GREENWOOD, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference released its 2011 Football All-HCAC Team on Wednesday, with 10 Yellow Jackets earning postseason accolades for the Defiance College football program.
DC ended the 2011 season with a 4-4 clip in HCAC play and a 4-6 overall mark. Defiance had five seniors recognized, with four juniors and one freshman joining them on the All-HCAC squad. Andy Cessna, Gregg Pickett and Tony Sierra led the way with First-Team All-HCAC honors, while Ryan Black, Hunter Robertson and Nick Wiedenhoft picked up Second-Team All-HCAC nods. Defiance also placed Drew Kuesel, Rick Powell and Josh Slayton on the Honorable Mention All-HCAC list, with James Buari representing DC on the HCAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
Cessna earned his second-straight First-Team All-HCAC honor from the tight end position, after capping his career at DC ranked second on the squad with 25.3 receiving yards per outing. Cessna also finished third on the roster in total receptions, while playing a critical blocking role in the Jackets' running attack.
Pickett anchored the DC defensive live by starting all 10 games at nose-tackle and garnered First-Team All-HCAC attention for the first time in his career. The junior finished fourth in the league with 3.5 sacks and 13th with 7.0 tackles for lost yardage. Pickett's finest performance came in a 21-18 win at Rose-Hulman, after helping hold the Engineers without a rushing yard and picking up 2.5 hits for a loss and one sack, en route to being named to the D3football.com National Team of the Week.
Joining Cessna and Pickett on the First-Team was junior strong safety and punt return specialist, Tony Sierra. The award was Sierra's third First-Team All-HCAC nod in as many years, after ranking 19th in the nation and leading the league with 13.5 yards per punt return. Sierra added 52 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defended and set a DC record with an 84-yard punt return for a score in Defiance's 23-13 win at Mount St. Joseph to earn HCAC Special Teams Player-of-the-Week and D3football.com Team-of-the-Week honors.
Black claimed his second All-HCAC award with a Second-Team All-HCAC selection, after starting all 10 games at the center position for Defiance. The senior paved the way for a rushing attack that averaged 186.0 yards per game over eight HCAC contests, including a pair of 250-plus yard games for the Jackets in wins over Rose-Hulman and Earlham.
Robertson started at middle linebacker for the Jackets in all 10 games of 2011 and earned Second-Team All-HCAC status for his second-straight conference award. Robertson led Defiance with 79 tackles as a junior and ranked 13th in the HCAC with 7.8 stops per game in league action.
Wiedenhoft notched his first postseason award by being named Second-Team All-HCAC as a senior wide receiver. Wiedenhoft ended among the top eight players in the conference and topped Defiance with 34 catches and 436 receiving yards in 10 games played.
DC's top running threats, Powell and Kuesel, each were named Honorable Mention All-HCAC during their senior campaigns, after Powell accounted for seven touchdowns and 1,771 total yards of offense from his quarterback position and Kuesel ran for eight scores and 655 yards.
Slayton was Defiance's only freshman to make the list, being named Honorable Mention All-HCAC, after leading the Jackets and ranking third in the league with eight passes defended in as many HCAC games from his cornerback position.
The Jackets were also represented on the HCAC All-Sportsmanship Team by Buari, as the junior linebacker saw time in all 10 games during 2011.
Pickett, Sierra, Robertson, Slayton and Buari are all set to return to DC for the 2012 campaign, as the group will anchor an experienced defensive unit with the hopes of leading a bounce back performance on the gridiron for the Purple and Gold.