MC's Rance Hightower named AFCA All-American

MC's Rance Hightower named AFCA All-American

 The American Football Coaches Association has released their 2013 Division III Coaches' All-America Team and Maryville College's Rance Hightower was selected for All-American honors following his standout junior season.


Hightower, a 6'3" offensive lineman from Adairsville, Georgia, helped the Maryville College Fighting Scots to claim back-to-back USA South Athletic Conference titles and the program's first trip to the NCAA post season with an 8-3 record in 2013. In 745 snaps this season as a guard, Hightower graded out at 89% with 18 knock downs and 20 cuts. MC's offensive line with Hightower, Dalton Stephens, Tyler Dailey, Connor Benson-Epstein, and Devin Brunsvold along with Jared Miller,Ben Buell, and Justin Collett combined as a unit for some record-breaking numbers in 2013. The line allowed only three sacks in 11 games ranking first in the nation. Allowing only four tackles for a loss per game ranked the Scots' fifth nationally. Maryville's 287.9 rushing yards per game ranked eighth across the NCAA Division III allowing senior running back Travis Felder to eclipse the USA South scoring (138) and touchdown mark (23) while establishing new individual season records for the Scots in season rushing yards (1,269), rushing attempts (223), touchdowns (23), rushing touchdowns (22), and points scored (138). The line's consistency ranked ninth in third down conversions (.487) and 15th in red zone offense (.877). Maryville finished 20th nationally in total offense with 473.3 yards per game while earning a #21 ranking in scoring offense after putting 39.3 points per game on the scoreboard.


"I am extremely proud of Rance for his hard work and dedication to Maryville College and our football program," stated Maryville College Head Football Coach Mike Rader. "He has worked very hard to improve as a person and player. This honor is an individual award, but I'm sure Rance would be the first to credit his teammates for the honor."


"This honor is possible because I have special teammates," stated Hightower. "We work daily as a unit and I am proud to accept this award on behalf of this special group of individuals."


Rance Hightower becomes the 38th football All-American at Maryville College and the athletic program's 68th All-American in school history. The last Fighting Scots offensive lineman to win this distinction from the AFCA was Thomas Smith in 1992 and 1993.



2013 AFCA Division III Coaches' All-America Team


Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)

WR Kyle Linville 6-1 185 Sr. Franklin (Ind.) Mike Leonard Speedway, Ind. (Speedway)

WR Tyler Rutenbeck 6-4 185 Jr. Dubuque (Iowa) Stan Zweifel Maquoketa, Iowa (Maquoketa)

TE Ryan Mizgate 6-4 250 Sr. Aurora (Ill.) Mark Walsh Lansing, Ill. (T.F. South)

OL Rance Hightower 6-3 300 Jr. Maryville (Tenn.) Mike Rader Adairsville, Ga. (Adairsville)

OL *Armand Jenifer 6-4 295 Sr. Johns Hopkins (Md.) Jim Margraff Teaneck, N.J. (Bergen County Academies)

C Garrett Porter 6-3 310 Sr. Wis.-Oshkosh Pat Cerroni Princeton, Wis. (Princeton)

OL Taylor Sprague 6-7 321 Sr. Trine (Ind.) Matt Land Lowell, Mich. (Lowell)

OL Connor Hollenbeck 6-5 260 Sr. Wash. & Lee (Va.) Scott Abell Alpharetta, Ga. (Alpharetta)

QB Spencer Stanek 6-0 185 Sr. North Central (Ill.) John Thorne Moneka, Ill. (Lincoln-Way East)

RB Octavias McKoy 5-10 191 Sr. Western Conn. Joe Loth Stratford, Conn. (Stratford)

RB Domonique Hayden 5-9 210 Jr. Thomas More (Ky.) Jim Hilvert Lexington, Ky. (Lexington Christian Academy)


Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)

DL Matt Fechko 6-1 260 Sr. Mount Union (Ohio) Vince Kehres Twinsburg, Ohio (Twinsburg)

DL John Worley 6-4 240 Jr. Illinois Wesleyan Norm Eash Elmhurst, Ill. (York)

DL Tyre Coleman 6-1 250 Jr. Hobart (N.Y.) Mike Cragg Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (Poughkeepsie)

DL Silvio Diaz 6-0 260 Sr. UMHB (Texas) Pete Fredenburg Leander, Texas (Leander)

LB Sosthene Kapepula 6-3 221 Jr. Wesley (Del.) Mike Drass Olney, Md. (Sherwood)

LB *Seth Mathis 6-3 240 Sr. Bethel (Minn.) Steve Johnson Anoka, Minn. (Anoka)

LB Dominique Forrest 5-11 210 Sr. Linfield (Ore.) Joseph Smith Portland, Ore. (Jesuit)

DB Andre Carter 5-10 185 Sr. Salisbury (Md.) Sherman Wood Huntingtown, Md. (Huntingtown)

