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Price, Smith & Soyini Earn New England Football Writers Awards

Published on: November 27, 2017

Price, Smith & Soyini Earn New England Football Writers Awards

MANCHESTER, N.H.  - After leading Husson University to its most successful season in program history, Gabby Price has been named the New England College Division Coach of the Year and senior tailback John Smith, the season Division II/III Gold Helmet Award winner - presented by the Jack Grinold/Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation - announced by the New England Football Writers (NEFW) on Sunday afternoon. Additionally, Smith and junior cornerback Quan Soyini earned spots on the NEFW DII/DIII All-New England Team for their efforts this fall.

Gabby Price, who was also named the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and third overall, led the Eagles to a school-record 10 wins in 2017 and the program's first ever NCAA Tournament and postseason victory. Husson completed its second straight 9-1 regular season and third undefeated conference record in the last four years before defeating previously undefeated #19/#20 Springfield College, 23-21, in the NCAA first round on November 18 and falling 37-15 to #5/#7 Delaware Valley University in a second round contest on Saturday.

Fifteen members of Price's squad earned a program record 17 All-Conference honors from the ECFC, including the Offensive Player of the Year, Smith and first team selection Soyini. Husson's historic campaign also featured a pair of Gold Helmet award-winning performances both from Smith, first one coming during week five and the final one at the end of the season and a College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District I Team selection in senior center Luis Rivera. The Eagles finished third in the final Grinold Chapter New England DIII Football Poll, and sixth in the east in the final NCAA regional rankings, marking the highest ranking in program history in both rankings and saw this team set or tied 42 school records in 2017.

After 11 seasons at the helm of the Husson football program, Price owns a career record of 64-42 (.604), including an impressive 34-9 (.791) mark over the last four years and a 27-1 record in conference play during that time. He has led the Eagles to ECFC titles and NCAA appearances in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

John Smith becomes the first player in program history to be named the New England College Division Player of the Year, while representing Husson on the DII/DIII All-New England team for the fourth straight season after capping his illustrious collegiate career with an impressive senior campaign. The Fayetteville, Ga., native also becomes the first player in program history to be named to team four times.

The four time First Team All-Conference selection led all of Division III in 2017 in rushing yards (2,242 - ninth most yards in a season in NCAA DIII History), rushing yards per game (186.8) and tied for the most rushing touchdowns with Leanthony Ressnover of Eureka with 31, while being ranked in the top five nationally in scoring (15.5, 3rd), total points scored (186, 2nd), total touchdowns (31, 2nd), and All-Purpose yards per game (195.42, 4th). He also led the entire conference in rushes (340), yards per rush (6.59), and had multi-touchdown performances in all but three games this season.

In 43 career games played, Smith ran for 7,205 yards on 1,170 attempts (an average of 6.16 yards per rush and 167.6 yards per game) with 81 touchdowns on the ground, while catching 34 passes for 370 yards and two scores, giving him 7,575 yards of All-Purpose (an average of 176.2 per game) and the record holder of 55 school and New England Division III records.

He will finish his career as the program's all-time leader in rushing yards, rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns, average yards per rush, rushing yards per game, total offense yards, total offense yards per game, total plays (1,170), all-purpose yards, total points scored (500), touchdowns scored (83), 100-yard+ rushing games (36), 200-yard+ rushing games (11), multiple score games (26), 150-yard+ rushing and two+ touchdown games (18), consecutive games with 100-yards of rushing (11, at Anna Maria (10/10/15) -  at SUNY Maritime (10/1/16)), and consecutive games with a touchdown (9, at Alfred State (9/12/15) - vs Salve Regina (11/20/15)) and ranks second in all-purpose yards per game and total offense per game (6.15).

Smith recorded the best season of any first-year tailback in program history in his first season on the collegiate gridiron with a single-season school record 1,408 yards (1,260, Julius Williams, 2008) on 226 attempts with 13 touchdowns, while averaging a single-season school record 140.8 yards per game (128.7, Mike Prentiss, 2004) en route to earning the program's first ECFC Rookie of the Year honor. He finished the season with a school record eight-straight 100-yard rushing games, including a pair of 200-yard contests, with a 264-yard game in the NCAA Playoff contest against MIT, while breaking three single-game records for most carries, total offense plays and all-purpose attempts with 52 against the Engineers in the program's first-ever NCAA Playoff game. The previous record for most carries and all-purpose attempts was held by Mike Prentiss for 11 years (45, William Paterson, 2004) and for total plays was held by Kash Keezer (48 at Springfield, 2011). Smith also collected Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) All-North and American College Football Network (ACFN) All-Freshman accolades.

As a sophomore, he rewrote the record book as he broke eight single-season school records: rushing yards (1,733), rushing attempts (296) (245, Mike Prentiss, 2004) rushing touchdowns (20) (15, Julius Williams, 2008), rushing yards per game (173.3), total offense yards (1,733), all-purpose yards (1,829), total points scored (134), and touchdowns scored (22) and two single-game school records: rushing yards (276)(274, Mike Prentiss, Southern Virginia, 2004), and all-purpose yards (299)(288, Mike Prentiss, Southern Virginia, 2004), in the ECAC Bowl game loss to Salve Regina in en route earning the program's first ECFC Offensive Player of the Year award.  He led the entire conference in rushes, yards, yards per rush (5.9), and touchdowns, while surpassing the 100-yard mark in all but two contests, tying his single-season record of eight which was set as a freshman and the 200-yard mark twice, giving him 16 100-yard rushing games in his career, leaving him one shy of the career mark. He also became the first Eagle player in program history to score 100 points in a single-season and the second player in program history to surpass the 3,000-yard career rushing plateau and recorded 3,141, the most rushing yards through two seasons of any player in HU football team history. Smith also became the third player to exceed 3,000 career yards of total offense and all-purpose yards and the second player to score 200 points in program history. Smith collected ECAC All-North honors for the second-straight, while becoming the third player in program history and the first on the offense side of the ball to earn All-East Region accolades.

