ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Salisbury University Head Coach Sherman Wood and punter Kyle Hamby were named Empire 8 Coach and Special Teams Player of the Year, respectively, leading a group of 19 selections to the 2012 All-Empire 8 Teams, announced Tuesday by the conference.
In all, five Salisbury players landed on the first team, seven on the second and four were picked as honorable mention. Each of the league's teams had a player named Sportsman of the Year.
First-team selections include seniors Brian Mansfield and Matt McMurdo, junior Andre Carter, sophomores Steven Gamble and Hamby. Second teamers are seniors Dan Griffin, Joe Benedetti and Paul Moore, juniors Mark Bohanan and Greg Stanton and sophomores Tommy Hawks and Nick Ochoa. Honorable-mention picks are seniors Jeremy Harrissmith, Rodney Hill, Juma Richards and sophomore Isaiah Taylor.
Griffin earned Sportsman of the Year honors as a player who competes with honor and integrity.
The team was chosen by Empire 8 head coaches.
Wood earned his second straight conference Coach of the Year honor after leading the Sea Gulls to the outright E8 championship for the second year in a row. Wood, who won his 100th game at Salisbury with a 48-2 Regents Cup win over Frostburg State University on Nov. 10, is 121-86-1 (.586) in 20 years as a collegiate head coach.
Hamby is fourth in NCAA Division III in punting, averaging 41.76 yards per kick. He has placed 18 of 45 punts inside the 20-yard line to lead the league. Hamby booted three 60-yard-plus punts this season, including a season high of 68 – one yard off a school record he shares – in a win against Hartwick College. He was named E8 Special Teams Player of the Week and BSN Division III Punter of the Week once each this season.
Mansfield, SU's starting center for the last two seasons, was a second-team selection last season. He has helped the Sea Gulls run for the sixth most yards per game in Division III this season at 287.16 and was part of the line that earned Beyond Sports Division III Offensive Line of the Week after Salisbury racked up 611 yards of offense, 564 and nine touchdowns on the ground in a win against Utica College on Nov. 3.
Linebacker McMurdo, also a first-team honoree in 2011, was named a preseason All-American by USA Football News, BSN and the D3Senior Classic. He is second on the team with 64 tackles, and leads the team in assisted tackles with 41. He has 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and returned a fumble 26 yards for a TD against North Carolina Wesleyan College on Sept. 15.
Cornerback Carter earned his second consecutive first-team selection after leading the league with 18 passes broken up. He also had 41 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and two fumble recoveries on the year. Carter was named a BSN Preseason All-American, USA Football News Preseason Honorable Mention All-American and a D3football.com Team of the Week member on Oct. 2.
Gamble had a breakout year as an outside linebacker. He leads the team with 67 tackles, was third in the Empire 8 with 15 tackles for loss, had three sacks and one of Salisbury's six blocked kicks this season. Gamble collected five weekly honors in 2012, including NCAA Division III Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 10.
Quarterback Griffin, the E8 Offensive Player of Year and a first teamer last season is 44-for-82 passing with seven TDs and seven interceptions and has run for 605 yards and is tied for a league-best 12 TDs on 157 carries. Griffin won five different preseason honors and was named Empire 8 Offensive Player of the Week for back-to-back weeks (Nov. 5 and 12).
Superback Benedetti became Wood's eighth 1,000-yard rusher in his tenure at Salisbury this season. The Langhorne, Pa., native has run for 1,126 yards and 12 TDs on 187 attempts. He ran for a career-high 216 yards and four scores in a season-opening win at Christopher Newport University on Sept. 1. He was named BSN Division III Running Back of the Week for his efforts.
After taking a year away from football in 2011, cornerback Moore is back on an all-conference team for the first time since being an All-ACFC first-team selection in 2010. Moore broke up 13 passes, made two interceptions, recovered three fumbles and scored three touchdowns this season. He was named BSN Division III Cornerback of the Week on Oct. 8 and E8 Defensive Player of the Week (Nov. 12).
Bohanan, the Sea Gulls' starting right guard, teamed with Mansfield on the offensive line that earned the BSN Offensive Line of the Week honor.
Free safety Stanton leads the team and is tied for second in the E8 with six interceptions. He made 64 tackles, 1.5 for loss, eight breakups and a block this season. Stanton was named E8 Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 22) and ECAC Division III Northwest Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 23).
Hawks, a second-team pick in 2011, made 29 tackles, 5.5 for a loss as a nose guard. He also had one quarterback hurry and recovered one fumble on the year. Hawks was named E8 Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 4 after blocking an extra point at CNU on Sept. 1.
Playing next to Hawks as the right defensive end, Ochoa was fourth in the Empire 8 with 15 tackles for loss. He also had 38 total tackles, three sacks and one hurry.
Left guard Harrissmith was part of the line that won the BSN honor following the season-high totals against Utica.
Hill is fourth on the team with 62 tackles this season. An outside linebacker, he also has 6.5 tackles for loss, an interception, six passes broken up and a blocked extra point.
Richards, SU's second-leading receiver, has caught 16 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
Taylor is tied for 22nd nationally, averaging 12 yards per punt return this season. He returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown against Frostburg State for Salisbury's first punt-return score since 2009. He also caught four passes, including a 37-yard touchdown, for 116 yards to be named the SU MVP of the Regents Cup. For the year, Taylor made 17 receptions for 429 yards and three TDs; he also ran for 223 yards and three more scores.
Salisbury (9-2) topped Rowan University, 17-9, last Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament and will face Widener University at Leslie C. Quick Stadium in Chester, Pa., this Saturday at noon in the second round.
Click here to view the full 2012 All-Empire 8 Football Team.