Gardner Selected to AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute

Skyhawks second-year head coach will take part in program January 7 in Charlotte

AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute Announcement

EASTON, Mass. (December 4, 2017) – Stonehill College football head coach Eli Gardner has been named among the individuals selected to participate in the 2018 AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute, presented by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and NCAA Leadership Development, which will take place Sunday, January 7, during the AFCA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Gardner was selected from a total of 138 applicants who are currently serving as a high school head coach, a two-year college full-time assistant or head coach, or an NAIA/NCAA full-time assistant or head coach. He is one of seven head coaches out of the 35 selected, including the lone NCAA Division II head coach, and one of two Division II coaches overall. Selected participants are invited to attend the one-day institute, which features a curriculum of interactive lectures focused on topics specifically tailored to emphasize leadership in the coaching profession, ethics, influential responsibilities, career progression, and family balance.

Gardner recently completed his second season as head coach at Stonehill, following seven years as an assistant coach with the Skyhawks. He has led Stonehill to an 11-10 (.524) record over his two seasons as head coach, including a 9-9 mark (.500) in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Skyhawks posted a 6-4 overall record this past season, including 5-4 in the NE10 to tie for fourth in the Conference standings, marking the program's third winning season over the last five years and its fourth finish above .500 in Conference play over the last six seasons.

Stonehill ranked third in the NE10 for scoring offense (31.6 ppg) this season, leading Division II for fourth down conversion offense (80%), while ranking second in the NE10 for third down conversions (45%). The Skyhawks finished fifth in the NE10 with 387.6 yards of total offense per game.

Nine Stonehill student-athletes have earned All-NE10 honors over his first two seasons at the helm, including four on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore Andrew Jamiel (Yarmouth, Massachusetts/Dennis-Yarmouth), the 2016 NE10 Rookie of the Year, is the second offensive player in as many seasons named to the All-NE10 first team and also Gardner's second New England Football Writers All-Star selection in as many years, while also coaching one All-Super Region 1 performer. Four freshmen have also garnered NE10 All-Rookie Team status over his first two years as head coach.

Stonehill has consistently ranked among NE10 team defensive leaders over Gardner's nine seasons on the coaching staff, which included five years as defensive coordinator under former head coach Robert Talley prior to being named head coach. The Skyhawks led the NE10 and ranked 26th nationally for rushing defense during his first year as head coach (112.2 yds/gm) and third in the NE10 and 28th nationally for total defense (322.2 yds/gm). Stonehill also led the Conference and ranked 11th nationally for first down defense (15.5 1st downs/gm), and second for third-down conversion defense (30%), good for tenth nationally in Division II in 2016.

The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston's 2015 Division II Assistant Coach of the Year, directed a Stonehill defense which ranked second in the NE10 and 11th nationally in Division II for total defense in 2015, 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 led the NE-10 (23rd) in rushing defense (120.6 yds/gm) and ranked fourth (34th) for scoring defense (20.9 ppg). The defense also ranked eighth nationally for first down defense (14.4 allowed per game) and 15th for third down conversion defense (30.6%).       

Stonehill ranked in the top ten nationally in Division II for total defense (6th) in 2014, allowing an NE-10 low 284 yards per game, and rushing defense (10th), yielding a Conference low 94.7 yards per game. He helped guide the Skyhawks to a share of the 2013 Northeast-10 regular season championship for the first time in program history as the team posted its first winning season (8-3, 8-1 NE-10) since 1996.

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