seadogs, Maine Sabers and Twin Valley Nightmare all took a leave of absence in 2014. The NEFL2 also took a one year hiatus to reorganize and restructure.

In the “A” Maritime Conference championship game, it was the Brass City Brawlers that defeated the Southern New England Rage and win their first NEFL title. Our “AA” North Atlantic championship game saw the Central Mass Sabercats face the Rhode Island Wardogs with the Wardogs emerging with the victory for their first ever NEFL championship. In what was one of the best games in NEFL history, as well as the first ever overtime championship game in NEFL history, the defending NEFL “AAA” champion Connecticut Panthers, took on the Southern Maine Raging Bulls playing in their first ever Colonial Conference title game. It was in overtime and in dramatic fashion that the Panthers were able to beat the Bulls to win back to back NEFL championships.

Connecticut Panthers, 2014 Colonial Champions

Both the Brawlers and Panthers went on to represent the NEFL in regional and national championship games. First the Panthers defeated the Albany Metro Maulers in the semi-finals of the Harvest Bowl, and then moved on to defeat the Brooklyn Seminoles, champions of the Five Star Football League, in the regional Harvest Bowl championship, the Panthers second regional title in as many years. Both the Panthers and Brawlers then went on to play in national championship games in Deland, Florida. The Brawlers defeated the Michigan Lightning of the C.R.F.L in the Orange Blossom Bowl, and the Panthers beat the Inglewood, CA Blackhawks of the Labelle Community Football League, in the North American Bowl for their second straight National Title, and give the league two National Champions, once again proving that the NEFL is the elite semi-pro, minor football league in the country.

In the Y.C.F.C., the SW Conn. Prep Grizzlies capped a perfect season with an incredibly wild shootout win over fellow National powerhouse University of Vermont 69-33, giving the Grizz the Yankee Conference Crown and the #1 ranking in the nation! They were set to battle Coppin State on the stage in December, but the Coppin team bowed out the week of the game, surrendering the National Championship to SW Connecticut. The Grizz, UVM and last year’s National Champs Onondaga have proven that the YCFC is the nation’s premier conference.


The NEFL’s 22nd season was another great one. The returning Woburn Titans moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, became the Rampage and was placed in our “AA” North Atlantic Conference. The Middletown Connecticut Spartans relocated to Stonington and became the New London County Sharks. Merrimack Valley Pride have changed their name to the Northeast Natives. The NEFL2, after being restructured, will also be returning for the 2015 season. After winning the North Atlantic Conference championship in 2014, the Rhode Island Wardogs moved up to the Colonial Conference, giving the Ocean State its first AAA team since 2010. They made an impact immediately in the league’s highest level by defeating the Boston Bandits in Week 1.

On Saturday, October 24, all three conference championship games were held. The Maritime (A) Conference title was won by the Port City Vipers, defeating the Northern Berkshire Kings 14-6, and the North Atlantic (AA) Conference championship was claimed by the Somerville Rampage when they defeated the Worcester Wildcats 21-13. After a nine year absence the Leo Lombardi Trophy made its way back to Beantown, as the Boston Bandits defeated the Western Connecticut Militia in the NEFL AAA championship game. It was also the first time since 2009 that the trophy was won by a team east of the Connecticut River.

Boston Bandits, 2015 Colonial Champions