Rockland, Mass., junior linebacker is first Stonehill student-athlete to receive top defensive award for Division II/III in New England, will be honored at Gridiron Club's Bob Whelan College Football Awards Night on January 9
EASTON, Mass. (December 6, 2013) – Stonehill College junior linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Mass./Rockland) has been named the 2013 Joseph P. Zabilski Defensive Player of the Year, presented annually to the top college football players in New England for Divisions II and III by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. Harrington will be presented with his award at the Gridiron Club's annual Bob Whelan College Football Awards Night on Thursday, January 9, at the Weston Hotel in Waltham, Mass.
Harrington is the first Stonehill student-athlete to be honored by the Gridiron Club and is among three representatives of the Northeast-10 Conference who will receive honors on January 9. Merrimack College quarterback Joe Clancy has been named winner of the Zabilski Offensive Player of the Year Award, while recently retired Southern Connecticut State University head coach Rich Cavanaugh will receive the John Baronian Award for Lifetime Contribution to Football.
"I'm extremely grateful that I was considered for this award and honored to have been selected to receive it," said Harrington. "There are so many great athletes in this division and in this area, so for me to be recognized as one of the best is an absolute honor. You look at guys like Joe Clancy and (Framingham State's) Melikke Van Alstyne who put up video game like numbers this season and to be considered in the same category as them, well it's pretty cool."
The award is named in honor of Joe Zabilski, Boston College '43, coach of Northeastern University, and former Gridiron Club president. While this is the 18th year of existence for the Zabilski Award, it was split into an offensive and defensive honor in 2010. Founded in 1932, the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston promotes the game of football at all levels and nurtures the ideals of citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership, and athletic and academic achievement. Through its annual dinners and golf tournament, the club carries on its tradition of honoring exemplary players, coaches and officials at all levels of the sport, and supporting worthy charitable causes, especially those that assist children
Harrington has been racking up the postseason honors following his record breaking season for Stonehill this fall. He is a nominee for the Cliff Harris Award, given to the top small college defensive player of the year, and was named the D2Football.com Defensive Player of the Year for the Northeast-10 Conference. Harrington has earned Daktronics, Inc., All-Super Region 1 first team, New England Football Writers Division II/III All-New England and All-Northeast-10 first team honors this season as well.
"Brian is a young man that has truly worked hard to get to this position," said Stonehill head coach Robert Talley. "He has an exceptional work ethic and approaches every practice and game with the same energy and enthusiasm. I congratulate Brian on this tremendous award and look forward to seeing him continue to lead our defense in 2013."
Harrington, a four-time NE-10 Defensive Player of the Week this season, posted a Conference and program record 151 tackles this fall, which leads the Conference, ranks third nationally and is currently the tenth-highest single-season total in Division II history. Harrington posted double-figure tackles in ten of Stonehill's 11 games and had 16 or more stops in six games. He registered a career-high 17 tackles in an overtime win at Assumption College on September 20 and matched in the NE-10 Championship at American International College on November 16.
Harrington leads the NE-10 with his 73 solo tackles (8th nationally) and 78 tackle assists to go with 7.0 tackles for a loss of 30 yards, including 2.5 sacks for a loss of 16, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and pass breakup. He was a leading force for a Stonehill defense which finished the season ranked second in the NE-10 for scoring defense (24.3 ppg), second in passing defense (246.8 yds/gm) and forced a league-high 30 turnovers, including a Conference best 14 fumble recoveries, and finished fourth for sacks (21).
Harrington earned a starting role on the defensive unit this fall after gaining experience as a member of the Stonehill special teams units as a freshman and sophomore. He was named the Skyhawks Special Teams Player of the Year by the coaching staff following the 2012 season. He has played 31 games over his career, starting all 11 this season, and has posted 176 career tackles (87 solo). Of his record 151 tackles this season, 105 came against the run, more than double his next teammate. Harrington has earned NE-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll all four semesters completed at the College and Athletic Director's Honor Roll two semesters.
Stonehill posted its best season in nearly 20 years this fall as it finished with an 8-3 record overall, including an 8-1 mark in the Northeast-10 to earn a share of its first NE-10 regular season championship. The Skyhawks posted their first winning season since an 8-2 campaign in 1996 and fell a win shy of the single-season program record of nine in 1995. Stonehill finished above .500 in NE-10 play for the second-straight year and third time in head coach Robert Talley's seven seasons at the helm.
Stonehill appeared among teams receiving votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll for the first time in program history six weeks this fall, including five straight leading up to Saturday's NE-10 Championship appearance, and was ranked in each of the NCAA Division II Super Region 1 rankings this fall. Stonehill is also ranked sixth in this week's ECAC Lambert Meadowlands poll, after being ranked as high as fifth this season.