By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director
So here we are, another athletic season is upon us. The year opened up with a bang as men’s soccer defeated Bluefield, 4-0, women’s soccer defeated North Carolina Wesleyan, 7-0, field hockey beat Stevenson, 3-2, and women’s cross country won the Hornet Cross Country Challenge.
I hope that many of our followers watched the women’s soccer game online, taking advantage of our new video provider First Team Broadcasting. If you didn’t, you can always catch tomorrow’s football game against F&M at 1:00 pm. Hey, it’s free and it’s pretty darn good quality so check it out!
So with the advent of another season upon us, I started to get a little sentimental (contrary to my post from May 27) about each of the last 13 years at W&L. I think about all those other years that began with so much promise and ended with so many unbelievable accomplishments by our athletes. Along those lines I had a conversation with Coach Miriello the other day about what an all-star team made up of the football players from his tenure would look like. Then I started thinking about what mine would look like. So, in honor of tomorrow’s football opener, I’m going to give you the Brian Laubscher all-time (meaning from my 13 years) football team from W&L. I hope you enjoy! Go Generals!
QB – Christian Batcheller ‘00
When I think of the five best athletes from my time at W&L, Christian is the first to come to mind. He had prototypical size (6-3, 220) and arm strength that will likely never be seen again at W&L. He also played both pro baseball (draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates) and pro football (Cincinnati Arena League team) following his time at W&L. He still holds the W&L record for career passing yards (6,146), passing touchdowns (42) and total offense (6,383). Christian was named the W&L Outstanding Senior Male Athlete in 2000 and is a sure bet for induction in the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame soon.
RB – Chris Sullivan ‘03
As a senior, Chris was a finalist for the Gagliardi Award, better known as the Division III equivalent of the Heisman. He was also named the Virginia State Player of the Year as a senior after leading the country in all-purpose yards (a then-school-record 2,024 – now second) as a junior in 2001. Chris was a “do it all” back who finished his career with a W&L record 5,931 all-purpose yards. It was later surpassed by Stuart Sitterson in 2008, but Sullivan’s greatness as a running back is why he makes the list. He still holds the school’s career rushing record with 3,140 career yards and his 204 career points rank third all-time. Sullivan was named the W&L Outstanding Senior Male Athlete in 2003 and will undoubtedly also find his way into the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame.
RB – Marc Watson ‘02
Marc was the speediest player I’ve seen on an ODAC football field (reportedly clocked at 4.3 in the 40). Once he hit the open field, no one was going to catch him. His 1,325 rushing yards in 2000 are still the most in school history, while his 3,112 career rushing yards are eclipsed only by Sullivan, who was in the same backfield for most of his career! Watson was named the ODAC Player of the Year in 2000 and he is still W&L’s all-time leading scorer (220) and his 36 touchdowns are also still a record. I most remember back-to-back games against Hampden-Sydney and Sewanee from his junior season. He rushed for 281 yards and tallied 382 all-purpose yards against H-SC, then posted 262 rushing yards the next week against Sewanee. Unreal! Watson shared the W&L Outstanding Senior Male Athlete Award in 2002 and is also a likely W&L Athletic Hall of Famer.
WR – Jack Martin ‘08
Jack sort of burst on the scene in 2005 with the best season ever by a W&L wide receiver. He snared 10 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening win over Alfred and finished the season ranked third in Division III in receiving with 70 catches for a school-record 1,353 yards and 15 touchdowns. That season, he posted four of the school’s top five single-game receiving efforts in being named a finalist for the Dudley Award, which is presented to the State Player of the Year. Jack never got close to the numbers he posted as a sophomore in his final two seasons, but he was still a pretty darn good receiver with a combination of size (6-4, 190) and speed. Jack finished his career with the most receptions (164), receiving yards (2,953) and receiving touchdowns (32) in school history. He doubled the record for receiving touchdowns (previous record was 16). Sadly, Jack played at a time when many of the ODAC’s best receivers of all-time were also playing and never earned First Team All-ODAC honors in his career.
WR – Colton Ward ‘06
Colton was almost like a hybrid back since our offense at the time utilized him as a slot receiver and wingback. Make no mistake though, he put up numbers, and though diminutive (5-10, 190), he was effective. Colton twice earned First Team All-ODAC honors, finishing second only to Martin in the W&L records for career receptions (161). He also had 1,494 receiving yards and 660 yards rushing, and he was a nasty return man, racking up 1,586 kickoff return yards (third all-time). Colton’s 3,740 all-purpose yards rank fourth all-time. The lasting image I have of Colton was the 29-yard touchdown reception he posted on a fourth down play with 34 seconds remaining to beat Hampden-Sydney in 2005. Aside from the fake spike play in 2002, it is the most exciting moment I can recall for the Generals since I arrived in 1998.
