Football - Mon, Feb. 12, 2007
North Aurora, Ill. - Senior wide receiver Andy Ricca (LaPorte, Ind./Michigan City) and junior place kicker Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) were two of the featured first team selections on the 2006 Don Hansen's Football Gazette NAIA East All-Region Team when the honors were released by the weekly publication Sunday. In addition, senior offensive tackle Charlie Russ (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) earned a spot on the first team offense as well for his tremendous efforts in helping lead the Cougars to its first-ever NAIA Championship Series semi-finals appearance last fall.
Ricca led SXU in receptions (84), receiving yards (982), and all-purpose yards (1,371) last season and helped the team make its debut in the semi-finals. His receptions total of 84 was the second highest total in the nation at the NAIA level. Ricca ended his stellar career as the all-time leading receiver in SXU history with 239 receptions for 3,213 yards, while also setting new school single-season records for receptions (100) and receiving yards (1,275) a year ago. Just a few weeks ago, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) named Ricca a first-team All-American.
Longest led the Cougars in scoring last fall with 90 points, the most ever scored in a single season by a Saint Xavier kicker. He connected on 15 of his 18 field goal attempts (83 percent) during the 2006 season, including a perfect 7-for-7 clip from distances of 40-49 yards. The 15 field goals made is also a new single-season record at Saint Xavier. Longest booted 45 of his 47 extra-point attempts (96 percent) through the uprights last fall as well. He also averaged 42.0 yards a punt on his four punt attempts, including one inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Saint Xavier had one player earn a spot on the 2006 NAIA East All-Region Second Team in junior defensive lineman Justin Tuffs (Mokena, Ill./Stagg). In addition, eight Cougars were named to the third team of the All-Region East Team including: sophomore quarterback Billy Yeo (Matteson, Ill./Western Michigan University), senior wide receiver Greg Gerritsen (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East), senior linebacker Sean Kenney (Palos Hills, Ill./Stagg), senior punter Sean Collins (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame), junior defensive end Brett Farmer (Wilmington, Ill./Joliet Junior College), junior defensive back Mike Wilkinson (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita), sophomore linebacker Joe Miller (Chicago, Ill./Gordon Tech), and freshman punt returner Pat Geary (Mokena, Ill./Lincoln-Way East). Sophomore running back Jason Banning (Wilmington, Ill./Northern Illinois University) earned a spot on the honorable mention team offense for SXU.
Saint Xavier had an impressive 2006 campaign finishing with a 10-3 overall record and ranked No. 9 nationally while qualifying for the NAIA Championship Series for only the third time in the program's 14-year history. SXU advanced all the way to the semi-finals falling to No. 1 ranked University of Saint Francis (Ind.) last December marking the first time Saint Xavier has moved past the first round in postseason play.