Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Colonial Athletic Association will announce its all-conference football awards this morning, and one of the biggest will go to Maine senior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski.
Named for the former University of Richmond athletic director, the Chuck Boone Leadership Award recognizes achievement on the field, in leadership, academics and community service.
“I think it’s a natural thing for him,” said Maine coach Jack Cosgrove, “but leadership is strengthened through success. And when you have success, it makes you feel like the things you’re doing and the things you’re saying are the things to be said and done, and therefore they carry a little bit more weight.”
CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager broke the news during the telecast of Saturday’s Maine-UNH rivalry game, won 24-3 by the Wildcats.
A more formal announcement will come this morning, along with the first, second and third all-conference teams and the CAA’s six individual awards: coach, special teams player, offensive and defensive MVPs and offensive and defensive rookies of the year.
Last year’s inaugural Leadership Award winner was New Hampshire offensive lineman Chris Zarkoskie. Yeager made a special trip to Durham to personally present the award at the team’s postseason awards banquet, and plans to do likewise for Wasilewski.
Each of the 11 CAA programs nominated one player for the award and submitted three letters of recommendation on his behalf.
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Cosgrove is sending his players home for Thanksgiving. There will be practice this afternoon and the team will reconvene on Sunday when the opponent for its Dec. 7 second-round game is known.
The Black Bears (10-2) drew the fifth seed in the recently expanded 24-team field and will host the winner of Saturday’s noon contest between New Hampshire (7-4), which tied for second in the CAA with Towson, and Patriot League champion Lafayette (5-6), the first team in FCS tournament history with a losing record.
The Leopards, whose offensive coordinator is former UMaine quarterback Mickey Fein, and the Wildcats haven’t met since the 1980s. They have three common opponents: Colgate, Lehigh and William & Mary.
Lafayette lost to Colgate and William & Mary but beat Lehigh 50-28 last weekend to earn the league title. (No. 9 Fordham, whose only loss in 12 games was to Lafayette, is ineligible for the crown because it started offering athletic scholarships two years before other Patriot League members).
New Hampshire also went 1-2 against the trio, but beat Colgate 53-23 before losing 34-27 at Lehigh and 17-0 at William & Mary. The Wildcats are 5-0 at home.
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In the final national rankings, Maine dropped to eighth in the FCS Coaches poll and 10th in The Sports Network poll. The Black Bears had been fourth in each. New Hampshire is 15th in both polls, ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams for a record 139th consecutive week.
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New Hampshire will focus entirely on Lafayette this week, but it did not escape notice that a victory would send the Wildcats north to Alfond Stadium, home of their archrivals.
“Anytime you play Maine, it’s almost like everything gets thrown out,” said UNH senior running back Chris Setian. “There’s a different kind of focus at practice and a different kind of focus in the film room. It would be exciting, but we’ve got to get there. Lafayette is the team we’re focused on now.”
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Don’t look for Cosgrove or any of his staff at Saturday’s game at Cowell Stadium. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from live scouting upcoming opponents. Any scouting must be done by video, Cosgrove said.
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