The South Atlantic Conference Announces 2019 Football Award Winners

The South Atlantic Conference Announces 2019 Football Award Winners

ROCK HILL, S.C. ( – The South Atlantic Conference Champion Lenoir-Rhyne Bears had conference-leading 15 All-SAC football selections as the annual football honors were released today.

Leading the way on offense was two-time Offensive Player of the Year Craig Rucker from Mars Hill, and Offensive Freshman of the Year Troy Dendy from Carson-Newman. On the defensive side of the ball, Lenoir-Rhyne's Jaquan Artis was named Defensive Player of the Year and Mars Hill's Dexter Fitzpatrick was named Defensive Freshman of the Year. Lenoir-Rhyne's Jason Poe was named the Jacobs Blocking Trophy award winner for the second year in a row and Lenoir-Rhyne head coach Drew Cronic took home Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive year.

Rucker, a senior wide receiver from Orlando, Fla., finished the season ranked first in the conference in touchdowns (14), receiving yards (1,325), all-purpose yards (1,643), receiving yards per game (120.5) and receptions (97). He is ranked in the top five in NCAA Division II in receiving yards per game (No. 5), receiving yards (No. 3), receptions per game (No. 2) and receiving touchdowns (No. 7). He set a new SAC career touchdown record, scoring 43 touchdowns during his career as a Lion. For his efforts, Rucker was awarded SAC AstroTurf Football Offensive Player of the Week honors during the 2019 season.

Dendy, a freshman running back from Laurens, S.C., was one of the top rushers in the conference, racking up 611 yards on the ground with an average of 61.1 yards per game and six touchdowns. Dendy rushed for more than 100 yards in three games, including a 200-yard performance on Nov. 9 versus Limestone. He was named the SAC AstroTurf Offensive Player of the Week during the season.

Artis, a senior defensive end from Kinston, N.C., was a force on defense for the Bears this season. He led the SAC in sacks with 12 and is ranked ninth in NCAA Division II in sacks per game, averaging 1.05 per game. He made 65 total tackles this season, including 36 solo tackles, with 19.5 tackles for loss, accounting for 95 yards. Behind his leadership, the Bears rank No. 4 in the nation in team sacks and they are No. 6 in rushing defense allowing just 77.1 yards per game on the ground.

Fitzpatrick, a freshman linebacker from LaGrange, Ga., had a fantastic season for the Lions. He had 79 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and he broke up a pass. He finished the regular season ranked fourth in the conference in total tackles and ninth in tackles per game (7.2).

Poe, a junior offensive lineman from Fitzgerald, Ga., played in all 11 games for the Bears and help lead them to the 2019 SAC Football Championship. He anchored an O-Line that helped the Bears accumulate 2,969 rushing yards and 1,886 passing yards during the 2019 season.

In his second season at the helm of the Lenoir-Rhyne football team, Cronic led the Bears to the 2019 SAC Football Championship, the Bears' second consecutive championship, with a perfect 8-0 record in conference. Ranked No. 6 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches Poll, Cronic's Bears are ranked in the top-15 nationally in scoring offense (42.3 points per game), scoring defense (15.7 points per game), rushing offense (270.5 yards per game) and they are one of just nine unbeaten teams in NCAA Division II. The Bears are currently riding an 11-game winning streak as they head into the 2019 NCAA Division II Football Playoffs.

In addition to Lenoir-Rhyne's 15 All-SAC selections, Wingate had 13 All-SAC picks, while Carson-Newman had 11 selections. Tusculum had six honorees, while Limestone had five and Newberry had four All-SAC selections. UVa-Wise had three players named All-SAC after their first season of play in the conference, with Catawba and Mars Hill rounding out the All-SAC selections with two each.

