Amherst's Bunker, Trinity's Fallas Garner Player of the Year
HADLEY, Mass. – Seniors Eric Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) of Amherst and Walter Fallas (Everett, Mass.) of Trinity have been selected by the conference coaches as the NESCAC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.
Bunker is the first Lord Jeff to earn the league's top offensive honor since 2005 when former wideout Mark Hannon was recognized, and is the first running back since 2004 to be chosen as Offensive Player of the Year, as the last rusher to take the award was Amherst's own Fletcher Ladd. Fallas repeated as Defensive Player of the Year, giving the Bantams the defensive award for the sixth time in the last eight years.
Bunker was tough to stop in 2011, going for a league-leading 106.6 yards per game with a 5.3 per carry average over all eight of Amherst's contests this season. In six separate outings Bunker busted for 100-plus yards, racking up a season-high 143 on 21 carries (6.81 per carry) in a 24-10 victory over Wesleyan on Oct. 22. He also found the end zone a NESCAC-best and program-record 12 times this fall, scoring his record-breaking 12th touchdown during a 31-18 win at Williams in the season finale on Nov. 12, a victory that cemented Amherst's perfect season and second NESCAC title in three years. Against Middlebury in week three, Bunker rushed for a personal-best four touchdowns and went over 1,000 yards for his career in a 48-28 decision. He finished his tenure with the Lord Jeffs with more than 1,500 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns and joined his classmates in going 27-5 over their careers. In addition to being named Offensive Player of the Year, Bunker garnered All-NESCAC honors for the second-straight season, earning First Team recognition a year after receiving Second Team plaudits. He also took home the Golden Helmet award from the New England Football Writers following a stellar week seven showing against Trinity.
Fallas not only came away as the top defensive player in the league for the second year in a row, he also joined a select few in league history by being honored on the All-NESCAC First Team for the third consecutive fall. The senior linebacker captained the best defense in the NESCAC with 55 tackles (23 solo) in seven appearances as he led the Bantams in total stops for the third time in as many years, posting an average of 7.9 per game (12th NESCAC). Fallas also recorded 7.0 tackles for a loss of 35 yards and was in on 4.5 sacks for a total loss of 30 yards.
At quarterback on the All-Conference First Team was sophomore McCallum Foote of Middlebury. In his first season in the NESCAC, Foote was a delight for Panther fans and a nightmare for opposing defenses as he averaged nearly 346 yards through the air in seven outings. He tossed 20 touchdowns, connecting for at least one score in every game and throwing a season-high five in a wild 49-43 victory at Bates on Oct. 22, a performance that earned him the weekly Golden Helmet from the New England Football Writers. Foote was one of the most precise quarterbacks in the conference as he completed .624 percent of his passes with just nine interceptions for a 131.4 efficiency rating. His 2011 performance ranks among the top five all-time in the NESCAC in passing yardage (4th), completions (3rd), attempts (4th), and touchdown passes (3rd).
Joining Eric Bunker at running back on the First Team was a familiar face - younger brother Evan. The Trinity sophomore tied his elder sibling atop the NESCAC in rushing as he headed up the league's best rushing offense with 853 yards on the ground for a 106.6 average over eight games with 4.8 yards per carry. Evan scored six times and went over 100 rushing yards in five games, rolling to a season-high 207 over 30 carries (6.90 yards per carry) during a 9-0 victory at Tufts on Oct. 15.
From NESCAC champion Amherst on the First Team offensive line were junior John Ceccio and sophomore Rob Wasielewski. Ceccio, who was chosen to the First Team for the second-straight year, and Wasielewski contributed to an offense that was second in the conference in rushing with 189.5 yards per game and a league-low six sacks allowed. Moving up from the 2010 Second Team was Trinity junior Mike Valenti. Valenti was part of a Bantam squad that ranked atop the NESCAC in rushing offense and time of possession and second in sacks allowed, surrendering just eight. The three individuals were accompanied by senior Joe Smith of Bowdoin and sophomore Jacob Sheffer of Wesleyan, both first-time All-NESCAC honorees.
Returning to the All-NESCAC First Team at wide receiver was junior standout Darren Hartwell of Williams. Hartwell's 84.1 yards per game ranked second among league receivers, as he amassed 673 yards over 50 receptions (13.5 per catch) with six touchdowns. A pair of seniors wideouts were also recognized on the First Team in Amherst's Ben Kettering and Bates' John Squires. Kettering averaged 9.93 yards per reception over a team-high 30 catches with three touchdowns. Squires was fourth in the conference in receiving yards per game with a 75.1-yard average, as he caught 42 passes for 601 yards, both career-bests, and six touchdowns in his final season with the Bobcats. During the Middlebury setback on Oct. 22, Squires had 11 receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown. At tight end on the First Team was Middlebury junior Billy Chapman. One of Foote's favorite targets this year, Chapman tied for the Panther lead in receptions with 57 and had a team-best 635 yards. On three separate occasions this fall Chapman caught 10-or-more passes in a game.
