NORTH ANDOVER — Whoever is in charge of the Northeast-10 record book better sharpen their pencil.
After a record-setting senior season this past fall, Merrimack junior quarterback Joe Clancy will return for a fifth year, playing for first-year head coach Dan Curran this fall for the Warriors.
Clancy was eligible for a fifth season after redshirting as a freshman.
“It was a pretty easy decision for me,” Clancy said. “I knew I had the option since my freshman year to use it if I wanted to. Fact is, I really enjoy playing for this program and I have fun playing here. It’s always great to play football with your friends. It was a really easy decision to come back.”
After 3,945 yards and 31 passing touchdowns this past season, Clancy was honored with the Harry Agganis Award, presented by the New England Football Writers. The Agganis Award is presented annually to the most outstanding senior football player in New England and Clancy became the first Warrior in program history to receive the prestigious award.
He was also named NE-10 Player of the Year, breaking nearly every passing record at Merrimack and is now nearing several NE-10 passing records.
Last season, he led the NE-10 in all passing categories and led the nation in passing yards per game (394.5) and total yards per game (399.4).
“(My arm) is starting to recover,” he joked. “I don’t think I knew we were going to throw as much as we did. Of course I liked it. No quarterback will say he doesn’t like to throw the ball. We just have a great group of guys. Our O-Line was incredible. Really, everyone says that but they were great. Our receivers made catches on balls that they shouldn’t have been able to. Really, everyone clicked. And now next year we’ll have a year of experience so I think we could have even more success.”
Scary if you’re an NE-10 defensive coordinator.
Curran — Merrimack’s former offensive coordinator who was promoted to head coach last month when John Perry took a job at Delaware — is excited to have Clancy back as well, as he points to a tough stretch in the beginning of the season where his presence will be a calming influence on the offense.
“You can’t put a value on it,” he said. “You can’t argue with his production. Our schedule next year might be the toughest we’ve ever had as a school. Out of the gate we’ll have either a NEC or a PSAC school and then we have AIC, Southern, New Haven and CW Post. We’re losing both tackles and maybe the best wide receiver in the history of the conference, so we’ll be a little greener on offense so having him there will be huge in the first few weeks.”
This fifth season for Clancy might also open some doors into pro football, whether it be at the NFL, CFL or Arena level.
Curran finished his pro career in 2009 before joining the Merrimack staff. The former UNH running back played in both the Arena league as well as the Seattle Seahawks, where he finished his playing career.
“We’ve had some scouts take a look at him,” Curran said, “based on his numbers, you have to.”
Two years ago, NFL looks looking at Merrimack for potential players would have made most chuckle. But last season, the Warriors hosted their first-ever pro day for Shawn Loiseau, James Suozzo and Tony Johnson.
Loiseau signed with the Houston Texans before being released as one of the final cuts in training camp and then catching on with the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts protected him at the end of last season, meaning he’ll be returning to Indy for a second season. Suozzo and Johnson each attended NFL camps with the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens respectively.
“A few years ago if you said NFL people would look at Merrimack people would laugh at you,” Curran said, “and I might be one of them. There’s that potential now for Joe to play in one of the three major leagues. And if not, he’ll be a great coach. Believe me, I can see it. He’ll be a great coach.”
For now though, it’s about being under center for Clancy.
“Who would want to rush leaving college?” he said. “I can’t wait to get back out there.”