LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – Slippery Rock University football coach George Mihalik was named Coach of the Year, defensive end Marcus Martin (West Mifflin, Pa./West Mifflin) was named Defensive Player of the Year and 12 SRU players were honored Thursday when the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference announced the All-PSAC Western Division team for the 2015 season.
MIhalik was named the PSAC Western Division Coach of the Year for the sixth time, including the second in the last three years. Martin, just a sophomore, earned his second major award in as many seasons after taking home the PSAC West Freshman of the Year honor last fall. Slippery Rock had a total of 12 players in 13 positions named to All-PSAC honors, including eight players in nine positions on the first team and an additional four players on the second team.
"They should rename the award and make it the 'Coaching Staff of the Year'," said Mihalik. "I'm very honored and this was really unexpected. I can't thank our staff here at The Rock enough for all the dedication they put in to make our football program as good as it can be. They all share this honor with me. We wouldn't be where we are today without our incredible staff."
Senior punter and placekicker Andrew Huska (Ford City, Pa./Ford City) was named to first team honors both as a placekicker and as a punter. Huska joined junior running back Shamar Greene (Duquesne, Pa./West Mifflin), senior right tackle Cory Tucker (South Park, Pa./South Park) and junior center Joe LoSchiavo (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) on the offensive first team and joined Martin, junior defensive tackle Joe Phillips (Washington, Pa./Washington), junior linebacker Bob Vernick (Butler, Pa./Butler) and senior linebacker Teven Williams (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) on the first team defense. The Rock offense landed three players on the second team, including senior running back Julian Durden (McKees Rocks, Pa./Mountour), senior left guard Kyle Henderson (Moon Township, Pa./Moon) and senior tight end Brett Crenshaw (Monessen, Pa./Monessen). Senior nose guard Avery Anderson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) represents SRU on the second team defense to round out The Rock's All-PSAC selections.
Slippery Rock, ranked No. 10 in the latest Division II national rankings, won the PSAC title for the second straight year and became the first team to repeat as champion since the championship game was reinstated in 2008. The Rock earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Division II playoffs and will host their first home playoff game since 1999 when Virginia Union visits Mihalik-Thompson Stadium Saturday at noon. Below is a brief look at what landed each of The Rock's 12 players on the All-PSAC team this fall.
• DE - Marcus Martin – Defensive Player of the Year – 1st Team Defense Martin leads all active NCAA football players at any division in career sacks per game at 1.13. No other active player at any level of college football averages more than 1.00. Martin earns his second first team All-PSAC honor in just two years. He currently ranks third on SRU with 63 total tackles and leads the team with 14.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks. Martin has also recovered three fumbles, forced two fumbles, recorded two pass breakups and been credited with an additional eight QB hurries.
• RB - Shamar Greene – 1st Team Offense Greene earns his second straight first team honor and the third straight honor of his career after being named a second team All-PSAC selection as a freshman. Despite missing 2.5 games this season with an injury, Greene has rushed for 1,162 yards and 10 touchdowns. He ranks second in the PSAC, first in the PSAC West and ninth in the nation in rushing at 129.1 yards per game. Greene is the first SRU running back since Josh Kniess in 2004-05 to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
• RT – Cory Tucker – 1st Team Offense Tucker earns his third straight first team All-PSAC honor after starting every game at right tackle this season for the nation's best offense. A 2014 national finalist for the Gene Upshaw Lineman of the Year honor, Tucker seals the edge for the No. 1 scoring offense in the country as SRU averages 48.7 points per game. The Rock own the No. 4 total offense in the nation (517.1 yards per game) and the No. 8 rushing offense in the country (283.5 yards per game).
• C – Joe LoSchiavo – 1st Team Offense LoSchiavo earns his second straight All-PSAC honor after being named to the second team last year. In addition to helping block for the numbers listed above, LoSchiavo has held down the middle of the line that has shattered SRU program records for rushing, rushing TDs and total scoring this fall. The Rock have rushed for 3,118 yards as a team this fall, breaking the record set in 1997. SRU has also rushed for 41 touchdowns and scored 536 points this year.
