WILLIAMSPORT — A two-time All-MAC offensive lineman along one of the best lines in Lycoming College football history, Darrin Kenney ’92 was selected for the inclusion in the MAC Hall of Fame Class of 2020, the conference office in Annville, announced on Tuesday.
Kenney joins former head coach, Frank Girardi, who was part of the inaugural class in 2012, along with former teammates Rick Bealer ’91, Ed Dougherty ’92 and Tom Vanaskie ’75 as the fourth football player to be enshrined in the MAC Hall of Fame.
“He certainly could have played at a higher level. He was a very physical kid with some outstanding technique,” Lycoming head coach Frank Girardi (1972-07) said. “For him to go play professionally and to be a part of championships at that level is amazing. He is certainly worthy of getting this award.”
“I wanted to play really bad and I was going to go where the coaches wanted to put me,” Kenney said. “I wanted to win and do what was the best for the team. At times Lycoming was a struggle, I didn’t get a lot of playing time freshman year and had thoughts of transferring. As the summer began, I started getting better and was able to work on myself. I learned a lot of life lessons early on from the coaching staff with Coach Girardi and Coach Wiser and I learned how to push myself to become better.”
A standout on one of the best offensive line units in Lycoming football history, Kenney could line up in each of the five positions to find the matchup against the best defensive player in front of him. The Warriors went 39-7 in his four years, leading the team to three MAC Championships and the program’s first appearance in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the Division III National Championship game, in 1990.
After helping the team to the Stagg Bowl while earning his first All-MAC accolade, he was a consensus All-American in his senior year in 1991, earning First Team Champion USA and Honorable Mention Don Hansen Football Gazette accolades.
“Besides being an outstanding player, he was really versatile,” Girardi said. “He finished playing offensive tackle, but could play anywhere along the line. He had the perfect build for a lineman with long arms and his blocking was just outstanding.”
After graduating, Kenney spent 10 years as a lineman in the Arena Football League (AFL), beginning in the 1993 season as a member of the Tampa Bay Storm, helping the team earn a trip to the Arena Bowl that year. He then moved on to the Albany Firebirds in 1994, helping to bring an American Conference title and Eastern Division crown.
“Dr. (Patrick) Carey (Lycoming’s team physician) got some film together and sent it out to guys he knew that he played with in college (at Temple) or high school (at powerhouse Central Bucks West) who were in the Canadian Football League,” Kenney said. “Some of those teams gave me a tryout and it was because of Doc that I was able to play professionally.”
Kenney was part of another Arena Bowl title in 1997 as a member of the Arizona Rattlers, where he served as team captain in 1999 and 2000. After a season as the offensive line coach at Lycoming College, Kenney joined the San Jose Sabercats in 2001 for a run that included a pair of Western Conference championships and an Arena Bowl title in 2002. He was a team captain in 2002 and 2003, was named the franchise’s Lineman of the Year all three seasons, receiving recognition as a nominee for the AFL’s 15th Anniversary Team.
“If you play at any level professionally, everyone is accomplished athletes from big Division I programs, but there were a few lower division players mixed in,” Kenney said. “My first year I was getting beat by (former Southern California star and four-year NFL player) Keith Browner and other great players every day. I was able to learn a lot from him in that first year about my technique and we ended up winning the AFL championship at Tampa.”
In his second year, Kenney was brought to Albany where head coach Mike Dailey continued to perfect Kenney’s technique.
“If it was not for him, I would not have been in the league for as long as I did,” Kenney said. “I had a lot of coaches through all of my playing career who taught me some very good life lessons both on and off the field. I was someone that was a borderline roster player in the first three years in the league until I worked on the things I needed to do to become one of the sought after free agents. That is because a lot of coaches believed in me.”
Following the conclusion of his playing career, Kenney spent three seasons as a line coach and Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the AFL’s Nashville Kats (2004-2006), then served in the same capacity for the Grand Rapids Rampage (2007-2009), for whom he scouted and evaluated prospects from a variety of leagues, coordinated both lines, and assisted the head coach in implementing plans for all three phases of the game.
“Darrin is certainly very deserving of the award,” Lycoming College football head coach and former teammate Mike Clark ’93 said. “He was an excellent player for us. A captain of ’91 team, then he went to play professionally in the AFL. From being under recruited, to playing at Lycoming, it is special to see a Division III player accomplish all that he did.”
Kenney has worked for TD Bank in Philadelphia for the past 10 years and has continued to coach and spread his love for the game of football, recently serving as part of Chestnut Hill College’s sprint football staff for five seasons as the offensive line coach.
“Having been teammates with him is even more special to see him go into the Hall of Fame,” Clark said. “Coach Girardi could move him along the line to the best defender, which is very rare for a traditional offense, and it speaks to his abilities. He came in an worked from day one. He filled out during his time here, always played hard and really worked to develop into the unbelievable player he became.”
Kenney was inducted in the Lycoming College Hall of Fame in 2002. He was included on the MAC Century Team in 2012.
Kenney and his wife, Loulie, reside in Chalfont, with their two sons, Colin, a freshman at La Salle University and Ryan, a junior at Central Bucks South High School.
Kenney and fellow 2020 MAC Hall of Fame inductee Ron “Buddy” Knoebel ‘65 (wrestling) are the 10th and 11th Warriors to enter the MAC Hall of Fame, joining Frank Girardi (football), Budd Whitehill (wrestling), Bill Bachardy ‘67 (wrestling), Rick Bealer ‘91 (football), Denise (Zimmerman) Null ‘85 (women’s swimming), Ed Dougherty ‘92 (football), Royce Eyer ‘01 (wrestling), Thomas I. Vanaskie ‘75 (football) and Erica (Weaver) Wagner ’98.