One for the Ages

Football’s remarkable season capped by a bevy of honors for key personnel.

Though it ended sooner than hoped, the 2019 season was nonetheless a historic one for the Monmouth University football program.

The Hawks won their first-ever Big South title and NCAA playoff game, in the process setting multiple school records and achieving the program’s highest-ever rankings in the national polls.

Monmouth captured the Big South Championship—and with it, the league’s automatic bid into the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs— with a dominating 47-10 win at Campbell University on Nov. 16. Two weeks later, in front of a spirited Kessler Stadium crowd, the Hawks rolled over Holy Cross, 44-27, in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hawks came up short the following week in their second-round showdown against James Madison. Still, as Head Coach Kevin Callahan pointed out afterward, one game “cannot overshadow what we have done this season and what the team has done for Monmouth University.”

Callahan’s squad finished 11-3 overall—setting a school record for wins in a season—while going 6-0 in conference play. They were ranked as high as 11th in the American Football Coaches Association poll, and finished 12th in the STATS FCS poll—both program bests. Along the way, the offensive unit set a number of program records, including points per game, total offense, and rushing offense. Two key reasons for that were quarterback Kenji Bahar ’19 and running back Pete Guerriero, who established themselves as two of the top players in the country.

Callahan’s squad finished 11-3 overall—setting a school record for wins in a season—while going 6-0 in conference play.

Bahar, who was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Big South Offensive Player of the Year, threw for 3,684 yards and 30 touchdowns—both Monmouth single-season records. His 3,861 total yards was also a program high. The fifth-year senior finished his career as Monmouth’s all-time leader in passing yards (9,642), passing touchdowns (70), passing attempts (1,290), and completions (798).

Guerriero set Monmouth records for rushing yards and all-purpose yards en route to be- coming a consensus All-American. The explosive redshirt junior led the NCAA with 1,995 rushing yards while scoring 18 touchdowns. A true all-purpose threat, he added a pair of touchdown receptions and 336 yards receiving. His third-place finish in voting for the Walter Payton Award, which is given annually to the FCS’s top offensive player, was the highest finish ever for a Hawk.

For his part, Callahan took home Big South, ECAC, and American Football Coaches Association (Region II) Coach of the Year honors, and finished fourth in voting for the Eddy Robinson Award, which is bestowed on the nation’s top FCS coach. The only head coach in the history of Monmouth football, Callahan now has 163 career wins. He’ll get the chance for number 164 on Sept. 5, when the Hawks travel to SHI Stadium to take on Rutgers. The game will mark the first time Monmouth football will face a team from the Big Ten or any of the power five conferences.