• P/PK – Andrew Huska – 1st Team Offense and 1st Team Defense Huska pulled off the rare double by being chosen as the best punter and kicker in the conference by the league's coaches. He has kicked an incredible 41 touchbacks on kickoffs this year. The next highest total for any team in the PSAC is just 16. Huska also leads the PSAC in punting, averaging 42.0 yards per punt and broke the SRU record for longest punt ever recorded with a 78-yard boomer against Gannon this fall.
• DT – Joe Phillips – 1st Team Defense Phillips earns his second straight All-PSAC recognition after being named to second team honors last fall. A staple in the middle of The Rock's front four, Phillips has recorded 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this fall. He helps bolster the nation's best run defense as Slippery Rock allows just 62.9 yards per game on the ground.
• LB – Bob Vernick – 1st Team Defense Vernick earns his first career All-PSAC honor after having the best season of his Rock career. The leader on the team for tackles most of the season, Vernick has recorded 73 total stops, including a career-high 11.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He has also recorded one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.
• LB – Teven Williams – 1st Team Defense Williams has lived up to expectations after leading Youngstown State in tackles for three straight years as a middle linebacker before transferring to SRU for his senior year. Despite moving to the outside linebacker spot, Williams leads the team with 77 tackles, including 13.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. He also has one fumble recovery, one interception and three pass breakups this season. Williams recorded nine solo tackles in the PSAC Championship game last week.
• RB – Julian Durden – 2nd Team Offense Slippery Rock had two of the six running backs honored by the league as Durden picks up his first career All-PSAC honor. The senior is having a breakout year and has rushed for a career-high 845 yards and 19 touchdowns, the third most in a single-season in SRU history and the fourth most in the nation this year. Durden averages 76.8 yards per game and 5.6 yards per touch.
• LG – Kyle Henderson – 2nd Team Offense A long overdue honor for Henderson, who picks up his first career All-PSAC recognition after starting the last 36 straight games at The Rock. Henderson moved from tackle to guard this season to help lock down the middle of the line and that move has helped SRU to break the all-time program record for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in a season.
• TE – Brett Crenshaw – 2nd Team Offense Crenshaw, a fifth-year member of the program and a team captain, earns his first career All-PSAC honor as a blocking tight end and special teams standout. Crenshaw began his SRU career as a running back, but made the move to tight end this year to help fill a void on the team.
• NG – Avery Anderson – 2nd Team Defense Anderson earns his first career All-PSAC honor after locking down the center of the line for the nation's best run defense all year. He has recorded 42 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. He has also forced one fumble. Anderson and Phillips teamed together to form one of the best 1-2 punches in the center of any defensive line in the league.
For the second straight year Slippery Rock University offensive lineman Cory Tucker has been named one of eight national finalists for the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award, as announced Thursday in a release from the Manheim Touchdown Club. The Gene Upshaw Award has been presented annually by the Manheim Touchdown Club since 2004 and recognizes the best offensive or defensive lineman in Division II football.
The sports information directors of all NCAA Division II football playing institutions vote on the award. Tucker, a redshirt senior from South Park, Pa., is one of only two offensive linemen in the eight finalists this year and is the only offensive tackle in the country to make the list. This marks the third time since 2010 that a Slippery Rock player has appeared among the national finalists. Brandon Fusco, now starting for the Minnesota Vikings, won the award in 2010 and Tucker was also a finalist in 2014.
"Cory Tucker has become one of the best offensive linemen in the nation," said Rock head coach George Mihalik. "Our offense is only as good as the line and Cory has been the guy leading us up front for four years now. Not only does he do an outstanding job in run and pass block schemes, he's also a driving force in our line being able to move faster than any other team in the country. We run so many plays per game because he leads the line to the ball every down. Cory is an outstanding student and an outstanding captain on our football team. He is very deserving of this great honor and was very humble last year in finding out that he was a finalist. I am confident in saying he deserves a place among the finalists again this year. We wouldn't be where we are offensively without Cory."
