The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) announced its football postseason honors on Tuesday afternoon and 16 Gusties earned recognition. Senior defensive lineman Zach Jakes highlighted the honors for Gustavus by being voted the recipient of the Mike Stam Award, given the to Lineman of the Year. First Team Offense honors went to Dalton Thelen, Mitchell Borchardt (Sr., Le Sueur), and Gunnar Johnson.
First Team Defense went to Jakes, Carson Dekam, Kaleb Scott, and Ezekiel Sundberg. Andrew Abegglen earned First Team Specialist. Second Team honors went to David Peal, Jake Breitbach, Sam Jones and Nicolas Negron (Sr., Dallas, Texas). Honorable Mention was bestowed upon Ethan Sindelir, Tommy Bigaouett, and Andrey Denson. Brett Hufendick (Sr., Edina) was named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.
The eight First Team All-Conference selections are the most by Gustavus since 1959 and tied for the second most since the MIAC announced its inaugural All-Conference Team in 1920.
Jakes, who earns his second First Team All-MIAC selection, shares the Mike Stam Award with Saint John’s defensive lineman Seth Morem. Jakes becomes just the second Gustie to earn the Mike Stam Award, joining Gustavus Athletics Hall of Famer Brent Staples (1998). Jakes started all 10 games at defensive tackle, accumulating 51 tackles (26 solo) with a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss. He also led the team with 6.0 sacks and four quarterback hurries. Jakes’ 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks are both the most by a Gustie since Dan Myers had 18 TFLs and 9.0 sacks in 2003. Jakes was also used on offense in short yardage situations, catching both passes thrown to him for touchdowns of three and six yards.
Thelen led the Gustie receiving corps with 57 catches for 854 yards and nine touchdowns. Thelen’s nine receiving touchdowns are second most in the MIAC and his 85.4 receiving yards per game rank fifth in the league. Thelen averaged 15.0 yards per catch, ranking fourth in the conference. Thelen also spent time in the backfield with 26 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown. Using his speed in all facets of the game, Thelen recorded 10 kick returns for an average of 24.5 yards per return, including an 89-yard touchdown against Concordia on Sept. 25, earning him MIAC Special Teams Player of the Week. The kickoff return touchdown was the first by a Gustie since 2009. Thelen averaged 128.6 all-purpose yards per game, which ranked second in the MIAC.
Both Borchardt and Johnson started all 10 games on the offensive line this season; Borchardt at center and Johnson at right tackle. Borchardt and Johnson blocked for an offensive unit that average 35.6 points and 449.2 yards per game, ranking second and third, respectively, in the conference. The offensive line allowed 21 sacks this year, which was the second fewest in the league. The Gusties also had the second best rushing attack in the league with 198.6 yards per game and led the conference with 35:09 average time of possession.
Dekam made an immediate impact in his first collegiate season, leading the team with 70 tackles (41 solo), including 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, four fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, and a 28-yard interception return. Dekam played in integral role in the Gusties recording 27 sacks this season, the second most in the conference. Dekam is one of two sophomores on the First Team Defense.
Scott earns his second First Team honor after receiving recognition in 2019. In eight games this season, Scott made 19 tackles, 17 solo, with seven pass breakups and seven passes defended. Scott was routinely lined up against the opponent’s number one receiver.
Sundberg earns his first All-MIAC honor after leading the team with five interceptions for 68 yards. Sundberg also led the secondary with 10 pass breakups and 15 passes defended. He added 43 tackles (29 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery.
Abegglen tied the Gustavus program record with 13 made field goals this season. Abegglen converted 13-of-17 field goals with a long of 42 yards. His 13 made field goals were fourth most in NCAA Division III this season. Abegglen, who earned MIAC Special Teams Player of the Week five times this season, made 31-of-36 extra points for a total of 70 points, tying the program record for most points scored by kicking in a season. He also handled the bulk of the kickoff duties with 58 kickoffs for 3,147 yards (54.3 yards per kick), including seven touchbacks. The Gusties set the program record with 80 points in their season-opening victory at Buena Vista and Abegglen set the program record for PATs in a game, going 11-for-11.
Earning Second Team honors, Peal led the team with 125 rushing attempts. He totaled 535 yards and a team-high eight rushing touchdowns. Peal averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 59.4 yards per game.
Breitbach, who spent time at quarterback and receiver, earns Second Team honors as a receiver after hauling in 27 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns. Breitbach also completed 62-of-98 passes for 847 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He added 68 carries for 370 yards and three scores.
Jones makes the Second Team after totaling 14 tackles (nine solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and one quarterback hurry. Also on the Second Team, Negron made 16 tackles, (11 solo), with 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a pass defended.
An honorable mention, Sindelir was the team’s top tight end, hauling in 24 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 10.4 yards per catch and 25.0 yards per game. Bigaouette was named honorable mention after starting all 10 games at left tackle. And in his first season as a starter, Denson made 27 tackles (19 solo), including nine pass breakups, 10 passes defended, 1.0 tackles for loss, and one interception.