Dan DiCenzo returns to the Wesleyan sidelines for an eighth season, and third as head coach in 2017. The Cardinals posted back-to-back winning campaigns in his first two seasons at the helm of the program, and are 25-7 in the NESCAC the past four years. They also won the Little Three Championship a year ago, and have now won it twice in the last four seasons.
The 2016 squad excelled on both sides of the ball all season – garnering 13 All-NESCAC selections – but was led by its stingy defense. Last year’s unit finished first in the league in four major defensive categories, while ranking fourth in the country in total defense (220.6 yds/game), seventh in scoring (13.1 pts/game), and 12th in both rushing (77.6) and passing (143.0) yards allowed. Additionally, Wesleyan finished second in all of Division III in first downs allowed (94), third in third-down conversion (23.9%), and fourth in red zone defense (47.6%).
On the offensive side of the ball, the 2016 Cardinals finished fourth in the country in kickoff returns (25.3 yds/game) and eighth in time of possession (34:23), while placing in the top-three in the NESCAC in several categories; second in passing (237.8 yds/game), first downs (20.0/game) and third-down conversion (39%), and third in total offense (416 yds/game), scoring (31.5 pts/game), rushing (178.3 yds/game) and punt returns (10.7 yds/game).
Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line
Eric Ludwig returns to the sidelines in 2017 for his sixth season as the offensive line coach, and third as the offensive coordinator at Wesleyan. The 2016 offense averaged 416.6 yards per game and 31.5 points per game – both of which are the most since the 1998 season – while the team’s 59 points against Little Three foe Williams College last year was the most scored by either team in the 122-year rivalry. The Cardinals also averaged 237.8 passing yards per game this past season – the most since the 2002 campaign.
In 2016, sophomore center Joe Wilson collected First Team All-NESCAC honors, while senior tackle Matt Polacek was named to the Second Team. Ludwig has had at least one offensive lineman earn First Team All-NESCAC laurels in each of his first five seasons at Wesleyan, while a total of eight offensive lineman have received an all-conference selection during his tenure.
Ludwig joined the Cardinals’ coaching staff in 2012 after serving as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at N.Y. Maritime College. In his two seasons as offensive coordinator, N.Y. Maritime went 18-3, and made an appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. For three seasons as the offensive line coach, Ludwig coached nine All-Conference selections. N.Y. Maritime led all of Division III in both 2009 and 2010 in sacks allowed, and finished the 2009 season ranked fourth in the nation in rushing offense. Ludwig also spent time as the recruiting coordinator and the strength and conditioning coach at Maritime.
Defensive Coord./Special Teams Coord./Linebackers
Matt Coyne returns to Wesleyan in 2017 as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, and will also coordinate the special teams. A 2012 Wesleyan alum, Coyne played and coached for the Cardinals from 2010-2015. He was the quarterback from 2010-2012, and was voted captain in his senior campaign. Coyne was also awarded the Thomas W. Eck, Jr. Memorial award in 2011 and 2012 for exemplifying the best in team spirit, sportsmanship, and devotion to the game of football.
After graduating from Wesleyan in 2012, Coyne joined the staff as the wide receivers coach from 2013-2015. He was responsible for coaching and developing First Team All-NESCAC receiver Jay Fabien ’15 and Second Team All-NESCAC receiver Josh Hurwitz ’15. During his time at Wesleyan, Coyne was part of one of the most prolific offenses in program history in 2013, as the Cardinals’ captured their first-ever NESCAC Championship and first outright Little Three title in 43 years. In 2015, Coyne completed his Master’s in Social Sciences from Wesleyan’s GLSP program.
Shortly after, Coyne joined the staff at Oberlin College to coach the quarterbacks and handle the pass game coordinator duties. He was responsible for coaching and developing quarterbacks Lucas Poggiali (2015) and Zach Taylor (2016). Poggiali finished second in career passing yards and holds the single game passing record of 506 yards during the 2015 season. Taylor, a freshman in 2016, moved into sixth place in program history for single season passing yardage. In 2016, Coyne was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Yeomen.
Passing Game Coord/QB Coach/Recruiting Coord
Kyle Archer enters his third season at Wesleyan as the passing game coordinator, quarterback coach and recruiting coordinator in 2017. Last year, the Cardinals ranked second in the NESCAC in passing, as they averaged 237.8 yards per game. It was the highest average by a Wesleyan team since the 2002 campaign.
Prior to his arrival at Wesleyan, Archer spent three seasons as the wide receivers coach and the co-special teams coordinator at the University of Maine. While there, he helped guide the Black Bears to their first CAA Championship in 2013. Nationally ranked, the team received a bid to play in the FCS national playoffs. He was responsible for mentoring a receiving corps the year they ranked second in passing offense in the CAA, and first in passing efficiency in the highly regarded FCS conference. In his three seasons at UMaine, he coached two all-conference performers in Damarr Aultman and John Ebeling.
