Foote and Cleary Earn Player of the Year Awards After Dynamic Seasons
– Senior quarterback McCallum
Foote (Newton, Mass.) of Middlebury and senior linebacker
Joey Cleary (Winchester, Mass.) of Bowdoin have
been selected by the conference coaches as the NESCAC Offensive and
Defensive Players of the Year. Foote is the third player in league
history to earn the league’s top offensive award twice,
joining former Williams quarterbacks Joe Reardon (2001, 2002) and
Patrick Lucey (2006, 2007). Meanwhile, Cleary became the first
player in Polar Bear history to receive the conference’s top
Foote (pictured right) closed out his career with a stellar senior campaign. He paced the NESCAC in passing yards (2,766) and touchdowns (26) while completing 61.5 percent (259-421) of his throws. Foote led all Division III quarterbacks with an average of 32.38 completions per game and ranked second in passing yards per game (345.8).
Foote was named NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week on two occasions this year. He also earned the prestigious Gold Helmet Award for the third time in his career after completing 25 of 29 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns in Middlebury’s 40-13 win versus Hamilton on November 2. Over the course of the season, he piled up 400 or more yards through the air twice and tossed three or more touchdown passes on four occasions for the 7-1 Panthers. Foote set a new Middlebury record and tied the NESCAC mark with seven touchdown passes in the season finale against Tufts. The three-time First Team All-NESCAC performer ended his career with 8,083 passing yards on 742 completions at a 62.5 completion rate en route to a Panther record 77 touchdown passes.
In addition to being named Defensive Player of the Year, Cleary also received All-NESCAC First Team recognition for the first time in his career. The linebacker amassed a league-best 99 tackles, which was the highest total in the conference since 2009 and tied for the third most stops in Bowdoin single-season history. He registered 10 or more tackles in six games with a season-high 19 tackles coming against Bates on November 2. Cleary also recorded 8.5 tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Trinity running back Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) was named to the All-Conference First Team for the third year in a row. The 2010 Rookie of the Year headed up the league’s second-best rushing offense with 751 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. He averaged 93.9 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry. Bunker wrapped up his career with an 85-yard performance in the Bantams’ 40-10 win over Wesleyan to become the all-time leading rusher in NESCAC history with 3,828 career yards. During the season, he reached the century mark on five occasions.
LaDarius Drew (Mesquite, Texas) of Wesleyan received First Team recognition after being named All-NESCAC Second Team and NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2011. The junior running back led the conference with 756 rushing yards on 164 carries and compiled ten touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in three games, including his 167-yard, two-touchdown performance in Wesleyan’s 34-14 win at Bowdoin on October 26. Drew was joined on the First Team by teammate Kevin Hughes (Boxborough, Mass.), who was third on the Cardinal squad with 28 receptions out of the backfield for 273 yards and three scores.
Bates senior Shawn Doherty (Mansfield, Mass.) rounded out the First Team backfield after amassing a league-best 156.6 all-purpose yards per game for the top rushing team in the NESCAC (231.5 yards per game). He rushed 93 times for 541 yards and three touchdowns, made 16 receptions for 116 yards and compiled 597 yards on kickoff returns. Doherty turned in the conference’s top rushing performance on September 28 versus Tufts when he rushed for 182 yards on 24 carries to go along with a pair of touchdowns.
The offensive line selections featured three previous honorees and a pair of first-time picks. Wesleyan senior Jacob Scheffer (New Lenox, Ill.) and Amherst senior Rob Wasielewski (Winnetka, Ill.) were named to the All-NESCAC First Team for the third year in a row, while Bates senior Liam O’Neil (Hingham, Mass.) moved up to the First Team after receiving Second Team recognition in 2012. Newcomers to the all-conference squad included senior Jack Allard (Natick, Mass.) of Middlebury and junior Joe Magardino (Chappaqua, N.Y.) of Trinity. For the second consecutive year, Scheffer helped the Cardinals lead the NESCAC in time of possession (33:32) and was part of an offensive line that surrendered a league-low five sacks in eight games. Wasielewski anchored a line that helped produce the second-best passing offense (214.6 yards per game) and the fourth-best rushing offense (132.2 yards per game). O’Neil paved the way for Bates’ rushing game that averaged a league-best 231.5 yards per game. With Magardino leading the charge, Trinity rushed for 220.8 yards per game, which ranked second in the conference. Allard was one of the players who allowed Middlebury to throw for a NESCAC-best 442.2 yards per contest.
Returning to the All-NESCAC First Team at wide receiver for the second year in a row was Amherst senior Jake O'Malley (Medfield, Mass.). O’Malley was among the league leaders with 32 receptions for 416 yards and five touchdowns. His best performance of the season came in a 14-10 victory at Colby on October 12 when he caught five passes for 105 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown catch.
Junior Luke Duncklee (Augusta, Maine) of Colby was voted to the First Team receiving corps after leading the league with 61 receptions and finishing third in receiving yards per game (74.9). Against Tufts on November 2, he pulled down 12 passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns, including a 70-yard grab. Joining Duncklee on the all-conference squad is Middlebury sophomore Matthew Minno (Tallahasse, Fla.). Minno paced the league with 84.6 receiving yards per game to go along with 50 receptions and eight touchdowns. His biggest reception of the season came against Trinity on October 26 when he caught a seven-yard touchdown pass that put Middlebury ahead, 26-24, with 1:12 remaining in the game.
