Matt Gardner has returned to Sacred Heart as the football team’s offensive coordinator and running backs’ coach.
Head Football Coach Mark Nofri announced Gardner’s new position Jan. 10. “I’m pleased to welcome Coach Gardner back to our coaching staff and excited to have him as our offensive coordinator,” said Nofri. “He was instrumental in the resurgence of our program, and his knowledge of our schemes and personnel makes him the perfect fit as we move into the future.”
Gardner was an assistant coach at SHU from 2008 to 2015 and previously served as quarterbacks’ coach and recruiting coordinator from 2012 to 14. He also was the passing game coordinator in 2015.
The SHU offense led the Northeast Conference (NEC) in total offense in 2013 and 2014 during both of its NEC Championship years. While here, Gardner coached and mentored R.J. Noel, who was a three-time All-NEC First Team quarterback and the 2013 NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Gardner returns to SHU after serving as the quarterbacks’ coach and passing game coordinator at Lake Forest College, Illinois. Last fall, the Foresters had their best offensive season, statistically averaging 38.6 points and 439.9 yards per game. While at Lake Forest, Gardner coached and mentored wide receiver Alex Pasiewicz, who was named a 2016 First Team All-American by D3Football.com and the American Football Coaches Association.
“I’m excited to return to Sacred Heart,” Gardner said. “The University has given so much to me in the past. I’m looking forward to getting back to work with Coach Nofri and the rest of his staff to keep up the current success for Pioneer football both on and off the field.”
He came to Sacred Heart in 2008 after four coaching seasons with the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League, where he coached the wide receivers and linebackers and oversaw all aspects of special teams. Following the 2004 and 2005 Crush seasons, Gardner served as linebackers’ coach at Division III Fitchburg State University, Massachusetts. He helped the New England Football Conference (NEFC) school reach back-to-back appearances in the NEFC’s championship game and the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s North Atlantic Bowl. In 2005, the Falcons were the conference’s top-ranked defense.
Prior to joining the Crush, Gardner spent one season coaching wide receivers and assisting with special teams at his alma mater, Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Gardner played wide receiver for four seasons at Randolph-Macon, from 1999 to 2002.
Gardner earned a master’s degree from Sacred Heart University in May, 2011. His return to SHU coincides with the close of the Pioneers’ fourth consecutive winning season.