Western New England finished 2016 campaign with program record 11 wins
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (December 19, 2016) – For the second consecutive season, Western New England University is ranked in the final edition of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III Coaches Poll, which was released today.
The Golden Bears, who entered the AFCA Poll at No. 23 in the final regular season edition on November 14, climbed two spots to No. 21. The final ranking represents the highest in program history after Western New England earned the No. 22 ranking in last season's AFCA Poll. The team was also ranked No. 1 in New England in all eight of the Grinold Chapter Division III Polls.
The Golden Bears set a program record for wins last fall, going 11-1 while completing their second consecutive undefeated regular season, capturing their third New England Football Conference (NEFC) title, and making their third trip to the NCAA Tournament. Western New England defeated Husson University 44-27 on November 19 for the program's first ever NCAA Tournament victory, before falling to Alfred University 30-24 in a second round thriller on November 26.
For the second straight season, 15 Golden Bears were named to the All-NEFC teams, including the Defensive Player of the Year in junior defensive lineman Sam Edouard (Roosevelt, N.Y.). Five players collected All-Region honors, while senior cornerback Obi Etuka (Middletown, Conn.) became the program's first unanimous All-American with his selection to the AFCA Second Team and D3football.com Honorable Mention Team.
Additionally, 12th year head coach Keith Emery was recognized as the NEFC Coach of the Year and the New England Football Writers Division II/Division IIII Coach of the Year, and offensive coordinator Jason Lebeau garnered Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Division III Assistant Coach of the Year accolades.