Cuda Named UAA Offensive Player of the Year; Debeljak & Staff Named Conference Coaching Staff of the Year

Cuda Named UAA Offensive Player of the Year; Debeljak & Staff Named Conference Coaching Staff of the Year

All-University Athletic Association Team

Case Western Reserve University junior quarterback Rob Cuda was named the University Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year, headlining a list of 21 Spartans who received an All-UAA honor for the 2016 season, while the Spartans' coaching staff, led by Head Coach Greg Debeljak, was named the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year, as announced by the conference office on Monday afternoon.

Joining Cuda on the All-UAA First Team were junior center Gage Blair, junior guard Ryan DeMarinis, senior wide receiver Brendan Lynch, sophomore defensive end Cameron Brown, freshman safety Patrick Crossey, junior linebacker Chanan Demery, senior cornerback Nick Kwon, junior linebacker Justin McMahon and sophomore punt returner Justin Phan.  Phan also earned a second-team nod at wide receiver, and was joined on the All-UAA Second Team by junior running back Jacob Burke, junior guard Dante Capicchioni, junior tackle Ryan Merlau, junior cornerback Adrian Cannon, junior linebacker Alex Habeeb, sophomore defensive lineman Ian Henderson, and junior defensive end Jason Lockamy.  Earning honorable mentions to the All-UAA squad were sophomore offensive tackle Steven Bachie and junior safety Daniel Fabiniak.

The Spartans' coaching staff, consisting of Debeljak, Derek Slesh (Offensive Coordinator/ Recruiting Coordinator), Warren Miller (Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers), John Pont (Wide Receivers/ Passing Game Coordinator), Ben Lolli (Defensive Backs/ Special Teams Coordinator), Conor Reilly (Defensive Line), Dave DiCarlo (Quarterbacks), Jim Stephens (Outside Linebackers), Tyler Schovanec (Running Backs) and Mark Murray (Offensive Line), claimed the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year honor for the sixth time in program history (along with 2004, 2007-09 and 2011).

Cuda is the fourth player in program history to be named the UAA Offensive Player of the Year, joining former Spartans Brandon McDowell (2002), Dave Kallevig (2004) and Dan Whalen (2007, 2008, 2009).  In addition, it marked the second-straight season that he has been named to the All-UAA First Team.  Cuda rushed for 908 during the campaign, the seventh-most in a season by a Spartan and the most-ever by a CWRU quarterback, while adding 12 touchdowns on the ground.  Through the air, he completed 59.6% of his passes for 2,328 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Blair (second team in 2014, honorable mention in 2015), Kwon (second team in 2014, first team in 2015) and Burke (second team as a punter in both 2014 and 2015) each claimed the third All-UAA honors of their career, while DeMarinis (first team in 2015), Lynch (honorable mention in 2014), Phan (first team as a punt returner in 2015) and Capicchioni (honorable mention in 2015) earned an All-UAA selection for the second time in their careers.  It was the first career All-UAA honor for Brown, Crossey, Demery, Merlau, Cannon, Habeeb, Henderson, Lockamy, Bachie and Fabiniak.

Blair, DeMarinis, Capicchioni, Merlau and Bachie comprised the Spartan's offensive line, which led the team to a school record 2,597 rushing yards in 2016.  The group was also named to the Team of the Week on November 1st, after helping the team collect 707 yards of total offense and 435 rushing yards in a 56-38 win at Washington (Mo.).

Lynch finished the year with 67 catches, 1,049 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016.  It marked just the fourth time in program history that a receiver eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in a single season, and his 12 touchdown catches were tied for the second-most in a campaign by a Spartan.  He was named to the Team of the Week on September 20th, after matching a school record with 222 receiving yards, one of two 200+ yard games he recorded during the year.

Brown started all ten games at defensive end for the Spartans, leading all CWRU players with 4.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss, and six quarterback hurries.  He added 47 total tackles (23 solo), five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Crossey ranked third among all Spartan players with 64 total tackles (40 solo), while adding a team-leading three forced fumbles.  He also tallied 1.5 tackles for a loss and six pass breakups during the year.

Demery tallied a team-leading four interceptions and three forced fumbles during the 2016 season, starting nine games at linebacker.  He added 51 tackles (32 solo) including a pair for a loss and two quarterback hurries.

Serving as a team co-captain, Kwon was second on the squad with 66 total tackles during the season, and led all Spartans with 48 solo tackles and eight pass breakups.  He added three interceptions, two blocked kicks, a forced fumble, a sack and four total tackles for a loss in 2016.

McMahon led all Spartan players with 76 total tackles (38 solo) during the year, including 4.5 tackles for a loss.  He added an interception and two fumble recoveries as well, while started all 10 games at inside linebacker for CWRU.

Phan was 29th in Division III with 11.3 yards per punt return, including an 85 yard return for a touchdown during the team's season-opening game against Chicago.  He was also second on the team in receptions (46), receiving yards (511) and receiving touchdowns (3), all career-best marks for the sophomore.

Burke ended the regular season ranked 11th in Division III with 16 rushing touchdowns, and 31st in Division III with 1,065 rushing yards.  He recorded just the sixth 1,000-yard rushing season in CWRU history, and was second in program history in rushing TDs in a season. 

Cannon appeared in all 10 games and making nine starts, as the cornerback ended the season second on the team during with three interceptions and seven pass breakups, in addition to his 37 total tackles (25 solo), one tackle for a loss, and one fumble recovery.

Habeeb played in nine games and totaled 31 tackles, finishing the year second on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks.  He also recorded an interception and two pass breakups during the year.

Henderson played at nose guard on the Spartans' defensive line, finishing the year with 29 tackles, including one for a loss.

Lockamy played in all 10 games for CWRU, including five as a starter.  He recorded three quarterback hurries and recovered a pair of fumbles, while tallying 26 tackles (12 solo), 4.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and a blocked kick.

Fabiniak completed the season with 31 tackles (19 solo), after appearing in eight games for the Spartans.  He recorded the first two interceptions of his career and adding a pair of pass breakups.

The Spartans finished the year with a 9-1 overall record, while going 2-1 in University Athletic Association games to earn a share of the 2016 UAA Championship, the sixth in the program's history.