SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (November 13, 2018) – Eighteen members of the Western New England University football team were recognized when Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) announced its All-Conference selections and major award winners on Tuesday morning.
A trio of Golden Bears received major awards, led by junior quarterback Alec Coleman (Arlington, Mass.), who was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year. Senior linebacker Kevin McLaughlin (Colorado Springs, Colo.) received the CCC Football Senior Perseverance and Achievement award, while senior running back Ryan Schenck (Farmingdale, N.Y.) collected the Hal Chalmers Senior Scholar-Athlete award.
Additionally, 16 Golden Bears garnered All-CCC Football accolades. Coleman was among six players to earn spots on the first team, along with senior center Anthony Hale (Marlborough, Conn.), senior defensive back Matt Anastasi (Stoughton, Mass.), senior linebacker Kurtis Jolicoeur (Windham, N.H.), senior punter Vinny Lalumia (Maywood, N.J.), and sophomore defensive back Zhaire House (Greenwich, Conn.).
Representing Western New England on the All-CCC Football second team were senior defensive linemen Sean Stergas (Cambridge, Vt.) and Ryan Smith (Weston, Vt.), senior cornerback Tommy Ganley (Delmar, N.Y.), senior linebacker Mike Chirco (Weedsport, N.Y.), senior offensive tackle Evan Cofrancisco (Farmingdale, N.J.), senior kicker Valentin Wagner (Saint Aubin de Medoc, France), junior running backs Peter Hoff (Shelton, Conn.) and Byron Jones (West Hartford, Conn.), junior linebacker Jake Salera (Rehoboth, Mass.) and freshman wide receiver/return specialist AJ Hall (Norwalk, Conn.).
McLaughlin earns the Senior Perseverance & Achievement award after battling epilepsy throughout his collegiate career. Despite the condition that kept him off the field at times, McLaughlin contributed 27 tackles (four for loss), a sack and a forced fumble in eight games this season.
Schenck receives the Hal Chalmers Senior Scholar-Athlete award for his combined success both in the classroom and on the field. Schenck owns a 4.0 grade point average as a finance major with a double minor in economics and enterprise resource planning. He is a two-time Academic All-Conference selection and was inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Student-Athlete Honor Society. Schenck also serves as the President of WNE's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and he is on track to graduate early in December. On the field, he has rushed 43 times for 271 yards (6.3 avg.) and three touchdowns.
In his first season as a starter, Coleman fueled a Western New England offense that paced CCC Football in yards per game (464.2) and scoring (44.8 ppg). He completed 140-of-243 pass attempts (57.6%) for 1,666 yards and 20 touchdowns (2nd in CCC FB) while also racking up 818 yards on the ground (2nd) and 18 rushing scores, eight more than the next closest player.
Coleman was a four-time CCC FB Offensive Player of the Week this season, and he earned the prestigious New England Football Writers Gold Helmet Award after rushing for a career-high 284 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-14 win at Nichols on October 27.
Hale joined Coleman in earning first team honors after helping to anchor the Western New England offensive line from his center position.
On the defensive side, Jolicouer was the Golden Bears third-leading tackler (53) with two sacks, 15 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, an interception, a pass breakup and three blocked kicks.
In his first season as a defensive back after switching from running back, Anastasi totaled 47 stops (5th on team) with an interception and a pass breakup. House was also a key member of Western New England's defensive backfield, as he picked off a pass, broke up four others, blocked two kicks and recorded 33 tackles.
Lalumia was among the top punters in the league as he pinned a CCC Football-best 14 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line and ranked third with 36.2 yards per punt. Twenty of his punts resulted in fair catches, which also led the league.
Hoff ranked second on the team and fifth in the conference with 709 rushing yards on 143 carries (5.0 avg.) and eight touchdowns. He topped the 100-yard mark twice, including a career-best 204-yard performance in Western New England's 41-14 triumph at Salve Regina on September 29.
Cofrancisco helped pave the way for Hoff and a Western New England rushing attack that led the league in virtually every category, including yards (2,651), yard per game (265.1), yards per rush (6.2) and rushing touchdowns (36).
Jones earned an All-CCC Football selection as an all-purpose player as he made an impact as both a running back (224 yards, 1 TD) and a receiver (183 yards, 1 TD).
Both Stergas and Smith were forces on the Golden Bears defensive line, as the duo combined for 64 tackles (32 each), 6.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and three fumble recoveries. Stergas also picked off a pass and blocked a kick, while Smith tied for fourth in the conference with four sacks.
Chirco led the Golden Bears in tackles with 78, which was also tied for sixth in CCC Football. Additionally, he recorded 3.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and one pass breakup.
Ganley had a big year at cornerback in just his second season playing the position. The senior led Western New England in interceptions (six) and pass breakups (eight), which ranked second and tied for fourth in the conference, respectively. He made game-sealing interceptions against Westfield State and Husson, and also recorded two picks against Salve Regina.
Rounding out Western New England's 16 All-Conference selections are Salera, Hall and Wagner. Salera earned his selection as a utility special teams player, while Hall was recognized as a return specialist. Hall led CCC Football in punt return yardage (240) and scored an 80-yard punt return touchdown in the Golden Bears' 70-13 win over the University of New England on homecoming.
Finally, Wagner caps his career with his second straight All-Conference nod after going a perfect 56-for-56 on extra points and connecting on 2-of-5 field goals.
Western New England (8-2, 5-1 CCC Football), which captured its fourth consecutive conference title last weekend, will travel to No. 6 Frostburg State University in Western Maryland for the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday at 12 p.m.