2019 South Atlantic Conference Football All-Conference 


QB –       Grayson Willingham, Lenoir-Rhyne

RB –        Antonio Wimbush, Carson-Newman

RB –        Nijere Peoples, Wingate

RB –        Domineke McNeill, Wingate

WR –     Craig Rucker, Mars Hill

WR –     Braxton Westfield, Carson-Newman

WR –     Jalen Brooks, Wingate

OL –       Andrew Strickland, Wingate

OL –       Jason Poe, Lenoir-Rhyne

OL –       Keveon Broadwater, Tusculum

OL –       Connor Baroniounas, Wingate

OL –       Phillip McDowell, Carson-Newman

TE –       Drake Starks, Lenoir-Rhyne

PK –       McLean Robertson-Wingate

LS –        Dawson Campbell, Carson-Newman

RS –        Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne


DL –       Jaquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne

DL –       Dan Louba, Lenoir-Rhyne

DL –       Keito Jordon, Newberry

DL –       Jordon Anderson, Wingate

LB –        Robbie Wallace, Wingate

LB –        Ivan Hogans, Tusculum

LB –        Clayton Horn, Lenoir-Rhyne

LB –        Rondrow Peebles, Carson-Newman

DB –       Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

DB –       Dee Alford, Tusculum

DB –       Desmond Fairell, Carson-Newman

DB –       Davion Washington, Wingate

P –         Thomas Cook, Limestone



QB –      Shaw Crocker, Wingate

QB -        Derrick Evans, Carson-Newman

RB –       Jaquay Mitchell, Lenoir-Rhyne

RB –       Ameen Stevens, Lenoir-Rhyne

RB –       Jerko'ya Patton, Limestone

WR –     Deshun Kitchings, Newberry

WR –     B.J. Muckelvene, Wingate

WR –     Tory Ponder, Tusculum

OL –       Jordan Seal, Carson-Newman

OL –       Travis James, Mars Hill

OL –       Tyler Anderson, Newberry

OL –       Ronnie Clifton, Lenoir-Rhyne

OL –       Cameron Thomason, Limestone

TE –       Trevor Makarov, Carson-Newman

PK –       Chase Allbaugh, Lenoir-Rhyne

LS –        Travis Morgan, Newberry

RS –       Demetrius Mann, UVA-Wise



DL –       Amari Houston, Lenoir-Rhyne             

DL –       Cal Hanford, Wingate

DL –       Montel Presely, Carson-Newman       

DL –       Kelvin Atkins, Limestone   

LB –        Austin Hicks, UVA-Wise

LB –        Elijah Gilmore, Wingate     

LB –        Jeremiah Ferguson, Catawba             

LB –        Jackson Cauthen, Tusculum

DB –       Eric Jackson, Lenoir-Rhyne

DB –       Marcus Tarrer, UVA-Wise

DB –       Chris Page, Catawba         

DB –       Malik Goodman, Tusculum                

DB-         Mannie Ogletree, Limestone

P -       Nate Craft, Carson-Newman

P-        Michael Owen-Lenoir-Rhyne


Offensive Freshman of the Year

Troy Dendy, Carson-Newman

Defensive Freshman of the Year

Dexter Fitzpatrick, Mars Hill 

Offensive Player of the Year

Craig Rucker, Mars Hill

Defensive Player of the Year

Jaquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne

Jacobs Blocking Trophy

Jason Poe, Lenoir-Rhyne

Coach of the Year

Drew Cronic, Lenoir-Rhyne

Statistical Champions
Rushing Yards Per Game: Antonio Wimbush, Carson-Newman (88.9)
Passing Yards Per Game: Jimmy Urzua, Mars Hill (210.1)
Total Offense Per Game: Jimmy Urzua, Mars Hill (210.9)
Receptions Per Game: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (8.8)
Receiving Yards Per Game: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (120.5)
All-Purpose Yards Per Game: Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (149.36)
Passing Efficiency Rating: Grayson Willingham, Lenoir-Rhyne (183.7)
Punt Return Avg.: Demetrius Mann, UVa-Wise (20.9)
Kick Return Avg.: Thurlow Wilkins, Tusculum (32.6)
Punting Avg.: Thomas Cook, Limestone (43.1)
Scoring Average (TDs): Craig Rucker, Mars Hill (9.8)
Scoring Average (K): McLean Robertson, Wingate (8.2)
Field Goals Per Game: McLean Robertson, Wingate (1.36)
Field Goal Percentage: Eli Shepherd, Tusculum (.800)
Tackles Per Game: Marcus Tarrer, UVa-Wise (8.8)
Sacks Per Game: Jarquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne (1.05)
Tackles for Loss Per Game: Jarquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne (1.7)
Interceptions Per Game: Desmond Fairell, Carson-Newman (0.70)
Team Scoring Offense: Lenoir-Rhyne (42.3)
Team Scoring Defense: Lenoir-Rhyne (15.7)
Team Passing Offense: Mars Hill (306.1)
Team Passing Defense: Newberry (145.4)
Team Rushing Offense: Carson-Newman (316.9)
Team Rushing Defense: Lenoir-Rhyne (77.1)
Team Total Offense: Lenoir-Rhyne (442)
Team Total Defense: Carson-Newman (287.9)