A champion as an Appalachian State player and coach, Shawn Clark has been chosen to lead App State's championship football program.
Clark, 44, has agreed to become the 22nd head football coach in App State history. His five-year contract, which runs through the 2024 season, was approved Friday afternoon by Chancellor Sheri Everts and the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees and is subject to North Carolina Board of Governors approval.
Clark will be the head coach when the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (12-1) wrap up the 2019 season by facing UAB on Dec. 21 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
"I am thrilled to officially welcome Appalachian alumnus Shawn Clark as our new head football coach," Everts said. "I appreciate his steadfast leadership and know we all look forward to his continued success with our history-making team."
"It's a great day to be a Mountaineer," Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said. "We are thrilled to announce Shawn Clark as our new head coach. He's been a great leader for us since the day he returned to his alma mater. He has experience at both Power Five and Group of Five schools and is highly respected among his peers, his players, on campus and in the community. His experience as a leader, play-caller and recruiter will help us to continue to raise our football program to new heights."
Clark has helped lead record-setting runs to conference titles and bowl victories, not just at App State, where he played from 1994-98 and had served as an assistant since 2016, but also in four other leagues during his two decades of college coaching experience.
Working for championship-winning programs at Louisville and Eastern Kentucky before being part of a bowl win for Big Ten member Purdue and coaching at Kent State, Clark has been a vital part of App State's historic success in the last four seasons.
Overseeing talented, hard-working offensive lines the entire time, he followed a December 2018 coaching change involving college teammate Scott Satterfield's departure for Louisville by excelling as an aggressive offensive play-caller in a 45-13 bowl victory against Middle Tennessee. With valuable experience at his disposal, Clark was promoted to assistant head coach before the 2019 season with Eliah Drinkwitz in his first year as a college head coach.
In each of Clark's four seasons coaching App State's offensive line, with the Mountaineers earning four straight Sun Belt Conference titles while compiling a 42-10 record in that span, the line has ranked in the top 25 nationally in both rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed. The unit has been recognized by the Joe Moore Award as one of the nation's top 15 offensive lines in each of the last two years, and all five starters on this year's line have received All-Sun Belt Conference recognition.
An offensive lineman in college, Clark was a two-time All-American (1996 and 1998) and three-time all-conference selection (1995, 1996, 1998) for teams that went a combined 45-16 during his first five years in Boone. In fact, as a player during the 12-0 start in 1995 and a coach for the 2019 team that has set a single-season record for wins by an FBS program in the state of North Carolina, Clark has been part of the two App State teams to post 11 regular-season victories.
"This is the opportunity of a lifetime to be named the head football coach at my alma mater, the school that I love so much," Clark said. "I would like to thank Chancellor Everts, the Board of Trustees and Doug Gillin for entrusting me with this great responsibility. I am excited to keep pushing our players to greatness on and off the field and to work with a great coaching staff to win championships. My family and I are grateful to stay in Boone and keep pushing this program to new heights."
Clark graduated from App State with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 1988 and earned a master's degree in education from Louisville in 2003.
His wife, Jonelle, was a standout softball student-athlete at Eastern Kentucky and was inducted into EKU's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. The Clarks have two children: a daughter, Giana, and a son, Braxton.
Clark began his college coaching career at Louisville in 2001 and has been part of six teams that won at least nine games. The Cardinals won a Conference USA championship and bowl game during an 11-2 season in 2001, when Clark was a graduate assistant, and he coached the offensive line at Eastern Kentucky from 2003-08.
The Colonels had a winning record in each of those six seasons, and Clark coached three All-Americans who went on to play in the NFL. Eastern Kentucky went a combined 17-7 with back-to-back league titles and FCS playoff appearances before Clark moved on to Purdue for a stint that ran from 2009-12. Two offensive linemen from the 2010 team were drafted, the Boilermakers capped a seven-win season in 2011 with a victory in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and they made another bowl appearance a year later.
A head coaching change contributed to Clark relocating to Kent State, where he coached the offensive line from 2013-15. He was quickly promoted to run game coordinator at Kent State and served as the program's assistant head coach in 2015, before Satterfield brought his college teammate back to Boone.
In 2016, the Mountaineers led the Sun Belt in rushing offense (250.9 yards per game to rank No. 10 nationally as well as No. 2 in Sun Belt history) and ranked 16th nationally in sacks allowed. The line also paved the way for running back Jalin Moore to be named the Sun Belt's Offensive Player of the Year and steered Marcus Cox toward becoming the program's all-time leading rusher with more than 5,000 career yards.
