Wrapping Up the 2011 Season
The Kean University football team had its most successful season in program history after winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference title and earning the program's first trip to the NCAA playoffs, while winning a school-record 10 games under sixth-year head coach Dan Garrett.
The Cougars, who defeated Montclair State University for the program's third NJAC title, defeated Christopher Newport University in the opening round of the NCAA playoffs, before dropping a heartbreaker in triple overtime to host Salisbury University.
At the conclusion of the 2011 season the Cougars were ranked in two national polls as they finished with a #10 ranking in the D3football.com poll and #12 ranking in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 poll.
The 2011 senior class also set a new program standard with 31 wins over the last four seasons, as it was the veteran leadership that gave Kean a balanced attack on both sides of the ball. At quarterback, four-year starter Thomas D'Ambrisi closed out his career ranked among the program's all-time leaders in every passing category. This season, his 21 touchdown passes set a new single-season record while the 2,137 passing yards are the third most in single-season history. In 43 career games, D'Ambrisi finished with 7,140 career passing yards and 64 touchdown passes, both ranked second in Kean history.
Defensively, senior Bekim Bujari led the team with 115 total tackles, two forced fumbles and two kicks, while Jamahl Williams finished his four-year career as the program's all-time leader with 18 interceptions. A three-time first-team all-star at safety, Williams also earned NJAC first-team honors as a kick returner and set a new Kean records with 59 kick returns for 1,422 return yards. Freshman Matt Clerk became the program's first NJAC Rookie of the Year on defense, as the linebacker had seven tackles for a loss of 41 yards and was tied for team-high honors with three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks.
Senior Billy Daniels also wrapped up his record-setting career as the program's all-time leader in PAT made (97) and field goals made (30), while his career-best 44-yard field goal is the fifth longest in school history.
Off the field, junior T.J. Denehy became the first player in school history to be named an Academic All-American after earning Capital One Academic First-Team All-American honors. Senior Dave Galante joined Denehy on the CoSIDA Capital One NCAA Division III District 2 All-Region All-Academic Team.
WEEKLY and POSTSEASON HONORS
Bekim Bujari –D3football.com All-East Region Second-Team, ECAC South First-Team, NJAC First-Team, NJAC Defensive Player of the Week, ECAC South Defensive Player of the Week, Don Hansen Bowl-small college senior all-star game
Matt Clerk – NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Year, NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Week
Thomas D'Ambrisi – NJAC First-Team
Billy Daniels – ECAC South First-Team, NJAC Second-Team, NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week
Scott Davis – NJAC Second-Team
T.J. Denehy – CoSIDA/Capital One Academic First-Team All-American, CoSIDA/Capital One Region II All-Academic Team, NJAC Second-Team
Chris DiMicco – NJAC Second-Team
Darren Dixon – NJAC Defensive Player of the Week
Will Evans – NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week, ECAC South Special Teams Player of the Week, BSN Division III Special Teams Unit of the Week
Dave Galante - CoSIDA/Capital One Region II All-Academic Team
Dan Garrett – NJAC Coach of the Year
Nick Graff – D3football.com Team of the Week
Brad Higgins – NJAC Honorable Mention
Reginald Hodge-Grant – NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Week
James Pratt – NJAC Honorable Mention
Chris Suozzo – NJAC Honorable Mention
Chris VanFechtmann – NJAC Second-Team
Dave Vermeuel – D3football.com All-East Region Third-Team, ECAC South First-Team, NJAC First-Team
Ray Wegrzynek – D3football.com All-East Region Second-Team, ECAC South Second-Team, NJAC First-Team, Don Hansen Bowl-small college senior all-star game
Jamahl Williams –D3football.com All-East Region Third-Team, NJAC First-Team
Brett Yajcaji – NJAC Second-Team