KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 16, 2016) – On Wednesday, the Liberty League announced the end-of-the-year award winners and All-Liberty honors for the 2016 season and the USMMA football team had nine players recognized for their efforts this year. Four Mariners were named to the All-Liberty First Team, while two earned Second Team honors and three more were Honorable Mentions.
Representing Merchant Marine on the First Team were sophomore fullback Wiley Martin (Polo, Mo.) and senior offensive lineman Parker Johnson (Middletown, Md.) on offense, senior defensive back Patrick Keyes (Parsippany, N.J.) on defense and junior quarterback Brice Moore (Pace, Fla.) on specialists as an athlete.
Senior tight end Robert Baker (Whitinsville, Mass.) and senior linebacker Joshua Woodburn (Huntingtown, Md.) earned Second Team honors and juniors Bob Heyward (Islip Terrace, N.Y.) and Erik Swayne (Great Falls, Va.) and freshman Joe Vitelli (Warrington, Pa.) were named All-Liberty Honorable Mentions.
For the complete release from the Liberty League, click here.
Martin ranked second on the Mariners with 633 yards on the ground to go along with nine rushing touchdowns. His nine rushing TDs were tied for second in the conference, while his 633 total yards and 70.3 yards per game ranked seventh in the league. The 2015 Liberty Rookie of the Year was also sixth in the conference in scoring with 6.0 points per game. This is Martin's second recognition by the Liberty League in his career, as he was an Honorable Mention on offense in 2015.
Johnson was a member of the USMMA offensive line that helped lead the squad to the nation's third best rushing offense with 299.9 rushing yards per game. The Mariners also ranked sixth in the country in sacks allowed (0.50 per game) and ninth in tackles for losses allowed (3.89 per game) thanks to Johnson's efforts on the O-Line. This is the second straight season that Johnson has been selected to the All-Liberty First Team Offense.
Keyes led the Merchant Marine defense in 2016 with 64 total tackles (40 solo and 24 assisted), including two tackles for losses of a combined six yards, one interception, three pass break-ups and one blocked punt in the Coast Guard game. This is the third time in Keyes' career that he has been named to the All-Liberty Team, as he earned Second Team honors in both 2014 and 2015.
Moore was the team and conference leader in both rushing yards (1,041 yards) and rushing touchdowns (12). His 115.7 rushing yards per game ranks 28th in the nation, while his 12 rushing TDs ranks 31st. He also threw for 766 yards and five touchdowns. Moore ranked fifth in the Liberty League with 116.22 all-purpose yards per game. He was recognized as a Liberty Offensive Player of the Week twice this year and landed on the Weekly Honor Roll four times.
This is Baker's second postseason recognition from the Liberty League in his career, as he was an Honorable Mention on offense after the 2015 season. Baker provided help on the Mariners' offensive line, which resulted in the team boasting the third-best rushing offense in the country (299.9 yards per game). He also caught three passes this season for 62 yards.
Like Johnson, Heyward was another integral part of the USMMA offensive line. Because of his efforts up front, the Mariners rank third in the nation with 299.9 rushing yards, while also ranking sixth in the country in with 0.50 sacks allowed per game and ninth with 3.89 tackles for losses allowed per game.
Woodburn was the Mariners' leader in tackles before suffering a season-ending injury on Oct. 15. He finished the season with 37 tackles (27 solo and 10 assisted), including 5.5 for combined losses of 10 yards with 1.5 sacks. The senior also recovered one fumble on the road at Hobart. This is the second-straight season that Woodburn has been selected to the All-Liberty Second Team.
Swayne was the Mariners' leading punter with 1,566 punting yards on 40 punts. His 39.2 yards per punt ranked third in the Liberty League and 36th in the nation. Seven of his punts landed within the opponents' 20-yard line and he had a season-long punt of 52 yards in the finale on Nov. 12 against Springfield. Swayne also connected on two field goals early in the season and averaged 47.9 yards per kick on 44 kickoffs.
For his work as a return specialist, Vitelli was named an All-Liberty Honorable Mention after ranking second in the conference and 22nd in the nation with a total of 740 combined return yards. He returned 32 kickoffs a total of 652 yards (20.4 yards per return), with a season-long of 56 yards in the season-opener up at Coast Guard. He also amassed 88 return yards on 10 punt returns and caught 14 passes for 150 receiving yards. Vitelli was named the Liberty Rookie of the Week back on Oct. 10.
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