The Mountaineers led the Sun Belt in both rushing yards and fewest sacks in 2017, as they allowed only eight sacks (No. 2 nationally) and averaged 223.6 rushing yards per game to rank 22nd nationally. App State averaged 315.8 rushing yards during its 4-0 finish, going over 300 yards in each of the last three games, and it became the first Sun Belt program with three offensive linemen (Colby Gossett, Beau Nunn, Victor Johnson) named to the all-conference first team.
The 2018 team ranked 14th nationally in rushing yards per game (240.3) and 20th nationally with only 18 sacks allowed. Quarterback Zac Thomas was named the Sun Belt's Offensive Player of the Year, and Darrynton Evans rushed for 1,187 yards even though he didn't become the team's primary back until after a season-ending injury sidelined Moore in Game 5.
Offensive linemen Parker Collins, Gossett and Nunn joined NFL franchises after learning from Clark at App State, and Johnson has accepted an invitation to play the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He's the only senior starter on an offensive line that's helped the 2019 team rank 17th nationally at 229.2 rushing yards per game and No. 19 with only 17 sacks allowed.
By defeating Louisiana in last weekend's Sun Belt Championship Game, App State joined Clemson and Oklahoma as the only FBS programs with at least four straight conference titles.
The Mid-American Conference announced the 2019 Academic All-Conference team for field hockey. Fourteen App State field hockey student-athletes earned a spot on the Academic All-MAC Team, as the conference office announced on Friday. The Mountaineers tied with Miami for the most representatives on the squad.
The 14 players – Brenna Schoenbachler, Anna Smarrelli, Abby Merrill, Friederike Stegen, Annette Jarosz, Melissa Nobile, Chloe Bell, Meghan Smart, Kaley Selner, Georgia Kelso, Sydney Lee, Veerle Van Heertum, Ali Williams and Michelle Taylor – earned the honor because of stellar work on and off the field. All 14 student-athletes must have maintained at least a 3.20 cumulative GPA and have participated in at least 50% of games to qualify for the award.
"I am extremely proud of this group for all their hard work on the field and in the classroom," head coach Meghan Dawson said. "They work tirelessly to perform to the highest level, especially in the classroom. They are a group of strong women, and I am grateful to be able to coach them every day."
App State's honorees comprise five sophomores, five juniors and four seniors. The 14 student-athletes were also named to the NFHCA National Academic Squad in 2018.
Appalachian was one of six MAC teams to have nine or more honorees. The list totaled 70 student-athletes from seven different programs.
Ten Mountaineers qualified for the academic accolade in 2018.
2019 Academic All-MAC Team
Veerle Van Heertum
Lenoir-Rhyne Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate has that Dave Markland will no longer be the head volleyball coach.
Markland, who held the position since 2003, finishes his tenure at Lenoir-Rhyne with a 309-232 record and a 163-143 mark in South Atlantic Conference play. The 2019 season saw the Bears finish with a 16-15 overall record and a seventh-place finish in the league standings.
Markland led LR to a pair of South Atlantic Conference regular-season championships and a South Atlantic Conference tournament championship. Markland coached junior OH Taylor Prall to an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Honorable Mention All-American award in 2019, the first AVCA All-American honor in program history.
“I want to thank Coach Markland for his many contributions and service to Lenoir-Rhyne University,” stated Pate. “I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
A national search will begin to find the ninth coach in program history.
The Catawba Valley Community College baseball and softball programs are coming together to host the second annual First Pitch Banquet on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2019 at 6 p.m. at the Tarlton Complex.
The First Pitch Banquet will be headlined by former Hickory Crawdads pitcher and Major League All-Star Matt Capps, who spent 11 seasons pitching professionally for the Pittsburgh Pirates (2005-09), Washington Nationals (2010), Minnesota Twins (2010-12), Cleveland Indians (2013-14), Atlanta Braves (2015) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2016) organizations.
"We are so excited about the community support for our program that we are able to put on an event like this — not to mention being fortunate enough to have someone like Matt Capps to be our keynote speaker," said CVCC head baseball coach Paul Rozzelle. "A lot of time goes into our program from the players and coaches so it's nice to take some time to acknowledge how special this place is and give our players some perspective on how they can leave their own legacy here at Catawba Valley."
The 2020 calendar year marks the start of the first-ever spring season for the Catawba Valley softball program, and the First Pitch Banquet will serve as an unofficial kickoff for its inaugural season.
