A Look Back at the Keith Emery Era

Keith Emery stepped down as head football coach at Western New England University this past May to relocate with his family, marking the end of an enormously successful tenure that saw him build the Golden Bears into one of the premier football programs in New England.

Emery was hired at Western New England on April 19, 2005, following seven seasons as an assistant coach at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. He served as defensive coordinator the last four years with the Blue Jays and as associate head coach in 2004, when he was recognized as the AFCA Division III Assistant Coach of the Year.

Emery took over a Western New England squad that had won just 18 games over the previous six seasons and immediately began to turn the Golden Bears into a contender.

Western New England posted a winning campaign (5-4) in 2006 during Emery’s second season in Springfield before establishing a new program record for victories (6-4) in 2009.

The Golden Bears continued their upward climb the following season with a 9-2 record in 2010 that culminated in a 66-41 victory over Maine Maritime in the ECAC North Central Bowl. The win, which represented Western New England’s first ever postseason triumph, was fueled by Bryce Brown’s 467 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.

Western New England made its first appearance on the national stage in 2011, after the Golden Bears defeated Framingham State 20-13 in overtime in the NEFC Championship game to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Emery gained national recognition for Western New England's success as he was selected as one of five finalists for the Liberty Mutual Division III Coach of the Year award.

After going a combined 10-10 in 2012 and 2013, Emery had the Golden Bears poised to make another run at the NEFC title in 2014. Western New England won its first six contests before falling to MIT 35-34 in the de facto NEFC championship game on a blocked extra point late in regulation. The following week, Curry edged the Golden Bears 7-0 in overtime. Western New England finished the season 8-2 with its only two losses coming by a combined eight points.

The narrow defeats the previous season fueled the Golden Bears in 2015. That fall, Western New England began a dominant three-year run that included a 29-4 (.878) record, a trio of conference titles, and a multitude of accolades for Emery and his student-athletes.

In 2015, Emery led Western New England to its first undefeated regular season in program history, resulting in Gridiron Club of Greater Boston, NEFC and ECAC New England Coach of the Year awards. The Golden Bears defeated Salve Regina 28-21 for the NEFC crown in the final contest of the regular season with the help of a late interception by Mike Stasiewicz and go-ahead score by Tyler Ward in the closing seconds of regulation.

The 2016 Golden Bears posted another undefeated regular season and picked up the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win with a 44-27 victory over Husson University in the first round. Western New England finished the season ranked No. 21 in the final AFCA national poll and senior cornerback Obi Etuka became the program’s first unanimous All-American.

Western New England completed its conference championship three-peat in 2017 in the new Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time under Emery. With their most difficult non-conference schedule in program history, the Golden Bears started the campaign 1-2 before rebounding with thrilling victories over Husson and St. Lawrence that sparked a 7-0 finish to the regular season.

In addition to his team's success on the field, Emery placed a strong emphasis on community service throughout his 13-year tenure at Western New England. He established a relationship between the WNE Football program and Revitalize CDC, a Springfield based non-profit that performs critical repairs, modifications and rehabilitation on the homes and non-profit facilities of low-income families with children, the elderly, military veterans and people with disabilities.

Last December, Emery was recognized by Revitalize CDC for WNE Football's longstanding commitment to community service with the Community Spotlight Award at the organization's 25th anniversary celebration at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Keith Emery | By the Numbers

  • 86-49 record (.637) – most wins in program history
  • 4 Conference Championships & NCAA Tournament Appearances (2011, 2015-17)
  • 2 All-Americans (Michael Graham & Obi Etuka)
  • 9 D3football.com All-East Region selections
  • 111 All-Conference selections
  • 9 Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Weekly Gold Helmet Award Winners
  • 5 Academic All-Americans
  • 10 Academic All-District

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