Jamiel earned New England All-Star honors after another record-breaking season for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)
Skyhawks will play 300th game in program's varsity history in 2018
EASTON, Mass. (August 8, 2018) – The Stonehill College football program has been picked to finish seventh in the Northeast-10 Conference preseason poll by the league's ten head coaches, the league announced today.
Stonehill received 36 points to sit seventh in the poll, with defending NE10 Champions Assumption College picked to capture its third title in four seasons with 77 points and six of ten first place votes. The Greyhounds edged out LIU Post for the top spot in the preseason poll, with the Pioneers receiving the remaining four first place votes and 76 points overall. Bentley University is picked third with 63 points, with the University of New Haven fourth (57 points) and Southern Connecticut State University (44) rounding out the top five. Merrimack College (40) holds the sixth position in the poll, one spot ahead of Stonehill, followed by Pace University (24) in eighth, American International College (20) in ninth and Saint Anselm College (13) in tenth to round out the poll.
Stonehill, under the direction of third year head coach Eli Gardner, returns 69 letterwinners for its 31st varsity season during which the Skyhawks will play the 300th game in the program's varsity era (1988-present) at Pace on Saturday, September 29, at noon. Stonehill, which received the NE10 Team Academic Excellence Award for having the highest team grade point average among the Conference's football program (3.052) this summer, capped its 2017 season with a 6-4 record overall, marking its third finish above .500 over the last five years, including a 5-4 mark in the NE10 for its fourth winning season in NE10 play over the last six years. The Skyhawks have 17 returning starters, with eight on the offensive side of the ball, including a pair of All-NE10 selections, and nine on the defensive side, with another returning All-NE10 pick.
Headlining Stonehill's offensive returnees are junior wide receiver Andrew Jamiel (Yarmouth, Massachusetts/Dennis-Yarmouth), a two-time All-NE10 selection and New England Football Writers All-Star, and senior tight end Justin Lamb (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth South), an All-NE10 second team selection last fall. Jamiel led the NE10 for the second-straight year in 2017 with 81 receptions, while ranking second nationally in Division II with 9.0 receptions per game after leading the country with a program-record matching 91 catches during his NE10 Rookie of the Year campaign in 2016. He finished the year with a career-high 1,035 receiving yards to rank second in the NE10, while ranking third with a program-record matching 13 touchdown receptions, ranking seventh nationally with 115.0 receiving yards per game and 11th in touchdowns.
Coury was second on the team with 49 tackles for the Skyhawks last season. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)
Lamb finished third on the team last fall with 202 receiving yards on 15 receptions with two touchdowns. He was also a key blocker for a Stonehill offense that finished third in the NE10 in scoring with 31.6 points per game and fifth in total offense at 387.6 yards per game.
Stonehill's running back duo of senior captain Mike Cordova (Monroe, New Jersey/Red Bank Catholic) and junior Brian Kearns, Jr. (North Arlington, New Jersey/Saint Joseph Regional) combined for nearly 900 rushing yards a year ago. Kearns, Jr., who collected a New England Football Writers Gold Helmet Award during the 2017 season, led the Skyhawks with 774 yards on 156 rush attempts during a breakout sophomore season with a team-high ten touchdowns. Cordova accumulated 626 yards on 145 rush attempts with five touchdowns in 2016 for Stonehill and presents a receiving threat for the Skyhawks as well.
Senior defensive lineman John Ejiofor (Burlington Township, New Jersey/Burlington Township) returns for his second season as a Stonehill captain after earning All-NE10 second team honors in 2017. He totaled 41 tackles, including 20 solo, with 5.0 tackles for a loss of 18 yards, 1.0 sacks for a loss of 13, a forced fumble, pass breakup and blocked kick last season.
Other key returners on defense for the Skyhawks include senior linebacker Nicolau Coury (Lowell, Massachusetts/Lowell), and junior defensive backs Ryan Shuts (Mount Laurel, New Jersey/Lenape Regional) and Malik Wiggins (Long Branch, New Jersey/Monmouth Regional). Coury finished second on the team with 49 tackles (29 solo), including 3.0 tackles for a loss of 22 yards, with a sack for a loss of 17, a team-high three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception and three pass breakups. Shuts totaled 45 tackles (33 solo), two forced fumbles, two interceptions and three pass breakups, while Wiggins contributed 44 stops (31 solo), including 4.0 for a loss of six yards, a team-high four interceptions and ten pass breakups with a forced fumble.
Rounding out Stonehill's four captains for the 2018 season seniors Vandy Hall (Ewing, New Jersey/Ewing) and James Lam (Quincy, Massachusetts/Quincy). Hall posted 30 tackles (10 solo) as a linebacker last fall, while Lam is expected to take over the starting quarterback duties following the graduation of Matt Foltz, '18. Lam has one career start for the Skyhawks, leading the team to a season-ending 38-21 win at rival Bentley in 2016 as he completed 14-of-22 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions.
Stonehill opens its 2018 season on Friday, August 31, when it hosts Fairmont State University from West Virginia in the first ever meeting between the two schools as part of Kickoff Weekend at the College at W.B. Mason Stadium at 6 p.m. The Skyhawks will open their NE10 schedule the following Saturday, September 8, with the "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk" at Saint Anselm College at 6 p.m.
For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.