Defense leads eight Newberry Wolves on all-South Atlantic Conference football teams

Defense leads eight Newberry Wolves on all-South Atlantic Conference football teams
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | by Josh Manck, Assistant AD for Athletic Communications

ROCK HILL - The Newberry College Wolves' football team has eight players on the 2014 all-South Atlantic Conference teams, as announced by the league office Wednesday. Of the eight honorees, five are on defensive first team, two on offensive second team and one on defensive second team.

Newberry ended the season with a 5-6 overall record after starting the season at 2-5. The Wolves tied for fourth in the conference with a 3-4 record in the league.

Defensive first team honorees were defensive lineman Alstevis Squirewell (Great Falls, S.C.), linebackers Edmond Robinson (Wadmalaw Island, S.C.) and Taylor McDonnell (Bluffton, S.C.), defensive back Sharon Irwin (Staten Island, N.Y.) and punter Kyle Clark (Beaufort, S.C.).

Offensive second team honorees were offensive lineman Stephen Nance (Rock Hill, S.C.) and long snapper Andrew Smith (Savannah, Ga.), and defensive second team honoree was defensive back Arnez Gray (Greenwood, S.C.).

The South Atlantic Conference postseason honors are determined by a vote amongst the league's eight head coaches.

Defensive lineman Alstevis Squirewell was Newberry's second-leading tackler with 66 total stops on the year. He finished second in the SAC with 16.5 tackles for loss and tied for sixth in the league with 4.5 sacks. His 42 solo stops ranked seventh in the conference. He had a season high of 11 tackles in the home games against Lenoir-Rhyne and Carson-Newman, forcing a fumble against the Bears and notching two sacks against the Eagles.

Linebacker Edmond Robinson was Newberry's leading tackler on the season with 68 tackles 7.5 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and a quarterback hurry. He had a season-best 13 tackles in the Homecoming game against Lenoir-Rhyne and 11 tackles in the season finale at North Greenville. His 52 solo stops ranked second in the conference, while his two fumble recoveries ranked him in the top five in the league.

Robinson earns first team all-SAC honors for the second consecutive year after accepting an invitation to January's East-West Shrine Game on Tuesday. He was also a DAKTRONICS first team all-Super Region Two honoree as a junior in 2013.

Linebacker Taylor McDonnell earns his first career all-SAC award after finishing third on the team with 64 total tackles. He also had 13.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. His 37 solo stops ranked in the top 15 in the conference.

McDonnell had a season high of 10 tackles against Catawba with three tackles for loss in that game as well as the Wingate game. 

Cornerback Sharon Irwin finished fourth in the conference with three interceptions in his senior season, including an 87-yard return for a touchdown to ensure a victory at UNC Pembroke. He also had picks in the season opener at Charleston Southern and the home finale against Carson-Newman. He totaled eight passes defended on the year. Irwin also had 33 total tackles and three tackles for loss on the year.

Punter Kyle Clark repeated as first team all-South Atlantic Conference as a junior, defending his honor from the 2013 season. He led the league and earned the SAC Statistical Championship with a 39.3 yards per punt average on 54 punts. His 64-yard punt against Lenoir-Rhyne was the longest punt in the conference this season. Clark had seven punts over 50 yards and 30 punts inside the opponents' 20-yardline. (No other punter in the Super Region had more than 22 punts inside the opponents' 20.) Clark was also a DAKTRONICS second team all-Super Region Two punter in 2013.

Offensive tackle Stephen Nance was noted as one of the league's top linemen, providing excellent blocking in both the passing and running phases of Newberry's multiple offense. Nance started every game for the Wolves this season and earns his first collegiate postseason honor.

Long snapper Andrew Smith was noted in the preseason all-SAC teams before he had taken over the full-time job at long snapper. He did a great job handling all long snaps this season, also showing great speed downfield on punt coverage after the snap.

Safety Arnez Gray earned his first career all-star award as second team all-SAC defensive back. He finished sixth on the team and first amongst secondary players with 46 tackles. He also had two interceptions and three other pass breakups, ranking him in the top 10 in the conference in INTs. He had a season-high of eight tackles against Lenoir-Rhyne and forced a fumble in the Tusculum game.

Newberry's Kevin Miller (Lexington, S.C.) earned the SAC Statistical Championship in punt returns, with an average of 15.0 yards per punt return. 

As a team, Newberry earned the statistical championship in total defense (298.9 yards per game), which ranks 15th nationally, as well as passing defense (120.2 yards per game), which leads the nation.