ROCK HILL, S.C. – No. 18 Carson-Newman has earned nine spots on the South Atlantic All-Conference teams. Five Eagles earned first team all-conference honors while four made the second team.
First team selections are Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) at running back, Alex Taylor (Bristol, Tenn.) at right tackle, Curt Duncan (Morristown, Tenn.) as placekicker, Jaycob Coleman (Norton, Va.) at linebacker and Javaris Neal (Columbia, Tenn.) at defensive end.
Running back Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.), left guard Lucas Mathis (Greenwood, S.C.) and cornerback Eien Jacob (Jeanerette, La.) made the second team. Taylor also made the second team as a long snapper.
Baker has rushed for 872 yards in his senior season to go along with eight touchdowns. His ability to score from miles away has vastly improved in his final go-around at Mossy Creek. A year ago, Baker had three touchdowns longer than 20 yards. This season, Baker has that many scores from longer than 50 yards.
"He has been a guy that's just continued to improve," Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks said. "When he's well, he makes things happen for us. He's developed into our go-to guy."
Baker is peaking at the right time, four of his last six games have seen him rush for more than 140 yards and three of his last six have found him in the end zone twice. He ranks third in the league in rushing yards per game and his 7.7 yards per carry are the best mark in the league.
His 3,324 rushing yards are fifth all-time at Carson-Newman and his 35 career touchdowns are tied for seventh all-time at C-N.
A four-year starter who, barring any short of the apocalypse, will make his 47th consecutive start for Carson-Newman along the offensive line, Taylor has cleared the way for a rushing attack that has ranked in the top five nationally in all four of his season's at Carson-Newman.
"A four-year starter who's been a leader and somebody that we can always count on to make something happen on the offensive line," Sparks said. "He's never been overmatched since he's been at Carson-Newman."
This year he ranks third on the offensive line with 21 knockdowns. He has the second highest grade among the Eagles' offensive line and has the second most grade outs for offensive coordinator Mike Turner's stringent system. With him as longsnapper, the Eagles have not had a kick blocked.
What hasn't the kicker from Morristown, Tenn. done? For the second straight year, Duncan has connected on a school record 14 field goals; one more and he breaks a tie with himself, Louis Reveiz and Rick Whetsel.
"He hasn't had as good a year as he wanted, but some of us have contributed to that for not blocking good," Sparks said. "He's a tremendous talent who's made some big kicks. He's not your typical kicker because of the athlete he is. He's a tennis player and could play soccer if he wanted to."
He leads the SAC in scoring among kickers and is second in the league in scoring only to Carson-Newman quarterback De'Andre Thomas (Milledgeville, Ga.). Duncan's 94 points are the second highest scoring total for a single season for a kicker in C-N history. He's eight points away from the mark he set last season.
Jaycob Coleman has had as good a season defensively for Carson-Newman as any player in the last 15 years. Coleman needs four more tackles to become the first Eagle with 120 tackles in a single season since the turn of the century. He needs eight more to start working is way in to the top 10 for the most tackles in a single season.
"He's been a great story of mission accomplished," Sparks said. "He's made a lot of progress personally and athletically. The foundation is laid for him to do great things."
The senior has put together five consecutive games with 10 tackles or more. His 17 tackles against Tusculum are the second highest total since 1996 and tied for 11th all-time at C-N.
He is the first player with multiple 15-tackle performances in a single season since current Carson-Newman defensive coordinator and consensus All-American Mike Clowney was playing for C-N in his senior season back in 1996. Coleman is fourth in the league and 22nd in the nation in tackles per game. He's also recovered a fumble for a touchdown and picked off two passes this year.
Javaris Neal improved upon SAC defensive freshman of the year honors a year ago to jump to the all-conference first team in his sophomore campaign. The Columbia, Tenn.-native rumbled for a 41-yard interception return against Newberry and also picked off a pass against Mars Hill.
"A guy that just keeps improving," Sparks said. "He's got great athletic ability who has a knack for making big plays. When he's not held, he's probably going to make a play. He's held more than anyone on our team."
Neal is fifth in the league in tackles among defensive linemen. He's sixth in the league overall in sacks. He had a career best nine tackles against Brevard. Neal turned in season best 2.5 tackle for loss-performances against Brevard and Wingate. He also took down the opposing quarterback 1.5 times in both those games.
Douglas makes his second consecutive appearance on the all-conference second team. Douglas leads Carson-Newman with five, 100-yard games this year. He's second on the team for rushing touchdowns with nine.
"He's one of those guys who will hurt you when he runs," Sparks said. "He runs with great determination and we're fortunate to have him as a four-year starter."
Douglas reeled off a career long 69-yard run against Brevard. He needs 166 more yards to become the ninth player in C-N football history with more than 3,000 yards for his career. His 40 career touchdowns rank him fourth all-time in C-N football history.
A stalwart on the offensive line who has started 35 consecutive games for Carson-Newman, Mathis leads Carson-Newman in overall grade this season among the offensive linemen and is second in knockdowns with 23. He has graded out five times this year, and has the highest individual grade of the year for C-N, a 78 out of 80 against Brevard.
"This has probably been his finest year," Sparks said. "He's just made so many things happen for us offensively."
He, along with Taylor have been the pillars for the Eagles' hard-driving offensive line that has piled up 45 rushing touchdowns this season.
