GREENWOOD, Ind. – The 2009 All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Team was announced by the HCAC league office on Wednesday, as voted on by the conference's eight head coaches. Defiance College placed nine student-athletes among the 91 athletes to receive the award. [HCAC Release]
DC's 2009 season was full of ups and downs, as a thrilling season-opening victory against Muskingum was followed by four-straight setbacks. The Jackets rebounded to win three of their last five contests, including a 35-0 throttling of Bluffton to end the season.
The four victories moved head coach Rob Taylor to second on the program's all-time wins list. Taylor now has 31 victories in his seven-year tenure and is just five back of Malen Luke's (1988-1993) school record of 36 coaching victories on the gridiron. The nine All-HCAC selections also bump Taylor's tally to 77 during his time on the sidelines with the Purple and Gold.
Deiiance saw five student-athletes garner the honor for the second time, with four earning their first All-HCAC nod. The Jackets placed Austin Hedderly and Anthony Sierra on the All-HCAC First-Team, with Rick Powell, Nick Nicol, Joel Billings, Andre Osby, Kyle Longsdorf and Tom Foos named Second-Team All-HCAC. Mike Szuma rounded out the list of award winners for DC, as the team's lone selection to the All-HCAC Honorable Mention Team.
Hedderly was named First-Team All-HCAC after helping the Jackets rank second in the league in scoring defense (22.1), rushing defense (119.5) and total sacks (27). Hedderly started all 10 games during his junior season and set a career high with 46 tackles from his defensive end position. The Dublin, Ohio, native and two-time All-HCAC performer also registered six tackles for lost yardage and a trio of sacks.
Sierra burst onto the collegiate scene and grabbed national attention by hauling in five interceptions and returning two for touchdowns in DC's back-to-back victories at Rose-Hulman and Anderson. The Warren, Mich., native was rewarded with consecutive nods as the HCAC Defensive Player of the Week and two-straight selections onto the D3football.com Team of the Week. Sierra started all 10 games, logged 28 tackles and ranked third in the league with five total interceptions.
The offense was paced by sophomore quarterback and Second-Team All-HCAC performer, Rick Powell, who accounted for 10 touchdowns in 10 games. The Rochester, Mich., native was one of only three players in the league to rank among the top eight players in rushing and passing yards per game. Powell proved to be a dual threat throughout the season, ranking seventh in the HCAC with 126.0 total yards of offense per outing.
Nicol anchored an offensive line which ranked third in the league with only 20 sacks allowed during his senior season. The Second-Team All-HCAC selection is the second All-HCAC award for the Temperance, Mich., native, who helped to pave the way for 137.4 rushing yards per game and 12 rushing touchdowns for DC.
Billings joined Hedderly on the defensive line and earned his second All-HCAC award, this time being named Second-Team All-HCAC as a senior. The Waynesfield, Ohio, native set career highs with 31 tackles, 9.5 hits for negative yardage and 5.5 sacks to rank among the HCAC's top 10 in tackles for a loss and sacks per game.
Osby joined the Yellow Jackets in 2009 as a junior and provided an immediate presence on the defensive line in all 10 contests. The Benton Harbor, Mich., native racked up 34 hits, 9.0 stops for lost yardage, 6.0 sacks and one forced fumble. The Second-Team All-HCAC selection ranked fourth in the HCAC with 0.80 sacks per game and 10th with 0.90 tackles for a loss per showing.
Longsdorf thrived during his junior season as the playmaker for the Purple and Gold, while seeing time at the safety and linebacker positions. The London, Ohio, native led the HCAC with 116 tackles and ranked 16th in the NCAA with 11.6 hits per game over 10 outings this season. The Second-Team All-HCAC nod was Longsdorf's second All-HCAC award, who also added 11.0 stops for lost yardage, three sacks, two interceptions, seven passes defended, three forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles and one blocked kick. Longsdorf ended the season with the NCAA's fourth-highest amount of tackles in a single game in 2009 with 22 hits in DC's 35-0 win over Bluffton. That performance earned Longsdorf the HCAC Defensive Player of the Week award for the second time in his three years with the Jackets.
Foos earned All-HCAC recognition for the second-straight season, after ranking second in the league and setting a career high with a punting average of 38.9 yards. The Helena, Ohio, native and Second-Team All-HCAC athlete stuck 23 of his 71 punts inside the 20-yard line and forced 14 fair catches. Foos boomed six punts of over 50 yards and earned his third HCAC Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honor during his junior campaign.
Szuma was named Honorable Mention All-HCAC after starting all ten games for Defiance from the nose guard position. The Brownstown, Mich., native and team captain had his finest season with 39 tackles, 6.5 hits for lost yardage and two forced fumbles during his final collegiate campaign.
Defiance ended the 2009 season 4-6 overall and tied for fifth in the HCAC standings with a 3-4 record. The Jackets will look to bounce back in 2010 behind the play of its six returning All-HCAC performers.