2019 D2Football.com NE10 Coach of the Year
Eli Gardner is in his fourth season as head coach of the football program at Stonehill, having been promoted after serving seven seasons on former head coach Robert Talley’s coaching staff.
Gardner, the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston’s 2015 Division II Assistant Coach of the Year, steered the football program to a 19-21 (.475) record over his first three seasons, including a 6-4 mark in 2017. The Skyhawks won five of their last seven games that season, including its final two games. Stonehill continued its trend of late-season success by capping the 2018 season with a 31-20 triumph over Assumption College.
15 Stonehill student-athletes have earned All-Northeast-10 honors over his first three seasons at the helm, including current senior Andrew Jamiel, who was named the 2016 NE10 Rookie of the Year after leading Division II with 9.1 receptions per game. He would follow that up with New England Football Writers Division II/III All-Star Accolades as a sophomore when he was an All-NE10 first team pick and is now a three-time All-NE10 performer in his career, overall.
Gardner was selected to participate in the 2018 AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute, presented by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and NCAA Leadership Development, during the 2018 AFCA Convention. Five Skyhawks have earned NE10 Academic All-NE10 honors over his first three seasons, including recent quarterback Matt Foltz ‘18 who received the National Football Foundation Jack Grinold/Eastern Massachusetts Chapters’ Jack Daly Award for Academics, Citizenship and Football. Donovan Phanor ‘18 also earned a spot on the Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-District I first team in 2017 and the football program has received the NE10 Team Academic Achievement Award for having the highest team GPA among NE10 football programs each of the last two academic years.
Gardner came to Stonehill prior to the 2009 season as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach under former head coach Robert Talley. He would be promoted to defensive coordinator in 2011 and associate head coach in 2014. He transformed the Skyhawks defense into one of the premier units in not just the NE10 Conference, but within all of Division II since taking over as defensive coordinator. He directed a Stonehill defense which ranked second in the NE10 and 11th nationally in Division II for total defense last season, allowing just 279.2 yards per game, and second in the Conference for passing defense (17th nationally) at 158.5 yards per game. The Skyhawks led the NE10 (23rd) in rushing defense (120.6 yds/gm) and ranked fourth (34th) for scoring defense (20.9 ppg). The defense also ranked eighth nationally for first down defense (14.4 allowed per game) and 15th for third down conversion defense (30.6%).
16 Stonehill defensive players earned All-10 honors in Gardner’s six seasons as defensive coordinator, with four also collecting All-Super Region 1 accolades and Jareed Gaines, ’13, and Brian Harrington, ‘15 earning All-America status. Harrington had a record-breaking season for the Skyhawks in 2013 and was a finalist for the inaugural Cliff Harris Award for the top small college defensive player in the country, while also earning the Joseph P. Zabilski Defensive Player of the Year Award from the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston.
Gardner helped guide the Skyhawks to a share of the NE10 regular season championship for the first time in program history in 2013 as the team posted its first winning season (8-3, 8-1 NE-10) since 1996.
Gardner initiated and continues to run the football program’s social media marketing and promotions campaigns and coordinated the annual Stonehill Football Alumni Golf Outing and Winter Social.
Prior to joining the staff at Stonehill, Gardner spent one season as defensive line coach and video coordinator at Western New England University, his alma mater. He assisted in planning an organization of practices, scouting reports and game plans while also serving as the Golden Bears’ primary recruiter in northern New Jersey and New York State.
Gardner is a 2008 graduate of Western New England University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sports management. He was a four year letterwinner for the Golden Bears football team serving as captain his senior season. He finished his career with 147 tackles as a linebacker and defensive end and was part of a class that finished their careers with the most victories over a four year period in program history upon graduation. Gardner recently completed his Master’s Degree in Athletic Administration from Endicott College in 2014.
Gardner, a native of Milford, New Jersey, currently resides in Bridgewater, with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Camden (2).
|2017||6-4||.600||5-4||.556||NE10 Team Academic Award|
|2018||2-8||.200||2-7||.222||NE10 Team Academic Award|