Setters Posted Best Season as Division II Program in 2018.
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 Pace Setters.
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.
Following 10 years of competition, beginning with the program's founders at the club level, Pace University Football has grown over the last 40-plus years into a NCAA Division II program that has seen recent success within the NE10. The Setters' formative years from 1968-79 brought a sensational string of success. Starting from the ground up, the Blue and Gold's opening decade featured three Metropolitan Conference titles ('76, '78, '79), and a pair of Metropolitan Bowl Championships ('69, '74). Pace Athletics Hall of Famers, James Stewart and Thomas Grega, were each instrumental in the Setters' first-ever championship of any kind—the 1969 Metro Bowl.
Flash forward more than 50 years later, and the Setters are back to their winning ways. In 2018, Pace posted its best season (7-3) since becoming an NCAA Division II program.
Hall of Fame coach George Maier turned a fledgling, but growing club program, into a winning varsity team. In the Setters' first three seasons as part of the NCAA, Maier went 19-6-1 at the helm and put Pace football on everyone's radar. In 16 years as a head coach between club and varsity seasons, Maier remains the winningest coach in Pace history with an overall record of 78-59-4 (.553).
Maier's teams posted a losing record in just three seasons during his career. He currently holds the individual coaching record for consecutive wins with seven straight, starting with the final two games of the 1978 season and concluding with a tie on October 13, 1979.
All in all, Maier coached seven Pace Athletics Hall of Famers, including Michael Buonassisi ('77), Dennis Carpenter ('75), Kevin Enterlein ('88), Rich Johnson ('87), Rich Middlebrook ('87), George Pinkham ('85), and Doug Woodward ('80).
TEAM OF DESTINY.....
Led by head coach George Maier, the 1976 Pace football team made its mark in the history books by putting together an outstanding 7-1 overall record, averaging 25 points per game, while allowing a meager 6.5 per contest. The Setters registered three shutouts in eight outings that year, including a 27-0 triumph over St. John's, a 28-0 victory versus Marist, and a convincing 21-0 margin against Saint Peter's. Pace also appeared in a Sports Illustrated story about Brooklyn College, in which the Setters posted a winning score of 36-14 and went on to capture the Metropolitan Conference Championship.
A year after the Setters' 1976 team was recognized with Pace's Team of Distinction Award and honored in the Pace Hall of Fame, head coach Andy Rondeau's 2018 squad matched the seven-win season with the Setters' best year-long performance as part of the NE10. Tallying the most wins in the program's DII history (7-3), Pace averaged 23 points per game and lost just one game on the road. The Setters ended the season by winning five of their last six contests, including the final three. Following the year, Pace put 11 student-athletes on Northeast-10 All-Conference Teams.
Jhalen Bien-Aime, 2014-Present
Current Pace running back Jhalen Bien-Aime is the all-time leading rusher in school history. In 2018, Bien-Aime was crowned as the Setters' new rushing champion and currently has a total of 2,641 ground yards in his career. During the 2017 season, Bien-Aime also set a record for most rushing yards in a single season with 1,040 on the year. His resume is filled with NE10 accolades, including an All-Rookie Team appearance in 2014, a selection to the All-Conference First Team in 2017 and All-Conference Second Team in 2018.
Chris DeGrazia, 1991-94
A two-year captain of the Pace football team, DeGrazia was the face of the Setters' defense for four seasons. His 481 career tackles is still the most in program history, while his six fumble recoveries is tied for fifth all-time. DeGrazia had more than 100 tackles in every season at Pace, and posted a pair of 120-plus tackle campaigns, both of which still rank amongst the highest single-season totals more than 20 years later.
Kevin Enterlein, 1985-87
Playing in just three seasons from 1985-1987, quarterback Kevin Enterlein holds nine school passing records to cement him as one of the best signal callers in school history. In addition to Enterlein's 6,365 career passing yards, which is the highest total by any Setter quarterback, his records include most passing touchdowns in a season (20), and most passing touchdowns in a career (41).
Enterlein was also named the Pace Male Athlete of the Year in 1986-87, while being honored as an ECAC Division II All-Star and an All-Liberty Conference First Team member in 1987. In 1986, he was selected as a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) All-American and Pizza Hut Division III Football All-American while being inducted into the Pace Hall of Fame in 2008.
Rich Middlebrook, 1983-86
Linebacker Rich Middlebrook is one of Pace football's top defensive players in program history. Playing from 1983-86, Middlebrook recorded the most sacks in a career for any Setter with 28. While recording 25.5 sacks over the span of two seasons, Middlebrook was named to the Liberty Conference First Team Defense in 1985 and 1986. He garnered Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1986, while serving as a team captain and was an All-Metro Area Defense selection in 1984. He earned Football News Second Team All-American honors in 1986 and was inducted into the Pace Hall of Fame in 2013.
Doug Woodward, 1976-79
Inducted into the Pace Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999, quarterback Doug Woodward was the heart and soul of the Setters in the mid-to-late 70's. After leading Pace to three consecutive Metropolitan Conference titles from 1976-1979 and throwing for over 1,000 yards in each season, Woodward became the first Pace Setter to play professional football. Aside from signing with the Dallas Cowboys in 1980, Woodward also played in both the United States (USFL) and Canadian Football League. During his time at Pace, the quarterback was a three-time All-League honoree while being named All-ECAC in 1979. He holds the highest winning percentage of any quarterback in Pace history (.773) with a total record of 25-7-1 through four years.
UPCOMING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE.....
The 23rd season of NE10 football continues on Saturday, Oct. 19, despite Pace having a bye week. The Week 7 schedule is below and all games will be available on NE10 NOW:
Saturday, October 19
Assumption at American International - 11 a.m.
Saint Anselm at Franklin Pierce - 12 p.m.
Bentley at Stonehill - 1 p.m.
New Haven at Southern Connecticut - 2:30 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.