Husson Head Football Coach, Gabby Price, previews the Eagles' upcoming season.
BANGOR, Maine - After earning an Eastern College Athletic Conference Bowl Game in 2015, the Husson University football team will aim for its second NCAA Division III playoff berth in the last three years in 2016.
The Eagles overall record of 7-3 in 2015 marked the third seven win season in program history, as HU finished tied for first with Norwich in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) with a 6-1 conference record, resulting in Husson's second straight regular season title.
With 15 starters returning from last year's team, including 2015 ECFC Offensive Player of Year and seven All-ECFC honorees, the Eagles have their sights set on challenging for the conference championship and the bid to the NCAA Championships associated with it.
Last year's campaign was the Eagles' seventh consecutive winning season under head coach Gabby Price, with the team going 43-24 (good for a .642 winning percentage during the stretch).
The Husson University offense experienced once again a record breaking season last year, setting single-season school records for total offense (4,206), points scored (374), and passing touchdowns (24), behind a dominate offense line, led by senior left tackle Matt Archer, a 2015 All-ECFC first team selection and All-ECAC New England honoree, senior quarterback Joe Seccareccia, a 2015 All-ECFC honorable mention selection, and sophomore tailback John Smith, the 2015 ECFC Offensive Player of the Year.
In 2016, the Eagles will see sophomore quarterback Cory Brandon take over the starting role with the departure of Seccareccia. Brandon played in the final three games of the season after Seccareccia had his season end with an injury. He finished the season with 431 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Adding additional experience at the position behind Brandon are juniors Luis Martinez and Parker Asselin.
Leading the rushing attack will be junior John Smith, a 2016 Football Gameplan Preseason All-American 2nd team selection, who is coming off one of the best seasons by a running back at Husson. He rewrote the record books last season as Smith broke nine single-season, and two single-game school records, while earning the program's first ECFC Offensive Player of the Year award, All-ECFC honors, NEFW DII/DIII All-New England honors, d3football.com All-New England Region honors. He led the entire conference in rushes (296), yards (1,733), yards per rush (5.9), and touchdowns (20), while surpassing the 100-yard mark in all but two contests, tying his single-season record of eight which was set in 2014 and the 200-yard mark twice.
Junior Obie Christmas and sophomore Chuck Browne will add depth at the position.
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The Eagles will return their top two receiving threats from last season in senior Deon Wiggins, and junior Robenson Saintard. Last season, Wiggins became the all-time career leader in receiving touchdowns (14), while setting the single-season record for receiving touchdowns (8) as well the single-game records for most passes caught (9), and highest average gain per reception (33.5). Saintard tied the single-season record for receptions (33) and receptions per game (3.30) and was second on the team with six touchdowns.
Other returners expected to be involved in the passing game this season include senior Kadeem Edge, and juniors Greg Moore, Jon Saban, and DJ Allen.
The Eagles' offensive line led the ECFC and ranked fourth nationally in sacks allowed (4) in 2015 and will return a good portion of line in seniors James Osgood, Jon Walker, and junior Austin Odd, filling in the holes that were left by the departure of Matt Archer and Tyler Lyle will be seniors Seth Batty and Nick Lewis. Lewis and Batty both played in five games last season.
Additional returners with a chance to make an impact on the offensive line include juniors Briar Bussell, Brandon Darias, Josh Rivera, and Luis Rivera and sophomore Brad Weston.
Husson's defense remained one of the preeminent units in the ECFC and the country in 2015 behind seven All-ECFC selections, seniors Matt Pellerin, Ian Palmer, sophomore Luke Washburn, juniors Ellis Throckmorton, Marquis Jiminez, and Alonzo Connor and including senior linebacker Bryant Wade, who was the third straight Eagle player to be named ECFC Defensive Player of the Year. Wade was also named a Finalist for the Cliff Harris Award for the top small college Defensive Player of the Year.
The Eagles led the conference in total defense (226.1 ypg), rushing defense (60.4 ypg), scoring defense (17.6 ppg), turnovers gained (29), first downs defense (122), 3rd down conversion pct. defense (0.223), team passing efficiency defense (93.84), 4th down conversion pct. defense (0.231) and fumbles recovered (16). Husson ranked second nationally in total defense, rushing defense, first downs defense and 3rd down conversion pct. defense, while producing top ten finishes in team passing efficiency defense (10th), 4th down conversion pct. defense (4th) and fumbles recovered (6th).
The Eagles set single-season school records for assisted tackles (326), tackles for loss (85.0), yards from tackles for loss (333), fewest rushing yards allowed (604), lowest average yards per rush (1.73), fewest rushing yards per game, total defense, and total defense per play (3.64).
Despite losing Jordan Hersom, the Eagles will see the return of senior Logan Steward to the defensive side of the ball in 2016 as the starting rover after spending the past two seasons as John Smith's backup. Steward recorded 50 tackles, one interception and two sacks as a freshman.
Senior Marquis Jiminez and sophomore Quan Soyini are slated to start at the cornerback positions, with senior Rick Orio and junior Jean Gabriel at safety. Jiminez notched 2.3 tackles per game to go with five pass breakups, one interception last season, while Soyini played in nine games and tallied 17 tackles. Gabriel ranked fourth on the team with 43 tackles and Orio produced 33 tackles last season.
Junior Christian Mowrer and sophomores Jackson Leonard, and Alex Mace all expected to see time in the secondary.
Leading one of the best linebacker groups in the ECFC will be seniors Ellis Throckmorton and Alonzo Connor. Last season, Throckmorton became the all-time career leader in assisted tackles (94), while recording a team-high 77 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. Connor ranked third on the team with 49 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. He added one interception to go with three pass breakups.
Senior Tom Black and sophomore Charlie Meli will provide additional depth at the position.
The defensive line was the center of most of the success from last season, despite only losing one starter the Eagles will return a good portion of the line in 2016. Senior Jeff Turcotte and sophomore Elvin Suazo, Jr will start at the two defensive end positions, while juniors Luke Washburn and Tarik Smith will handle the middle of the line. Washburn notched 38 tackles to put him sixth on the team, while collecting a team-high 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Sophomores Javaris Carrigan, Nathaniel Buchanan, Dominic Boulrisse should see playing time on the defensive line this season.
The Eagles' roster also boasts two of the top returners in the ECFC in senior Deon Wiggins and junior Robenson Saintard. Last year, Wiggins became the all-time career leader in punt return yards (253) and set the single-season record for punt return yards (253) while tying the record for most punt return touchdowns in a season with one. He also set the following single-game records for most punt returns (7) and most punt return yards (85). Saintard led the team with 24.8 yards per kickoff return.
Freshman Travis Tetreault will handle the kicking duties this season.
The Eagles will kick off the 2016 campaign at Alfred (N.Y.) on Saturday, September 3rd.