|Coach's Corner with Robert Talley
The Game: Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, opens its Northeast-10 Conference schedule against Merrimack College at Martone-Mejail Field tonight. The Skyhawks have had little time to celebrate arguably its biggest win in program history with a short week heading into the Friday night matchup following their 27-10 victory at No. 11/14 Bloomsburg last Saturday afternoon. The Warriors are home for the second straight weekend after dropping a hard-fought 35-32 decision to Bowie State here last Saturday.
Media Info: Tonight's game will be broadcast live free of charge via www.merrimackathletics.tv. Greg Kadetsky will have the call of the action and links to the webcast as well as live stats will also be available via www.stonehillskyhawks.com
Golden Defensive Performance: Sophomore cornerback Donovan Phanor (Portsmouth, N.H.) was named the New England Football Writers Division II/III Gold Helmet Award winner, sponsored by the Jack Grinold Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation this week. Phanor was presented with his first career Gold Helmet at Wednesday's weekly New England Football Writers Luncheon, hosted by Harvard University, at Dillon Fieldhouse. Phanor is the seventh Stonehill football player to receive the weekly award and the first defensive player. Logan Meyer, '14 is the last Skyhawk to receive the honor on September 25, 2013.
Stonehill New England Football Writers Gold Helmet Award Winners:
Donovan Phanor, So, CB - September 9, 2015
Logan Meyer, Sr, QB - September 25, 2013
Cruz Parsons, Fr, QB - October 5, 2005
Tyrone Jefferson, RB - 2000
Dan Field, QB - 1995
Tony Dello Iacono, QB - 1994
Mike McLucas, RB - 1994
Defensive Player of the Week: Sophomore corner back Donovan Phanor (Portsmouth, N.H.) was named the Northeast-10 Conference's Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in Saturday's 27-10 triumph at No. 11/14 Bloomsburg. He led a Stonehill defensive effort which held Bloomsburg to just 264 total yards, 68 of which came on a late fourth quarter scoring drive that produced the Huskies lone touchdown of the afternoon with 37-seconds remaining. Phanor registered a career-high seven tackles (three solo), an interception, fumble recovery and pass breakup in the win as the Skyhawks limited Bloomsburg to just 178 passing yards. Phanor's fumble recovery helped set up Stonehill's first touchdown of the day, while his interception in Skyhawks territory kept the Huskies scoreless at the time and led to a field goal that put the visitors up 10-0 in the second quarter. Phanor was also named Stonehill's Champions Choice Male Student-Athlete of the Week for his efforts.
They're Honored: Senior running back Colin Markus (Monroe, Conn.) and sophomore quarterback Matt Foltz (Mount Joy, Pa.) both earned spots on the Northeast-10's weekly honor roll for their efforts in Saturday's 27-10 victory at No. 11/14 Bloomsburg.
• Markus established the run game for the Skyhawks by rushing for 122 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. His two yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Skyhawks a 17-3 lead.
• Foltz engineered the Skyhawks offense, posting a 180.50 pass efficiency rating with two touchdown passes and no interceptions as he completed 13-of-19 passes for 175 yards..
Votes of Confidence: Stonehill is among teams receiving votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll. It marks the Skyhawks first appearance since receiving votes six weeks, including a string of five-straight weeks, during the 2013 NE-10 Championship season.
Historic Win: Saturday's 27-10 win at No. 11/14 Bloomsburg marks Stonehill's first win over a nationally-ranked opponent since a 23-21 victory over 24th-ranked Bentley at W.B. Mason Stadium to cap the 2009 season. It also marks the highest-ranked oppnent the Skyhawks have defeated in program history.
What a Rush!: Senior running back Colin Markus (Monroe, Conn.) established the running game with his ninth career 100-yard performance as he carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Skyhawks' 153 yards on the ground overall is more than their team rushing total for the first three meetings against Bloomsburg combined (149), bettering the previous best of 63 rushing yards in 2014.
Nobody Beats the Gryz: Senior kicker Steve Grzywacz (Manchester, N.H.) leads the Northeast-10 in kickers scoring and fifth overall in scoring with nine points following the first weekend of the season. He converted both field goal attempts (22 & 25 yds) and all three extra points in the win over No. 11/14 Bloomsburg.
Pinned Deep: Junior Justin Kaffenberger (Monroe, N.Y.) made his debut at punter for Stonehill on Saturday after the graduation of All-New England selection Ryan Handy '15. He shined in the win over No. 11/14 Bloomsburg by averaging 38.8 yards (3rd NE-10) on four punts, two of which were downed inside the Bloomsburg five yard line. His first punt, downed at the Huskies one, late in the first quarter led to a fumble which resulted in Stonehill's first touchdown of the afternoon. Kaffenberger had a second punt downed on the two in the third quarter and after a Bloomsburg three and out, the Skyhawks got the ball back on the Huskies 42 before scoring four plays later for a 17-3 advantage. He also chipped in on defense with five tackles (one solo) and an interception.
In The Zone: Stonehill converted all four trips inside the red zone at Bloomsburg on Saturday, scoring two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing) and converted a pair of field goals.
DE-FENCE!: Stonehill held #11/14 Bloomsburg to just 86 rushing yards on Saturday after leading the NE-10 in rushing defense in 2014. The Skyhawks again lead the NE-10 in rushing defense as well as scoring defense, while ranking second for total defense and third in passing defense.
Hey, You, Get Off of McLeod: Senior co-captain Gordon McLeod (Weymouth, Mass.) caught a team-leading five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown at No. 11/14 Bloomsburg on Saturday. Included among his five catches was his 100th career reception and he moved into sixth place all-time in program history with 1,429 career receiving yards, while the touchdown was the 11th of his career, moving him into a tie for seventh all-time. He currently ranks fifth among NE-10 leaders with 15.8 yards per reception and receiving yards.
Champions On and Off the Field: Brockton mayor Bill Carpenter welcomed the Stonehill football team as guests of honor at Brockton High School in recognition of their volunteer efforts during last winter's historic snowstorms. Members of the football team shoveled out homes of "at risk" elderly who had called the city's emergency hotline.
Academic Success: Stonehill College has been recognized for its academic performance with regard to graduation rate by earning a 96-percent Academic Success Rating (ASR) as released by the NCAA last year. 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 96%, 12 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 96% ASR ranks third among NE-10 institutions and ranks eighth overall in NCAA Division II. The football team has an ASR of 90% - signifigantly higher than the federal rate of 73%. Stonehill has earned the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award all four years of its existence for having an ASR of 90% or higher.
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 third 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, 15-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.
Leaders of the Pack: For the seventh-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 will host Pace University next Saturday, September 19, for its much anticipated home opener at 6 p.m. The game will be a part of Stonehill Kickoff Weekend and the College will hold its Presidents' Cup Championship celebration as well.