LANCASTER, Pa. --- Seven Moravian College football players have been named to the 2019 Centennial All-Conference Teams with senior offensive lineman Brett Poling, junior defensive back Jackson Buskirk and sophomore kick returner/wide receiver Cory Little earning spots on the Second Team, and junior wide receiver Nick Petros, senior running back Roberto Diez, senior offensive linemen Tyler Maxsim and junior defensive lineman Austin Heisler being selected to the Honorable Mention squad. Senior wide receiver Andrew Lelie was named to the Centennial Conference Fall All-Sportsmanship Team.
After two years on the Centennial All-Conference Honorable Mention Squad, Poling made the Second Team while starting every game at center for a third consecutive season for the Greyhounds. He was the Hounds' starter at right guard during his freshman campaign. Poling, who served as a two-year team captain, helped Moravian's offense average 286.1 yards per game this season including 101.1 rushing yards per contest.
"Brett had a great career," stated Head Coach Jeff Pukszyn. "He continually got better each year at his position and grew into a great leader for us as he was elected captain as a junior and senior. He showed his leadership in the weight room, which had a direct effect to his on the field performance. This recognition is very well deserved."
Buskirk, who was on the Centennial All-Conference Second Team a year ago as well, led the Moravian defense for a second straight fall with 81 tackles including 61 solo stops, and he also contributed eight tackles for loss, six passes defended and an interception. Buskirk has 222 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and 20 passes defended in 29 games with one season remaining.
"Jackson had a great year for us," commented Pukszyn. "His performance got better each week this year. He can invert down to defend the run, play the deep half in the pass game and has the athleticism to play man to man as well. As the season progressed, his leadership also grew in the secondary and throughout the team. I'm excited that he's only a junior and I have the opportunity to coach him for another year."
Little, who was named to the Second Team as a kick returner, had 24 kickoff returns for 664 yards, just 20 yard shy of the Greyhounds' single season record. Little's 27.7 yard per return average led the Centennial Conference and was 16th in all of NCAA Division III through the end of the regular season, and he had long return of 87 yards versus Ursinus College. Offensively, Little caught nine passes for 91 yards and a touchdown this fall.
"Cory did a great job for us at receiver and kick returner all season," noted Pukszyn. "He had a big jump from his freshman year, which is a credit to his commitment to the program and work ethic. Cory is an explosive player and it definitely showed in both phases of his game. He made the most of his opportunities in both spots and I'm excited to see his continued growth in our program over the next two years."
Petros, who was on the All-Conference First Team a year ago, once again led the Hounds with 51 receptions for 586 yards and three touchdowns. He heads to his senior campaign tied for seventh in school history with 120 receptions for 1,789 yards, which ranks fifth at Moravian, and Petros is tied for second with 17 career touchdown catches. Petros also punted 41 times this fall for an average of 37.7 yards including three touchbacks, one fair caught, nine inside the 20-yard line and seven longer than 50 yards with a long of 65 yards this fall. He ranks eighth in school history in punts with 137, eighth with 4,909 yards and tied for sixth with an average of 35.8 yards per punt.
"Nick had a very productive year for us," said Pukszyn. "He played through a lot of bumps and bruises this season, but his competitiveness and his ability to win the 50-50 ball the majority of the time showed up down the stretch when we were playing our best ball on offense. Nick is not only a high-level player on offense as he also contributes on special teams as our punter also. Only being a junior, I'm excited to have him for another year."
Diez, who helped serve as a team captain this fall, led the Moravian rushing attack with 845 yards on 200 carries with eight touchdowns, and he also caught 12 passes for 117 yards. Diez, who became the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 career rushing yards during the game versus Ursinus College in September, completed his career with 1,549 yards, which ranks 14th in program history, on 376 carries to go with 14 rushing touchdowns.
"All the hard work that Berto puts in during the off season showed up this season," Pukszyn commented. "As a coach, you want to see your seniors playing at the highest level they can, and Berto certainly did that all year. Not only did he lead the conference in yards per game most of the season, he caught the ball well out of the backfield, and his pass protection was the best it's ever been."
Maxsim, who was made the All-Conference Honorable Mention squad for a second straight fall, started all 10 games this year at left tackle for the Hounds. Maxsim was a four-year starter at the position and saw action in 37 career contests.
"Tyler has to be one of our unsung heroes during his career," Pukszyn noted. "Tyler worked himself into a very good offensive linemen during his career with us. His offseason commitment showed each season during his four years with us. He was a show up early and stay late guy always trying to improve. Tyler and Brett, along with our other two seniors, Jason Barish and Zach Cregar really paved the way for our offensive production this year."
Heisler led Moravian with five sacks this season despite missing the final two games of the year with an injury. He contributed 40 total tackles with six tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2019. Heisler heads to his senior season with 68 tackles including eight and a half for loss, six and a half sacks, one forced fumble, two pass break-ups and a blocked kick.
"Austin came into camp in great shape and was a force off the edge for us this season," Pukszyn said. "His work ethic and relentless motor helped us get off the field on defense at some crucial times this year. Unfortunately, Austin missed two games at the end due to injury but he is another junior who I'm excited to see get healthy and have a great senior year in 2020."
Lelie caught 15 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown in his final season with the Greyhounds, and he completed his career with 20 receptions for 204 yards and one score. Lelie also had three career tackles while playing on special teams for the Blue and Grey.
"Andrew is a very selfless player," stated Pukszyn. "He will do whatever it takes to help the team and it showed all year long. He did a great job on offense along with contributing all year on special teams too."
Coach Pukszyn guided the Greyhounds to a 4-6 mark this fall, and is slated to return 71 of the 86 players from this year's squad next season.
To view the full 2019 Centennial All-Conference Teams, visit http://centennial.org/sports/fball/2019-20/releases/All-CC.