December 1, 2008

Eight Pioneers Earn All-NEC Honors after 8-3 Season

Dec. 1, 2008

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (December 1, 2008) - The Sacred Heart football team placed eight Pioneers on the All-Northeast Conference football teams announced Monday afternoon. Quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL), wide receiver Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) and return specialist Garry Coles (Southington, CT) all earned first team honors after helping lead the Pioneers to an 8-3 campaign this fall.

In addition to SHU's three first teamers, offensive linemen Ryan Arroyo (Florence, NJ) and Justin Smith (Binghamton, NY), defensive end Bill O'Brien (Lafayette, NY), cornerback Andre Isla (Brookhaven, NY) and place kicker Joe Schroeder (Jackson, NJ) were all named to the All-NEC second team.

Fink and Tedesco fueled the Pioneers offensive attack in 2008, each breaking their share of school records this fall. Fink led the NEC in passing efficiency, completing a league-high 67.8% of his passes. The r-sophomore signal caller threw for 2,102 yards, completing 215-of-317 passes for a league-best 24 touchdowns.

Fink's 67.8% completion percentage and 215 total completions set single-season program records while during the season he broke the school record for career touchdown throws and heads in to his junior season sitting on 47 career scoring throws. Fink entered the season finale with Central Connecticut having thrown at least one touchdown in each of his career starts but saw the streak end when he was knocked out of the game with the Blue Devils with an injury. He twice during the regular season tied the school record for touchdown throws in a game when he tossed four scores against Saint Francis (PA) and Wagner, a mark he has now hit four times in his two seasons.

Tedesco, whose breakout 2007 season earned him All-NEC honors last season and preseason all-conference accolades heading into this fall, capped a sensational junior campaign where he led the NEC in every receiving category. The junior wideout finished the year with 77 catches for 891 yards and 10 touchdown catches, all conference leading marks. He averaged 7.00 catches and 81.0 yards per game, numbers that ranked him fifth and 33rd, respectively, in the nation.

Tedesco closed out his 2008 season by catching seven balls for 101 yards and a touchdown against CCSU, his fourth 100-yard receiving game on the year. The CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District receiver now owns the school records for single-season receptions (77), career catches (162), career receiving yards (1,983), and career TD catches (26). Tedesco tied the school record for catches in a game when he hauled in 12 passes for 121 yards at Duquesne.

Freshman Garry Coles burst onto the league scene this season winning the conference's first two Rookie of the Week awards on the season. Coles backed up senior Evin Jones in the backfield but earns All-NEC honors on special teams after leading the NEC in kickoff return average. Coles had 25 returns on the year and averaged 25.0 yards per kickoff with a long of 48 yards. As a team, the Pioneers led the Northeast Conference in the return game, averaging 22.1 yards per return.

Also picking up special team honors was Schroeder who earned second team honors for his place kicking duties in 2008. Schroeder bounced back in 2008 by finishing the season four-of-five on his field goal attempts while converting 40 of 42 extra points. He finished the season third among kickers in scoring with 52 points and ninth among all players in scoring at 4.7 points per game. He earned his first career NEC Special Teams Player of the Week award after booming a pair of career-long field goals in a 41-24 win at Saint Francis (PA), connecting from 45 and 42 yards.

The Pioneer offense ended the year ranked second in the NEC in scoring (29.1 ppg), pass offense (213.4 ypg), fourth in rushing offense (148.5 ypg) and fourth in total offense (342.1 ypg) on the year, thanks to the work up front by a pair of all-conference linemen in Arroyo and Smith. The duo helped anchor an offensive line that allowed a league-low seven sacks on the year, including a stretch of 31-straight quarters without allowing a sack on quarterback Dale Fink. For the senior Arroyo and r-sophomore Smith, it is their first career all-conference nods and first for a Pioneer offensive linemen since the 2005 season when Xavier Sanchez earned first team honors.

Defensively, SHU's O'Brien finished the season with 61 total tackles, third on the team, including 8.0 stops for a loss and three sacks on the year. He also added a fumble recovery and a pass break-up from his defensive end position. In the defensive backfield, Isla led the Pioneers four interceptions on the season, tied for third in the NEC. Isla finished tied for third in the NEC with 10 passes defended in 2008.