"The First Pitch Banquet is another first time thing for me here at CVCC that I am excited to experience," said Red Hawks head softball coach Josh Bumgarner. "To be able to come together on this night to kind of kick off season one for our program is going to be special. I can't wait for January 30."
The First Pitch Banquet will start with a meet and greet with the current 2020 Red Hawk softball and baseball teams at 6 p.m. followed by the dinner and program at 6:30 p.m.
A silent auction will also be held during the event. All proceeds benefit the CVCC softball and baseball programs.
Registration is $25 per person or $175 for a table of eight.
Checks should be mailed to:
Attn: Nick Schroeder, CVCC Athletics
Catawba Valley Community College
2550 Highway 70 SE
Hickory, NC 28602
Appalachian State women's basketball head coach Angel Elderkin and the coaching staff is excited to announce the signing of four student-athletes for the class of 2020-21.
"We are excited about the future of our women's basketball program and our four newest Mountaineers," coach Elderkin said. "Each year, our coaching staff is tasked with finding the right student-athletes that fit our DNA as a program, while each of these ladies bring something different to the basketball court. They embody the core values of our athletics program. We can't wait to have them immersed in not only our program, but our entire community."
App State inks a quartet of future Mountaineers from three different states in Faith Alston (Virginia), Dane Bertolina (North Carolina), Bailey Trumm (Tennessee) and a Canadian forward in Mackenzie Ash-Smith. Ash-Smith is the sixth international player signed by the Black and Gold since 2017, which is the most in the Sun Belt.
Faith Alston | Guard | 5'7 | Paul VI Catholic High School | Centerville Va.
Alston is a letterwinner under head coach Scott Allen at perennial powerhouse, Paul VI Catholic High School. She was named the Most Valuable Player her junior year and the Most Valuable Defensive Player. Alston helped her squad win the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 1 State championship in back-to-back seasons. Alston has helped Paul VI off to a 6-0 start and a No. 2 ranking in the DC Area poll, with five of the wins coming in double digits. Voted on by the coaches during travel ball, she was named to multiple AAU All-Star teams while playing for the Loudon Flight under Clair Volker. Born on August 6, 2020, She is the daughter of Shah and Liz Alston. Faith has one sister, Hope. Her relative, Brianna, plays women's soccer at Texas A&M.
Elderkin on Alston: Faith Alston is a super competitive point guard with a limitless amount of energy on both sides of the basketball. Her ability to make plays in transition is a perfect fit for our up-tempo style of play.
Dane Bertolina | Guard | 5'10 | Charlotte Catholic | Charlotte, N.C.
Bertolina plays at Charlotte Catholic under the tutelage of Bobby Conrad, where she has two varsity letters. The in-state product is a back-to-back team MVP, while she was named to the All-Southern Carolinas Conference Team. A year later, she was named the unanimous 2018 SCC Player of the Year and made the all-district squad. As she's progressed through her career, she's improved her numbers each season. In 2018, she turned in 15.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 29 games. She's averaged double figures in back-to-back seasons while posting 809 career points, 244 rebounds, 200 steals, and 148 assists. Through four games this season, she is averaging career highs in scoring (21.8 ppg), rebounding (5.5 rpg) and assists (3.0 apg). She has scored 29 points in two contests with one double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Bertolina played her travel ball with the Lady Phoenix for Tony Busby and Delaney Rudd. She was born on April 23, 2002, and is the daughter of Ian and Susannah Bertolina. She has two siblings, Sam and Bella. Her brother is a twin while her sister attends App State.
Angel on Bertolina: Dane is a blue-collar player with a tremendous amount of passion for the game of basketball. Her ability to score on three levels will add to our depth on the perimeter.
Mackenzie Ash-Smith | 6'0 | Forward | Dawson College (Quebec) | Montreal, Quebec
Smith plays for the Dawson College Blues in her home country on the women's division I team. Ash-Smith has been at the forefront of the 7-1 start for the Blues through the first eight games of the season. She is putting up some staggering numbers as her 20.5 points and 15.3 rebounds per game are both first in her league. She is also shooting 50 percent from the field, which is third and sixth in blocks averaging 1.3 per game. She was born on March 9, 2000. Mackenzie is the daughter of Celine Ash. Ash-Smith helped her travel team (TW Bloodhounds) win the Nike Chicago U.S. Junior Nationals. She has two older siblings. Off the court, she likes to play guitar and produce music.
Elderkin on Ash-Smith: Rebounding has been a staple for our program and Mackenzie is a tremendous rebounder. Her versatility and toughness in the paint with be an asset to our program.