Following his break-out sophomore season, Smith was named a Preseason All-American by Football Gameplan and by the ACFN. He led up to the hype by producing another record breaking season as he earned his second-straight All-East Region selection, becoming the first Eagle player in program history to be named to team twice and being tabbed as the ECFC's Offensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season. The junior led the entire conference in rushes (308), yards (1,822), yards per game (165.6), and touchdowns (17) with only one turnover, while being ranked among the nation's leaders in most rushing categories throughout the year. The tailback scored at least one touchdown in all but three contests and surpassed the 100-yard mark nine times, and the 200 yard mark three times. During his junior campaign, Smith once again rewrote the record book as he became the program's all-time career leader in rushing yards (4,963), rushing attempts (830), rushing touchdowns (50), total offense (4,963), touchdowns scored (52; 50 rush, 2 rec), total points scored (314), 100-yard career rushing games (25) and 200-yard career rushing games (7) while surpassing his single-season records for rushing yards (1,822), and rushing attempts (308) and his single-game marks for rushing yards (280 vs. Dean in 2016) and all-purpose yards gained (305 vs. Dean in 2016).

Smith reached new heights in his final season in a Husson uniform, by becoming the first tailback in program history to surpass the 2,000-yard rushing, total offense and all-purpose marks en route to earning his third straight ECFC Offensive Player of the Year honors. The senior captain rewrote the HU Football record book for the final time in 2017 as he surpassed his single-season records for most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, rushing yards per game, rushing attempts and all-purpose yards (2,345), total points scored, touchdowns scored, 100-yard rushing games (11), 200-yard rushing games (4) and broke Mike Prentiss' 14 year old single-season record for highest all-purpose yards per game average of 193.0 by averaging 195.4 yards per game this season. Smith also broke his single-game marks for rushing yards (301, at Endicott) and all-purpose yards gained (311, at Endicott), while surpassing Julius Williams single-game record for the highest average gain per rush of 15.6 vs. Becker in 2009 when he averaged 17.6 yards per rush at Anna Maria. In his final regular season game of his career, Smith tied the program's single-game records for rushing touchdowns and touchdowns scored when he punched in five scores vs. Mount Ida.

The three-time ECFC Offensive Player of Year is the all-time New England Collegiate Football Division III career leader in rushing yards (6145, Melikke Van Alstyne, Framingham State, 2010-2013), 100-yard rushing games (32, Melikke Van Alstyne, Framingham State,  2010-2013), rushing yards per game (165.4, Rob Marchitello, Maine Maritime, 1993-95), rushing touchdowns (77, Jim Bower, Maine Maritime, 2006-2010), touchdowns scored (79, Joe Dudek, Plymouth State, 1982-85), points scored (493, Jim Bower, Maine Maritime, 2006-2010) and holds the single-season records for rushing yards (1941, Chris Sharpe, Springfield, 2006), 100-yard rushing games (10, Jeff Mack, Plymouth State, 2008, DeRon Brown, MIT, 2008, and Melikke Van Alstyne, Framington State, 2013) all set in 2017. Smith also broke the New England Collegiate Football Division III record for the highest average gain per rush in game when he averaged 17.6 yards per rush at Anna Maria in 2017. The previous record of 17.3 was held by Scott Haney of Western Connecticut for 33 years.

Smith not only has the most career rushing yards by any tailback in the State of Maine, regardless of the division, he also surpassed Kavin Gailliard (1996-99) of American International University in Springfield, Mass. for the most in New England Collegiate Football History. He also ranks among NCAA Division III all-time leaders in rushing yards per game (4th), rushing yards (4th), points scored (5th), all-purpose yards (10th).

Smith is the only player in ECFC history to be named Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back-to-back seasons, and to be named a semifinalist for the Gagliardi Trophy and the only player on the 2017 All-NEFW squad to be named to the team four straight seasons.

Quan Soyini lands on the NEFW All-New England Team following his breakout campaign in his second full season as a starter, becoming the first defensive back since Bryan Biggers in 2006 to be selected to the team. The Manchester, Conn. native, who collected All-ECFC honorable mention last season, garnered 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, recorded 40 tackles (3.0 for loss), 1.5 sacks, 14 pass breakups and nine interceptions in 2017.

Soyini became Husson's all-time interceptions leader with his game ending pick in the program's first-ever postseason victory over Springfield and then broke Adam Scott's 14 year old single-season interceptions record of eight in the Eagles loss to Delaware Valley on Saturday. 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 (326). His career statistics through his junior season includes 88 tackles (6.5 for loss), two forced fumbles, 26 pass breakups and 14 interceptions in 32 games.

Price, Smith and Soyini will be honored at the New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquet on Thursday, December 5 at the Montvale Plaza in Stoneham, Mass.

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