BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. Ten members of the West Liberty University football team earned All-Mountain East Conference recognition on Tuesday when the inaugural All-MEC team was announced.
Two of the Hilltoppers' senior defensive standouts - nose tackle Nate Maleski, a former Bridgeport Bulldog, and weak safety Marquis Bradley - were first-team selections in the voting conducted by the league coaches.
Five West Liberty players - Sawyer Russell, Andrew Faraimo, Jovontae Johnson, Bryan Arbes and Griffin Yocum - were second-team picks while River graduate Dylan Potts, Zack Turley and Darnell Vickers all received honorable mention.
Unbeaten MEC champion Shepherd, which earned the No. 1 seed in this weekend's NCAA Division II Super Region One playoffs, dominated the All-MEC team with 11 first-team picks. No other school had more than 5 players named to the All-MEC first team.
Shepherd's Monte Cater was named MEC Coach of the Year while the Rams' Robert Hayes earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Urbana QB D.J. Mendenhall was the Offensive Player of the Year with Shepherd's Jabre Lolley and Octavius Thomas, respectively, taking the Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year Awards.
Following are brief capsules on West Liberty's All-MEC selections:
Maleski, a 6-2, 300-pound senior from Bridgeport, Ohio, anchored the middle of West Liberty's defensive front from his nose tackle spot. The 4-year letterman, who was an honorable-mention All-WVIAC pick last fall, ranked fourth on the team this year with 58 total tackles and was No. 2 with 9 tackles-for-loss to go along with a pair of quarterback sacks.
Bradley, a 5-10, 215-pound senior from Los Angeles, Calif., led the team with 87 tackles including 55 solo shots from his weak safety spot after earning All-WVIAC honorable mention at linebacker a year ago. Also charted with 3.5 tackles-for-loss, an interception with an 18-year runback, 2 pass break-ups and 3 passes defended.
Sawyer Russell, a 6-4, 305-pound senior from Buchanan, Va., was a three-year starter who started all 11 games on the WLU offensive front this fall at right tackle or right guard. Also regarded as one of the premier long-snappers in the MEC for the past four seasons.
Andrew Faraimo, a 5-10, 205-pound sophomore from Long Beach, Calif., was one of the Hilltoppers' best playmakers from his strong safety position. Finished second on the team with 75 total tackles and led West Liberty with 10.5 tackles-for-loss. Had 2 quarterback sacks, 3 interceptions with 34 return yards, 4 pass break-ups, 7 passes defended, 2 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Jovontae Johnson, a 5-10, 185-pound senior from St. Petersburg, Fla., started every game at free safety this fall after earning All-WVIAC honorable mention a year ago.
Led the team with 4 interceptions and 87 return yards while tying for the team lead with 11 pass break-ups and 15 passes defended. Finished with 48 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss, 2 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Bryan Arbes, a 5-8, 165-pound senior placekicker from Monongahela, Pa., led the MEC and ranked No. 3 nationally with 19 field goals. Led team in scoring with 69 points (19-of-24 FGs, 12-of-13 PATs). Also punted 14 times for a 38.9 yards average with 6 of his punts pinning the opponents inside their own 20.
Griffin Yocum, a 6-1, 185-pound junior punter from Glen Dale, W.Va., averaged a school-record 41.5 yards per punt on 71 punts to rank second in the MEC.
Had the MEC's longest punt of the year, a 75-yarder against Charleston, and ranked among the league leaders with 17 punts being downed inside the opponents' 20 and 16 punts of 50 yards or more.
Dylan Potts, a 6-1, 185-pound junior wide receiver from Sardis, Ohio, led West Liberty and ranked No. 6 in the MEC with 62 catches for 680 yards. Caught 7 of WLU's 8 TD passes this season to tie for fourth in the MEC.
Zack Turley, a 6-0, 275-pound senior offensive lineman, one of the Hilltoppers' most durable and consistent linemen started every game at left guard for the second consecutive season.
Darnell Vickers, a 6-2, 275-pound redshirt freshman from Akron, Ohio, started every game at defensive tackle in his first varsity season. Charted with 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss and 2 quarterback sacks.
