Just how many accolades can one team bring home? At the end of another record-making season, the football team was named the ECAC Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Team of the Year, and head coach Sean McDonnell ’78 earned both ECAC coach of the year and American Football Coaches Association FCS national coach of the year honors. Individual players took home a raft of additional awards.
The team, which reeled off 10 straight wins to finish the regular season with a 10-1 record and a perfect 8-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference, earned its first-ever number-one ranking spot in the FCS in November. Making their 11th-consecutive trip to the NCAA playoffs, the ’Cats kept that top-seed status with post-season victories against Fordham University and the University of Chattanooga at Durham’s Cowell Stadium. The run ended with a nail-biting semi-final round loss to Illinois State at Cowell on December 20—the team’s second semi-final loss in as many years—but winning an outright CAA title and hosting a trio of playoff games were major landmarks for the program.
“It doesn’t seem like a big step, but it’s the same thing I always felt after some of the quarterfinal games, that we were taking steps to get closer to the national title,” McDonnell says. “The most important thing now is how do we refocus and how do we get ready to go for next year.”
McDonnell earned a total of six coach of the year awards this season. Former Wildcat quarterback and current receivers coach Ricky Santos ’05 says there isn’t a coach who deserves the kudos more. “He brings his passion every day,” Santos says. “He breeds a culture of winning and a blue collar attitude. And he has a unique ability to have everybody focus on the here and now and to motivate kids.”
Originally published in UNH Magazine—Winter 2015 Issue