Tigers Take All-SCIAC Honors
Occidental football wrapped up another stellar campaign Nov. 28 with 15 players earning All-SCIAC First and Second Team recognition.
In addition, senior quarterback Andy Collins garnered Offensive Player of the Year honors for the third consecutive season, becoming the first three-time Offensive POY since the award’s inception in 1981-82. Mike Bryant ’06 was the SCIAC’s first three-time Defensive Player of the Year from 2003-05.
Senior linebacker Joe Zackary won the John Zinda Award for athletic performance, sportsmanship, and academics.
Collins ranked 15th in NCAA Division III passing efficiency (153.7), 13th in total yardage (273.1), and directed an offense that scored 37.6 points per game, 9th in NCAA Division III. He led an impressive 20-point fourth quarter comeback Nov. 11 vs. Whittier and broke a 77-yard touchdown run against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Sept. 30.
Six standouts on offense, eight on defense, earned All-SCIAC recognition. With a touchdown in all but one game in 2006, Matt Andersen ’08 ranked third in NCAA Division III scoring (12.0 points per game), earning a First Team nod at running back. Andersen surpassed 100 yards rushing three times and earned SCIAC Player of the Week honors Oct. 25 following the Tigers’ 38-23 win over Pomona-Pitzer at Homecoming.
Senior wide receiver Rocky Ciasulli caught 56 passes, ten for a career-high 133 yards against Colorado College, landing First Team honors in his first career All-SCIAC selection. Chris Kyles ’08 earned First Team honors in his first season as the Tigers’ starting center.
Defensively, Robert Theofanis ’07 and Anthony Ostland ’08 moved up to First Team after earning Second Team selections in 2005. Theofanis snagged a key third-quarter interception in the Tigers’ 28-27 triumph at Cal Lutheran Oct. 28 and recorded 3 ½ sacks on the season. Ostland made five interceptions and racked up 40 ½ tackles with two sacks.
Zackary compiled a career-best 56 tackles, 14 for a loss with 1 ½ sacks, earning his second consecutive First Team selection. Kyle Stowers ’06, who returned from a 2005 knee injury to anchor the Tigers’ secondary, also earned First Team recognition. Stowers, along with Daniel Tromello ‘08, led the league in passes defended with 12.
Mike Winchell ’07 garnered Second-Team honors with 40 catches for 515 yards and four touchdowns. Thomas Joraanstad ’08 hit 48 of 50 extra point attempts and nailed a 47-yard field goal at Homecoming to earn Second Team laurels at kicker.
Sam Emerson ’09, a key member of the Tigers’ young offensive line, also received Second Team recognition.
A pair of freshmen, Alex Wertheimer and Alex Groh, earned Second Team selections on defense. Wertheimer was a disruptive force all season long at defensive end, tying for the league lead in sacks with 6 ½ . Groh booted a 62-yarder against Cal Lutheran and Occidental led the league in yards per punt (34.5) in 2006.
Linebacker Tim Tanous earned SCIAC Athlete of the Week honors Oct. 11 following the Tigers’ 24-10 victory over Redlands and closed his career with nine tackles and one interception at Whitworth. An Honorable Mention selection in 2005, Tanous earned Second-Team recognition as a freshman and a senior.
Jeremy Gruber, a four-year starter who improved each season, garnered a Second Team selection at defensive back.
A handful of these student-athletes could collect national honors as well. The D3Football.com All-American team will be announced at the Stagg Bowl Dec. 16 in Salem, Virginia. The Football Gazette All-American team will be released the following week. Collins is also a candidate for the Gagliardi Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding player in Division III.
Occidental won its third straight SCIAC championship in 2006 and played its way to a perfect 9-0 regular season before bowing out to Whitworth 27-23 in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Tigers will enter 2007 with a school-record 26-game regular-season winning streak.