2013 ALL-MEC FOOTBALL TEAM
Coach of the Year: Monte Cater, Shepherd
Offensive Player of the Year: D.J. Mendenhall, Urbana
Defensive Player of the Year: Robert Hayes, Shepherd
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Jabre Lolley, Shepherd
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Octavius Thomas, Shepherd
QB: D.J. Mendenhall (Urbana)
RB: Allen Cross (Shepherd)
RB: Rahmann Lee (Glenville State)
RB: Pedro Powell (Notre Dame)
H-B: Jonathan Hammer (Shepherd)
Utility: John Knox (Charleston)
WR: Jack Foy (Notre Dame)
WR: James Long (UVA-Wise)
WR: Joe Webb (Urbana)
TE: Ray Brown (Notre Dame)
OL: Jordan Dixon (Shepherd)
OL: Doniel Gambrell (Notre Dame)
OL: Justin Johnson (Charleston)
OL: Rustin Mayorga (Concord)
OL: Jon Rasnick (Glenville State)
OL: Isaiah Shelton (Shepherd)
DL: Michael Franklin (Shepherd)
DL: Robert Hayes (Shepherd)
DL: Howard Jones (Shepherd)
DL: NATE MALESKI (WEST LIBERTY)
DL: Demetrius Reddick (Charleston)
DL: Gary Henderson (Glenville State)
LB: Levi Barber (Shepherd)
LB: Garrett Davis (Fairmont State)
LB: Matt Kelly (Charleston)
LB: Jake Lilly (Concord)
LB: D'Gary Wallace (Urbana)
DB: MARQUIS BRADLEY (WEST LIBERTY)
DB: Daren Elliott (Glenville State)
DB: Ike Gibson (Charleston)
DB: Davon Marion (Concord)
DB: Corey Washington (Shepherd)
K: Ryan Earls (Shepherd)
P: Andrew Huska (Concord)
KR/PR: C.J. Davis (Shepherd)
QB: Jeremy Musselman (W.Va. Wesleyan)
RB: Calvinaugh Jones (Concord)
RB: Jabre Lolley (Shepherd)
RB: David Hill (Urbana)
H-B: Taylor Franz (Charleston)
Utility: Ben Nester (Concord)
WR: Connor Arlia (W.Va. Wesleyan)
WR: Tiko Henderson (Concord)
WR: LaVaughn Hughes (W.Va. Wesleyan)
TE: Jon Cabral-Ramsey (W.Va. State)
OL: Chris Barfield (Fairmont State)
OL: Coleman Osborne (Concord)
OL: Hussam Ouri (Shepherd)
OL: Kyle Revis (Charleston)
OL: SAWYER RUSSELL (WEST LIBERTY)
OL: Kyle Wallace (Urbana)
DL: Derrick Bavol (Notre Dame)
DL: Xavier Tyler (Shepherd)
DL: Kyle Ferguson (Urbana)
DL: Marcus Spearman (W.Va. Wesleyan)
DL: Rockford Stone (Charleston)
LB: Justin Avery (Charleston)
LB: Kevin Chapple (Urbana)
LB: Hayden Davis (Notre Dame)
LB: ANDREW FARAIMO (WEST LIBERTY)
LB: De'Ontre Johnson (Shepherd)
LB: Octavius Thomas (Shepherd)
DB: Romell Haley (W.Va. State)
DB: Antonio Harris (W.Va. Wesleyan)
DB: Jacob Jean-Charles (Fairmont State)
DB: JOVANTAE JOHNSON (WEST LIBERTY)
DB: David McComas (Urbana)
DB: Torie Wagner (Charleston)
K: BRYAN ARBES (WEST LIBERTY)
P: GRIFFIN YOCUM (WEST LIBERTY)
KR/PR: James Long (UVA-Wise)
QB: Ray Russ (Notre Dame)
RB: Michael Anderson (W.Va. Wesleyan)
RB: Leighton Settle (Charleston)
RB: Dawrence Roberts (Fairmont State)
H-B: Shaun Workinger (Concord)
WR: Robert Byrd (Shepherd)
WR: Mikhail Morgan (Notre Dame)
WR: DYLAN POTTS (WEST LIBERTY)
WR: Delvon Purvis (Glenville State)
WR: Zach Schademan (W.Va. Wesleyan)
TE: Dalton Brindo (Concord)
OL: Tyler Billings (Concord)
OL: Leon Hill (Glenville State)
OL: Brian Harp (Notre Dame)
OL: ZACH TURLEY (WEST LIBERTY)
OL: Ricardo Figueroa (W.Va. State)
OL: Cody Parker (Concord)
DL: Keith Ferguson (Concord)
DL: Sam Lester (W.Va. State)
DL: Ervin Moore (Concord)
DL: Anthony Pyle (Concord)
DL: DARNELL VICKERS (WEST LIBERTY)
LB: T'ontray Billups (UVA-Wise)
LB: Austin Dotson (Concord)
LB: James Johnson (Glenville State)
LB: Desmond Holley (W.Va. Wesleyan)
LB: Lamar Ross (Urbana)
LB: Mitch Rowell (W.Va. State)
LB: Mike Savage (W.Va. Wesleyan)
DB: Josh Clark (Concord)
DB: Dontrewell Kelley (Shepherd)
DB: Jake Krupko (Urbana)
DB: Mo May (Notre Dame)
DB: Demetrius Quarles (Glenville State)
DB: Terry Reese (Glenville State)
K: Andrew Ellington (Concord)
P: Troy McNeill (Shepherd)
KR/PR: Mike Fields (Notre Dame)