Edouard among 15 Golden Bears to garner All-NEFC recognition
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (November 15, 2016) – Junior defensive lineman Sam Edouard (Roosevelt, N.Y.) and 12th year head coach Keith Emery have both earned major yearly awards from the New England Football Conference (NEFC), highlighting Western New England University's impressive haul of All-NEFC accolades, which were announced today by the league office.
Edouard was among 15 All-Conference selections for the Golden Bears, matching last season's program record. Joining him on the first team defense was senior linebacker Blair Cook (New Brunswick, N.J.), sophomore bear Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.), as well as senior cornerbacks Obi Etuka (Middletown, Conn.) and Isaiah Berrios Smith (Wallkill, N.Y.) and junior safety Sam Olsson (Milford, Conn.).
Representing Western New England on the All-NEFC first team offense was junior quarterback Anthony Service (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.), senior running back Nick Connell (East Marion, N.Y.), senior tight end Trent Vasey (Cumberland, R.I.), and junior offensive linemen Dillon Martin (Ashland, Mass.) and Spencer Goodman (Haddon Heights, N.J.).
Western New England's starting wide receiver duo of senior Mohamed Camara (New York, N.Y.) and junior Mark Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) earned All-NEFC second team recognition, as did sophomore defensive lineman Sean Stergas (Cambridge, Vt.) and sophomore Greg Metelus (Medway, Mass.).
Emery earns NEFC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season and fourth time in his career (NEFC Boyd Division Coach of the Year in 2010 & '11) after leading the Golden Bears to their second straight undefeated regular season (10-0, 7-0 NEFC) and the program's third appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Western New England, which was ranked No. 1 in the Grinold Chapter New England Division III Football Poll all season, made its debut in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) DIII Coaches' Poll on November 14 at No. 23.
Edouard, who was also named to the All-NEFC first team, becomes Western New England's second straight NEFC Defensive Player of the Year after Etuka won the award last fall. Edouard was a dominant force on the Golden Bears' defensive line in 2016, recording 42 tackles (4.0 for loss) and one pass breakup while consistently being double and triple-teamed. The Roosevelt, N.Y. anchored a defensive unit that surrendered NEFC-lows in both yards (265.9) and points (17.1) per game.
Etuka, Berrios Smith and Olsson all earn first team recognition after producing a combined ten interceptions during the regular season and leading the way for a defensive backfield which allowed just 155.1 passing yards per game (1st in NEFC).
Etuka, who became Western New England's all-time interceptions leader with his two-pick performance in the Golden Bears' 37-0 shutout victory over MIT on October 15, registered five during the regular season (1st in NEFC) and has now totaled 20 through 41 career games. The three-time All-NEFC first team selection also recorded 37 tackles and eight pass breakups (T-4th in NEFC) during the regular season. He earned NEFC Defensive Player of the Week honors on November 7 after being named to the D3football.com Team of the Week on October 18.
Olsson was Western New England's leading tackler with 60 stops to go with one interception and one pass breakup. The junior safety's blocked punt late in the second quarter at Endicott on October 22 was the turning point in an eventual 20-7 victory for the Golden Bears. Berrios Smith totaled 25 tackles, seven pass breakups, four picks and one block while earning NEFC Defensive Player of the Week recognition on October 3.
Jolicoeur enjoyed a breakout campaign from his bear position, ranking second on the team with 58 tackles (8.5 for loss) in addition to two sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and a pair of picks. The sophomore was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week for the first time in his career on November 1. Joining Jolicoeur on the All-NEFC first team from Western New England's linebacker corps is Cook, who compiled 44 tackles (8.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks, one interception and one pass breakup this fall.
In his first full season as a starter, Service garners All-NEFC first team recognition after quarterbacking the conference's second-ranked offense in terms of both scoring (41.0 PPG) and yardage (460.5 YPG). He completed 138-of-220 pass attempts (62.7%) for 1894 yards, a program-record 22 touchdowns, and just two interceptions during the regular season. Service, who ranks 15th in the NCAA with his 166.2 pass efficiency rating, collected consecutive NEFC Offensive Player of the Week honors on September 19 and 26.
Connell, Western New England's lone team captain this fall, lands on the All-NEFC first team for the second straight season after rushing for 1061 yards and 12 touchdowns on 190 carries (5.6 avg.). He was at his best late in the season, topping the 100-yard mark in four of the Golden Bears' last five games, including a 30-carry, 170-yard, four-touchdown performance in Western New England's 41-22, NEFC-title clinching win at Salve Regina on November 5. Connell was the recipient of the New England Football Writers Association DII/DIII Gold Helmet award following his effort, in addition to collecting NEFC Offensive Player of the Week recognition. The East Marion, N.Y. native followed that up by rushing for a career-high 188 yards and two touchdowns (including the game-winning score with 11 seconds remaining) on Saturday as the Golden Bears completed their 10-0 regular season campaign with a 36-29 win over Coast Guard.
Helping to pave the way for Connell were Martin and Goodman, who both earn All-NEFC first team honors for their efforts on the Western New England offensive line. The Golden Bears ranked third in the NEFC in rushing (251.7 YPG) while surrendering just ten sacks during the regular season.
Vasey also earns first team All-NEFC honors after recording 16 receptions for 205 yards and five touchdowns. In 38 career games, he has recorded 44 catches for 597 yards and six scores.
Dietrich and Camara are Western New England's lone representatives on the All-NEFC second team offense after serving as Service's top two receiving targets this season. Dietrich led the team in catches (39), yards (579) and receiving touchdowns (seven), while Camara added 23 receptions for 373 yards and five scores.
Stergas recorded 42 tackles (including 4.0 for loss and two sacks) on his way to All-NEFC second team recognition, while Metelus earned his way onto the second team in a special teams utility role.
Western New England, which earned the NEFC's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA DIII Tournament, will host Husson University in a first round matchup on Saturday, November 19 at noon.