Head Coach Raymond Monica
Three years into his tenure as the head football coach at Arkansas Tech, Raymond Monica took the Wonder Boys back to the postseason for the first time since 2009.
In his fifth season, Monica duplicated that feat with Tech's second postseason berth in three years - a date with traditional powerhouse Pittsburg State in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl.
As he sets his sights on his sixth year at the helm of the Arkansas Tech program and beyond, Monica has his sights set higher; and with a stellar coaching staff and an elite recruiting effort, it would not be wise to bet against him.
After being picked to finish sixth in the 2017 preseason poll, Monica led the Wonder Boys to eight regular-season wins, opening the season with back-to-back wins over nationally-ranked opposition. For their performances in the regular season, a dozen Wonder Boys earned their way onto all-GAC squads, with Chris Eastburn, Trey Bradley, KJ Reid, Cua' Rose, Braden Stringer, and Cornelius Dortch all garnering first-team selections.
Monica and the Wonder Boys finished the 2016 season with a 6-5 record and a sixth-place finish in the Great American Conference. Special teams played a critical role in Tech's second consecutive winning season, as the Wonder Boys led Division II in net punting, while ranking second in the GAC in punt return yards and third in kickoff coverage. Eight Wonder Boys earned all-conference selections, including All-GAC First Team selection Clayton Watson. Watson and Chris Eastburn were also named to the 2016 Don Hansen Division II All-America Team.
The Wonder Boys picked up a big win in the Heart of Texas Bowl to cap a 9-3 campaign in 2015, a six-win improvement from his 2014 squad. Senior linebacker Logan Genz anchored the GAC's second-ranked defense and concluded his career as not only the leading tackler in Arkansas Tech history, but the fourth-leading tackler in the history of Division II.
While the defense has continued to improve gradually, the Wonder Boys' offense went from being the GAC's lowest-ranked offense to the second-most potent unit in the league in just one season.
The resulting nine-win campaign was only the ninth time in school history that the nine-win threshold has been met, and ranks as the fourth-highest win total in school history.
Genz was honored as the GAC's Defensive Player of the Year, was a second-team all-region pick and was a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, while ten other Wonder Boys earned all-GAC honors. Chris Eastburn, Demetris Ford, and Clayton Watson were first-team picks, while Eric Perez, Cua' Rose, Bryan Allen, Arsenio Favor, Trey Martin, Bruce Livingston and K.J. Reid also earned selections.
The foundations for the current success was laid in his first two seasons at Arkansas Tech, where the Wonder Boys fought through growing pains but showed flashes of what was on full display this past season.
Monica's first season at Arkansas Tech saw the Wonder Boys post a 5-6 record, going 5-5 in Great American Conference play, and featured great improvements on the defensive side of the football, with Deandre' Bonner capturing AP Little All-America honors after the season.
The improvements on the defensive side of the ball continued in the 2014 campaign, as the Wonder Boys' defensive unit held opponents to just 344 yards and 24 points per game. Shai Kobayashi was a third-team all-American, while being joined by Logan Genz and Wesley McKinney on all-Region squads. Nine Wonder Boys earned all-GAC honors on the season, and Genz became Arkansas Tech's all-time tackles leader with a 14-tackle performance in the season finale against Harding.
Prior to joining the Wonder Boys program, Monica spent seven seasons as the head coach at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pa., leading the Golden Bears to a cumulative overall record of 45-34, two NCAA Division II Playoffs appearances (2010 and 2011) and their first Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference championship (2011).
In addition, Kutztown achieved its highest national ranking ever (No. 6 in 2011) and established a new record for most wins in a single season in the 97-year history of the program (11 in 2011) under Monica's leadership.
Monica was named PSAC and NCAA Division II Super Region 1 coach of the year in 2010 and 2011.
A native of Garyville, La., graduated from East St. John's High School in Reserve, La., and began his college career at Nicholls State University (La.).After one football season with the Colonels, Monica transferred to Northeast Mississippi Junior College and was a two-time all-state selection at quarterback.
Monica began his coaching career as a student assistant at Northeast Mississippi Junior College in 1988.
The course of Monica's career was set in 1989 when he enrolled at the University of North Alabama and joined the football staff as a student assistant coach overseeing the running backs.
Monica earned his Bachelor of Science degree in health, physical education and recreation from North Alabama in 1990. He was hired as a full-time assistant football coach at North Alabama following his graduation.
While on staff at his alma mater, Monica was a part of one of the most storied dynasties in NCAA Division II football history.
North Alabama won consecutive NCAA Division II national championships in 1993, 1994 and 1995 under the direction of head coach Bobby Wallace. UNA was 41-1 during those three championship seasons. Monica served as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the Lions.
In December 1997, Monica moved with Wallace to NCAA Division I member Temple University. Monica served as the Owls' defensive coordinator for eight seasons, and from 1999-2005 he carried the title and responsibilities of assistant head coach.
Monica was hailed by Sports Illustrated in 2003 as one of college football's seven "Wise Guides."
The article described him as "the best in the nation at getting ordinary players to do extraordinary things."
Perhaps the most extraordinary accomplishment of Monica's coaching career thus far came in 2011 when he helped Kutztown end a 60-year wait for its first PSAC championship in football.
The 2011 Golden Bears finished with an overall record of 11-2 and 6-1 mark in PSAC play. They established new school records for wins, points (487), touchdowns (68), interceptions (25) and quarterback sacks (35).
Kutztown won its final four games of the 2012 season to finish 7-4 overall.
Monica and his wife, Linda, are parents of Ray, Lindsey and Austin. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health, physical education and recreation from the University of North Alabama in 1990.