The 2017 Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-Super Region Three teams were revealed on Thursday (Jan. 11), and eight Ashland University football players landed honors.
Earning first-team recognition were senior offensive linemen Dominic Giunta (center) and John Conner (right tackle) on offense, and junior defensive end James Prater Jr. on defense. Giunta and Conner were two key cogs on a veteran offensive line which allowed Ashland to average 33.4 points and 407.8 yards of offense per game in 2017. Prater Jr. finished with a program-record 23½ tackles for loss, resulting in 104 yards in losses; 42 solo tackles, 10 sacks, 63 total stops, an interception, eight pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Garnering second-team laurels were senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski and senior kicker Aidan Simenc. In 2017, Tarnowski threw for 3,044 yards and 31 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and completed 59 percent of his passes, while Simenc made a school-record 17 field goals (17-of-23) and 53-of-55 extra points for 104 points, a program record for a kicker.
Ashland's third-teamers are junior tailback Andrew Vaughn and senior cornerbacks Dale Irby and Michael Griffin. Vaughn ran for 1,095 yards, a 5.8-yard average and 13 touchdowns, while adding 269 yards and a score on 24 catches; Irby made 27 total tackles (two for loss) and led the team with three interceptions, while adding a 10.7-yard average on 24 punt returns and a 22.0-yard average on 25 kickoff returns; and Griffin had a team-high 10 pass breakups to go along with 47 total tackles and an interception.
In 2017, Ashland finished 11-2, won a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.