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Edwards, Acitelli, Moore Highlight SoCon Honorees
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Tuesday 11/24/2009 (ET)
Courtesy: Keith Cline
L to R: Armanti Edwards, Mario Acitelli and Jerry Moore

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Appalachian State University dominates the 2009 Southern Conference coaches’  annual awards and all-conference teams, which were announced Wednesday by the conference office. Highlighting Appalachian’s honors, quarterback Armanti Edwards was named the SoCon Offensive Player of the Year, offensive tackle Mario Acitelli received the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the conference’s top offensive lineman and head coach Jerry Moore added to his own league record by earning his seventh Coach of the Year award.

Led by Edwards and Acitelli, Appalachian boasts a league-high 15 all-SoCon selections, including nine first-team honorees. Joining Edwards and Acitelli on the first-team offense are running back Devon Moore and tight end Ben Jorden. ASU claimed five of the 11 spots on the first-team defense with end Jabari Fletcher, linebackers D.J. Smith and Jacque Roman and defensive backs Mark LeGree and Cortez Gilbert.

Appalachian is represented on the second-team by center Brett Irvin, defensive tackle Malcolm Bennett, cornerback Ed Gainey, place kicker Jason Vitaris and CoCo Hillary, who received second-team recognition at both wide receiver and return specialist.

Additionally, three Mountaineers — linebackers Michael Frazier and Justin Lloyd and punter Sam Martin — were named to the SoCon’s all-freshman team.

Edwards is the first player to be named SoCon Offensive Player of the Year in consecutive years since VMI’s Thomas Haskins accomplished the feat in 1995-96 and fifth ASU player in the last six years to earn the award. Despite playing in only nine regular-season games due to injuries, the senior from Greenwood, S.C. leads the SoCon in total offense (3,079 yards — 342.1 ypg), passing efficiency (163.3),  passing yardage (278.2 ypg), rushing touchdowns (16) and scoring (10.7 ppg). In addition to his 2,504 passing yards, he ranks fourth in the SoCon with 63.9 rushing yards per game (575 total). During the course of the season, he became the first player in NCAA Division I history (FCS or FBS) with 9,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards in a career and the first starting quarterback in SoCon history to lead his team to four conference championships. 

Acitelli is the anchor of an offensive line that paved the way for Appalachian to lead the SoCon in total offense (478.9 ypg) and scoring (35.7 ppg) while ranking among the nation’s top 20 in total offense, scoring, rushing (seventh — 221.3 ypg), passing efficiency (seventh — 152.4) and passing yardage (16th — 257.4 ypg). Acitelli also opened holes for Moore (1,054 rushing yards) to become ASU’s sixth 1,000-yard rusher in the past five years. Acitelli is the fourth Mountaineer in the past five years to receive the Jacobs Blocking Award.

Moore continues to stretch his own conference record to greater heights with his seventh SoCon Coach of the Year award (1991, 1994, 1995, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009). No other coach in SoCon history has ever earned the recognition more than three times. He has led Appalachian to five-straight conference championships and 20-consecutive league wins, both of which rank second in SoCon history.

Moore shares Coach of the Year recognition with Chattanooga’s Russ Huesman. UTC’s Josh Beard — the brother of former Mountaineer running back Jerry Beard — was named the SoCon’s Defensive Player of the Year while Western Carolina running back Michael Johnson garnered Freshman of the Year accolades.

Fifth-ranked Appalachian (9-2, 8-0 SoCon) opens NCAA Division I Football Championship play on Saturday when it hosts No. 7 South Carolina State (10-1, 8-0 MEAC) at noon. The first-round matchup will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
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