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Wednesday, December 06, 2017 1:00 am

Donley, Abbs get coaching awards

Coaches group names them both regional winners

GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette

Saint Francis' Kevin Donley and Trine's Troy Abbs were each named American Football Coaches Association 2017 Regional Coaches of the Year, it was announced Tuesday.

Donley was honored in the NAIA Region 2, his third straight season of earning this distinction and his fourth overall. Abbs picked up NCAA Division III Region 4 honors. 

Donley led the Cougars to 13-0 record, a Mid-States Football Association Midwest Division title, a No. 1 ranking and a spot in the NAIA national championship game Dec. 16 against No. 2 Reinhardt (Georgia) in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

Saint Francis won its first-ever national title last year with a 38-17 win over Baker (Kansas). The Cougars would be the first repeat winners since Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 2008 and 2009.

“I do this because of those kids,” Donley said of his players. “I am flattered. ... My mission in this world is those kids in that locker room. I am honored, and it is nice. But I haven't played a down since 1972. This game is about those young men, and the effort they put into it. That's what it is all about.”

Abbs guided the Thunder to an 11-1 record, a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship and a berth in the D-III tournament, which ended in the second round in a 49-7 loss at Warburg (Ohio).

“It's a huge award for the Trine University football program,” said Abbs, who was out on the road recruiting. “It really accentuates what a great job our staff and our young men have done. There have been a lot of people who have worked hard to make Trine University a great place, and this is a result of that.

“It is great to go in (to a recruit's home) and prove the plan that we have had does work and guys can continue to come to Trine and expect to play in big games in front of big crowds and a great atmosphere.”

Abbs is 23-9 in three seasons at Trine. 

“All of this is a result of that and our guys did a good job of making football one of their top priorities this year, after faith and family and academics, and that has paid dividends for us this year,” Abbs said.