PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The New England Football Conference announced its 2009 All-Star team Friday, and 12 Plymouth State University players were among those named Boyd Division All-Stars. The teams are voted on by the league's head coaches.
Nine Panthers were selected to the Boyd Division First Team, three on offense, four on defense, and two on special teams, and two others were named to the Second Team, one on offense and one of defense. In addition, PSU had the Offensive Lineman of the Year and the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Three of Plymouth State's selections are repeat honorees from last season.
Senior offensive tackle Zac Duval (Dover, N.H.) led the way for the Panthers just as he did on the field, as he was voted Boyd Division Offensive Lineman of the Year and repeated as a First Team All-Star. He was joined on the First Team by senior offensive tackle Matt Vahey (Fremont, N.H./Pinkerton), senior wide receiver Alex Smith (Walpole, Mass.), senior defensive linemen Jim Sestito (Foxboro, Mass.) and Alex Battaglino (Avon, Conn.), junior linebacker Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton), junior safety Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.), sophomore return specialist Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn./St. Bernards), and freshman punter Nick Provost (Stratham, N.H./Exeter).
In addition, freshman running back Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) was voted Offensive Rookie of the Year, and junior quarterback J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H./Winnacunnet) and junior linebacker Harry Fallon (Hampton Falls, N.H./Winnacunnet) were named to the Boyd Division Second Team.
Duval (near right) and Vahey (far right) anchored a Panther offensive line that paved the way for PSU's powerful running game. The Panthers ran the ball on 535 of its 648 plays from scrimmage, averaging 4.8 yards per rush and 255 yards per game on the ground. And while PSU threw only 113 passes, the offensive line allowed only eight sacks in 10 games this year.
Brooks (far left), Long (middle left) and Smith (near left) were all key components of PSU's offensive attack. Brooks rushed for 665 yards and 12 touchdowns from his quarterback position, while leading the NEFC in pass efficiency (61-of-111 for 1,183 yards, 15 TDs, 5 INT). Long rushed for a team-high 739 yards (6.1 average per carry) and five touchdowns while averaging 13.1 yards on punt returns. Smith caught 22 passes for 562 yards (a league-high 25.5 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns,
Sestito (near right) and Battaglino (far right) anchored a veteran interior defensive line for PSU and both ranked among the NEFC leaders in sacks. Sestito, who was also a First Team selection a year ago, tied for fifth in the conference with six sacks and finished with 45 tackles and seven pass break-ups, while Battaglino was tied for second in with seven sacks and 10th with 12.5 tackles for lost yardage. The Panther captain also had two pass break-ups and recovered a fumble.
Parsons (far left) and linebackers Castellucci (middle left) and Fallon (near left) also represented the Panthers on the All-Conference team. Parsons led the team with 70 tackles along with an interception, two break-ups and a forced fumble. Fallon and Castellucci were 2-3 on the team in tackles (64 and 48, respectively), anchoring a defense that ranked third in the NEFC in fewest rushing yards allowed (128 per game) and total defense (282 yards per game).
PSU also had strong special teams this year, led by Mulcahy (near right) who averaged 23.2 yard per kick-off return with one touchdown. He was also PSU's place-kicker, making 33-of-39 extra point kicks and converting 7-of-11 field goal tries. Provost (far right) led the conference in punting average (44.2 yards a boot) although he was forced to punt only 20 times all year.
Plymouth State, 8-2 overall under seventh-year head coach Paul Castonia, is hoping its strong season will be recognized when the NCAA and ECAC post-season selections are announced next Monday, Nov. 16.
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