BAY CITY, Mich. – Ohio Dominican's football team led the GLIAC with 20 all-conference selections, including eight on the first team, in voting conducted by the league's head coaches.
Additionally, head coach Bill Conley was selected as the GLIAC Coach of the Year, senior Justin Bell (Columbus, Ohio) was named the Defensive Back of the Year and Mason Sawicki (Dublin, Ohio) was picked as the Freshman of the Year.
The accolades came after ODU won its first GLIAC title since joining the conference in 2010 as the Panthers finished 10-0 (9-0 GLIAC), earning a first round bye in the NCAA Division II Playoffs and being ranked seventh in both national polls.
First team selections included seniors Bell, Jake Brandt (Bexley, Ohio) and Mark Nichols (Pataskala, Ohio) and sophomores Cody Culbertson (Galloway, Ohio), Di'Andre Harrison (Columbus, Ohio), Warren Shields (Richwood, Ohio), Dez Stewart (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio).
Second Team All-GLIAC picks included juniors Perrin Cunningham (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Abe Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomores Billy Eakins (Pickerington, Ohio), Sydney Omameh (Columbus, Ohio) and Brandon Schoen (Olentangy, Ohio).
Honorable Mention selections included seniors Dominic Clegg (Powell, Ohio) and Nate Weeks (Marysville, Ohio), junior Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomores Da'Twane Harris (Cleveland, Ohio), Brad McCurdy (Columbus, Ohio) and Ronald McCloud (Cleveland, Ohio).
Ohio Dominican opens up the playoffs against the winner of Indianapolis and West Texas A&M on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 1 p.m. from Panther Field.
Bell (Defensive Back of the Year): A preseason All-American selection Bell finished with 87 tackles (52 solo), two forced fumbles, an interception, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups to help lead the ODU secondary. Bell, a First Team All-GLIAC pick in 2012 as well, had five games of 11 or more tackles this season. Also a threat in the return game, Bell tied a GLIAC record with a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win over #9 Grand Valley and averaged 15.1 yards per return on 21 total returns.
For his career, Bell has 280 tackles (second in school history), seven forced fumbles (first), six fumbles recovered (second), eight interceptions (third) and a 14.7 punt return average (first).
Brandt: Brandt has been an anchor at right tackle, starting 42 consecutive games at the position for ODU. He's part of an offensive line that has allowed just four sacks this season (second nationally) and nine over the past two seasons. The offense currently ranks 19th in the country with 243.3 rushing yards per game and total offense with 485.7 yards per game. He helped clear the path for Nichols and Schoen, the first tandem to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in the same season in ODU history.
Culbertson: Culbertson bounced back from an injury in 2012 to record one of the strongest all-around seasons by a defensive player in the GLIAC this season. Culbertson made 61 tackles (10.0 for loss) and tallied four sacks. He also picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, broke up four passes and recovered a fumble. He was named the GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week after tallying nine tackles (3.5 for loss), a sack and a safety in the win over Grand Valley.
Harrison: Despite missing two games, Harrison set a school single-season record with seven sacks and also tallied 11.0 tackles for loss. Harrison finished with 36 total tackles and earned GLIAC Special Teams Player of the Week after blocking a punt for a safety and also recovering a fumble for a touchdown. He is ODU's career leader with 12.5 sacks.
Nichols: The senior led the team with 1,110 rushing yards this season, including 11 touchdowns, and averaged nearly six yards per carry. He had six 100-yard games, including a monster 275-yard, three-TD performance in the win over Findlay on CBS Sports Network. Nichols also ran for three touchdowns in the win against Malone and was a huge threat in the return game, bringing back a kick 95 yards for a score at Ashland.
Nichols has 2,313 rushing yards in his career, second-most in school history behind Mike Noffsinger (2,714), and he is tied with Noffsinger for most career rushing scores with 25.
Shields: In his first season as a starter, Shields led the Panthers with 88 tackles, including 51 solo stops. He also recorded 9.0 tackles for loss and four sacks while breaking up three passes. Shields had 10 or more tackles in four games and had 2.5 tackles for loss in the wins against Hillsdale and Findlay.
Stewart: Stewart led ODU with 842 receiving yards, averaging 16.4 yards per catch. He had two of the best games in school history this year, setting a program record with 187 yards at Georgetown and also tallying 174 yards and two touchdowns against Lake Erie. He had long catches of 62, 58 and 53 yards this season and recorded five touchdowns, and he has the fourth-most receiving yards in school single-season history.
