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Coaches Announce 2006 NAIA All-America Class

December 15, 2006
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Dec. 15, 2006

WACO, Texas -- For the first time since the American Football Coaches Association began selecting All-America teams in 1945, the Association announced today the 25 members of the inaugural NAIA Coaches' All-America team. Headlining the list are Cris Reisert, quarterback from Ohio Dominican, and J.J. Perino, linebacker from Montana Tech.

 

THE OFFENSE

Quarterback Cris Reisert of Ohio Dominican is the signal-caller on the 2006 AFCA NAIA Coaches' All-America Team. In 2006, Reisert led the NAIA in individual total offense with 294.5 yards a game and was second in passing offense at 278 yards a contest. He set a conference and NAIA record by completing 69.3 percent of his passes this season.

 

Reisert's receiving corps on this year's team features Dusty Hovorka of Sioux Falls, Andy Ricca of St. Xavier and Phoenix Thompson of Belhaven. Hovorka set a school record with his 18 receiving touchdowns in 2006. He is currently second in the NAIA in receiving yards per game, at 96.6. Ricca earned Mid-States Football Association Midwest League Player of the Year honors after he finished the season with 84 receptions, which was the second highest total in the nation, and eight touchdowns. Thompson led the nation in receiving yards per game (114.5) and total receiving yards (1,259). His 1,259 yards set a new school record for most receiving yards in a season.

 

Virginia-Wise's Ra'Shad Morgan and Bethel's (Tenn.) Adrian Smith are the runningbacks on this year's team. Morgan, who won the Dudley Award for being Virginia's top collegiate player in the Division II/III/NAIA category, led the NAIA in rushing yards (1,657), rushing yards per game (150.6) and rushing touchdowns (25) in 2006. Smith was named Mid-South Conference Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 19 touchdowns and averaging 131.6 yards rushing per game.

 

The offensive line features Darnell Whitaker of Southern Nazarene, Truman Ashby of Benedictine (Kan.), Jeremiah Hays of Evangel, Shawn Robinson of Morningside and Mike Galassi of Walsh.

Whitaker helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 292.9 yards per game, earning him Central States Football League first-team honors. Ashby was the leading blocker of a Raven offense that recorded 277.8 yards of total offense, including 141.9 yards of rushing, per game. Hays recorded his second consecutive Heart of America Athletic Conference first-team honor after he was rated as the second-best lineman in the conference. Robinson was the outstanding offensive lineman for a Morningside team that averaged 23.9 points and 309.2 yards of total offense per game. Galassi was the leader of an offensive line that helped pave the way for the third best rushing attack in the MSFA Mideast League at 168.3 yards per game.

 

THE DEFENSE

The defense is led by Montana Tech linebacker J.J. Perino. Perino, who was named the Frontier Conference Defensive MVP, led the NAIA and tied a school record with 17.5 sacks this season, while also recording 25 tackles for a loss. Joining Perino at linebacker are Brian Hall of Geneva and Brian Kurtz of St. Francis (Ind.).

 

Hall had 91 tackles in 2006, which led the Golden Tornadoes defense and earned him first-team All-MSFA Mideast League honors. Kurtz, the MSFA Mideast League Player of the Year, recorded 128 tackles in 2006, setting the school single-season record and extending his career school record to 388.

 

This year's defensive linemen include Eric Williams of Kansas Wesleyan, Andy Wulf of St. Ambrose, Jeff McQuinn of Peru State and Joe Maresh of Valley City State. Williams was named KCAC Defensive Player of the Year after recording 65 total tackles and leading his team with 12 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Wulf racked up 37 total tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and one fumble recovery. McQuinn finished fifth in the nation with 21.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks. He also totaled 62 tackles, 42 of which were solo. Maresh set a school single-season record with 22 tackles for a loss to go along with his 10.5 sacks in 2006.

 

The secondary features Marc Samson of Montana State-Northern, Austin Janssen of Northwestern (Iowa), Tanner Tetrault of Black Hills State and Michael Harrison of McKendree. Samson had a total of 93 tackles, five interceptions, broke up seven passes and caused one fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Janssen, the Great Plains Athletic Conference Player of the Year, led the team with 69.5 tackles, 12 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks. He also led the league in blocked kicks with six. Tetrault recorded 58 total tackles, four interceptions, seven pass break-ups, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Harrison earned MSFA Midwest League first-team honors after leading his team with 55 total tackles and four interceptions, while adding six pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.

