|Coach's Corner with Robert Talley: Bentley Preview
The Game: Stonehill College heads to Waltham, Mass., to battle archrival Bentley University for the Northeast-10 Conference opener for both at Bentley Stadium tonight. The Skyhawks are looking to bounce back from a tough 24-7 setback to 24th-ranked Bloomsburg (Pa.) University at W.B. Mason Stadium last Saturday, while the Falcons will try to build off their 27-21 victory over Mercyhurst University last weekend.
Media Info: Live video of this tonight's game is available on a pay-per-view basis ($8.00) via www.bentleyfalcons.com. Jacob VanRyn and Roger Crosley will be providing the action powered by America ONE Sports. WSHL 91.3 FM will also be broadcasting the game back to Easton with Alex Patturelli and Matt Grant calling the action.
Against the Falcons: Tonight marks the 29th varsity meeting all-time between these two rivals. Bentley holds a 21-6-1 advantage in the series, but Stonehill halted a three game losing streak to the Falcons with its 30-3 triumph in Easton last fall. Bentley is 10-2 all-time against Stonehill at home, claiming a 17-7 rain-soaked victory here in 2012. Despite the three-straight losses from 2010-2012, the teams have split the last six meetings. Stonehill head coach Robert Talley is 3-5 all-time against the Falcons.
Familiar Foe: Bentley University football head coach Bill Kavanaugh is in his first season at his alma mater. Kavanaugh was among Stonehill head coach Robert Talley's first assistant coaching hires when taking over in Easton, serving as defensive line coach in 2007. He would go on to work as an assistant at Penn State University for six years before taking over the Falcons reigns last December following the retirement of Thom Boerman.
They're Honored: Stonehill placed three student-athletes on the Northeast-10 Conference's weekly honor roll on Monday. Senior All-American linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Mass.), junior linebacker Peter Catal (Cornwall, N.Y.) and junior quarterback Moe Regan (West Roxbury, Mass.) were all recognized for their efforts in Saturday's setback to Bloomsburg. Harrington posted a game-high 11 tackles (three solo), while Catal registered seven stops (five solo), including 3.0 for a loss of four yards and a quarterback hurry in his debut to pace the defense. Regan posted career-bests by completing 19-of-33 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown on the offensive side.
Aye, Aye, Captains: Head Coach Robert Talley named seniors Lucas Brum (OL), Sterry Codrington (DB) and Brian Harrington (LB) as team captains for the 2014 season after a vote of the returning players last spring. The team will also typically have one game day captain chosen for his hard work during the week.
Preseason Predictions: Stonehill has been picked to finish third in the Northeast-10 Conference football preseason poll, as selected by the league's ten head coaches. Stonehill collected 67 points, including a first place vote, to earn its No. 3 preseason ranking by the league coaches – its highest NE-10 preseason ranking in program history. The Skyhawks received one less point than the New Haven (68 points) who is picked second, while defending Conference champions American International picked up 81 points and the remaining nine first place votes. Assumption and Merrimack (47 points each) were both picked fourth, while LIU Post (44 points) is sixth, Southern Connecticut State (37 points) seventh, Bentley (31 points) eighth, Saint Anselm (19 points) ninth and Pace (nine points) rounds out the poll in tenth.
Record Talley: Stonehill head coach Robert Talley enters tonight's game with 36 career wins, tied for the most in the Skyhawks varsity era with Connie Driscoll, who posted a 36-24 record in his six seasons from 1993-98. Talley, who was a finalist for the 2013 Liberty Mutual Division II Coach of the Year Award and named the New England Football Writers Division II/III Coach of the Year last fall, also looks to move back to .500 in his career after dipping to 36-37 over his eight year career at Stonehill with last weekend's setback.
Top Target: Senior wide receiver Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Mass.) enters this tonight's game just one touchdown reception shy of Stonehill's career record of 22 set by Dan Cahill, '96. Robitaille matched the program record with 13 touchdown catches in 2013, setting program single-season marks for receiving yards (1,229), receptions (91) and receptions per game (8.27). He also enters the season ranked fifth all-time with 1,761 career receiving yards - 681 yards shy of former teammate John Gomes, '13 record total of 2,442. Robitaille ranks third for career receptions with 128 - 45 behind Gomes record of 173.
Nobody Beats the Gryz: Junior kicker Steve Grzywacz (Manchester, N.H.) enters tonight's game with 19 career field goals made, just one shy of Stonehill's career record of 20 set by Joe Crowley, '04. Grzywacz's 29 career field goal attempts ranks second all-time behind Crowley's record 39 field goal attempts.