Panther teammate William Sadik-Khan (Chappaqua, N.Y.) garnered his first All-NESCAC selection at tight end. He was one of Foote’s favorite targets during the season, as he led the league with 12 touchdowns and ranked second in receptions (59) and receiving yards per game (79.1). The senior went over 100 yards twice, collecting three touchdowns in wins over Hamilton and Tufts to close out the season.
Junior Nik Powers (New York, N.Y.) of Wesleyan was named to the First Team defense for the second consecutive season after finishing fourth on the Cardinal squad with 33 tackles. He was at his best in a 20-14 win at Amherst, when he posted a sack and two tackles for loss. Powers also recovered two fumbles.
Joining Powers as First Team defensive linemen were first-time all-conference selections junior Mike De Percin (Albany, N.Y.) of Hamilton, sophomore James Howe of Williams (Charlotte, N.C.) and junior Max Lehrman (Washington, D.C.) of Amherst.
Howe was a terror for opposing offenses for the Ephs, amassing a NESCAC-best 10.0 sacks and ranking second in the conference with 17 tackles for loss. The sophomore paced Williams with 55 tackles and 40 solo stops. He posted his best game of the season versus Hamilton on October 26 in a 24-0 victory when he registered 3.5 sacks and seven tackles, recovered two fumbles and forced one.
De Percin and Lehrman nearly spent as much time in opposing backfields as Howe did. De Percin ranked among the league leaders with 9.5 tackles for loss to go along with 32 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Meanwhile, Lehrman ranked third in the conference with 6.5 sacks and added 29 tackles with 7.5 tackles resulting in lost yardage.
Cleary (pictured right) was joined on the First Team linebacker corps by a lone returning all-conference pick and two other first-time selections. Amherst’s Danny Chun (Monroe, N.Y.) was promoted to the All-NESCAC First Team after being named to the Second Team last year. The senior was among the Lord Jeff leaders in tackles (43), tackles for loss (4.5) and interceptions (2). He was joined by junior teammate Chris Tamasi (Canton, Mass.), who registered a league-best 18 tackles for loss. He also compiled a team-high 62 tackles, including 53 solo stops.
Trinity senior Mike Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) ended the season ranked fifth among all NESCAC players with 11 tackles for loss, while finishing second on the Bantams with 53 tackles to go along with one interception.
Four of the five defensive backs to be selected to this year’s All-NESCAC First Team were repeat all-conference selections. Wesleyan had two players selected from a defense that allowed the fewest passing yards in the league with 141.2 yards per game. Senior Jake Bussani (Pleasanton, Calif.) garnered his third consecutive First Team nod after breaking up four passes and picking off two. He also forced a pair of fumbles, recovered a fumble and chipped in with 27 tackles. Bussani came up big for the Cardinals in their 16-14 win versus Williams on November 2, as he tallied nine tackles, forced a fumble, had an interception, broke up two passes and blocked a late first-half field goal. Junior Donnie Cimino (Westwood, N.H.) was elevated from the 2012 Second Team after leading Wesleyan with 27 solo tackles and tying for second on the squad with 35 tackles.
Bates’ Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) landed on the First Team for the second straight season after being named to the 2010 Second Team. The senior amassed a league-best 60 solo tackles, while finishing tied for second among NESCAC players with 81 tackles and contributed 7.5 tackles for loss. Kukesh had three interceptions to finish his career with 17 total interceptions.
Senior Landrus Lewis (Pennsauken, N.J.) of Amherst was named to his second All-NESCAC First Team following his selection to the First Team in 2011. He was part of the Lord Jeff defense that posted a conference-high 20 interceptions, and recorded three picks of his own. Lewis registered 33 tackles (28 solo), broke up four passes and tallied one sack.
Trinity junior Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.) rounded out this year’s First Team defensive back unit. He led the Bantams with 54 tackles, recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass.
On special teams, Amherst place-kicker Phillip Nwosu (Derwood, Md.) was voted to the First Team after connecting on a league-best 10 field goals this year. The junior was also 19 for 20 on point after attempts to finish tied for fourth in the conference with 49 points. Trinity punter Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) received his second straight First Team nod. The sophomore punter ranked second in the conference with an average of 39.2 yards per punt and pinned opponents inside the 20 on 12 occasions. He boomed a 59-yarder in a 48-13 win versus Hamilton on October 5. First-year Mike Rando (Walpole, Mass.) of Tufts garnered all-conference recognition as a return specialist after logging a combined 581 kickoff and punt return yards in seven games for the Jumbos.
Trinity quarterback Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) joined Bunker (2010) and Michael Blair (2002 Defensive Rookie of the Year) as the third player in program history to earn NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors. The first-year player made an immediate impact for the Bantams, as he passed for 950 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for another 191 yards and one touchdown. Puzzo (pictured right) ranked seventh in the league with 142.6 yards of total offense per game for the conference’s highest-scoring offense that averaged 32.4 points per contest.
Football All-Conference Teams