Kingsley set for first season as Amcat offensive coordinator
BY KYLE BRENNAN
Tanner Kingsley admits it — he never thought he’d be the offensive coordinator for a college football team at age 26.
But that’s exactly the position the 2014 Woodland High graduate and former college quarterback finds himself in this year as he prepares for his first season in charge of the offense at Anna Maria College, a small Catholic school outside Worcester, Mass., from which he graduated in 2020.
“I didn’t expect to become offensive coordinator so quickly,” admitted Kingsley.
Kingsley’s career at Woodland was legendary — All-State in three sports, 11 varsity letters, five All-NVL honors and two football state records that still stand nearly a decade later — but he had some setbacks. ups and downs in his college career. .
When he transferred from Central Connecticut State to Anna Maria in 2019 to play for head coach Dan Mulrooney — a Prospect native and Holy Cross High graduate in 2007 — he made the decision in part thinking about his coming.
“I traded to Anna Maria knowing Coach Mul would then hire me as a graduate assistant so I could coach,” said Kingsley, who quarterbacked for the Amcats in seven games over the course of the 2019 season, completing 61% of his passes for 917 yards. and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions.
After the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic, Kingsley joined the coaching staff as quarterbacks coach last season.
“I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting into last year, running a QB room, but I love the kids I work with,” said Kingsley, whose roster of quarterbacks includes college grad Tyler Bulinski. Woodland in 2020. “They work hard and are respectful. As a freshman coach, they bought into what I was saying.
Working under Mulrooney and offensive coordinator Steve Croce, a 1983 Naugatuck High graduate, Kingsley helped the Amcats go 7-3 and win the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference championship.
When Mulrooney left the helm to move to Division II Lock Haven, the school named Croce as its next football coach. Croce, in turn, chose Kingsley to lead his attack.
“That same day I knew Coach Croce was going to get the job,” Kingsley said. “When the AD [Joe Brady] told us, one of the first things [Croce] told me he wanted me to be his offensive coordinator.
Croce said Kingsley’s appointment was not a difficult decision.
“He’s played on offense, he knows offense, and being a quarterback, it’s a natural progression to becoming an offensive coordinator,” Croce said. “He loves the game. It was obvious. We will work together, but he has the title and the reins.
A year ago, Anna Maria boasted the eighth-best offense in Division III with her wide attack – something Kingsley is very familiar with and doesn’t plan to change.
“I’ve definitely been used to it since high school and college,” Kingsley said. “We like to shoot deep because we have great playmakers. We have a lot of experience coming back to the attacking side of the ball.
Kingsley knows he will have his hands full this fall. He sometimes commutes during the offseason, but he will move to Massachusetts before the start of preseason training in August.
“I’m going to have a lot more responsibility as an offensive coordinator, but not much is going to change,” Kingsley said. “The good thing is we’ve hired some great coaches, so the guys I work with are amazing.”
The staff includes another local connection with Mike Kennedy, a 2010 Naugatuck graduate who played Anna Maria from 2011 to 2014 and is entering his third year on staff. Kennedy is the Amcats special teams coordinator and defensive line coach.
Already ahead of schedule in his coaching career, Kingsley doesn’t expect much beyond his first year as offensive coordinator.
“I’m focused on controlling what I can control now and preparing for this season,” Kingsley said. “I will do whatever it takes.”