ST. PAUL, Minn. – Six Eureka College football players have received All-Upper Midwest Athletic Conference honors, according to an announcement from the league office Thursday afternoon. Four of the six recipients are repeat choices from a year ago, including First Team selections for senior free safety Mike Minehan (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./McKendree) and senior wide receiver Wes Schmidgall (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S./Culver-Stockton).
In addition to the First Team selections, Eureka placed four on the All-UMAC Second Team. Junior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke, Ill./Roanoke-Benson H.S.) and senior tight end Alex Hess (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) were repeat selections on the offensive side of the ball, while sophomore linebacker Jacob Carls (El Paso, Ill./El Paso-Gridley H.S.) and junior punter Jordan Jefferson (Normal, Ill./Normal West H.S.) were first-time recipients on the Second Team.
Minehan started all 10 games in the Eureka secondary in 2011 despite a broken hand suffered Oct. 8 at Martin Luther. He led the UMAC with 111 tackles in 2011, adding 1.0 sack, 5.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and eight pass breakups. He was also named UMAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 20 of this season, the third weekly UMAC award of his career. He brought his three-year Eureka career to a close last Saturday with 314 tackles, the most by any defensive back in program history. His final career totals also include five interceptions and 1,462 return yards. Minehan was an All-UMAC South Division Second Team choice as a sophomore in 2009 and an All-UMAC First Team selection last season.
Schimdgall joins Minehan as repeat First Team selections and has now received First Team accolades in each of his three seasons as a Red Devil. This season, he led the UMAC and ranked fifth nationally in Division III with 1,247 receiving yards. His 73 receptions ranked second in the league and his 16 touchdowns ranked tied for first. For his four-year collegiate career that includes numbers from his freshman season at NAIA Culver-Stockton, Schimdgall made 196 catches for 3,631 yards and 43 touchdowns. Following his 18-catch, 273-yard performance on Oct. 22, he was named to the D3Football.com national Team of the Week and received UMAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in his career.
Durley turned in his best individual season yet and one of the most productive seasons under center in program history. He finished the campaign 203-for-390 for a UMAC-best 2,869 yards and 26 touchdowns. His final average of 286.9 passing yards per game ranked 12th in Division III and his 277.3 yards of total offense ranked 22nd. Durley broke a single-game school record on four different occasions in 2011 and owns the program's single-game marks in completions (35 vs. Greenville on Oct. 22), passing yards (478 at Presentation on Sept. 24 and passing touchdowns (eight at Presentation on Sept. 24). He originally broke the completions record on Sept. 24 at Presentation with 29. Durley's effort at Presenation earned him UMAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in his career. He also earned All-UMAC Second Team accolades as a sophomore in 2010.
Hess gave Eureka a versatile weapon on offense, contributing as a tight end, slot receiver and fullback as part of the Red Devils' spread attack. He finished the season with 41 receptions for 560 yards and two touchdowns, all single-season career-bests. He also carried the ball 11 times for 24 yards and two touchdowns as a short-yardage specialist. Hess, who joined Minehan and Schimdgall as preseason Division III All-America selections by D3Proday.com, finished his three-year Eureka career with 100 catches for 1,254 yards and five touchdowns. He also scored six touchdowns on the ground. Hess was also a two-time all-conference choice in baseball at Eureka and was the only male student-athlete from a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member school to earn all-conference First Team honors in two different sports in 2010.
Carls is on the postseason All-UMAC Team for the first time after finishing his sophomore campaign with 87 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions. Carls, who has started all 20 games since joining the program prior to the 2010 season, made 10 tackles or more on three different occasions in 2010, including a career-high 15 stops in a win at Martin Luther on Oct. 8. His first interception of the season came in the final minute of Eureka's homecoming game against Westminster on Oct. 1, securing Eureka's 22-18 come-from-behind victory in front of an overflow crowd at McKinzie Field.
Jefferson, starting for the third consecutive season, emerged as one of the league's best punters in 2011. He averaged 37.6 yards on 55 punts during the year, putting 14 kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line. His season-long punt of 61 yards was booted in Eureka's homecoming victory over Westminster on Oct. 1, and 14 of his punts resulted in fair catches. Jefferson was a two-time UMAC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2011, earning the award on Sept. 20 and again on Oct. 25. Jefferson also added depth at quarterback and various special teams for the Red Devils.
Eureka junior defensive tackle Josh Girard (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) also received postseason recognition from the UMAC on Thursday as Eureka's recipient of the league's Individual Sportsmanship Award. Each of the 10 conference teams had one player receive the award, and Crown received the UMAC's Team Sportsmanship Award.
Undefeated league champion St. Scholastica earned four of the five individual postseason specialty awards from the UMAC. Quarterback Alex Thiry was the Offensive Player of the Year, linebacker Sean Graskey was chosen as Defensive Player of the Year, kicker Mike Theismann received Special Teams Player of the Year and fourth-year head coach Greg Carlson was named the league's Coach of the Year. Northwestern junior Josh Swore was named Lineman of the Year. St. Scholastica will represent the UMAC in the 32-team NCAA Division III playoffs beginning this Saturday at #3 St. Thomas (Minn.) at noon in St. Paul, Minn.
Eureka finished the 2011 season with a 4-6 overall record and a 4-5 UMAC record to finish sixth in the 10-team league.