On the other side of the ball, five defensive linemen from three different squads earned First Team honors with the league's top two defenses taking two spots apiece. The Lord Jeffs' Kevin Ferber claimed First Team for the second year in a row following a senior season in which he made 54 tackles (31 solo) with 15.0 going for a loss of 79 yards, a figure that topped the NESCAC. He set the program record for sacks in a single season with 11, four coming in the Nov. 12 win over Williams, and also forced two fumbles, recovered two, and intercepted a pass. Returning with Ferber from last fall's First Team was Trinity senior Herman Brito. Both men share the distinction of being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team in 2011. Brito, a three-time All-NESCAC honoree and a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete Award, had 37 tackles (23 solo) with 9.5 tackles for a loss of 30 yards and 4.5 sacks. Also on the defensive line were Trinity senior Tom Finnucan, Amherst junior Matt Sponheimer, and Wesleyan senior Colin Hartwig. Of Finnucan's 27 tackles, 11 went for a loss of 49 yards. He recorded four sacks, forced a fumble, and blocked a kick. Sponheimer made 22 tackles with 2.5 going for a loss of 22 yards, while Hartwig made 32 stops and picked off two passes.
At linebacker on the First Team with Trinity's Fallas was the Williams tandem of senior Dylan Schultz and junior Chris Cameron. Leading the Ephs in tackles this season, Schultz, a two-time All-NESCAC First Team selection, was one shy of his career high with 70 stops (45 solo) to pace his squad for the third consecutive year. He recorded 7.5 tackles for a loss of 35 yards, three sacks, four pass break-ups, and forced a fumble. Cameron, the 2009 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, ranked third for Williams with 50 stops (33 solo) and made 8.5 tackles for a loss along with three sacks. Cameron also forced two fumbles. Joining the duo from the Ephs at linebacker were Bates senior Kevin Helm and Amherst junior Matt Pieterse. Helm was second in the conference in both tackles with a career-best 92 (65 solo) and stops for a loss with 12.5 going for 49 yards. Pieterse managed 68 tackles (37 solo), good enough for second among the Jeffs, with 6.5 tackles for a loss.
Four defensive backs from four different teams were selected to the First Team. Back for another tour on the First Team was Williams senior Dan O'Mara. O'Mara finished tied atop the league in interceptions with five picks that he returned 135 yards. He also ended the year second for the Ephs in stops with 53 and forced and recovered a fumble. Juniors Landrus Lewis of Amherst and Rae Haynes of Trinity along with Wesleyan sophomore Jake Bussani were first-time honorees. Lewis made 41 stops, recorded a sack, broke up five passes, intercepted four others, and forced and recovered a fumble. Haynes had 22 tackles, two interceptions, and three pass break-ups. Bussani finished atop the NESCAC in passes defended with eight break-ups and was tied for third in interceptions with four. He also managed 36 tackles (26 solo).
Amherst senior Matt Rawson made his second-straight appearance on the First Team, as he was selected at kicker again and got the nod at punter. A year after establishing the program record for made field goals with nine, Rawson shattered the figure in 2011 with 10, a mark that ties with three other kickers for the most in the NESCAC in a single-season. Rawson owns the Amherst career record for made field goals with 27 and career points as a kicker at 160, going 27-of-35 on field goals and 79-for-84 on PATs. Over 48 punts, Rawson averaged 37.9 yards with 22 punts landing inside the 20-yard line. In addition, Rawson joined teammate Ferber and Trinity's Brito in earning CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades. Williams' Hartwell was honored as the return specialist on the First Team. Hartwell led the NESCAC in all-purpose yards with a 171.2 average, as he racked up 354 kick return yards and 321 punt return yards that tied for the most in a single season in the conference. He returned a punt for a touchdown in an Oct. 22 victory over Tufts.
Rookie of the Year went to Wesleyan's LaDarius Drew (Mesquite, Texas). Drew emerged as the Cardinals' top rusher this season and finished third among all backs in the league, averaging 90.8 yards per game with a 4.2 per carry average. He scored seven touchdowns, three each against Colby and Bates in weeks three and four, respectively, and went over 100 yards in a game on four occasions.
E.J. Mills of Amherst was the unanimous choice for NESCAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career (2009). The honor is not surprising for Mills, as the 15th-year head coach of the Lord Jeffs guided his squad to an unbeaten season and their second conference crown in the last three years. Amherst finished first in the NESCAC in scoring offense, turnover margin (+9), and sacks (28) while ranking second in scoring defense.