Earlier in the day Thursday Tucker was named to first team All-Conference honors in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division for the third consecutive year. He has started an incredible 45 straight games over the last four years and is in the midst of his best season yet, helping The Rock's offense to the top of multiple categories in the national statistical rankings. Slippery Rock owns the nation's best scoring offense at 48.7 points per game, has the fourth best total offense in the country at 517.1 yards per game and the eighth best rushing offense in the country at 283.5 yards per game. The Rock have picked up 288 first downs this year, the fifth best total in the nation, and have run more plays than anyone, twice reaching 100 plays in a game and currently averaging 87.4 plays per game.
Slippery Rock, ranked No. 10 in the latest national poll and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA playoffs, has shattered the program single-season scoring record and has 536 points through 11 games. The Rock have also shattered the rushing TD record and now have 41, the fifth most in the nation. Slippery Rock has also broken the program rushing record and now has 3,118 rushing yards on the year and has tied the all-time touchdown record with 73 on the year.
Slippery Rock won the PSAC West for the third straight year and the PSAC overall title for the second straight year. SRU is 10-1 entering the playoffs, marking the first 10-win season for the program since 1999. The Rock will host No. 7 seed Virginia Union in the opening round Saturday at noon. Six defensive linemen, including West Chester's Andrew Cohen, join Tucker on the national list of finalists.
The only other offensive lineman on the finalist list is Lenoir-Rhyne guard Joe Ray. The voting will take place over the next week and the winner will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 2. The winner will be invited to compete in the annual East-West Shrine Game in Florida this spring and will be honored at the Manheim Touchdown Club's annual banquet in May. The NFL recognizes and supports the winner of the annual award by guaranteeing a place in the East-West Shrine game. The support comes as recognition and appreciation for the late Gene Upshaw, who was an All-Pro lineman for the Oakland Raiders and later served as the director of the NFL Players Association for 25 years.
• Women’s basketball — The Lady Wolverines opened the 2015-16 season by rolling to a recent 78-59 victory over host Pitt-Greensburg in non-conference action at Chambers Hall.
Kathryn Erbelding paced Grove City with 24 points and a game-high 8 rebounds. Sophomore guard Lexie Arkwright (Mercer High) fired in 14 points, while Laura Buchanan added 11 points and 6 rebounds. Grove City (1-0) forced 36 turnovers and limited the Bobcats to 15 of 45 (33 percent) shooting from the field. Arkwright and Natalija Galens both recorded 6 steals, while Erbelding had 4 steals. Grove City took the lead for good late in the 1st quarter by assembling a 10-0 run after trailing 11-10.
McKenzie Black ignited the run with a jumper while Erbelding followed with consecutive baskets. Sophomore forward Jenn Ferguson (Grove City High) and Buchanan closed the spurt with back-to-back field goals. The Wolverines led 23-16 after the 1st quarter and extended the lead to 40-25 by halftime. GCC led 60-41 after 30 minutes. Grove City shot 30 of 62 (48 percent) from the floor. The Wolverines also outrebounded Pitt-Greensburg, 40-31. Teresa Dallatore recorded a game-high 4 assists. Sylvia Stuart led Pitt-Greensburg with 20 points.
• Men’s basketball –- The Wolverines held a halftime lead, but 15 missed free throws and a 25-5 Pitt-Greensburg run spanning 11-plus 2nd-half boosted the host Bobcats, 79-73, in non-conference action at Chambers Hall Gymnasium recently. Joe Vermilya led Grove City (1-1) for the 2nd straight game with 16 points while Tyler McGrath posted a career-high 15 points in 21 minutes off the bench. Cory Huff and Caleb Knudsen each contributed 12 points with Huff adding a team-high 6 rebounds. GCC shot 28-58 (48 percent) from the field, including 9-19 (47 percent) from 3-point range but made just 8 of 23 free throws (35 percent) compared to a 21-25 (84 percent) performance at the line for the Bobcats.
©2015 the Allied News (Grove City, Pa.)
Visit the Allied News (Grove City, Pa.) at www.alliednews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.