Seven Eureka football players named all-UMAC

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Seven Eureka College football players have been named to the 2012 All-Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Team, the league office announced Thursday afternoon. The announcement included a First Team selection for junior linebacker Jacob Carls (El Paso/El Paso-Gridley H.S.) and the third consecutive Second Team choice for senior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke/Roanoke-Benson H.S.).

Carls was Eureka's lone First Team selection. The Red Devils were represented on the Second Team by Durley, senior wide receiver Jordan Kindred (Chrisman/Chrisman H.S.), senior offensive lineman Mike Gruninger (Bloomingdale/Glenbard North H.S.), junior linebacker Frankie Bray (Ottawa/Barron-Collier H.S.), junior cornerback Wes Robinson (Chicago/Normal West H.S.) and senior punter Jordan Jefferson (Normal/Normal West H.S.). Jefferson joined Carls and Durley as repeat honorees.

Carls, who received All-UMAC Second Team honors last season as a sophomore, made 106 tackles to lead the Red Devils for the third consecutive season. He added 9.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and one interception. He made 10 tackles or more six times in 2012, including a career-high 18 stops in the season finale versus MacMurray on Nov. 3. He received UMAC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time in his career on Oct. 9 after compiling nine tackles and an interception in Eureka's 22-12 homecoming victory over Martin Luther. The three-year starter has averaged 9.4 tackles per game for his 30-game career, eighth-most among defenders in NCAA Division III with remaining eligibility for 2013.

Durley brought his decorated collegiate career to a close in 2012, going 207-for-401 for 2,803 yards and 18 touchdowns to be named to the All-UMAC Second team for the third consecutive season. The 201 completions and 2,803 passing yards were each third-most in single-season Eureka history. He broke the NCAA single-game record for passing yards with 736 yards in Eureka's victory over Knox in inaugural Abraham Lincoln Bowl on Sept. 1. His effort on opening day at Knox landed him one of two UMAC Offensive Player of the Week awards, the Manning Award Player of the Week and a spot on the D3Football.com Team of the Week.

Durley will represent Eureka at the third annual National Bowl Game on Dec. 9 in Allentown, Pa., a postseason all-star game created to feature 80 of the best seniors from all NCAA Divisions.

Playing his first season of organized football at any level, Kindred made 64 catches, tied for fourth-most in single-season Eureka history and most ever by a newcomer. His 928 receiving yards in 2012 ranked seventh in single-season program history and were the most by a newcomer since current head coach Kurt Barth compiled 1,011 yards as a freshman in 1994. His 13 catches at Knox on Sept. 1 were the third-most receptions in a game by a Red Devil in program history, while his 235 receiving yards against the Prairie Fire marked the fourth-best performance in school history. The performance gave him a spot on the D3Football.com Team of the Week.

Gruninger received postseason recognition from the UMAC for the first time after starting all 10 games at left tackle in 2012. He anchored a Eureka offensive front that ranked 31st in NCAA Division III with 281.3 passing yards per game, the fourth consecutive season the Red Devils' aerial attack has ranked among the national top-50. For his four-year career, he started 26 games as one of Barth's first offensive line recruits.

Bray emerged as one of Eureka's top defenders, finishing the campaign with 66 tackles. He led the Red Devils with 31 solo tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss and four interceptions. Bray made nine stops and returned an interception 40 yards for the go-ahead score in Eureka's 31-18 win at Westminster on Sept. 29, Eureka's first-ever victory on the Blue Jays' home field. The effort landed him UMAC Defensive Player of the Week honors and a selection to the D3Football.com Team of the Week. He later set a career-high with 13 tackles at Greenville on Oct. 20.

Robinson anchored Eureka's secondary in 2012, compiling 37 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups and an interception. He was a consistent presence for the Red Devils, making five tackles or more five times this season. He broke up three passes in a UMAC win at Crown on Sept. 15 and made a season-high six stops at Westminster on Sept. 29. He returned his first career interception 12 yards against UMAC co-champion Northwestern on Oct. 27 at McKinzie Field.

Despite being slowed by injuries in September, Jefferson repeated as a Second Team selection in 2012. He averaged 36.1 yards on 36 punts, the 10th-best average in single-season Eureka history. He also forced eight fair catches and pinned eight kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard-line. Jefferson's effort helped the Red Devils post a net punting average of 34.0 yards per kick, tops in the UMAC and 56th-best among NCAA Division III teams.

Junior defensive end Stew McGinnis (East Peoria/East Peoria H.S.) was the Red Devils' recipient of the Individual Sportsmanship Award. One player from each team received the honor, while conference co-champion Northwestern (Minn.) earned the Team Sportsmanship Award.

Running back Immanuel Gamble of league co-champion Greenville was selected as the UMAC Offensive Player of the Year. Zach Dubanoski of co-champ St. Scholastica was the UMAC Defensive Player of the Year. CSS kicker Mike Theismann was tabbed UMAC Special Teams Player of the Year, while Northwestern's Josh Swore repeated as the UMAC Lineman of the Year. Northwestern's Kirk Talley, the league's longest-tenured head coach, was picked as the UMAC Coach of the Year.

After a three-way tie for the regular season conference championship, St. Scholastica won a blind draw to represent the league in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Saints will visit #5 Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the opening round of the 32-team tournament Saturday at noon CT in Oshkosh, Wis.

Eureka finished the 2012 season with a 4-6 overall record and a 3-5 mark against UMAC opponents.