Archer worked for five seasons at Brown University before his stint at UMaine, where he coached the wide receivers and defensive backs. He also served as the recruiting coordinator during his tenure at Brown, and helped lead the 2008 squad to an Ivy League Championship, while developing six All-Ivy League selections at wide receiver and defensive back.
Run Game Coordinator / Defensive Line
Sean Stanley begins his fourth season on the Wesleyan coaching staff, and has been promoted to run game coordinator/defensive line coach in 2017.
Last season, Stanley coached two All-NESCAC performers in First Team selection Jordan Stone ’17 and Second Team honoree Grant Williams ’19, while the Cardinals dominate front-seven posted a league-best 77.6 rushing yards per game. During his first three seasons with the program, Stanley also coached three-time All-NESCAC selection Nik Powers ’15 and Second Team All-NESCAC selection Mitch Godfrey ’15, while Stone was a two-time all-conference recipient.
Stanley played high school football in Gaithersburg, Md. where he earned All-State, All-County and All-Conference honors. He also received three Washington Post First Team All-Met accolades. From there, he went on to be a four-year letter winner at Penn State (2009-2012), playing defensive end. He started over 20 games for the Nittany Lions and racked up 46 tackles, 10.5 of them for a loss, and 5.5 sacks in his senior season. After trying to pursue a pro football career in the spring of 2013, he went back to Penn State to finish his degree in criminal justice and coached with their defensive line under Larry Johnson, his former coach during the 2013 season.
Andrew Lieberman, a 2013 Wesleyan graduate, returns to the Cardinals’ coaching staff for a second season in 2017 as the wide receivers coach. He played quarterback at Wesleyan for two years and eventually coached the quarterbacks as a student assistant during his junior and senior years. He served a vital role in the development of 2014 NESCAC Player of the Year, Jesse Warren ’15, before graduating with a degree in Sociology.
Last season, Lieberman coached junior wide receiver Mike Breuler to First Team All-NESCAC honors as he finished third in the conference in receiving touchdowns (7), sixth in receiving yards (512) and seventh in receiving yards per game (64.0).
Prior to his return to Middletown, Conn., Lieberman spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons coaching at Rutgers University as an offensive graduate assistant. In 2014, he was part of the coaching staff that helped transition Rutgers into the Big Ten Conference, earned the school’s first-ever Big Ten victory, and an eventual Bowl championship win over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Anthony Antonellis, a 2015 Wesleyan graduate, returns to the Cardinals in 2017 as assistant defensive backs coach in his second season coaching. Last year, Antonellis coached the tight ends as the Cardinals posted a 6-2 record and claimed the Little Three Championship. He also coached First Team All-NESCAC selection Ben Kurtz ’16, a tight end and 2016 team captain.
Antonellis played defensive back at Wesleyan for four years, which included a NESCAC Championship and Little Three title during his junior season in 2013. As a senior, the Cardinals finished 7-1 for the second year in a row.
Antonellis was the recipient of the 2014 Fall NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Award for his dedication to respect for teammates, coaches, and opponents. He was also selected to the 2014 NESCAC All-Academic Team. During his time at Wesleyan, he served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity. He graduated Wesleyan with a degree in Economics.
John Capodice returns to the Wesleyan coaching staff for a second season in 2017, and will once again work with the running backs. In his first year with the program, he helped guide one of the league’s best rushing attacks as the Cardinals finished third with 178.3 yards per game, while racking up 21 rushing touchdowns – second most in the NESCAC.
Capodice is a Health/Physical Education teacher and has been a football coach for 19 years, serving seven as an assistant football coach and 12 as the head football coach at Berlin High School in Berlin, Conn. A 1992 graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Capodice also holds master’s degrees from Central Connecticut State University and Southern Connecticut State University.
Over his 12 years as head football coach, he posted an overall record of 107-31, including an undefeated regular season in 2010, State Championship appearances in 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2014, and the school’s first State Championship in 2009, as well as conference championships in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. His program qualified for the Connecticut State Playoffs in 10 out of 12 years while at the helm. Capodice placed over 40 football players into Division I, II, and III programs, as well as Ivy League and NESCAC schools.
Wayne McGillicuddy enters his first season with the Wesleyan University football program in 2017, and will serve as the tight ends coach.
Prior to his arrival in Middletown, Conn., McGillicuddy was named offensive line coach at Anna Maria College in Worcester, Mass. In his short time there, he helped build a recruiting class of over 100 commits for the class of 2018.
Before his stint at Anna Maria, McGillicuddy was an assistant coach at his alma-mater Westfield State University for two seasons. He was the special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach.
Eric Simonelli ’19 enters his junior year at Wesleyan and begins his first season as the Director of Football Operations in 2017. Simonelli will also work on the offensive side of the ball, working with the wide receivers.
At Wesleyan, he is a member of the baseball team and working on completing his degree in Economics and minor in Data Analysis. He resides in Lynnfield, Mass. and is a graduate of Boston College High School.