November 19, 2013

Nine Football Players Earn NESCAC Honors - Foote Is Offensive Player Of The Year, Ritter Is Coach Of The Year

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Nine members of the Middlebury College football team were honored when the league announced its all-conference teams. Senior McCallum Foote (Newton, Mass.) was named the NESCAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, while head coach Bob Ritter earned Coach of the Year honors for the second time. Joining Foote on the first-team were senior offensive lineman Jack Allard (Natick, Mass.), senior tight end William Sadik-Khan (Chappaqua, N.Y.) and sophomore receiver Matthew Minno (Tallahassee, Fla.). Junior offensive lineman Blake Shapskinsky (Bayonne, N.J.) and junior receiver Brendan Rankowitz (Westport, Conn.) were named second-team All-NESCAC, as were junior defensive back Matthew Benedict (Eden, N.Y.) and sophomore linebacker Tim Patricia (Los Angeles, Calif.). Earning second-team special teams honors was Panther junior punter Michael Dola (Arlington, Va.). The group helped lead the team to a 7-1 mark in '13, earning a share of the NESCAC Championship.

Foote's statistical accomplishments pepper both the NESCAC and Middlebury record books. For the third straight season as a first-team quarterback, he led the NESCAC in passing yards (2,766), touchdown passes (26), and completions per game (32.38). He currently leads the nation in completions per game and is second in all of Division III in passing yards per game (345.8). He is one of three players in NESCAC history to win the conference's Player of the Year twice. During his 23 career games at quarterback, Foote earned a NESCAC-record seven Player of the Week nods, winning the award in 30% of the games he played.

Allard, a high school teammate of Foote, who anchored the offensive line at left tackle for three seasons at Middlebury, earned first-team recognition along with Shapskinsky, a second-team selection at left guard. The duo earned accolades as key protectors for Foote and his weekly aerial performances. The offense led the NESCAC in several categories including: 3rd down conversions (.342), most first downs (207), tackles for loss allowed/game  (4.63), and total offensive yards/game (442.3).

Sadik-Khan had a breakout performance at tight end in 2013, catching a NESCAC-leading 12 touchdown passes, with 59 catches for 633 yards for an average of 79.1 yards - each good for second place in the conference as a receiver. Sadik-Khan had three-touchdown performances twice this season.

Minno finished the season leading the NESCAC in receiving yards (677) and yards/game (84.6), both ahead of Sadik-Khan's pace. He was second in touchdowns (8) to Sadik-Khan and was third in receptions (50), but owns the longest reception of the season in the NESCAC, a 77-yard touchdown against Colby. Additionally, Minno earned a NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week award against Trinity, nabbing nine balls for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

Rankowitz was fourth in the NESCAC in each of these category: receptions (50), receiving yards (552) and receiving yards/game (69.0). Possibly his biggest catch of the year was a 40-yarder late in the Trinity game that set-up Minno's touchdown.

Patricia, the NESCAC Rookie of the Year in '12, earned his second nod as a second-team linebacker, racking up a team-best 78 tackles, placing him fourth in the conference. He also added 2.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and an interception.

Joining Patricia on the second unit for defense is Benedict as a safety. The junior racked up 66 tackles, good for seventh place in the NESCAC, while adding an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries. Benedict had his best game versus Trinity when he racked up a career-high 19 tackles. For his efforts, Benedict earn the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week award.

Rounding out the all-conference selections is Dola, who averaged 42.2 yards per punt on 28 punts in eight games. His average would lead the NESCAC and be among the nation's leaders, but unfortunately for Dola, the Panther offense was not forced to punt enough times to qualify him to be among the nation's leaders. Along with a 76-yard punt, another highlight for Dola came on a fourth and 21 play against Trinity where he ran for 23 yards and a first down. Dola managed to earn a spot on D3football.com's team of the week when he averaged 47 yards per punt on seven attempts against Bates.

Ritter, an '82 Middlebury graduate, earned NESCAC Coach of the Year honors for the second time in his 13 years at the helm. The 7-1 Panthers finished the season on a five-game winning streak  to help Middlebury claim a share of its third conference title since 2000. Ritter was previously recognized by his peers in 2007 when the Panthers won the NESCAC crown with a 7-1 record. He boasts an overall record of 64-40 with a .615 winning percentage, which ranks second in Middlebury history. Along with the 7-1 record in 2013, the Panthers matched that win total in 2012 and are 16-2 in their last 18 games, tops in the NESCAC.
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