Bailey Trumm | Guard | 5'7 | Powell High School | Powell, Tenn.
Trumm is a four-year letter winner under John Fisher. She's put forth a stellar high school career going into her senior season. She was named all-district all three seasons while being named to the All-Prep Xtra Team. The sharpshooter from Tennessee has led the state in 3-pointers made all three seasons and is ninth all-time in state history in trifectas. Most recently, Trumm hit her 300th-career trey, which was just one of the milestones she has reached. She hit the 1,000-point career mark in her junior campaign. So far this season, she has done it all this season, averaging 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. Bailey has averaged double figures all three years of her career. Last season, she posted numbers of 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, which were all career highs. Trumm played for her father on Kentucky Premier during travel ball. Bailey was born on March 14, 2002. She is the daughter of Will and Jennifer Trumm and has one sister, Reagan. She coaches a youth basketball team and likes to work and watch Netflix.
Elderkin on Trumm: Bailey is a prolific shooter and we are excited about her ability to stretch the floor on offense for us. Her countless hours spent in the gym to improve will have a positive impact on our culture.
Christina Shimshock and Aqsa Mushtaq have been named to All-Americans teams by the United Soccer Coaches announced Wednesday evening.
Shimshock, a senior defender from Asheville, N.C., was named to the All-American First Team. She earned her third SAC All-conference nod and her second first-team honors this season. Shimshock also garnered First Team All-Region and All-State. She led LR with five assists on the season. Shimshock has led a defense that gave up a league-low 15 goals on the season.
Mushtaq, a native of Bradford, England, was named to the All-American Second Team. Mushtaq finished her highly touted career with her second straight SAC first-team honor and her first SAC Offensive Player of the Year award. Mushtaq also was named First Team All-Region and All-State. She finished second in the league in goals with 13, points 30, and shots with 83. Mushtaq was first in the SAC with shot on goal percentage with a .590.
This marks the first such honors for both players in their four year careers.
Pos. Name Class School Hometown
K Natalie Dierickx* Jr. Western Washington University Kirkland, Wash.
D Maggie Scales Sr. Dallas Baptist University McKinney, Texas
D Christina Shimshock Sr. Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville, N.C.
D Cecilia Steinwascher* Jr. Grand Valley State University Sterling Heights, Mich.
M Shanade Hopcroft Jr. University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Aylesbury, England
M Riko Sagara* Sr. Grand Valley State University Tokyo, Japan
M Katie Taylor Sr. Mississippi College Tupelo, Miss.
F Ava Cook* Jr. Grand Valley State University Battle Creek, Mich.
F Nina Predanic* Sr. College of Saint Rose Brezice, Slovenia
F Sara Sandberg Jr. Flagler College Orebro, Sweden
F Jenny Vetter So. Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato, Minn.
F Karli White Sr. Western Washington University North Bend, Wash.
Pos. Name Class School Hometown
K Marika Laurendeau Jr. College of Saint Rose Sainte-Julie, Que.
D Aleesa Muir Sr. University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, Colo.
D Emily Nelson Sr. Western Washington University Puyallup, Wash.
D Giselle Sawaged Sr. Colorado School of Mines Highlands Ranch, Colo.
M Jennifer Bail Sr. West Chester University Carlisle, Pa.
M Alesha Duccini Sr Minnesota State University-Mankato Dubuque, Iowa
M Kelsie Eason Jr. University of Central Oklahoma Bartlesville, Okla.
M Natalie Saddic** Sr. University of California-San Diego San Diego, Calif.
F Aqsa Mushtaq Sr. Lenoir-Rhyne University Bradford, England
F Sandra Nabweteme Sr. Southwestern Oklahoma State University Kampala, Uganda
F Dana Poetzsch Jr. Molloy College Hicksville, N.Y.
F Makayla Toth Jr. University of Central Missouri Wichita, Kan.
Pos. Name Class School Hometown
K Jenna Hawkins Jr. Bloomsburg University Fleetwood, Pa.
D Riley West Sr. Sonoma State University Fair Oaks, Calif.
D Sydney Wright Sr. Ashland University Hilliard, Ohio
M Sara Berglund Jr. University of Mount Olive Borlaenge, Sweden
M Morgan Burchhardt Sr. College of Saint Rose Burnt Hills, N.Y,
M Emma Heikkila Sr. Nova Southeastern University Tornio, Finland
M Lauren Hoelke Jr. Bloomsburg University Blackwood, N.J.