No Fly Zone: The Stonehill defense held Bloomsburg to an NCAA Division II low 13 passing yards last Saturday as the Huskies completed just 3-of-18 passes, including a long of seven yards. Skyhawks defensive backs broke up three passes, led by two from senior cornerback Nate Morris (Bristol, R.I.), tops in the Northeast-10. Bloomsburg's 22.73 passer rating also ranks last in Division II after last weekend.
Have a Debut: Junior linebacker Peter Catal (Cornwall, N.Y.) made his long-awaited collegiate debut and posted seven tackles (five solo), including a Northeast-10 high 3.0 tackles for a loss of four yards, which ranks 13th nationally in Division II after week one.
D-FENCE!: Stonehill ranks second in the Northeast-10 and 14th nationally for total defense as it yielded just 224 yards of total offense to the Bloomsburg offense on Saturday.
Weekly Double: Senior All-American linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Mass.) posted double-figure tackle totals for the 11th time over the last 12 games in the past two seasons. He recorded double-digit tackles in each of his first eight games in 2013, notching six games with 16 tackles or more, including a career-high 17 stops in three games last season (at Assumption, at New Haven, at American International).
Tip Drill: Stonehill sophomore tight end Colin Smith (Ipswich. Mass.) hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass from junior Moe Regan (West Roxbury, Mass.) which was tipped by two defenders before settling into his hands before racing to the end zone for his first career touchdown. He finished the game with a career-high three receptions for a career-best 63 yards on the afternoon.
Making an IMPACT: The Stonehill College football team is proud to have Nick Claudio (Mattapoisett, Mass.) as a part of its program through Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges, Together) for his second season. Team IMPACT is a New England based non-profit that aims at improving the quality of life for kids facing life-threatening illnesses by creating unparalleled team based support systems with area college athletic teams. Nick is the latest from Team IMPACT to join the Skyhawk family as the football team joins the men's and women's basketball, field hockey and ice hockey teams to be involved with the program. Nick, 13-years old, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on his optic nerve in July, 2010, that put so much pressure on his optic nerve that it led to losing his vision. He has remained upbeat, being quoted as saying in a recent news article, "A loss of sight is never a loss of vision, you need to be able to look forward and keep moving." After losing his vision, he has adapted to life being blind by teaching himself braille, learning to ski and graduating from his elementary school at the top of his class. In July 2012, doctors found two additional tumors, one on his auditory nerve. In an effort to save his hearing, doctors opted to treat it with chemo and radiation rather than doing surgery which carries the threat of him going deaf.
Academic Success: Stonehill College has been recognized for its academic performance with regard to graduation rate by earning a 97-percent Academic Success Rating (ASR) as released by the NCAA last December. The ASR considers the academic success rate of the institution based on the graduation rate of student-athletes while also giving credit for any student-athletes that transferred from the institution while in good academic standing. In addition to Stonehill's overall ASR of 97%, ten of Stonehill's 16 athletic programs (cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field are combined by the NCAA) received perfect scores of 100%. Stonehill's 97% ASR ranks second among NE-10 institutions behind just Saint Michael's College (98%) and ranks fifth overall in NCAA Division II. The football team maintained an ASR of 92% - signifigantly higher than the federal rate of 79%. For its performance, Stonehill earned the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award for the third straight year.
For Henry: The Stonehill football team continues to maintain locker in a place of prominence in the team lockerroom for Henry Thevenin, '14, who passed away due to complications from leukemia in June 2011 after his freshman season. In week one of the 2011 season against Curry, the team honored Thevenin by playing its first defensive play with ten players. Thevenin appeared in seven games for the football team, starting the last six, as a freshman in 2010. He totaled 18 tackles, eight solo, with a pass breakup for the Skyhawks. Thevenin was a 2009 graduate of nearby Brockton High School and prepped one year at Suffield Academy in Connecticut.
Leaders of the Pack: For the sixth-straight year, Stonehill College is partnering with Pack Network to provide live "Packcasts" of all home football and men's and women's basketball games along with other select athletic events. Fans can access the webcasts via www.stonehillskyhawks.tv. Viewers can opt to purchase single-game passes for $6.99 or purchase an "All-Access" pass for $59.99. All-Access pass members can view all Stonehill webcasts for the entire year, while also gaining access to the archives and be able to watch the webcasts at any time. Games can also be viewed on your iPad or iPhone.
Getting Social: Fans and media members of Stonehill athletics now have two social media outlets to get updates on all 20 varsity programs. The department's Facebook page is www.facebook.com/stonehillskyhawks, and you can also follow @SkyhawkTalk on Twitter!
On Deck: Stonehill is back in action next Saturday, September 20, at American International College for a rematch of the 2013 NE-10 Championship at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks return home the following Saturday, September 27, to host Merrimack College on Family Weekend at 6 p.m.