Wahle: This is the second First Team All-GLIAC selection for Wahle this fall, as the two-sport standout also picked up the honors in soccer two weeks ago. Wahle leads the country with 21 field goals made and has hit five times on kicks from over 45 yards, including a school record-long boot of 51 yards at Malone. Wahle's 21 made field goals are a conference record as well.
He has ODU's career record for made field goals (31) and points scored (192).
Cunningham: Cunningham is in his second season as ODU's starting left guard, where he has started 19 of the past 20 games. Like Brandt, Cunningham has been a stalwart on a line that is helping ODU rank among the nation's best in sacks allowed (four), total offense (485.7 yards per game), rushing offense (243.3 yards per game) and scoring (38.0 points per game).
Eakins: Eakins ranks fifth on the team with 60 tackles this fall and paces the Panthers with three interceptions. He's had two critical interceptions, with one coming in the end zone against Grand Valley and the other at the goal line against Walsh. He's also broken up four passes this season. Eakins has six career interceptions for ODU.
Johnson: One of ODU's team captains, Johnson leads the team with 54 receptions and six touchdowns while ranking second with 564 yards. Johnson has a pair of 127-yard games this season (Hillsdale, Lake Erie) and scored twice in the win over the Chargers as well. Johnson had a 93-yard kick return for a score against Grand Valley and ranks seventh in ODU history in receptions (103) and yards (1,161).
Omameh: The sophomore set a school single-season record with 13.0 tackles for loss to go along with 6.5 sacks and 35 total tackles. He also blocked three kicks and forced a pair of fumbles as well. Omameh had 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the win at Tiffin and had at least one tackle for loss in seven of ODU's game this fall. He had a career-high seven tackles (3.0 for loss) at Malone.
Schoen: The sophomore became the first player in school history to post multiple 1,000 yard seasons after finishing with 1,040 yards in his second season at ODU. Schoen had six 100-yard games this fall, including efforts of 152 yards at Tiffin and 151 at Malone. He had a school-record long 85-yard touchdown run at Northern Michigan. For his career, Schoen has 2,047 rushing yards, which is third in school history, and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
Clegg: Clegg has tallied 30 tackles on the season (20 solo) and also has an interception and a pair of pass break ups. Clegg picked off a pass in the win over Findlay and also had six tackles in that contest. Clegg was a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's Campbell Award and was selected to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District team.
Harris: Harris started all 10 games at corner this season and led ODU with seven pass break ups, tied for fourth-most in a season in school history. He also picked off passes against Grand Valley and Tiffin and finished the regular season with 39 tackles. Harris blocked a punt against Malone and returned a blocked extra point for a two-point conversion in the win as well.
McCurdy: McCurdy would finish the season ranked third on the team with 67 tackles, including 5.0 for loss. He also had a sack, an interception, broke up four passes and forced and recovered one fumble. The sophomore had a career-high 11 tackles, including 3.0 for loss, against Lake Erie, and made 10 stops at Ashland. His interception came in the win over Findlay on CBS Sports Network.
McCloud: The sophomore finished with 45 grabs for 481 yards and three scores as part of ODU's receiving corps. He had nine catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns against Ashland, including a 64-yard reception, and had 97 yards and a TD against Walsh.
Miller: The junior signal caller ranks ninth in the nation as he has completed 68.3 percent of his passes and he ranks 19th in passing efficiency (157.5). Miller has tossed 21 touchdowns against just six picks and has thrown for 2,399 yards. He was named the GLIAC Player of the Week after throwing for 370 yards and four touchdowns against Lake Erie and he threw for three touchdowns against Georgetown, Hillsdale and Grand Valley.
Weeks: The senior stepped up during his final campaign, catching at least one pass in all but two games and totaling 12 receptions for 118 yards. He caught touchdowns against Hillsdale and Lake Erie and has been a key blocking component to help lead the way for Nichols' and Schoen's success on the ground.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Sawicki: As an interior defensive lineman, Sawicki stepped into the starting lineup and produced throughout the season, totaling 33 tackles (4.5 for loss) and a sack for the Panthers. Sawicki helped lead the GLIAC's top scoring defense and second-best rushing defense with his efforts inside. He had six tackles in the win over Ashland and two tackles for loss against Northern Michigan.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Bill Conley led Ohio Dominican to its second undefeated regular season and second playoff appearance in school history. Conley has guided the Panthers in their transition from the NAIA ranks and in the past three years has a record of 25-7 guiding ODU. Currently, the Panthers have Division II's longest win streak at 15 consecutive games, having outscored opponents 629-244 during that stretch, winning by an average of 25.7 points per game. The Panthers are ranked No. 7 in both the AFCA and D2Football.com Top 25 polls entering the postseason.
Contact: Scott Miles