Skyhawks defensive pair among honorees at Thursday night's Bob Whelan College Awards Night
|Stonehill Award Recipient Acceptance Speeches
(Left to Right) Assistant Head Coach Eli Gardner, the D2 Assistant Coach of the Year, Head Coach Robert Talley and senior Anthony Masucci, the "Swede" Nelson Award recipient.
BURLINGTON, Mass. (December 18, 2015) – Stonehill College senior safety Anthony Masucci (East Haven, Connecticut/Notre Dame-West Haven) and assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Eli Gardner were among the honorees at the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston's Bob Whelan College Football Awards Night at the Boston Marriott-Burlington on Thursday night.
Masucci received the 70th Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award for NCAA Division II for exceptional achievement in sportsmanship, academics and athletics, while Gardner collected his Division II Assistant Coach of the Year award. It marked the first time in program history a Stonehill student-athlete and coach have received these honors.
Masucci, who has earned a 3.59 cumulative grade point average as a finance major and economics minor at Stonehill, has also been named the second Academic All-American in program history this fall with second team honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District I selection and was a semifinalist for the 2015 National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame William V. Campbell Trophy and Scholar-Athlete Awards. He was selected to the Northeast-10 Academic All-Conference team as a junior and has been named to the NE-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll and Athletic Director's Honor Roll all six semesters at the College to date.
Masucci was an All-Northeast-10 second team pick this fall, finishing his senior season ranked third on the team with 63 tackles (29 solo), including 4.0 for a loss of 15 yards, with an interception and four pass breakups. He capped his career with 203 tackles, 101 solo, including 10.0 for a loss of 54 yards, with 0.5 sacks for a loss of three yards, two forced fumbles, five interceptions and ten pass breakups. Masucci is one of 17 players in program history with over 200 career tackles, posting a career-high 14 stops at Bloomsburg University as a sophomore in 2013.
Gardner is in his seventh year on head coach Robert Talley's coaching staff, having completed his second season as assistant head coach. Gardner has transformed the Stonehill defense into one of the premier units in the Northeast-10 over his five seasons as defensive coordinator. He directs a Stonehill defense which ranks second in the NE-10 and 11th nationally in Division II for total defense this fall, allowing just 279.2 yards per game, and second in the Conference for passing defense (17th nationally) at 158.5 yards per game. The Skyhawks lead the NE-10 (23rd) in rushing defense (120.6 yds/gm) and fourth (34th) for scoring defense (20.9 ppg). The defense also ranks eighth nationally for first down defense (14.4 allowed per game) and 15th for third down conversion defense (30.6%).
Gardner has coached 15 All-Northeast-10 Conference honorees in his five seasons as defensive coordinator at Stonehill, including Brian Harrington '15 who received the 2013 Joseph P. Zabilski Defensive Player of the Year award from the Gridiron Club of Boston.
Gardner was joined among the honorees Thursday night by his former coach at Western New England University Keith Emery, who was named the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year after leading the Golden Bears to a 10-1 record overall, including a 10-0 regular season mark, the New England Football Conference Championship and NCAA Tournament bid.
Stonehill finished 2015 with its second winning season over the past three years, posting a 7-4 record overall, including 5-4 in NE-10 play to finish fourth in the Conference standings. The Skyhawks capped the season with three wins over their last four after a 17-14 win at third place Merrimack College during NE-10 Championship Weekend.