RPI's Avery Named co-Offensive Performer of the Year; Ten Others Honored

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TROY, N.Y. - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) student-athlete Jeff Avery has been named the Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year, the league has announced. Avery, a quarterback who shared the honor with St. Lawrence University senior Mike Lefflbine, was one of 11 Engineers selected for year-end awards by the league's eight coaches.

Joining Avery on the First Team was wide receiver Logan Gaddar, center Steve Mills, defensive end Anthony Pilla and cornerback Philip Lanieri III. Rensselaer placed four on the Second Team in running back Nick Schlatz, offensive lineman Seth Stauble, defensive tackle Malik Joseph and linebacker Alexander Greenidge. Safety Ryan Buss and linebacker Mark Grimes were Honorable Mention choices. They all helped the Engineers to an 8-2 regular season record and a share of the Liberty League Championship (6-1). RPI, which is coached by Ralph Isernia, plays in the Asa S. Bushnell Championship Bowl against Buffalo State University on Saturday at 5pm.

A senior captain, Avery (White Plains, NY / White Plains), has thrown for 2,086 yards - the 12th quarterback in school history with at least 2,000 yards - and 20 touchdowns with only one interception in 10 games. He has completed 166 of 296 passes and has an efficiency rating of 136.9. A second-year starter, he has also rushed 63 times for 192 yards, including a long of 24 yards. Avery threw at least one touchdown pass in nine games and had multiple scoring strikes in seven contests, including each of the first six games of the season. A two-time Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week, he is second in the league in passing yards and touchdown passes.

Avery's favorite target has been classmate Gaddar (South Portland, ME / South Portland), who leads the team with 52 catches for 742 yards and eight touchdowns. He has at least three receptions in every game and touchdown catches in five contests. He is first in the league in TD catches and second in receptions, receiving yards and receptions per game (5.2). Mills (Lake Grove, NY / Sachem North), a junior, was a unanimous selection after helping the offense average 27.1 points and 376.6 yards, including 168.0 rushing, with only 11 sacks allowed. This is the third year he has been recognized, having earned Second Team last year and Honorable Mention as a freshman.

Pilla (Lake Hauto, PA / Marian Catholic), a Second Team honoree last season, is first on the team in tackles for lost yards with 12.0 (42) and sacks with 6.5 (31). He has 46 total tackles (26 solo), a forced fumble and two pass breakups. A captain, he has at least three tackles in every game, including 14 in a victory over Merchant Marine. Lanieri III (Port Jefferson, NY / Earl L. Vandermeulen) has a team-high four interceptions (15 return yards) along with eight pass breakups and 42 tackles, including 23 unassisted and 2.0 for lost yards (3). He was the league's Defensive Performer of the Week once and this is the third year-end honor for him, following All-Liberty League First Team in 2014 and Honorable Mention the year prior.

Schlatz (Bridgewater, MA / Bridgewater-Raynham), also a captain, is the team's leading rusher with 574 yards on 127 carries (4.5 yards per rush), while Stauble (Kingston, NY / Kingston) helped open holes for him and the other running backs, starting all 10 games at right guard. Both Stauble and Schlatz are seniors, while Joseph (Bronx, NY / Iona Prep) and Greenidge (Miller Place, NY / Miller Place) are juniors. Greenidge is first on the Engineers in total tackles with 69, including 33 unassisted. He has 3.5 tackles for lost yards (30), 1.5 sacks (11 yards lost), an interception and a fumble recovery. Joseph is third with 55 tackles, including 26 solo stops, 8.0 tackles for lost yards (34) and 3.5 sacks (24).

Buss (Clifton Park, NY / Shenendehowa), a junior, has 46 tackles, including 24 unassisted and 5.0 for lost yards (12). He also has two interceptions with 48 return yards, five pass breakups and a safety. Grimes, a senior, has 58 stops with 24 unassisted and 5.5 for lost yards (17). He also has 2.5 sacks (12), a forced fumble and a pass breakup. 

RPI plays Buffalo State in a post-season contest that is part of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) 2015 Division III Football Bowl Championships at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 16
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
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Dec. 8: All times Eastern
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, UW-Whitewater 14
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at Mount Union 28, Johns Hopkins 20
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