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Lyons honored for coaching career

The New Hampshire

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013 22:04


John Lyons, third-year defensive coordinator for the University of New Hampshire football team, will be inducted into the Northwest Catholic High School Athletic Hall of Fame in West Hartford, Conn., during a dinner and ceremony at Wampanoag Country Club on Saturday, April 27.

Lyons, who joined the Wildcats’ coaching staff under head coach Sean McDonnell in January 2011, also oversees defensive backs in addition to his role as defensive coordinator. In his first season on the UNH sideline, Lyons mentored junior linebacker Matt Evans, who became the university’s first Buck Buchanan Award winner as the top defensive player in Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football. 

Under Lyons’ tutelage in 2012 Evans became UNH’s all-time leader in career tackles (460) en route to a berth on the College Sporting News Fabulous Fifty All-America Team, and defensive tackle Jared Smith earned an invitation to the NFL Combine after claiming a spot on the College Sports Journal FCS All-America Team. 

Lyons was an outstanding football and baseball player at Northwest Catholic, where he served as football team captain and MVP before graduating in 1970 and going on to play collegiately at the University of Pennsylvania. He played three years at Penn, and was an All Ivy League Second Team selection. 

Lyons, who graduated from Penn in 1974, began his coaching career at his alma mater, climbing his way up from an assistant freshman coach in his first season (1974) to the role of defensive coordinator in 1984 for an undefeated Ivy League championship Quakers team that featured the No. 1 total defense in the league. 

While serving as defensive coordinator at Boston University from 1985-87, Lyons led the Terriers to the top rated pass defense and No. 2 total defense in the Yankee Conference during his final season. McDonnell was BU’s wide receivers/tight ends coach during that same three-year period.

Lyons served as the head coach at Dartmouth College from 1992-2004, earning 60 career victories to become the second-winningest coach in Big Green history. His Dartmouth teams won two Ivy League championships (1992, 1996), including a perfect 10-0 season in ‘96 when Lyons was named the New England Coach of the Year by the New England sports writers and the Division I N.E. Coach of the Year by the Gridiron Club of Boston.

The West Hartford, Conn., native also worked at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H., where he served as football coach (2005-10) and athletic director (2008-10). He guided the school to three consecutive Evergreen League championships from 2007-09.

Lyons spent three seasons (2005-07) in NFL Europe for the Cologne Centurions, the last two years as defensive coordinator. Under his tutelage, the Centurions had the league’s top total defense in 2005 and 2007 and the No. 1 pass yardage defense in 2006.

Lyons and the rest of the Wildcats are in the midst of spring football camp, which will wrap up with the annual Blue-White Game on Saturday, May 4, at 12:30 p.m. 

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