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Beane makes Harlon Hill finals

December 02, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - In just four years, Damian Beane has ruled the town and owned the West Virginia Conference.

Now, in his final days as a collegian, the Shepherd College senior running back will get his chance to branch out by taking Alabama by storm, all while making a mark on the world of college football.

Beane was announced as one of three finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy Thursday, giving him the chance to let everyone know what the Rams have known since he stepped on campus in 1996 - he's become one of the best small school football players in the country.

"It feels great," Beane said Thursday during Shepherd's men's basketball opener at the Butcher Center. "I'd love to win it, but to be one of the top three in the country out of all the players who play on 145 schools in Division II, it must prove that I did something to have all those voters notice me."

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Beane was more than just noticeable - he excelled.

The Harlon Hill Trophy is Division II's version of the Heisman Trophy. Beane will join Northern Colorado quarterback Corte McGuffey and American International tailback Kavin Guilliard for the 14th presentation of the honor on Dec. 10 in Florence, Ala., before the Division II championship.

"I'm so excited for him and I'm proud of him," Shepherd coach Monte Cater said. "We hoped he would be able to make it to the finalists .... I'd love to see what he looks like in a tux."

Beane has been nominated for the Harlon Hill for each of the last three seasons, reaching the final eight last year.

The 5-foot-9 back was named the WVC's Player of the Year each of the last three seasons, rushing for a career total of 6,346 yards, which ranks second all-time in Division II. He became only the fourth player in Division II history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in all four of his collegiate seasons. He ran for 1,623 yards on 289 carries in 1999 for a 165.2-yard average while leading the Rams to a 9-2 record, a third straight WVC title and a second straight berth in the 16-team Division II playoffs. Beane finished by tying the NCAA all-division record of 34 100-yard games.

"It's great to see him get the exposure," Cater said. "The big thing is that he has done this four four years while being as durable and productive as he has. He has set some tough standards to meet."

The Harlon Hill Trophy will be one of overall achievement this year as all three finalists will use the award ceremony to close out oustanding careers.

McGuffey in the award's final three for the second straight year, finishing second to all-time leading rusher Brian Shay last season. Gailliard led Division II in rushing, scoring and all--purpose yards this season. He had 2,455 yards in 11 games this season.

"I think all of us will be bringing different aspects to the table," Beane said. "I bring some great stats and we have got to the playoffs for the last two years."

Getting to the finals is one thing, but to Beane, there is one thing that could have made it all better.

"Like I said before, it would have been a perfect ending if we were down there playing for the national title at the same time as I was down there to for the award," Beane said. "We didn't get to the finals, but getting this other part is just as special."

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