MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Fifteen members of the Husson University football team were recognized when the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) announced its major award winners and All-Conference selections on Thursday afternoon.
A trio of Eagles received major awards, as senior tailback John Smith earned Offensive Player of the Year honors, head coach Gabby Price was named the Coach of the Year, and defensive coordinator Grant Caserta garnered Assistant Coach of the Year accolades.
Additionally, 12 other Eagles collected All-Conference recognition. J. Smith was among six First Team selections on offense, along with junior quarterback Cory Brandon, senior tight end DJ Allen, senior wide receiver Robenson Saintard, junior guard Brad Weston and freshman tackle Jacob Cameron.
Senior rover Jean Gabriel, junior cornerback Quan Soyini, senior defensive tackle Luke Washburn, junior inside linebacker Elvin Suazo, Jr. were named to the First Team Defense, while freshman defensive end Frank Curran and junior defensive tackle Tarik Smith landed on the Second Team.
Rounding out Husson's school record 17 honorees are two Special Teams selections. Soyini received First Team nods at kick returner, while sophomore kicker Devin Pickett earned a spot on the Second Team.
Gabby Price earns ECFC Coach of the Year honors for the third time in his career (2014, 2016) after leading the Eagles to back-to-back 9-1 marks, ECFC Titles and NCAA DIII Championship Tournament appearances for the first time in program history. His Eagles recorded a perfect 7-0 mark in conference play for the third time in the last four seasons, while producing a 27-1 record during that period vs. ECFC opponents. Husson finished 6th in the east in the final NCAA regional rankings, marking the highest ranking in program history and saw this team set or tied 42 school records in 2017.
Grant Caserta earns ECFC Assistant Coach of the Year honors, becoming Husson's second straight assistant coach to earn the honor, after leading the Eagles to back-to-back 9-1 marks, ECFC Titles and NCAA DIII Championship Tournament appearances for the first time in program history in 2017. He coordinated an Eagle defense that allowed a league low 11.2 points, 217.4 total offense, 77.4 rushing yards per game, while recording the most interceptions (17) and sacks (29).
John Smith, who was also named to the All-ECFC first team for the fourth-straight season, becomes the first player in ECFC history to earn Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back-to-back seasons and the first Eagle in program history to be named to the first team all four years. The senior standout led the league in yards per game (191.7), yards per rush (7.2), and total yards (1,917). He also led the league in touchdowns (28) and had multi-touchdown performances in all but two games this season. Smith capped off his regular season career last week with a five-touchdown performance.
The past season Smith once again rewrote the record books as he became the all-time career rushing leader in Division III History in the State of Maine and New England and in the State of Maine and New England regardless of the division, while surpassing his single-season records for most rushing yards (1,917), rushing touchdowns (28), rushing yards per game (191.7), and all-purpose yards (2,019) and his single-game marks for rushing yards (301, at Endicott) and all-purpose yards gained (311, at Endicott).
Cory Brandon, who is in his second full season as a starter in 2017, had another strong season leading the Husson offense this fall, earning his second-straight All-ECFC First Team selection. The junior signal caller has completed 127 of 201 pass attempts (63.2%) for 1,618 yards (2nd in ECFC) with 15 touchdowns (2nd) and just three interceptions. One-time conference Offensive Player of the Week this season, Brandon surpassed Joe Seccareccia '16 as the program's all-time passing touchdown leader after he threw for three scores at Home vs. SUNY Maritime on October 7.
Robenson Saintard, a Second Team selection as a sophomore, garners All-ECFC first team honors for first time following a productive senior campaign. The senior wide receiver recorded the tenth most all-purpose yards (706) in the ECFC in 2017, while his 70.6 all-purpose yards per game average ranked tenth.
Jacob Cameron and Brad Weston anchored Husson's offensive line as the Eagles led the ECFC with 2732 rushing yards (273.2 per game) and scored a league-high 39 touchdowns on the ground. Husson also topped 1,500 passing yards (1,740) for the third straight season, led the conference with 41.3 points per game and 4,472 yards of total offense (447.2). Cameron becomes the first freshman offensive lineman to earn All-Conference accolades in program history, while Weston receives his first All-Conference nod.
DJ Allen makes his second straight All-ECFC first team appearance after catching 25 passes for 232 yards, and two touchdowns and was highly effective as a blocker, helping to set the edge for the Husson running backs. His 25 receptions and 232 yards are the most by a tight end in single-season program history.
Luke Washburn, the 2016 ECFC Defensive Player of the Year, earns First Team honors for the second straight season after another dominant season for the Eagles. The Litchfield, Maine native compiled 54 tackles (5.4 for loss) and helped lead a defensive unit that surrendered just 11.2 points per game (1st in ECFC).
Quan Soyini, an honorable mention selection last season, garners All-ECFC first team honors as a cornerback and a kick returner, becoming the first player in program history to be named to the first team offense and defense in the same season. The junior cornerback ranked first on the team and led the ECFC with seven interceptions, the second most in a single-season in program history. He also recorded 30 tackles (6.0 for loss) and 12 breakups. As a kick returner, Soyini led the team with an average of 14.78 per punt return, while setting a new single-season record for most punt return yards (266).
Jean Gabriel, a Second Team selection last season, garners All-ECFC first team honors for first time following a breakout season campaign. The Lake Worth, Fla. native recorded career highs in tackles (53.0), sacks (3), tackles-for-loss (6.5), forced fumbles (3), interceptions (4), pass breakups (8), while leading all of Division III with seven block punts.
Rounding out Husson's First Team Defense selections is Elvin Suazo, Jr., who was recognized as an All-ECFC second team performer as a defensive end for the first team last season. Suazo, Jr. recorded 69 tackles (10th), including 8.0 for loss (T-20th), 5.5 sacks (t-7th), a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
Frank Curran made an immediate impact during his first season with the program en route to his first career All-Conference selection. The Portland, Maine native ranked sixth on the team with 32 tackles (10 for loss), while also totaling four sacks, one pass breakup, and one interception.
Tarik Smith is being recognized as an All-Conference performer for the first time after tallying 42 tackles (8.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks) and a forced fumble.
Devin Pickett has connected on 55-for-57 on extra point opportunities this fall, while recording the second most points in the season (55). Pickett also has rewritten the kicking portion of the Husson Football record book as he broke the single-season record for most extra points made and is currently tied for the most points scored by kicking and the most extra points attempted in a single-season .
Husson (9-1, 7-0 ECFC) will be making its second straight appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday, when the Eagles travel to Springfield, Mass. for a first round contest at No. 20/23 Springfield College (10-0, 7-0 NEWMAC).