#CFB150: Assumption Football Climbing the National Ranks Since Becoming Varsity in 1988

#CFB150: Assumption Football Climbing the National Ranks Since Becoming Varsity in 1988


Greyhounds' Alum Brian Kelly Played and Coached in Worcester.

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 Assumption Greyhounds.

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.




Assumption College football celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, following its founding in 1967 as a club program. The team had success during its club years, including 1975 when Paul Cantiani '73 was honored as the National Collegiate Football Coach of the Year after leading Assumption to a 7-2 record. Six years later, the team, led by junior co-captain and linebacker Brian Kelly, went 8-1-1 to set a new program single-season record for wins, which stood for over 30 years. Kelly, who is an Assumption Hall of Famer and the current Notre Dame head coach, served as a part of the Greyhounds' staff for four seasons.

In 1988 the Hounds competed in their first varsity season as a part of the New England Collegiate Football Conference (NEFC) under head coach Bernie Gaughan. In the years since it became a varsity program, Assumption has produced numerous All-Conference and All-American performers, as well as numerous NFL players and collegiate coaches.

Since the start of the 2014 season, Assumption has more victories than any other NE10 football program with 48. They've also won a pair of NE10 Championships and made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2017. This year the program is seeking its seventh consecutive winning season with at least six victories.

1974 Assumption team



Bob Chesney turned Assumption football into one of the top programs in the region over his five years at the helm of the Hounds, from 2013-2017. He amassed a 44-16 (.733) record and 36-9 (.800) mark in the Northeast-10 Conference. He won at least six games in each of his five years, including the three winningest seasons in program history from 2015-17. Chesney captured NE10 Championships in 2015 and 2017, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of his final three seasons. In 2017, the team reached the NCAA Division II Quarterfinals for the first time in program history while finishing the year ranked ninth in the nation with an 11-2 overall record.

Over his five years Chesney coached six All-Americans, 22 All-Region honorees and 61 All-Conference selections, as well as players who won NE10 MVP, NE10 Offensive Player of the Year, NE10 Defensive Player of the Year, NE10 Defensive Lineman of the Year, NE10 Rookie of the Year and NE10 Special Teams Player of the Year honors. In 2015, after winning a school-record 11 games, he was named the New England Football Writer's Coach of the Year and Hero Sports Division II National Coach of the Year.

Bob Chesney



2017 marked the most successful season in program history for the Assumption College football program. The Hounds finished the year ranked ninth in the nation by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

Assumption finished its record-breaking 2017 campaign by going 11-2 and reaching the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time in program history, before falling to Indiana 27-22. The Hounds concluded the year as the nation's leaders in interceptions (26), punt return average (23.3), turnovers gained (39) and turnover margin (1.77), as well as special teams touchdowns (12). The team also had a school-record three players named All-Americans, after 17 earned NE10 All-Conference honors.

2017 Assumption Football




Scott Simonson

Scott Simonson, 2010-13

Simonson started his professional career with the Oakland Raiders in 2014 and spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, which included an appearance in Super Bowl 50. He was picked up by the Giants last season and appeared in 16 games and made four starts for them. Simonson entered his second season with the Giants and fifth season overall in the NFL this year.

At Assumption, Simonson was a two-time All-American and All-Conference performer. He played in 36 games with 31 starts and had 104 receptions for 1,537 yards and 15 touchdowns. Simonson played his high school football at Middletown (N.J.) High School, which is located about 40 miles from MetLife Stadium.

Cole Tracy

Cole Tracy, 2014-17

Tracy, the kicker of the great 2017 Assumption football team, finished his career as the most prolific kicker in NCAA history. He set numerous school and NCAA records while earning First-Team All-American honors from multiple organizations. Tracy found himself competing before crowds in excess of 85,000 as a member of the LSU Tigers Division I football team in 2018. He tied the record for the longest kick in LSU program history with a 54-yarder. Tracy holds the NCAA Records for field goals in any division with 97 from 2014-2018 and points by kicking in any division with 502. At Assumption, Tracy holds the Greyhound's records for most points (373), most points in a season (148 in 2017), most field goals (68), most field goals in a single season (27 in 2017), and most field goals in a single game (6, twice).

Deonte Harris

Deonte Harris, 2015-18

Following his senior season in 2018, Harris signed with the NFL's New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent. Harris was regarded as one of the most dynamic kickoff and punt returners in the NFL draft, following a record-breaking career at Assumption. The two-time AFCA All-American finished his career as the most prolific returner in NCAA history. In the final game of his college career he set the NCAA All-Division record for combined return touchdowns, returning a kickoff 100 yards for his 14th career return touchdown. He also owns the NCAA Division II record for career combined return touchdowns, as well as the single-season record of eight return touchdowns which he set in 2017. Harris also tied the NCAA DII single-game kickoff return touchdown record of two, and tied the single-season punt return touchdown record of five. For his career, Harris totaled over 3,000 return yards while averaging 32.6 yards per kickoff return with six touchdowns and then 20.4 yards per punt return with eight touchdowns.

Zach Triner

Zach Triner, 2012-14

After stints on the practice teams for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, Triner signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 as a long snapper. At Assumption, Triner appeared in 25 games in three seasons (2012-14) as a defensive lineman. He finished his career as a Greyhound with 66 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly at Notre Dame

Brian Kelly, 1979-82

Kelly was a four-year letter winner at Assumption College as a linebacker. After graduating from Assumption in 1983 he served as a linebackers coach, defensive coordinator, and softball coach from 1983-1986 for the Greyhounds. Kelly joined the Grand Valley State University staff in 1987 as a graduate assistant and defensive secondary coach. He was promoted to defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 1989 and to head coach two years later.

He finished his 13 seasons at Grand Valley (1991-2003) with a 118-35-2 overall record, including 103-22-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Grand Valley won two national titles (2003, 04) and advanced to the final a third time (2002). He was named the American Football Coaches Association Division II National Coach of the Year in both 2002 and 2003.

After stints at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Kelly was named the head coach at Notre Dame in December of 2009. He is currently in his 10th season at the helm of the Fighting Irish. He is the only coach to win The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (2009, 2012 and 2018) on more than one occasion.

His 231 victories as a head coach are more than all but two active FBS head coaches—Alabama's Nick Saban and North Carolina's Mack Brown.

The 2018 season marked Notre Dame's 13th unbeaten, untied regular season in school history and first berth into the College Football Playoff.



The 23rd season of NE10 football continues on Saturday, Oct. 12, as Assumption travels to play Pace (12:00 p.m.). The rest of the Week 6 schedule is below and all games will be available on NE10 NOW:

Saturday, October 12

Assumption at Pace - 12 p.m.
Stonehill at Franklin Pierce - 12 p.m.
So. Connecticut at Bentley - 2 p.m.
New Haven at Saint Anselm - 6 p.m.

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.