2011 NESCAC FOOTBALL ALL-CONFERENCE
|First Team Offense|
|QB||McCallum Foote||Middlebury||So.||Newton, Mass.|
|RB||Eric Bunker||Amherst||Sr.||Topsfield, Mass.|
|RB||Evan Bunker||Trinity||So.||Topsfield, Mass.|
|OL||John Ceccio||Amherst||Jr.||Stony Point, N.Y.|
|OL||Jacob Sheffer||Wesleyan||So.||New Lenox, Ill.|
|OL||Joe Smith||Bowdoin||Sr.||Wilton, Conn.|
|OL||Rob Wasielewski||Amherst||So.||Winnetka, Ill.|
|OL||Mike Valenti||Trinity||Jr.||Bethel, Conn.|
|WR||Darren Hartwell||Williams||Jr.||North Reading, Mass.|
|WR||Ben Kettering||Amherst||Sr.||Fairmont, W. Va.|
|WR||John Squires||Bates||Sr.||Swampscott, Mass.|
|TE||Billy Chapman||Middlebury||Jr.||Greenwich, Conn.|
|First Team Defense|
|DL||Herman Brito||Trinity||Sr.||Wayland, Mass.|
|DL||Kevin Ferber||Amherst||Sr.||Mahwah, N.J.|
|DL||Tom Finnucan||Trinity||Sr.||Orange, Conn.|
|DL||Colin Hartwig||Wesleyan||Sr.||Caldwell, N.J.|
|DL||Matt Sponheimer||Amherst||Jr.||Orange, Conn.|
|LB||Chris Cameron||Williams||Jr.||Walpole, Mass.|
|LB||Walter Fallas||Trinity||Sr.||Everett, Mass.|
|LB||Kevin Helm||Bates||Sr.||Norwell, Mass.|
|LB||Matt Pieterse||Amherst||Jr.||Springfield, Mass.|
|LB||Dylan Schultz||Williams||Sr.||Lanesboro, Mass.|
|DB||Jake Bussani||Wesleyan||So.||Pleasanton, Calif.|
|DB||Rae Haynes||Trinity||Jr.||Hartford, Conn.|
|DB||Landrus Lewis||Amherst||Jr.||Pennsauken, N.J.|
|DB||Dan O'Mara||Williams||Sr.||Pittsburgh, Pa.|
|First Team Specialists|
|PK/P||Matt Rawson||Amherst||Sr.||Bethesda, Md.|
|RS||Darren Hartwell||Williams||Jr.||North Reading, Mass.|
|Second Team Offense|
|QB||Brian McMahon||Amherst||Sr.||Basking Ridge, N.J.|
|RB||Remi Ashkar||Middlebury||Jr.||Glen Rock, N.J.|
|RB||Ben Crick||Trinity||So.||Middlebury, Conn.|
|RB||LaDarius Drew||Wesleyan||Fr.||Mesquite, Texas|
|OL||Pete Christiani||Williams||Jr.||Easton, Conn.|
|OL||Steve Denza||Williams||Sr.||Torrington, Conn.|
|OL||John Gilboy||Colby||Jr.||Saco, Maine|
|OL||Ryan Moores||Middlebury||Jr.||Manchester, Mass.|
|OL||Tim O'Brien||Trinity||Jr.||White Plains, N.Y.|
|WR||Patrick Noone||Bowdoin||Sr.||North Attleboro, Mass.|
|WR||Nick Resor||Middlebury||Sr.||Westwood, Mass.|
|WR||Connor Walsh||Colby||Sr.||Westwood, Mass.|
|TE||Spenser Merwin||Colby||Sr.||Falls Village, Conn.|
|Second Team Defense|
|DL||Dan Canina||Williams||Sr.||Carlisle, Mass.|
|DL||Colin Curzi||Williams||Sr.||Hampton, N.J.|
|DL||Matt DelConte||Trinity||Sr.||Berlin, Conn.|
|DL||Ryan Veillette||Colby||Jr.||Westfield, Mass.|
|DL||Gary Williams||Trinity||Sr.||Plymouth Meeting, Pa.|
|LB||Sam Clark||Amherst||Jr.||Andover, Mass.|
|LB||Stephen Goniprow||Trinity||So.||Barrington, R.I.|
|LB||Mike MacDonald||Hamilton||Jr.||Glen Ridge, N.J.|
|LB||Cyprian Oyomba||Wesleyan||Sr.||Norwalk, Conn.|
|LB||Zack Skarzynski||Tufts||Sr.||Hinsdale, Ill.|
|DB||Sam Diss||Tufts||Jr.||Ridgewood, N.J.|
|DB||Kevin Heller||Amherst||Sr.||Brooklyn, N.Y.|
|DB||Matt Paskalides||Trinity||Sr.||Scarsdale, N.Y.|
|DB||Dan Peters||Hamilton||Jr.||Niskayuna, N.Y.|
|DB||Kyle Starr||Bates||Jr.||Concord, N.H.|
|Second Team Specialists
|PK||Adam Auerbach||Tufts||Sr.||Glen Rock, N.J.|
|P||Jesse Warren||Wesleyan||Fr.||Chicopee, Mass.|
|RS||Dylan Haas||Tufts||Jr.||Yorktown Heights, N.Y.|
|RS||Landrus Lewis||Amherst||Jr.||Pennsauken, N.J.|
|Offensive Player of the Year|
|Defensive Player of the Year|
|Rookie of the Year|
|Coach of the Year|