RANDOLPH, MASS.-- The University of New Hampshire football team will take home plenty of hardware from this year's annual New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquest held Thursday night (Dec. 5) at Lantana Restaurant in Randolph, Mass. Senior running back Stephan Lewis (Coatesville, Pa.) was named the winner of the 2002 Coca Cola Gold Helmet Award as the top player in New England. Former UNH head coach Bill Bowes, the all-time winningest coach in UNH history received the prestigious George C. Carens Award for his outstanding contributions to New England college football. Lewis and senior free safety Czar Wiley (North Bergen, N.J.) were also both named first-team All-New England.
Lewis enjoyed tremendous success during his senior year, finishing first in the NCAA Division I-AA standings in all-purpose yardage with 202.6 ypg., 16th in I-AA in rushing with an average of 104.73 yards per contest, and 24th overall in scoring with an average of 7.45 ppg. Named a first-team All-Atlantic 10 running back, Lewis completes his career as the Wildcats' third all-time leading rusher with 3,679 career rushing yards and eighth on UNH's all-time receiving yards listing with 1,602. He also made 164 career catches, which ranks him fourth all-time in that category at UNH.
Looking at Lewis' other honors this season, he was named a pre-season second-team All-American and is a top candidate for first-team All-America honors in 2002. He remained one of the top 16 players on the Sport Network's Payton Watch for entire season and he received the weekly Gold Helmet, Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors and was named a Don Hansen Co-National Player of the Week for his efforts in UNH's upset victory over 12th-ranked UMass.
Wiley, a defensive co-captain for the Wildcats this season, was a true team leader and finished the 2002 campaign the team's leading tackler (43-35-78). He also recorded an interception with a return of 25 yards, came up with one fumble recovery and forced two fumbles. Wiley completes his football career for the Wildcats with 273 tackles, which ranks him seventh on UNH's all-time career tackles listing.
Coach Bowes joins UNH's own Joe Yukica as one of only two Granite-Staters who have won the George C. Carens Award.
A 27-year veteran at the helm of the UNH football program, Bowes began his head coaching career at UNH in 1973 and eventually retired in the spring of 1999.
During the Bill Bowes era, his teams recorded an impressive 175-106-5 record and he recruited many of the top players in the Yankee Conference and the Atlantic 10, not to mention several players who went on to be starters in the NFL, such as Jerry Azumah (Chicago Bears), Dwayne Sabb (New England Patriots), Dan Kreider (Pittsburgh Steelers), and Jason Ball (San Diego Chargers). A grand total of 22 of his players went on to sign NFL contracts.
His list of accomplishments are extensive, but nothing stands out more than the fact that his teams won conference titles in 1975, 1976, 1991 and 1994. All four squads also went on to play in the NCAA Div. II or Div. I-AA playoffs. Bowes was honored twice as the Yankee Conference Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1994.
Milestones during his tenure included: his 100th coaching victory vs. Maine (44-23) in 1988 and his 150th win vs. Richmond (42-14) in 1994. Perhaps one of the most meaningful highlights of his career came in 1998 when Azumah broke several NCAA rushing and scoring records and became the first-ever Walter Payton Award winner for UNH. He also coached 12 All-America selections, six first-team All-Atlantic 10 selections and 69 Yankee Conference first-team choices. Many of his Wildcat seniors made appearances in the Hula Bowl, The Blue-Gray All-Star Game and the East-West Shrine Game. He has also been responsible for a huge list of former assistant coaches and players who have obtained prominent positions in the college football ranks.
In 1999, present UNH head coach Sean McDonnell initiated a new team award and dubbed it "The Bill Bowes Coaches Award" in recognition of all Bowes has done for the football program and for the University of New Hampshire.