Teammates on the Brunswick School football team for two seasons, after competing together at Bunnell for several years, Jalen Madison and Howard Powell will soon join forces once again.
This time, it will be at the collegiate level.
Powell and Madison each signed National Letters of Intent to play football at Sacred Heart University during a ceremony at Brunswick on Wednesday.
Both Stratford residents, Madison and Powell helped spark Brunswick’s success on the football field for two seasons, after excelling at Bunnell. They are looking forward to continuing their friendship and football careers as teammates at Fairfield-based Sacred Heart.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Powell said. “I’ve been with him since Bunnell in Stratford, then we made the transition to Brunswick and now we are going to Sacred Heart University. It will be awesome having him there, knowing he’s going to hold it down on the offensive side of the ball.”
Powell, was recruited as a defensive lineman by Sacred Heart. Madison will play running back for the Pioneers.
“It’s been great competing with Howard over the years,” Madison said. “We got closer and became brothers. It’s been really fun.”
Madison rushed for a career-high 1,376 yards during his senior season for the Bruins this past fall. He ran for 18 touchdowns and earned Erickson League Offensive Player of the Year honors. He was also selected as a member of the All-Erickson League Team and All-NEPSAC Class A Team. Madison was also an All-Erickson Team selection his junior year for the Bruins.
“I want to give all the credit to my line, without them I wouldn’t have been able to get 1,000 rushing yards,” Madison said. “I want to thank them every day for helping me reach that.”
The duo helped the Bruins register a record of 8-2 and qualify for the NEPSAC Todd Marble Bowl. Coached by Mike Hannigan, Brunswick defeated The Gunnery School in the Todd Marble Bowl this past season, 19-12.
“The season was one of the best seasons I’ve ever been a part of,” Powell said. “Not because we won, but because of how close our team became. Even before the season, when we were doing our conditioning, we were close.”
Coached by Mark Nofri, Sacred Heart’s 2019 season ended with a record of 7-5. Nofri has coached Sacred Heart to three Northeast Conference championships (2013, 2014, 2018). He received NEC Coach of the Year accolades in 2013, 2014 and 2018.
“They’ve won a couple of conference championships the past few years and I feel they have a lot building with the class they have coming in this year,” Powell said of Sacred Heart. “I feel like it’s going to be fun learning from those coaches and being part of the team.”
After visiting Sacred Heart, Powell was comfortable in making his decision.
“My official visit was really fun, my family really liked the campus,” he said. “Spending time with the guys was cool and I feel that was the major part of my decision to choose Sacred Heart.”
During the Bruins’ 2019 season, Powell registered 52 tackles and led the team in sacks (seven) and tackles for lost yardage (16). A two-way player for Brunswick, he helped anchor an offensive line that opened holes for Madison to run through and provided solid protection for senior quarterback Nick Winegardner.
“Coach Hannigan asked me to play on offense too here at Brunswick, so that was fun,” Powell said.
Madison’s superb senior season for the Bruins included a season-high 261 rushing yards against Taft School and a career-best five touchdowns in the team’s win over Williston Northampton School.
“We really built a brotherhood here at Brunswick,” Madison said. “Be close to your brothers and never leave anyone behind, that’s one of the things I learned from playing on the team.”
In Madison and Powell’s first season on the Bruins in 2018, the squad qualified for a NEPSAC bowl game, where they lost to Choate Rosemary Hall.
“After we lost to Choate last year, everyone really worked hard in the offseason,” said Madison, who mentioned his uncle and grandfather as being his mentors. “We got in the weight room, got on the field and worked hard to get to that bowl game.”
Indeed, Madison won’t forget his senior season on the Bruins.
“We put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to win that bowl game and after the bowl game it felt amazing,” Madison said. “When I first came here, everyone welcomed me and I have loved it here every since,” Madison said. “The coaches, everyone, have been amazing to me.”
With their Brunswick careers in the books, Powell and Madison are primed for their next football chapter at Sacred Heart.
“It’s going to be challenging and hopefully, I’ll get some time as a freshman,” Powell said.
Added Madison: “I am looking forward to working hard, so I can get some time there my freshman year.”
Already successful on two teams together, Madison and Powell, hope to continue their winning ways at Sacred Heart in the fall.