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His senior season, and college football-playing career ended on Nov. 9, when Bowdoin bounced NESCAC rival Colby, 32-22, in Brunswick.
Joey Cleary had capped his stellar campaign with 14 tackles for the the host Polar Bears.
More than a week later, the Winchester High graduate was sitting in class, perusing Facebook, when a friend alerted Cleary to a news flash: the NESCAC coaches had voted the 6-foot-1, 207-pound linebacker the Defensive Player of the Year.
Cleary is the first Bowdoin player to garner the honor in the conference’s 14-year history.
“To be honest with you, I was pretty surprised,” said Cleary, later explaining that the top awards usually go to players on the league’s best teams.” Bowdoin finished 3-5.