AIC Football Dates Back to 85 Years Ago.
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 American International Yellow Jackets.
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.
AIC's first ever football game was on September 24, 1934, and the "Aces," as they were then known, won 7-0 over Connecticut State College – now the University of Connecticut. Early in its history, the program sent players to the NFL and AFL – most notably Bruce Laird – and it had some success, but the heyday of the program was during 1997-2000, when it reached four straight Eastern Football Conference title games, winning two. The team reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2008 and again in 2013.
No coach is more synonymous with AIC football or the NE10 than Art Wilkins. A fixture on the sideline since 1993, Wilkins is the conference's winningest coach, with a record of 149-115 including a mark of 127-69 in conference play. The team has won five conference titles in his tenure – 1999, 2000, 2008, 2010, and 2013, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and 2013. He has coached five All-Americans, four NE10 MVPs, and six NE10 Rookies of the Year along with over 160 All-Conference selections and earned NE10 Coach of the Year twice.
TEAM OF DESTINY.....
The 1999 Yellow Jackets season stands as the finest in the storied history of the program. At 10-2 overall, the team won the Eastern Football Conference title, routing the then-C.W. Post Pioneers 41-20 in the championship game. The score reflected what AIC had done all year – the Yellow Jackets averaged 42 points per game, led by Kavin Gailliard's 2653 rushing yards and 34 total touchdowns and Rick Hebert's 2351 yards and 25 touchdowns in the air. The defense was dominating as well, forcing 45 turnovers, led by Bob Parker's eight interceptions. On the whole, the team had an amazing +33 turnover margin; the +2.8 turnover margin per game by that team is still the NCAA Division II record.
Kavin Gailliard, 1996-99
Gailliard was a two-time AP and Daktronics All-America selection, was named an All-American by USAFootball.com in 1999 and was named a first-team All-American and the 1999 Division II Offensive Back of the Year by Don Hansen's Football Gazette. A four-time all-conference selection, he was named the ECAC Player of the Year and the conference MVP in 1998 and 1999.
Tom Guy, 2000-03
The 2000 EFC Freshman of the Year was a three-time all-conference selection. Guy finished as the career record-holder in yards of total offense (9,229), passing yardage (9,247), pass attempts (1,162), completions (636) and touchdown passes (73), and in 2002 set the single-season record for yards of total offense (3,030), passing yardage (3,003), pass attempts (416) and completions (218).
Bruce Laird, 1969-71
Bruce Laird shined as a running back, defensive back, punter and kick returner for the Yellow Jackets from 1969-1971. He was named a Kodak All-American in 1970 and 1971. During his senior season, Laird rushed for 1,402 yards. Laird was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League in 1972.
Thomas Rychlec, Mid-1950s
An All-American receiver as a senior, Rychlec caught 40 balls that season and finished with 88 receptions over his career. In 1969, Rychlec was named to the AIC All-Time Football Team and following his senior season was drafted by the Detroit Lions.
Bill Delaney, Mid-1960s
Named the "Player of the Decade of the 1960s" for AIC, Delaney left his mark on the records when he graduated. At the end of his career, he held the record for career receptions (119), career yards gained (1,884), receptions in a single season (56) and single season yards gained (803). Delaney was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1967 NFL Draft.
UPCOMING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE.....
The 23rd season of NE10 football continues on Saturday, Oct. 26, as AIC hosts Franklin Pierce. The Week 8 schedule is below and all games will be streamed on NE10 NOW:
Saturday, October 26
Franklin Pierce at American International - 11 a.m.
So. Connecticut at Saint Anselm - 1 p.m.
Bentley at Pace - 1 p.m.
Stonehill at Assumption - 1 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.