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Amherst College > Athletics > Football > Jeffs Dominate ECAC All-Star Team
Jason Wagstaff '05
Sophomore Jason Wagstaff (right, with ball) topped the conference in punt return average (14.1 yards per return) and led the Jeffs with 294 kick return yards

Jeffs Dominate ECAC Division III Northeast All-Star Team

December 12, 2002

AMHERST, MA - Amherst College placed six players on the ECAC Division III Northeast Football All-Star Team, which was announced on Thursday, including first-team selections Rob Vernicek (Montville, NJ), Jeremy Carroll (Winchester, MA) and Pat Hayes (E. Bridgewater, MA). Junior Fletcher Ladd (Amherst, NH) and sophomores Jay Wagstaff (Tewksbury, MA) and David Bodner (Atlantic Beach, NY) earned second-team honors, tying the Jeffs with Williams, Middlebury and Springfield Colleges for the most selections in the region.

Vernicek’s list of postseason accolades has grown exponentially in recent weeks. The 6’ 6”, 285-pound left tackle was one of 28 players named to the 2002 All-New England Division II/III All-Star Team, as selected by the New England Football Writers in late November. A three-time All-NESCAC selection and a first-team pick this fall, Vernicek finished his career as one of the best offensive linemen in Amherst history. He started all eight games as a first-year as the Jeffs averaged 142.3 yards rushing. During his sophomore season, the first of three straight All-NESCAC campaigns, Amherst upped its rushing output to 169.4 yards per game. He improved dramatically as a junior and, predictably, the rushing attack followed suit - the Jeffs averaged a whopping 204.4 yards on the ground despite a wealth of injuries in the offensive backfield. In 2002, Amherst led the NESCAC in rushing offense (192.9 yards per game) and surrendered just seven sacks all season long.

Carroll was the top free safety in the NESCAC in 2002, leading the league with seven interceptions - just two shy of the conference record. A first-team All-NESCAC selection, Carroll was a two-time conference defensive player of the week, first with a nine-tackle, two-interception performance in a 17-10 win at Middlebury College, and again after torching Little Three rival Wesleyan University for a career-high three interceptions.

Hayes, an All-NESCAC and All-New England hurdler who captains the indoor and outdoor track and football teams, emerged as a defensive force this fall with 42 tackles, including 5.5 for loss and 2.0 sacks en route to First-Team All-Conference honors.

Ladd was yet another First-Team All NESCAC selection and earned First-Team Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors after a dominating season at tailback. He finished second in the conference with 1,148 rushing yards on 236 carries, was fourth in the NESCAC in all-purpose yards (145.8 ypg) and eighth in total offense (143.5 ypg), and fell just 72 yards shy of equaling the Amherst single-season rushing record. Ladd earned NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors with a career-high 208 rushing yards in a 14-0 win over Colby College and has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of his last 11 games. He was also voted Second-Team All-NESCAC and Amherst's Co-Offensive Back of the Year as a sophomore, finishing second in the conference in rushing touchdowns (seven) and seventh in rushing average (79.8 ypg).

Wagstaff - a First-Team All-NESCAC return specialist - topped the conference in punt return average (14.1 yards per return), with a 68-yard touchdown return in a 42-20 win at Bowdoin College to his credit. He also led the Jeffs with 294 kick return yards and caught 19 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns as a wide receiver.

Yet another First-Team All-NESCAC selection, Bodner led the conference and broke a league and school record with eight field goals, including an overtime game-winner in a dramatic 27-24 come-from-behind victory over visiting Tufts University. He was also a near-perfect 19-for-20 on extra point attempts and finished the season with a team-high 43 points.