AMHERST, Massachusetts -- Amherst College placed six players on the 1996 Division III New England Football All-Star Team after a 7-1 record and first place in the NESCAC. Offensive center David Shapiro '97 (Baltimore, MD) and defensive tackle Alex Bernstein '97 (Aspen, CO) were selected to the First Team, while quarterback Rich Willard '98 (Johnstown, NY), tight end Matt Murray '97 (Westwood, MA), offensive guard David Heaton '98 (Milford, MA) and outside linebacker Ray Byrnes '97 (Yonkers, NY) made the Second Team. Five of the six Lord Jeffs were recently named to the All-NESCAC football team.
Jumping out to their best start in over a decade, Amherst compiled a 7-0 record before falling to Williams in the season finale. Shapiro and Heaton anchored an offensive line that helped generate 3,364 yards and 197 yards rushing per game. Willard had an outstanding junior season, throwing with 60.1% accuracy for 1,673 yards and 11 touchdowns. The quarterback tied as the team9s third leading scorer after running plays into the endzone himself. His career-high 349 yards and three touchdowns earned Willard honors as the NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week and a place on the ECAC Honor Roll after the Trinity game. As one of Willard's most capable receivers, Murray caught 29 passes for 442 yards and four touchdowns.
Bernstein has caught the attention of many admirers, including several NFL scouts. The 6'4"-315 lb. tackle also earned recognition as the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, a USA Division III Senior All-Star, a New England Football Writers All-New England player and the Gridiron Club9s Division II/III Defenseman of the Year. Bernstein was the team9s third leading tackler with 61 hits (14 solo). Fellow defenseman Byrnes finished his senior season as the team9s second leading tackler with 62 hits (17 solo) and led the team with 10 pass break ups and 6.5 sacks. As a unit, the defense led the NESCAC all season, allowing only 200 points as the only team to hold opponents under 2,000 yards for the season.
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