Skyhawks seventh-year mentor is first Stonehill head coach to receive award
EASTON, Mass. (December 3, 2013) – Stonehill College football head coach Robert Talley has been named the Division II/III Coach of the Year by the New England Football Writers. Talley will be recognized for his award at the New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquet on Thursday, December 12, at the Montvale Plaza, in Stoneham, Mass.
Talley is the first Stonehill head coach to receive Coach of the Year honors from the New England Football Writers and is the first Division II coach to earn the DII/III award since former Bentley University head coach Peter Yetten in 2003. Talley led a Skyhawks squad, picked seventh in the Northeast-10 Conference's preseason coaches' poll, to its first winning season since 1996 with an 8-3 record overall and claimed a share of its first NE-10 regular season championship with a program best 8-1 mark in Conference play. Stonehill's eight wins finished just one shy of the program record in 1995 (9-2), while its three losses all came to teams selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament.
Talley, who has led Stonehill to back to back winning seasons in NE-10 play for the first time in program history, participated in the Conference Championship game for the first time. The Skyhawks also made their debut in three major polls over the course of the season. Stonehill was among teams receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll six weeks over the course of the season and is ranked sixth in this week's Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Lambert Meadowlands poll after being ranked as high as fifth. The Skyhawks were ranked as high as seventh in the NCAA Division II Super Region 1 rankings used for NCAA Tournament consideration and appeared in all three polls leading up to selection Sunday.
Stonehill produced a program-record nine All-Northeast-10 selections this season under Talley's leadership, all of which are underclassmen and just one a repeat honoree. Junior linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Mass./Rockland) and junior wide receiver Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Mass./Attleboro) will both also be recognized by the New England Football Writers on December 12 for being named to the DII/III All-New England team. Harrington set an NE-10 and program record with his 151 tackles this season, marking the 10th-highest single-season total in Division II history. Robitaille set single-season program records for receptions (91), receiving yards (1,229), receptions per game (8.3) and all-purpose yards (1,608), while matching the program record for receiving touchdowns (13).
Stonehill led the Northeast-10 in turnovers forced (30), fumble recoveries (14) and fourth down conversion percentage (53-percent/8-for-15), while ranking second for scoring defense (24.3 ppg), interceptions (16) and red zone offense (86%/32-for-37) and third for passing defense (246.8 yds per game). The Skyhawks currently rank 15th nationally for turnovers forced and 17th for fumble recoveries.
Talley led Stonehill to its first five game winning streak since 1996, including back to back road wins at Southern Connecticut State University and the University of New Haven in mid-October that marked the program's first ever wins in the City of New Haven over the perennial regional powers. The 29-26 comeback win over New Haven was the first in program history and snapped the Chargers 22 game NE-10 winning streak and was among four comeback wins by the Skyhawks from double-figure deficits over the course of the season.
Talley, who was named the D2Football.com Northeast-10 Coach of the Year in 2012, has led Stonehill to a 36-36 (.500) record over his seven seasons, including a 30-27 (.526) clip in Northeast-10 play. The program's all-time coaching wins leader guided the program to five .500 seasons for the first time since the early 1990s and just the second time in program history overall.
Talley has produced 34 All-Northeast-10 Conference honorees, including this year's program record total. In addition to two All-Americans, the program has also produced two All-Super Region I and four All-New England selections over his five seasons to date. Following the 2009 season, Stonehill received the NE-10's Team Sportsmanship Award for the sport of football. Stonehill has also had student-athletes perform in the classroom under his watch, with the team showing the highest improvement in cumulative GPA among Stonehill's male sports in 2012 and senior James Lanier (Westampton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) was named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete award & William V. Campbell Trophy this fall after earning Capital One Academic All-District I honors as a junior.