Emery named DII/DII Coach of the Year, Etuka & Service earn spots on All-New England Team
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (November 28, 2016) – After leading Western New England University to its most successful season in program history, Keith Emery has been named the Division II/Division III Coach of the Year by the New England Football Writers (NEFW). Additionally, senior cornerback Obi Etuka (Middletown, Conn.) and junior quarterback Anthony Service (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) earned spots on the NEFW DII/DIII All-New England Team for their efforts this fall.
Emery, who was also named the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, led the Golden Bears to a school-record 11 wins in 2016 and the program's first ever NCAA Tournament victory. Western New England completed its second straight undefeated regular season (10-0, 7-0 NEFC) before defeating Husson University in the NCAA first round on November 19 and falling just short to Alfred University in a thrilling second round contest on Saturday.
Fifteen of Emery's student-athletes earned All-Conference honors from the NEFC, including the Defensive Player of the Year in junior defensive lineman Sam Edouard (Roosevelt, N.Y.) and first team selections in Etuka and Service. Western New England's historic campaign also featured a pair of Gold Helmet award-winning performances from senior running back Nick Connell (East Marion, N.Y.) and sophomore bear Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.) in the final month of the season. The Golden Bears completed a wire-to-wire run atop the Grinold Chapter New England DIII Football Poll, and broke into the national rankings at No. 23 in the final American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) DIII Coaches Poll of the regular season.
After 12 seasons at the helm of the Western New England football program, Emery owns a career record of 78-46 (.630), including an impressive 29-4 (.880) mark over the last three years. He has led the Golden Bears to NEFC titles and NCAA appearances in 2011, 2015 and 2016.
Etuka is representing Western New England on the DII/DIII All-New England team for the second straight season after capping his illustrious collegiate career with an impressive senior campaign. The Middletown, Conn. native, who also collected his third consecutive All-NEFC first team selection, recorded 42 tackles (2.5 for loss), 12 pass breakups and six interceptions in 2016.
Etuka became Western New England's all-time interceptions leader with his two-pick performance in the Golden Bears' 37-0 shutout of MIT on October 15, and he registered interceptions in the team's final two regular season contests as well as its NCAA triumph over Husson. His career statistics include 143 tackles (6.5 for loss), two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 36 pass breakups and 21 interceptions in 43 games.
Service lands on the NEFW All-New England Team following his breakout campaign in his first full season as a starter. The junior signal caller completed 179-of-286 pass attempts (62.6%) for 2459 yards with 25 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His 2459 yards through the air and 25 passing scores are both single-season program records. Service was also a threat on the ground, rushing for an additional 434 yards on 124 carries (3.5 avg.) and eight touchdowns.
The Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. native was named NEFC Offensive Player of the Week on two occasions this fall, the second of which came after he threw for a career-high 337 yards and program record six touchdowns in a 59-28 win over Curry on September 24. Service shined during the Golden Bears' NCAA Tournament run, completing 41-of-66 (62.1%) passes for 565 yards and three touchdowns over the two games. He also rushed for a pair of scores, including a 55-yard scramble in the second quarter of Western New England's win over Husson.
Service becomes the sixth Golden Bear to be named to the NEFW DII/DIII All-New England Team, while Etuka is the program's second two-time honoree, after Marvin Langley accomplished the feat in 2000 and '01. Current Western New England assistant coach Connor DeVarney '17 (2015), Kevin Miculcy (2006) and Phil Tsopanides (2010) were also recognized as DII/DIII All-New England performers.
Emery, Etuka and Service will be honored at the New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquet on Thursday, December 8 at the Montvale Plaza in Stoneham, Mass.