Eleven Saxons earn football all-conference honors from Empire 8
ALFRED, NY — Mike Raplee (Dundee, NY/Dundee), a senior nose guard on the Alfred University football team, was named the Empire 8 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, while freshman wide receiver Maleke Fuentes (Olean, NY/Olean) was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year. The two were among 11 Saxons named conference all-stars.
Raplee completed his AU career as a four-time Empire 8 all-star: he was an honorable mention selection as a freshman and was named to the First Team each of the last three years. He and Fuentes were joined on the First Team by senior defensive end Chris Steeves (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili), senior free safety Jon Jackson (East Amherst, NY/Bishop Timon), senior strong safety Reggie Pressley (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili), junior tailback Chuck Beckwith (Victor, NY/Victor) and junior left tackle Ryan DiFlavio (West Seneca, NY/West Seneca West).
Raplee, a preseason D3football.com Second Team All-American, enjoyed one of best season ever for an AU defensive lineman. He had a team-leading 72 tackles (20 ½ for loss) with 11 ½ sacks and two forced fumbles. In an Oct. 6 Homecoming win over Ithaca he tallied eight tackles, including 4 ½ sacks.
Fuentes averaged 116 all-purpose yards per game as a receiver, kick return man and as a runner in the Saxons’ Wildcat offensive set. He finished the season with 35 catches for a team-leading 427 yards with two receiving TDs. After the Saxons’ lost their top three tailbacks to season-ending injuries, he became the team’s most productive runner late in the year, running for 252 yards and five TDs in the team’s final two regular-season games. He also averaged 23.3 yards on 14 kickoff returns.
Steeves, who has been a productive starter each of his four seasons in a Saxon uniform, earned all-conference honors for the first time in his career, teaming with Raplee to form a devastating pass-rushing tandem. Steeves finished with 58 tackles (10 ½ for loss) to go with 8 ½ sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
Jackson and Pressley each earned all-conference honors for the second time in their careers. Jackson (Second Team pick in 2011) had 57 tackles (three for loss) to go with a team-leading six interceptions. He also rushed 14 times for 147 yards and two TDs. Pressley (honorable mention in 2011) finished with 71 (three for loss, one sack). He had an interception, six pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Beckwith was one of the top runners in the Empire 8 before suffering a season-ending injury in a Week 7 contest at Utica. After becoming the Saxons’ starting tailback following early-season injuries to tailbacks Tyler DeRosa and Austin Dwyer, Beckwith ran for 554 yards and 10 TDs. He ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries in a Week 3 win at Buff State and ran for 131 (two TDs) and 148 yards (two TDs) in consecutive wins over Ithaca and St. John Fisher.
DiFlavio, a Second Team All-Empire 8 pick last season, earned all-conference honors for a second straight year. He anchored an offensive line that helped the Saxons produce 341.8 yards per game, including 183.6 per game on the ground.
Senior tight end Adam Schutz (Geneva, NY/Geneva) and sophomore linebacker J.R. Britton (Rochester, NY/Greece Arcadia) were named to the Second Team.
Schutz, also a Second Team pick in 2011, led the team in catches (39) and receiving TDs (four) and was second in receiving yards with 400. Britton, a first-year starter, had 50 tackles (six for loss), recovered two fumbles and broke up six passes.
Junior center Zach Harrington (Rochester, NY/Greece Olympia) and senior right tackle Harold Spetla (Tupper Lake, NY/Tupper Lake), were named conference all-stars for the first time in their careers, earning honorable mention. Both were instrumental part of an offensive line that helped the Saxons produce 341.8 yards per game, including 183.6 per game on the ground.
Each season, the Empire 8 honors students-athletes from each conference school, who play on teams sponsored by the conference, with Sportsperson of the Year awards. Honorees, chosen by their coaches, exhibited outstanding sportsmanship in keeping with the conference’s mission of “competing with honor and integrity.” Spetla is AU’s honoree from the football team.
AU finished the season with a 6-4 record and placed second in the final Empire 8 Conference standings with a 5-2 league mark.
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