For the fourth consecutive year, Carson-Newman has an all-conference cornerback. Eien Jacob is 24th in the nation and second in the SAC with his five picks. With his two interceptions against Newberry, Jacob became the first Eagle with a multi-pick game since Oliver Davis had a pair against Tusculum in 2010.
"A great newcomer who has filled a hole for us and filled it very spectacularly," Sparks said. "His five picks and the big plays he's made have been a major contribution to our team. He's just fun to be around."
He finished the year with a career best seven-tackle day against Wingate. Jacob needs a pair of picks to break into the top 10 for most interceptions in a single season at C-N.
SAC Offensive Player of the Year – Bo Cordell, Tusculum
SAC Defensive Player of the Year – Michael Green, Lenoir-Rhyne
SAC Offensive Freshman of the Year – Trent Miller, Mars Hill
SAC Defensive Freshman of the Year – Rodney Singleton, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jacobs Blocking Trophy – Joe Ray, Lenoir-Rhyne
SAC Coach of the Year – Mike Houston, Lenoir-Rhyne
All-SAC First Team Offense
QB – Bo Cordell, Tusculum
RB – Shaikel Davis, Mars Hill
RB – Brandon Baker, Carson-Newman
RB – Jarrod Spears, Lenoir-Rhyne
WR – Dimitri Holmes, Mars Hill
WR – Corey Washington, Newberry
WR – Justin Houston, Tusculum
OL – Denzell Goode, Mars Hill
OL – Alex Taylor, Carson-Newman
OL – Joe Ray, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Jamal Ellis, Newberry
OL – Zack Bunn, Lenoir-Rhyne
TE – Wesley Powell, Tusculum
LS – Austin Crook, Newberry
P – Kyle Clark, Newberry
PK – Curt Duncan, Carson-Newman/Zach Neumann, Lenoir-Rhyne
All-SAC First Team Defense
DL – Blake Baker, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Troy Harris, Mars Hill
DL – Letavious Williams, Newberry
DL – Javaris Neal, Carson-Newman
LB – Sammy Siasia, Mars Hill
LB – Tanner Botts, Lenoir-Rhyne
LB – Jaycob Coleman, Carson-Newman
LB – Edmond Robinson, Newberry
DB – Michael Green, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – L.J. McCray, Catawba
DB – Myer Nolan, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – David Davis, Newberry
RS – L.J. McCray, Catawba
All-SAC Second Team Offense
QB – Robbie Nallenweg, Wingate/W.T. Murden, Newberry
RB – Isaiah Whitaker, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Kelvin Jeter, Brevard
RB – Tyron Douglas, Carson-Newman
WR – Nate Charest, Catawba
WR – Jordan Berry, Wingate
WR – Deon Hicks, Tusculum
OL – Lucas Mathis, Carson-Newman
OL – Will Poteat, Wingate
OL – David Davis, Tusculum
OL – Nick Allison, Mars Hill
OL – Landon Martin, Newberry/Taylor Fender, Catawba
TE – Brandon Ellington, Wingate
LS – Alex Taylor, Carson-Newman
P – Austin Anthony, Wingate
All-SAC Second Team Defense
DL – Jimmy Long, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Nick Napolitano, Wingate
DL – Jonathan Jean, Catawba
DL – Josh Davis, Tusculum
LB – Brian Alexander, Tusculum
LB – Michael Gruber, Brevard
LB – Jason Taylor, Catawba
LB – B.J. Mazyck, Newberry
DB – Eien Jacob, Carson-Newman
DB – O'Neil Blake, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Jacob McCleery, Brevard
DB – Jon Jimenez, Wingate
RS – Jason Livingston, Newberry
SAC Statistical Champions
Rushing Yards per Game – Shaikel Davis, Mars Hill (125.4)
Passing Yards per Game – Bo Cordell, Tusculum (356.4)
Total Offense per Game – Bo Cordell, Tusculum (365.1)
Receptions per Game – Justin Houston, Tusculum (11.0)
Receiving Yards per Game – Dimitri Holmes, Mars Hill (144.6)
All-Purpose Yards per Game – Justin Houston, Tusculum (191.4)
Pass Efficiency Rating – W.T. Murden, Newberry (151.8)
Punt Return Average – Jason Livingston, Newberry (12.2)
Kick Return Average – Tim Nalesnik, Wingate (27.3)
Punting Average – Kyle Clark, Newberry (39.0)
Scoring Average (TDs) – De'Andre Thomas, Carson-Newman (8.73)
Scoring Average (Kicking) – Curt Duncan, Carson-Newman (8.55)
Field Goals per Game – Curt Duncan, Carson-Newman (1.27)
Field Goal Percentage – Patrick Smith, Wingate/Victor Yurco, Mars Hill (.860)
Tackles per Game – Sammy Siasia, Mars Hill (14.1)
Sacks per Game – Blake Baker, Lenoir-Rhyne (0.95) Tackles for Loss per Game – Troy Harris, Mars Hill (1.86)
Interceptions per Game – Michael Green, Lenoir-Rhyne (0.64)
Scoring Offense – Carson-Newman (39.3)
Scoring Defense – Lenoir-Rhyne (13.8)
Passing Offense – Tusculum (365.3)
Passing Defense – Newberry (200.9)
Rushing Offense – Lenoir-Rhyne (376.9)
Rushing Defense – Lenoir-Rhyne (85.9)
Total Offense – Carson-Newman (487.2)
Total Defense – Lenoir-Rhyne (307.6)