 

THE SPECIALISTS

Clay Hamblen of Georgetown (Ky.) is the all-purpose player on the AFCA NAIA Coaches All-America Team. Hamblen earned Mid-South Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors after recording 32 tackles, six interceptions and eight pass break-ups. He also totaled 880 all-purpose yards, ranking fourth nationally in punt returns at 15.3 yards per return, and returning kickoffs at a 25.7 yard clip.

 

The placekicker is Rick Lebeda of Dana. Lebeda was 16 of 23 in field goals, going six of nine between 40-49 yards and a long of 51. He owns the school record for points scored in a career with 240. Carroll (Mont.) punter Ben Chaet, a first-team Frontier Conference selection, was the nation's third leading punter at a 41.1 yard average.  He recorded 71 punts, with a long of 74 yards coming against Montana Tech on September 30.

 

Team Background

The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945 until 1967, only one team was chosen. From 1967 through 1971, two teams, University Division and College Division, were selected. In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II. In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams -- Division I-A and Division I-AA. In 1996, the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III, respectively. The AFCA is selecting an NAIA-only team for the first time this year.

 

From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997, a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team. The return specialist position has been replaced by an all-purpose player this season.

 

What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best -- the coaches themselves.

 

Selection Process

The AFCA's NAIA All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA's nine districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee.

 

The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the team is chosen.

 

2006 AFCA NAIA Coaches' All-America Team

Offense

Pos., Name, Ht., Wt., Cl., School, Coach, Hometown (High School)

WR, Dusty Hovorka, 6-2, 205, Sr., Sioux Falls, Kalen DeBoer, McCook Lake, S.D. (Dakota Valley)

WR, Andy Ricca, 6-1, 205, Sr., Saint Xavier, Mike Feminis, LaPorte, Ind. (Michigan City)

WR, Phoenix Thompson, 6-2, 195, Sr., Belhaven, Don Lee, Foxworth, Miss. (West Marion)

OL , Darnell Whitaker, 6-1, 290, Sr., Southern Nazarene, Mike Cochran, Tulsa, Okla. (East Central)

OL , Truman Ashby, 6-3, 280, Sr., Benedictine (Kan.), Larry Wilcox, St. Louis, Mo. (DeSmet Jesuit)

C , Jeremiah Hays, 6-1, 300, Sr., Evangel, Scott Metcalf, Fort Smith, Ark. (Southside)

OL , Shawn Robinson, 6-4, 300, Sr., Morningside, Steve Ryan, Bettendorf, Iowa (Bettendorf)

OL, Mike Galassi , 6-5, 305, Jr., Walsh, Jim Dennison, Strongsville, Ohio (Holy Name)

QB , Cris Reisert, 6-2, 205, So., Ohio Dominican, Dale Carlson, Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller)

RB , Ra'Shad Morgan, 5-10, 208, Jr., Virginia-Wise, Bruce Wasem, Chestfield, Va. (Meadowbrook)

RB , Adrian Smith, 5-10, 200, Jr., Bethel (Tenn.), Dino Kaklis, Ocala, Fla. (Forrest)

 

Defense

Pos., Name, Ht., Wt., Cl., School, Coach, Hometown (High School)

DL , Eric Williams, 6-3, 275, Sr., Kansas Wesleyan, Dave Dallas, Red Bluff, Calif. (Red Bluff)

DL, Andy Wulf, 6-0, 270, Sr., Saint Ambrose, Todd Sturdy, Tipton, Iowa (Tipton)

DL , Jeff McQuinn, 6-3, 255, Jr., Peru St., Terry Clark, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Lewis Central)

DL , Joe Maresh, 6-2, 215, Sr., Valley City St., Dennis McCulloch, Glencoe, Minn. (Glencoe-Silver Lake)

LB , J.J. Perino, 6-1, 221, Jr., Montana Tech, Bob Green, Helena, Mont. (Capital)

LB , Brian Hall, 6-1, 240, Sr., Geneva, Geno DeMarco, Rillton, Pa. (Yough)

LB , Brian Kurtz, 6-1, 220, Sr., Saint Francis (Ind.), Kevin Donley, Fort Wayne, Ind. (Bishop Luers)

DB , Marc Samson, 5-8, 174, Jr., Montana St.-Northern, Mark Samson, Helena, Mont. (Capital)

DB , Austin Janssen, 6-0, 203, Sr., Northwestern (Iowa), Orv Otten, Orange City, Iowa (MOC-Floyd Valley)

DB , Tanner Tetrault, 6-2, 190, Jr., Black Hills St., John Scott, St. Onge, S.D. (Spearfish)

DB, Michael Harrison, 5-9, 185, Jr., McKendree, Carl Poelker, Bloomington, Ill. (Bloomington)

 

