Bahar & Callahan Headline Big South Awards
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ- Monmouth University senior Kenji Bahar (Baltimore, MD/Calvert Hall) and Head Coach Kevin Callahan were named Big South Offensive Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, league officials announced on Tuesday.
Joining Bahar on all-conference teams were a record 16 other Hawks, including nine total members on the First Team All-Big South and eight second team selections.
Callahan, the only head coach in program history, led the Hawks to their best season in the 27-year history of the program. Monmouth, ranked 11th in the latest AFCA Coaches’ Poll, won its first Big South title by going unbeaten in league play. The Hawks are winners of eight straight contests and won 10 games for fourth time in school history and the first time since 2006. Callahan’s program will host its first NCAA FCS Playoff game this Saturday when Holy Cross visits Kessler Stadium.
Bahar guided one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, averaging 36.3 points per game while racking up a conference-best 3,454 yards of total offense. Bahar threw for 3,262 yards and 28 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. The fifth-year senior set every single-season and career passing record in Monmouth history and finished with a 66.1 completion percentage and four rushing scores. Bahar was the preseason conference player of the year and is one of two finalists on the Hawks up for the Walter Payton Award, awarded to the nation’s top FCS offensive player.
Joining Bahar on the First Team All-Big South were running back Pete Guerriero (Lyndhurst, NJ/Lyndhurst), offensive linemen John Gallina (Forest Hill, MD/Bel Air) and AJ Farris (Newark, DE/Eastern Christian Academy), wide receiver Lonnie Moore IV (Sicklerville, NJ/Paul VI), tight end Shawn Clark (Potsdam, NY/Potsdam Cushing Acadmy), safety Anthony Budd (Riverdale, MD/Good Counsel), cornerback Tymere Berry (Toms River, NJ/Toms River South) and punt returner Eddie Morales III (Howell, NJ/Howell).
Two more offensive linemen in Mahmoud Shabana (New York, NY/Brooklyn Tech) and Justin Szuba (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) headline the eight second team selections along with wide receiver Terrance Greene Jr (Philadelphia, PA/St. Joe’s Prep), defensive end Erik Massey (Teaneck, NJ/Bergen Catholic), linebacker Da’Quan Grimes (Gaithersburg, MD/Damascus), cornerback Justin Terry (Brooklyn, NY/Christ the King), long snapper Kent Vines (Durham, NC/Jordan) and placekicker Matt Mosquera (Middletown, NJ/Middletown South).
Guerriero earns first team honors for the second straight season after leading the nation in rushing. His 1,668 yards was more than 400 than the next closest Big South rusher as the redshirt senior found the endzone a total of 16 times (14 rushing). The Walter Payton Award candidate also led the Big South in all-purpose yards with 161.6 per game. He is currently seven yards away from setting Monmouth’s single-season rushing mark.
Leading the way for both Walter Payton Award Candidates was Monmouth’s offensive line, four of which were honored with post season recognition. Gallina, a senior captain, started every game for the Hawks and has made 41 career appearances. Farris is in his second season as Monmouth’s starting center while Shabana earns a spot on the all-conference teams after anchoring the left tackle spot for nine games. Szuba, a redshirt sophomore, graded out as Monmouth’s top lineman in eight of the 12 regular season games. The Brick Memorial product also earned a spot on the Big South All-Academic squad after earning a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. The group was a large part of Bahar’s five 300+ yard passing days and Guerriero’s three 200+ yard rushing performances.
Moore and Greene, first year starters for the Hawks, earn all-conference honors for the first time in their careers. Moore was Bahar’s leading target with 902 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. The South Jersey product ranked third in all-purpose yards and had four 100+ yard receiving performances. Greene was second on the team with 58 receptions for 793 yards with three 100-yard days while catching eight touchdowns. The Philadelphia native ranked fifth in receptions and fourth in yardage in the Big South. Monmouth was the only team in the league with two receivers in the top-5 of every receiving category.
Clark continues the trend of Monmouth having one of the premier tight end units in the nation. A first-time all-conference selection the fifth-year senior started every game for the Hawks, hauling in 18 receptions for 254 yards and four touchdowns.
Three of Monmouth’s four starters in the defensive backfield earned all-conference honors highlighted by first team selections Budd and Berry. Budd led the Big South in interceptions with five while finishing second on the Hawks with 55 tackles. The junior had eight pass breakups and was part of a defense that allowed just over 14 points per game in conference play. Berry, a captain, registered 43 tackles and five pass breakups on the season. The 2018 first team all-conference selection had four different games with six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown against Kennesaw State. Terry earns his second consecutive all-conference honor after starting all 12 games at cornerback and finishing third on the team in tackles with 48. The Brooklyn, NY product had eight pass breakups and one interception on the year.
Linebacker Da’Quan Grimes and defensive end Erik Massey make their first appearances on the all-league second team. Grimes led the Hawks with 89 tackles and 11 tackles for a loss which was third among linebackers. He ranked first in the conference in forced fumbles and anchored a Monmouth defense that was 24th nationally in third down defense. The two-time defensive player of the week had a career-high 18 tackles in the win over Campbell. Massey terrorized opposing defenses with eight tackles for a loss and three sacks. He finished the regular season with 39 tackles including nine in the Wagner win.
Three specialists earned all-conference spots led by Morales who was first in punt return average, returning 17 kicks for an average of 7.6 yards. He finished with 130 punt return yards including a long of 41. Mosquera earns his second consecutive all-conference award after converting 52 out of 53 extra points and 12 of 16 field goals. Mosquera leads the team with 88 points and has made 135 of 139 career PATs. Vines, a sophomore, earns his first all-league nod after recording 114 snaps this season. The lone North Carolinian on the roster snapped to two different punters and Mosquera.
The 17 All-Big South selections eclipses the previous high of 12 set by the 2018 squad. Callahan and the Hawks will host Holy Cross on Saturday at 12 PM. Tickets are available at MonmouthHawks.com/Tickets or by calling 732-263-5735.