Football Roots at Saint Anselm Can Be Traced Back to 1894.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – College Football celebrates its 150th anniversary in the 2019 season, as programs at all divisions of the NCAA will commemorate this milestone with game presentations all year long – celebrating their programs' history as well as the existence of the sport at the collegiate level.
The Northeast-10 Conference will celebrate this achievement throughout the season by highlighting its nine current football programs – focusing on one each week – between now and early November. This week's highlighted team is the Saint Anselm Hawks.
The NE10 has sponsored football since 2001, but has provided football to its student-athletes since 1997 – known back then as the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.
The actual birthday of college football is November 6, 1869, as it was a matchup between Princeton and Rutgers that marked the first collegiate football game. The NE10 enters its 23rd season in 2019 and is proud to display its history as part of the #CFB150 celebration.
Football began at Saint Anselm as early as 1894, just five years after the College opened its doors. The best stretch of pre-war Saint Anselm football took place in the 1930's, where the Hawks enjoyed two undefeated seasons and took on national powers Holy Cross, Boston College and Catholic University.
The dawn of World War II halted the program, but it was revealed that football would return as a varsity sport 58 years later. In 1999, the Hawks football program returned as a varsity offering as a member of the Eastern Football Conference whose first-ever modern-day football game took place on Sept. 11, 1999.
Picture of the 1894 Saint Anselm football team.
Geoff Harlan took the helm of the program in the spring of 1997 and, after a year as a club team, rebuilt the Hawks from a 57-year hiatus in 1999 as they joined varsity status for the first time since 1941.
The Hawks won their first game back in convincing fashion with a 46-18 victory over UMass Lowell on Sept. 11, 1999. He went on to guide the Hawks to 27 wins with his best season coming in 2000 as Saint Anselm went 6-4.
TEAM OF DESTINY.....
The heyday of Hawks football is considered to have taken place from 1936-1940, when the team notched five consecutive winning seasons including undefeated campaigns in 1936 (6-0-1) and 1938 (6-0-1). The 1936 squad yielded only four points against and kept five teams scoreless.
A 39-13 national upset over bowl-bound Catholic University played at Fenway Park in 1939 made front page news in the Boston Globe and scoreless ties against Holy Cross in 1936 and Boston College in 1938 drew widespread acclaim.
Since the reintroduction of football at Saint Anselm in the late 1990's, the Hawks have logged two six-win seasons (2000, 2014). The 2014 squad recorded a five-game turnaround that helped Saint Anselm equal its total victories in the previous four seasons combined.
Ray McLean enjoyed eight years in the National Football League, winning four championships after being picked in the 1940 NFL Draft. Throughout his career at Saint Anselm, the Hawks posted a 21-4-2 record with the help of McLean and other star football players of the time. His freshman year, Saint Anselm football went 6-0-1, tying powerhouse Holy Cross to hold on to the undefeated season.
Geoff Raby, a member of the first-ever modern-day football team at Saint Anselm, served as a team captain and earned First Team All-Conference honors in 2000 and picked up Second Team All-Conference merits in 2001 and 2002. He also earned All-America Honorable Mention honors by Hanson's Gazette during his tenure on the Hilltop.
Casey Larson, a three-time First Team All-Conference pick on defense and the league's co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, still holds the Saint Anselm record for career tackles for a loss with 70 to his credit. His 41 career sacks is far and away the program's all-time mark and he stands tied for the all-time team record with 11 career forced fumbles.
Marc Wilson was a four-year member of the Hawks football team who departed as the program's all-time leader in receiving yards (2,149), receptions (211), touchdown receptions (17), all-purpose yards (5,367), total touchdowns (30), total points (184), kick return yards (1,800) and kick return touchdowns (2).
Justin Bernard concluded a highly-decorated career on the Hilltop in 2014, having set the program's career records in receiving yardage (4,168), receptions (386), receiving touchdowns (38) and receptions per game (8.39). He remains the only offensive student-athlete in team history to earn three Northeast-10 First Team All-Conference awards. His 386 career receptions stand as the all-time NE10 record to this day.
UPCOMING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE.....
The 23rd season of NE10 football continues on Friday night, Sept. 27, as Bentley hosts New Haven (7:05 p.m.) in the NCAA Division II Showcase. See how you can watch the game HERE. The rest of the Week 4 schedule is below and all games will be available on NE10 NOW:
Friday, Sept. 27
New Haven at Bentley - 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 28
Franklin Pierce at Assumption - 12 p.m.
Saint Anselm at Pace - 12 p.m.
So. Connecticut at American International - 12 p.m.
ABOUT THE NE10
The NE10 is an association of 14 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete.
Each year, 4,500 student-athletes compete in conference championships, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.