Specialists

Pos., Name, Ht., Wt., Cl., School, Coach, Hometown (High School)

P , Ben Chaet, 6-0, 195, Sr., Carroll (Mont.), Mike Van Diest, Helena, Mont. (Helena)

PK , Rick Lebeda, 6-3, 190, Sr., Dana, Bill Danenhauer, Omaha, Neb. (Northwest)

AP , Clay Hamblen, 6-0, 185, Jr., Georgetown (Ky.), Bill Cronin, Danville, Ind. (Danville)

 

AFCA NAIA Player Selection History: NAIA players who were selected to AFCA All-America teams were named to the AFCA College Division team from 1967-71.  In 1972, the AFCA College Division was split to College I and College II.  Players from NAIA Division I teams were placed in AFCA College I, while players from NAIA Division II were placed in AFCA College II.  That process lasted until 1996, when College I and College II were renamed Division II and Division III.  From 1996-2005, all NAIA players who were selected as Coaches' All-Americans were placed on the AFCA Division II team.  Starting in 2006, the AFCA is selecting an NAIA-only team for the first time.

 

Current NAIA Teams with AFCA Coaches' All-America Selections: Georgetown (Ky.) has been represented a total of 13 times by 11 players on AFCA Coaches' All-America Teams. Trailing Georgetown (Ky.) is Carroll (Mont.) (10/10), Montana Tech (4/4), Azusa Pacific (3/3), Baker (3/3), St. Ambrose (3/3), Southern Oregon (3/3), West Virginia Tech (3/3), William Jewell (3/3), Lambuth (3/2), Cumberlands (Ky.) (2/2), Hastings (2/2), Jamestown (2/2), Morningside (2/2), Peru State (2/2), Sioux Falls (2/2), Southwestern (Kan.) (2/2), Cumberland (Tenn.) (2/1), Menlo (2/1), Bethany (Kan.) (1/1), Bethel (Kan.) (1/1), Central Methodist (1/1), Dickinson State (1/1), Eastern Oregon (1/1), Iowa Wesleyan (1/1), Lindenwood (1/1), Midland Lutheran (1/1), Nebraska Wesleyan (1/1), Pikeville (1/1), Rocky Mountain (1/1), St. Mary (Kan.) (1/1) and South Dakota Tech (1/1).

 

Consecutive Years: Georgetown (Ky.) had at least one player named to an AFCA Coaches' All-America Team for four straight seasons, from 2000 to 2003, the most by any current NAIA team.

 

Repeat After Me:  Only three current NAIA schools have had players earn consecutive AFCA Coaches' All-America honors, with Georgetown (Ky.) being the only school with two players to earn that distinction. Chris Reed earned back-to-back Coaches' All-America honors in 1987-88 at center for the Tigers, followed by defensive lineman Chris Hogan from 1991-92. Lambuth's Jo Jo Jones was a two-time Coaches' All-America at runningback from 1993-94, while Menlo's Nate Jackson earned his back-to-back honors at wide receiver from 2000-01.

 

Class Distinction: This year's AFCA NAIA Coaches' All-America Team is made up of 15 seniors, nine juniors and one sophomore.

 

Players From First Time Schools: Andy Ricca of St. Xavier, Phoenix Thompson of Belhaven, Darnell Whitaker of Southern Nazarene, Truman Ashby of Benedictine (Kan.), Jeremiah Hays of Evangel, Mike Galassi of Walsh, Cris Reisert of Ohio Dominican, Ra'Shad Morgan of Virginia-Wise, Adrian Smith of Bethel (Tenn.), Eric Williams of Kansas Wesleyan, Joe Maresh of Valley City State, Brian Hall of Geneva, Brian Kurtz of St. Francis (Ind.), Marc Samson of Montana State-Northern, Austin Janssen of Northwestern (Iowa), Tanner Tetrault of Black Hills State, Michael Harrison of McKendree and Rick Lebeda of Dana are the first players from their respective schools to earn AFCA Coaches' All-America Team honors.

 

Repeat After Me:  Texas A&M-Kingsville's Johnny Bailey is the only player to earn Coaches' All-America honors in four consecutive years at any level. Bailey was a four-year pick at runningback in 1986-87-88-89.

 

One Player, Two Schools: Punter Mark Bounds is the only player to earn Coaches' All-America honors at two different schools. He was named to the AFCA College Division I team in 1990 while playing for West Texas A&M. He transferred to Texas Tech after West Texas dropped football and earned I-A All-America honors as a Red Raider in 1991.

 

For more information on the AFCA and its programs, log on to the AFCA's website at www.afca.com. Additionally, more information on the NAIA and its member institutions is available at www.naia.org.