DB Tony Sierra 5-10 175 Sr. Defiance (Ohio) Brian Sheehan Warren, Mich. (Cousino)

DB Satiir Stevenson 5-11 200 Jr. Guilford (N.C.) Chris Rusiewicz Roselle, N.J. (Abraham Clark)

DB Drew Peterson 6-3 192 Sr. Albright (Pa.) John Marzka Bristol, Pa. (Harry S. Truman)


Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)

P Matt Harmon 5-10 155 Sr. Baldwin Wallace (Ohio) John Snell Canfield, Ohio (Canfield)

PK Dylan Rushe 6-0 185 Sr. Endicott (Mass.) JB Wells Palos Verdes, Calif. (Peninsula)

AP Alex Baroffio 5-10 185 Sr. Wash. & Jeff. (Pa.) Mike Sirianni Bethel Park, Pa. (Bethel Park)

*-2012 AFCA All-American

Team Background: The AFCA has selected an All-America team every year since 1945. The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945 until 1967, only one team was chosen.

From 1967 through 1971, two teams, University Division and College Division, were selected. In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II.

In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams — Division I-A and Division I-AA.

In 1996, the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III, respectively. The AFCA began selecting an NAIA-only team in 2006. Also in 2006, the Division I-A and Division I-AA teams were renamed Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), respectively.

From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997, a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team. The return specialist position was replaced by an all-purpose player in 2006.

Selection Process: The AFCA's Division III All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA's nine districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee. The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the team is chosen.

The Award: Members of the AFCA Coaches' All-America Team receive a plaque commemorating their selection to the team.

Top Teams: Mount Union leads all schools with 20 players chosen to the AFCA Division III Coaches' All-America Team a total of 22 times since 1972. The Purple Raiders are followed by Augustana (Ill.) (19/17), Wittenberg (19/17), Wisconsin-La Crosse (17/17), Washington & Jefferson (18/16), Linfield (16/15), Mississippi College (14/13), Montclair State (14/12), Emory & Henry (13/13), Ithaca (13/13), Central (Iowa) (13/12), Wesley (13/11), Wisconsin-Whitewater (13/11), Widener (13/10), Salisbury (12/12), Wheaton (12/11),  Mary Hardin-Baylor (12/10), St. John's (Minn.) (11/11), Frostburg State (11/10) and Springfield (11/10).

Consecutive Years: With Sosthene Kapepula's selection this year, Wesley has had a player chosen for nine consecutive years, from 2005 to present, the longest current streak and only one short of Mount Union's overall record. From 2000-09, Mount Union had a player chosen for 10 straight seasons, which is the longest streak in Division III. The Purple Raiders also had one player chosen for six consecutive seasons from 1993-98. Tied for second on the list is Washington and Jefferson, who had a player chosen for All-America honors for nine straight seasons (2002-10). Emory & Henry is fourth on the list, having had a player named AFCA All-American for eight straight seasons from 1985-1992, tied with Mary Hardin-Baylor, who has had a player selected from 2006 to present. Augustana (Ill.) and Wheaton have had players selected for six consecutive seasons from 2000-05 and 2003-08, respectively.

Repeat After Me: No player has earned AFCA Division III All-America honors four times, however Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) running back Johnny Bailey did earn Coaches' All-America honors four straight years (1986-87-88-89) in AFCA College Division I (now AFCA Division II).

Five players have earned AFCA Division III Coaches' All-America Team honors three times. They are: DB Tom Deery, Widener, 1979-80-81; RB Scott Reppert, Lawrence, 1980-81-82; RB Joe Dudek, Plymouth State, 1983-84-85; DL Sean Brewer, Millsaps, 1990-91-92; and P Jeff Shea, California Lutheran, 1995-96-97.

Class Distinction: This year's AFCA Division III Coaches' All-America Team is made up of 18 seniors and seven juniors.

First Time Schools: Place kicker Dylan Rushe of Endicott earned All-America honors for his school, for the first time, in 2013.

Back-to-Back: Johns Hopkins offensive lineman Armand Jenifer and Bethel (Minn.) line backer Seth Mathis earned AFCA Division III Coaches' All-America honors for a second consecutive season in 2013.

Two Players, Two Schools: Punter Mark Bounds and placekicker Greg Zuerlein are the only players to earn Coaches' All-America honors at two different schools. Bounds was named to the AFCA College Division I team in 1990 while playing for West Texas A&M. He transferred to Texas Tech after West Texas dropped football and earned I-A All-America honors as a Red Raider in 1991. Zuerlein was named to the Division II Coaches' All-America Team in 2009 while playing for Nebraska-Omaha. He transferred to Missouri Western State after Nebraska-Omaha dropped its football program and earned Division II honors in 2011 as a Griffon.

For more information on the AFCA and its programs log on to the AFCA's website at


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.


Complete AFCA Release