Panther Football Places 9 On All GSC All- Star Team

By  //  November 20, 2014

Steven Englehart named Co-Coach of the Year

Gulf South Conference Season Honors-580
Manny Abad, Mark Cato, Matt Garcia, Gabe Hughes (top row, left to right), Xavier Milton, Trevor Sand, J.J. Sanders, Ramsey Sellers and Chris Stapleton (bottom row, left to right) are Florida Tech’s All-GSC honorees. (Florida Tech image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – On Wednesday, the Gulf South Conference released the 2014 All-GSC Football Team and Florida Tech is well represented.

After leading the second-year program to a 6-5 record, including 3-4 in the loaded GSC, head coach Steve Englehart was named Co-Coach of the Year, along with Delta State’s Todd Cooley.

“Obviously it’s nice that the other coaches in the conference feel that I was deserving. My staff and my assistant coaches deserve the recognition probably more than I do. I think there were a lot of deserving coaches,” said Englehart.

“When you look at what Will Hall did in his first year at West Georgia I think he was deserving. I think David Dean at Valdosta State was deserving with the way he was able to rally his team and make it to the playoffs. When you look at Bobby Wallace at North Alabama and how he was able to battle through injuries and make it to the playoffs, he was very deserving as well. And of course, Coach Cooley at Delta State as well. I think all four of those guys were very deserving. I’m very humbled that they would vote for me for that award.”

Wide receiver Xavier Milton joined West Alabama’s Kyle Caldwell as Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Milton led the conference in receiving yards with 1,116. The Alameda, California native also caught more touchdowns than any other conference player, hauling in 10. Additionally, Milton was a unanimous first team all-conference selection.

Quarterback Mark Cato was bestowed with the GSC Offensive Freshman of the Year Award following a season in which he earned eight of the 11 total conference freshman of the week honors. Cato led the GSC in passing touchdowns with 32, good for seventh in all of Division II. The Alachua, Florida native also ranked second in the conference in passing yards, tallying 2,926 yards on the season. Additionally, Cato was named to the All-GSC Second Team.

Steve Englehart
Steve Englehart

“I think Xavier and Cato are both well deserving,” said Englehart. “I think Xavier is one of the most dynamic players in the conference. He’s shown that with what he’s done over the past two years but particularly this year being over 1,000 yards receiving and leading the conference in all of those receiving categories.

“It was probably somewhat of a no-brainer with Cato being named freshman of the week eight times, being the second-leading quarterback in a lot of passing categories and led the conference in touchdown passes. Both of those guys are very deserving. I’m proud of them for the hard work that they put in. It’s a great way for Xavier to end his career and it’s a great way for Mark to start his career.”

Joining Milton on the All-GSC First Team were running back Trevor Sand, tight end Gabe Hughes and linebacker J.J. Sanders. Along with Cato, offensive linemen Ramsey Sellers and Matt Garcia, linebacker Chris Stapleton and defensive back Manny Abad were second team selections.

Mark Cato
Mark Cato

Sand led the conference in rushing with 1,105 yards, while also recording nine touchdowns. Sand averaged 6.4 yards per carry and was the only conference player to average triple digits in rushing, registering an average of 100.5 yards per game. The Seminole, Florida native recorded FIT’s first-ever 1,000 yard rushing season.

Hughes ranked second on the team in receiving yards, tallying 492 yards on 23 catches. The junior’s 21.4 yards per reception average is the highest among Panthers with at least five catches. The Lighthouse Point, Florida native hauled in six touchdowns on the year, including the last second game-winner against West Alabama and an 80-yard catch and run against Valdosta State.

Sanders led the conference in tackles per game (8.4), tackles for loss (17.5) and forced fumbles (4) despite missing the Panthers’ first two games of the season. The Columbus, Ohio native also finished the season with 74 total tackles, including 41 solo stops, eight sacks totaling 96 yards, three pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.

Gabe Hughes
Gabe Hughes

Sellers, a senior from Wiggins, Mississippi, and Garcia, a senior from Orange Park, Florida, anchored a strong Panthers offensive line that set up the second-leading offense in the GSC. It garnered 5,364 total yards and an average of 35.6 points per game. The duo helped block for the conference’s leading rusher in Sand and leading receiver in Milton, as well as the GSC’s second-leading passer in Cato.

Stapleton led the GSC in total tackles with 90, including 52 solo stops. The Navarre, Florida native was second on the team in tackles for loss with 11 and sacks with five. Additionally, the redshirt sophomore forced a fumble at West Georgia and recovered a fumble against Tarleton State.

Panther’s Englehart Named Co-Coach of the Year In GSCRelated Story:
Panther’s Englehart Named Co-Coach of the Year In GSC

Abad was the GSC’s leader in pass breakups with nine. The Cuban native also tied for fourth in the conference in interceptions with three, giving him a total of 12 passes defended, most in the GSC. In total, the redshirt sophomore tallied 36 tackles, including 21 solo stops, and also recovered a fumble. Additionally, Abad was named FIT’s first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-District selection.

“Those guys were big time contributors for our team and I think they stacked up very well with the opponents and players that we played against,” Englehart added. “It’s nice that the coaches recognized those players for what they’re doing on the field.”