Findlay, Ohio – With seven of its players earning first-team recognition, the No. 5 ranked Saint Xavier University football team finished with 17 of its players selected to the 2011 Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) All-Mideast League Teams when the league office released the honors late Thursday. In addition to the seven first-team selections, SXU also had seven second team honorees and three players earn honorable mention consideration. Last season, the Cougars also had 17 players earn all-conference recognition prior to making its deep postseason run to the semifinals of the 2010 NAIA Football Championship Series.
Senior defensive end Michael Prosser (Rockton, Ill./Rockton-Hononegah) was a first-team selection and leads the Saint Xavier defense with 57 total tackles, including team-highs of 8.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for losses. Senior defensive tackle Patrick Appino (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) also had a big year posting 30 tackles, including five sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses and three fumble recoveries. Junior linebacker Mike Bushnell (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) also snagged a spot on the first team defense with 43 tackles and eight tackles for losses over eight games. For the offense, junior quarterback Jimmy Coy (Park Ridge, Ill./Valdosta State University/El Camino College/Maine South) threw for 3,127 yards and had 34 touchdowns (three rushing), while junior wide receiver Shane Zackery (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) was his main target with 70 receptions for 865 yards and 13 scores. Senior offensive lineman Michael Johnson (Harvey, Ill./Thornton) was a first team pick as well starting at right tackle this season for one of the most prolific offenses in the NAIA. Senior kicker Tom Lynch (Frankfort, Ill./Southern Illinois University/Joliet JC/Lincoln-Way East) leads the team in scoring with 108 points off 16 field goals and 60 PATs.
"They are all very deserving and I'm especially happy for our seniors who got recognized," said SXU football coach Mike Feminis. "Prosser finished second in the Player of the Year voting and should be on everyone's All-American Team. He was absolutely dominant and will probably go down as the best defensive linemen we've ever had here. Appino received the second most votes among the defensive linemen (only behind Prosser) and Mike Johnson was the leading vote-getter for all of the offensive linemen, so that tells you how respected they were among the opposing coaches in our league. Tom Lynch has had about as good of a career for a kicker that you could ask for. He's been a huge weapon for us since he got here three years ago. The best thing about the 13 other players who received recognition is that they're all underclassmen and will be back next year. But more importantly, they are all quality young men off the field and in the classroom. I'm very proud of all of them."
On the All-MSFA Mideast League Second Team, the Cougars had sophomore running back Nick Pesek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community), junior wide receiver Wes Gastel (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) and junior offensive lineman Matt Munizzi (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) on the offensive side. Saint Xavier defensive players earning second team spots included: sophomore linebackers Dave Marciano (Chicago, Ill./Eastern Illinois University/St. Rita) and Zach Dolph (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic) as well as junior defensive back Jeremy Rhodes (Alsip, Ill./Brother Rice) and sophomore defensive back Jacob Ghinazzi (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic). The three honorable mention selections for SXU were sophomore offensive lineman Kenny Smith (Minooka, Ill./Minooka), junior defensive lineman Jimmy Sandling (Manteno, Ill./University of Indianapolis/Manteno) and junior wide receiver Corey Wennmacher (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North).
Saint Xavier hosts No. 13 Bethel University (Tenn.) in first-round action of the 2011 NAIA Football Championship Series Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. Kickoff is 1 p.m.