Middletown, CT. - In a vote of New England Small College Athletic Conference head football coaches, six members of the Wesleyan football team earned All-NESCAC honors for the 2015 season. Cardinals' junior defensive end Jordan Stone (Brooklyn, NY), senior offensive tackle Blake Cunningham (Lawrenceville, GA) and junior free safety Justin Sanchez (Chicago, IL) each earned First Team All-NESCAC recognition. Senior linebacker Alex Daversa-Russo (Niskayuna, NY), sophomore wide receiver Michael Breuler (Hamden, CT), and freshmen offensive lineman Joseph Wilson (Portland, OR) were Second Team All-NESCAC selections.
Jordan Stone, one of the few returning defensive players seeing time in 2014, was the most experienced of a young but talented defensive line unit in 2015. He ranked fifth among all conference players with 10 tackles for loss in addition to 5.5 sacks and 35 tackles in this junior campaign. Coach DiCenzo on Stone, "Jordan has started at DE for us the past two seasons and he really took his play to another level this season. He is very talented, and works extremely hard. He had a huge year and was dominant on the DL. If we were a little more experienced around him, he would have filled the stat sheet even more."
Justin Sanchez was chosen First Team after a Second Team selection his sophomore season. The junior safety led the Cardinals defense, ranking among the best defenders in the NESCAC with 56 tackles; four pass breakups; three tackles for loss; two interceptions and three forced fumbles. "Justin has been a three-year starter whose performance get's better each year," notes HFC DiCenzo. "He is a physical player and does an outstanding job getting our defense lined up. He loves to compete and expects a lot from himself and his teammates. He is a versatile DB, making plays in the pass game and against the run."
Alex Daversa-Russo had another solid season for the Cardinals, posting 48 tackles in 8 games. Daversa-Russo is a two-time All-NESCAC selection, earning Second Team honors in each of the last two seasons. "Alex had a great career for us," reflects Coach DiCenzo. "He started for 3 plus seasons. He used his football IQ and athleticism at LB well and made huge plays for the Cards in his successful career at Wesleyan."
Earning First Team honors in 2015, Blake Cunningham, a main stay at tackle the past three seasons, was a standout offensive lineman and captain of the 2015 Cardinals. Cunningham led an offense that averaged 384 yards per game, 188 of those yards on the ground. "Blake was not only a great player, he was a great leader for our program," remarks Coach DiCenzo. "He anchored a solid OL this year, competing at the highest level all season."
Wide receiver Michael Breuler led the offense with 37 receptions in 2015, earning the first year starter a Second Team All NESCAC offense selection. Coach DiCenzo notes, "Mike had a really good sophomore year. He made great strides catching and blocking since last year. He has a ton of talent and the work ethic to go with it. We feel he can be one of the best skill players in the league next year."
Freshman center, Joe Wilson did an outstanding job his first year and started each game this season. Joe was an integral part of the offense and made a major impact as a freshman. Coach DiCenzo explains, "Joe comes from a great high school program. He came in to camp with the mentality that he was going to compete to start and push his teammates in practice. Joe got better every day of preseason and made it known very early he was one of our best offensive linemen. His work ethic and physicality on the field is tremendous. It's obvious to our staff, he is a leader and has a bright future as a Cardinal."
Wesleyan finished the 2015 season 5-3 in the NESCAC under first year head coach Dan DiCenzo. Returning 19 starters and more than 40 players that saw time at the varsity level, the Cardinals look to build on their wealth of young talent and experience for the 2016 season.