M Jillian Leetch Jr. Rockhurst University Lee's Summit, Mo.
M Avery McNeme Jr. Angelo State University Lubbock, Texas
M Haley Skove Jr. East Stroudsburg University Lawrenceville, N.J.
F Leah Foster So. Concord University Wigan, England
F Taylor Malasek Jr. University of North Georgia Peachtree City, Ga.
The Texas Rangers revealed the 2020 coaching staff for the Hickory Crawdads. Carlos Cardoza will take over as the 'Dads new manager, becoming the 18th manager in franchise history.
Jose Jaimes is the only returning member of last year's staff and will resume his role as pitching coach. Finishing out the staff are hitting coach Jason Hart, coach Jay Sullenger, athletic trainer Tyler Voas and strength and conditioning coach Andy Earp.
Cardoza arrives in Hickory for his fifth season managing a Rangers affiliate. He spent last season with the Arizona Rangers, helping to lead the team to a league title. Prior to his stint in Arizona, Cardoza managed the Dominican Summer League Rangers from 2016-18 where his teams went 141-71 for a .665 winning percentage. The Puerto Rico native was hired by the Rangers following two years as the head coach at his alma mater, Decatur HS in Georgia. Cardoza played two years at Georgia State and two years at Armstrong Atlantic State, where he was a gold glove second baseman and All-Peach Belt Conference choice. He also played a year of professional baseball in the Puerto Rican Federation League.
Jaimes returns to Hickory for his fifth year as pitching coach and his 20th year in the Rangers organization. The former Texas farmhand began his coaching career during the 2008 campaign, when he served in a dual role as a player and pitching coach in the Arizona League. The Venezuela native would go on to spend four seasons as a pitching coach with the DSL Rangers before returning stateside in 2013 with the AZL Rangers and serving in the same capacity in 2014 with the Spokane Indians. Jaimes was originally signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2001 and went 12-8 with a 4.93 ERA over six seasons in the Texas farm system.
Hart is resuming his old role in Hickory after spending the previous eight seasons as the Frisco RoughRiders hitting coach. He served two seasons as the hitting instructor in Hickory prior to his time in Frisco. In 2015, Hart was named the Mike Coolbaugh Texas League Coach of the Year for his work with the Frisco hitters. He started with the Rangers organization in 2009 as the hitting coach for the AZL Rangers. Hart played professionally for parts of eight seasons from 1998-2006, with stints in the Oakland, Texas and Minnesota organizations. Hart was originally drafted by Oakland in the fifth round of the 1998 June draft and acquired by Texas in a January 2002 trade with the A's. He attended Southwest Missouri State University where he led the conference in homers in 1997 and was selected as a Missouri Valley Conference All-Star in 1998.
Sullenger enters his first season with the Texas organization after heading up the Biola University (a NCAA Division II school in La Mirada, CA) baseball program for six seasons. He attended Liberty University, reaching the NCAA regional finals three times as a member of their baseball team. Following college, he spent a year with the Tampa Bay Rays working with their facility and event management department. He then joined the coaching staff at James Madison University, spending eleven seasons in various coaching roles.
Voas will make his stateside debut with the Rangers in 2020 after serving as a trainer for the DSL Rangers last year. He received his Bachelor's Degree in athletic training from San Diego State University before earning a Master's in Kinesiology from Fresno State.
Earp is new to the Texas organization in 2020. He most recently worked on the strength and conditioning staff at Clemson University.
St. Stephens: 44
Fred T. Foard: 54
Alexander Central: 40
Bunker Hill: 61
St. Stephens: 76, OT
Fred T. Foard: 44
Alexander Central: 43
Taylor Prall has been named an Honorable Mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Prall is the first Lenoir-Rhyne player to be named an AVCA All-American in team history.
Prall, a junior outside hitter from Tipp City, Ohio, completed a career year for the Bears. Prall was named SAC First-Team All-Conference after leading the SAC in kills at 404 and in kills per set at 3.88. She also received First-Team All-Region in both D2CCA and AVCA. Prall nearly broke a conference record with a 30-kill performance against Mars Hill, coming just two shy of the league record in a four-set match.
Prall finished the year with 12 double-doubles. Her 404 kills on the season ranks 10th in program history and her 3.88 kills per set ranks fifth.
The Catawba Valley Community College women’s basketball team held off a resilient USC Salkehatchie squad for an 58-43 conference win on Tuesday afternoon at the Tarlton Complex.
