PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The post-season honors continue to roll in for Plymouth State College football players, as seven Panthers were named to the 1997 Don Hansen’s Football Gazette All-East Region Team.
Senior linebacker Dave Gibson (Middletown, RI) was named to the All-East First Team, while senior offensive lineman Brian Arakelian (Hampton, NH), and sophomore return specialist Brent Bardellini (Milford, MA) were Second Team selections. Senior running back Jose Raymond (Wakefield, MA), senior offensive lineman Matt Horan (Simsbury, CT) and junior defensive back Marc Turcotte (South Berwick, ME) were Third Team selections and senior linebacker Rocky Criscone (Burnt Hills, NY) earned Honorable Mention.
Gibson has been PSC’s leading tackler the past three seasons, as he once again led PSC with 106 stops in the ’97 campaign. He was the anchor of the Freedom Football Conference’s top-ranked defense, as he was selected FFC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as to the New England Football Writers Div. II/III All Star Team. He registered two sacks (9 yards), two pass break-ups, and returned an interception for a touchdown.
Bardellini enjoyed a very successful season for the Panthers. In addition to being named to the All-East Second Team, he was tabbed FFC Special Teams Co-Player of the Year and earned FFC First Team honors as both a wide receiver and punt returner. His 1997 statistics speak for themselves. He ranked first in the FFC in punt returns (10.5 avg., 2 TD’s) and third in all-purpose yards (1009), while catching 17 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns.
Raymond, who started the season third on the depth chart, not only received All-East Third Team honors but also earned All-FFC First Team honors. He was PSC’s workhorse, carrying the ball 213 times for a league-leading 904 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 983 all-purpose yards.
Arakelian (All-East Second Team) and Horan (All-East Third Team) were the heart of PSC’s offensive line that opened up holes for Raymond. Arakelian also received First Team All-FFC honors for the second straight year, while Horan earned First Team All-FFC accolades for the first time. They combined to lead an offense that ranked third in the FFC in total offense (333.2 yds./game), rushing offense (159.9 yds./game), and fourth in passing offense (173.3 yds./game).
Turcotte earned a spot on Don Hansen’s All-East Third team after being named to the All-FFC First Team for the first time. He led the conference in interceptions with six, while registering six pass break-ups, 20 tackles, and one blocked kick.
Criscone was one of the top linebackers in New England, registering 59 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, three pass break-ups, and one fumble recovery. It is for this reason that he earned FFC First Team honors as well as receiving Honorable Mention on the All-East Team.
These seven players were instrumental in Plymouth State registering a 7-4 overall record under second-year coach Mike Kemp. The Panthers, who were 4-2 and finished third in the FFC, advanced to the ECAC Northwest Championship game, but lost at Buffalo State, 21-17.