Aniya Taylor led CVCC (7-0, 2-0 in Region 10) in the win with 19 points and five rebounds, while Aaliyah Chaplin added 12 points, five rebounds and a career-high six assists.
Leading 5-4 early in Tuesday’s game, the Red Hawks went on an 11-0 run during the first quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers by Taylor, to take a 16-5 advantage.
Despite encountering some early foul trouble, CVCC held its double digit advantage, taking a 29-17 lead into the halftime break.
Both teams battled offensive fouls with 16 total committed in Tuesday’s contest — nine on the Indians and seven on the Red Hawks.
Trailing late, USC Salkehatchie (7-5, 5-2 in Region 10) closed to within six points of the lead with just 8:57 left in the game, but the Red Hawks made all eight of their free throws down the stretch to seal their second conference win.
Catawba Valley sophomore Ivy Eller added seven points and five rebounds, and she also drew a team-high three charges, while freshman Ariana Montgomery recorded a team-best eight rebounds and also drew three charges in the game.
After completing a string of eight-straight homes games to start its season, the CVCC women’s basketball team hits the road on Saturday against conference foe Cape Fear (6-2, 6-1).
Tip off between the Red Hawks and Sea Devils is set for 2 p.m. in Wilmington, N.C.
Kings Mountain: 19
Ashe County: 65
Alexander Central: 59
West Lincoln: 25
East Burke: 43
Bunker Hill: 51
Kings Mountain: 59
Alexander Central: 54
Ashe County: 32
West Lincoln: 48
East Burke: 62
Bunker Hill: 45
West Caldwell: 77
South Caldwell: 74
Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics has announced that head football coach Drew Cronic has resigned to become the head football coach at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Cronic, the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 2018, has guided the Bears to a 25-3 mark in his two seasons, back-to-back South Atlantic Conference Championships and back-to-back NCAA quarterfinal appearances.
"We hit a home run with the hiring of Drew Cronic as our head football coach," said LR President Fred Whitt. "Mercer University is getting an outstanding football coach, but an even better person. We will miss Drew, Amelia, Noah, Eli and Isiah and their extended family, and wish them nothing but the best. Not only will the Cronic name be a huge part of LR football history, they will always be valued members of our LR family."
Cronic inherited a program that went 6-15 in the two years before his arrival and turned it into one of the best teams in the nation. In 2018, he took LR from a three-win team to a 12-2 finish, the largest turnaround in the nation. The Bears finished in the top 10 in Division II in rushing yards per game and points per game in each of his two years, and his .893 winning percentage is the best in program history, topping former head coach Mike Houston's .784 mark. Cronic also earned back-to-back Regional and Conference Coach of the Year accolades.
"I have been blessed to be the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne the past two years," said Cronic. "These have been two of the best years of my life. I'm so proud of everyone associated with Lenoir-Rhyne Football, especially these young men who have done everything we asked them to do and brought so much joy and excitement to this university. I'm very thankful for the opportunity given to me by Dr. Fred Whitt and Kim Pate. They believed in me and supported me and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity. We left the football program in a better place than we found it and I think they will continue to be great."
During his tenure, Cronic broke the LR record for the longest home winning streak with 15 straight victories inside Moretz Stadium. The old mark of 14 consecutive home victories was set in 1961. Also, Cronic's Bears broke the record for most points scored in a season in 2018 with 574 and then re-broke the record this season with 588 points. The 13 wins in 2019 tied a program-record for the most wins in a season and the 25 wins from the 2018 and 2019 seasons mark the most in a two-year span in team history.
Cronic also improved the national profile of LR football, having the Bears ranked in the top 10 in the AFCA Coaches Poll for the entire 2019 season. Of the 10 all-time NCAA Playoff games hosted by Lenoir-Rhyne, five of them came under Cronic.
The success came off the field as well as Cronic helped the Bears achieve the highest grade point average of any football team in the conference. In his two years, Ronnie Clifton and Will Neal earned the SAC Elite 20 award, given to the student-athlete with the top cumulative grade-point average in each of the league's 20 team championship sports. Additionally, LR had three players named Academic All-Americans under Cronic's leadership.
"Drew Cronic has been instrumental in restoring our football program to national prominence while establishing a culture built around character and a high standard of excellence," said LR VP for Athletics Kim Pate. "He has made a huge impact on our campus, community, and more importantly the players. He has left the program in great shape, which will position us to attract another outstanding coach and leader to continue to raise the bar."
Coach Bob Bodine, who has served as the offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, has been named interim coach. A national search to find the 23rd head coach in program history will begin immediately.