TE – Davis White ‘03
The Generals haven’t had a plethora of talented pass-catching tight ends over the years, but had he stayed healthy, Davis White would have put up monster numbers. White snared 39 passes for 626 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie in 1999 and followed that with 32 catches for 363 yards and four scores in just eight games in 2000. He only played eight because an absolute cheap shot of a play by a Bridgewater player ended his career two years short. Quarterback Bobby Littlehale was cheap-shotted out of the same game and never played again either. It was a dark day and it was a long time before I respected the BC football program again after that afternoon. But, enough on that, it was 11 years ago! In four years, I suspect that Davis will move off this list to make room for one of the crazy-talented tight ends that currently dot the Generals’ roster in 2011.
OL – Justin Holton ‘01
Justin had great size (6-4, 280) and he was downright talented. He blocked for the two-best running backs in school history (Watson & Sullivan) and twice earned First Team All-ODAC honors at tackle. He was also a pretty good guy and that’s got to count for something too. I wish there was room on this list for his good buddy Colin Fitzgibbons, but I just can’t make it work for both of them. They were a great combo, but Holton has the edge.
OL – Greg Kurkis ‘11
What could I possibly say about Greg that I haven’t already said. The guy started every game during his four years, he was a four-time all-conference selection and he was all-world in the classroom, earning the ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award twice, along with claiming the Doc Jopson Award as the top scholar-athlete in the ODAC. He also received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Aside from the academic honors, Greg was also pretty much a beast on the football field. Again, he had the prototypical size for a lineman (6-4, 275) and did a great job at whatever position he played (and he played a few before settling on center). Greg finished his career by being named the W&L Outstanding Senior Male Athlete Award.
OL – Mat Rapoza ‘03
Mat wasn’t your typical Washington and Lee football player. He had the pleasure of having played against the Generals before having played for them. Mat played his first two years at Swarthmore, helping lead the Garnet to a 16-6 win over the Generals in 2000, the last football game at the school. After Swarthmore dropped their program, Rapoza chose to transfer to W&L and earned First Team All-America honors in 2001 and Third Team All-America honors in 2002. Mat also had good size (6-2, 270) and was a tremendous tackle for his two seasons. Mat returned to Lexington and currently is an assistant coach at Rockbridge County High School.
OL – Scott Kucinski ‘04
Scott was a little smaller at 6-3, 245, but he was the best lineman on one of the best lines in school history. Kucinski earned First Team All-ODAC laurels three times and was named the team’s offensive MVP in 2003. In 2002, the line allowed just 12 sacks in 292 pass attempts.
OL – Hunter Whitfield ‘07
Hunter played tight end for his first season and a half before converting to guard and earning First Team All-ODAC honors after each of his last two seasons. He was also the anchor of a tremendous offensive line that allowed just 10 sacks in 358 pass attempts in 2005 and helped lead the Generals to an ODAC title in 2006. At 6-3, 255, Hunter also had good size for the position.
DE – Liam Murray ‘06
It was a shame that Liam graduated just prior to winning an ODAC Championship with a pretty sick defense in 2006 because he was as talented as anyone across the front for the Generals. As a senior, he received the Virginia Division II-III Defensive Lineman of the Year Award from the Richmond Touchdown Club. Despite missing two games with an injury in 2005, he still ranked second on the team with 55 tackles and 3.0 sacks. A two-time First Team All-ODAC pick, Murray also had 60 tackles and 3.0 sacks as a junior when the Generals’ defense limited opponents to just 67.5 yards rushing per game and allowed just 15.7 points per game.
DL – Brian Becker ‘04
Becker never really had an eye-popping year, but he was consistent and held down his D-line position for four solid years. He finished with 168 tackles, including 38.5 tackles for a loss, and 10.0 sacks for his career. Brian earned All-ODAC honors all four years, three times as a second-teamer and once as an honorable mention selection. He also received the team’s Falcon Award as a senior.
DE – Matt Cassilly ‘10
Matt’s senior year was probably as good a year as any defensive lineman has ever had with the exception of Robert Hull’s brilliance in the mid-90’s. He was a finalist for the Dudley Award, which is given to the Division II-III State Player of the Year, in 2009 when he tallied 65 tackles, 20.5 tackles for a loss and 10.0 sacks in posting First Team All-ODAC honors. That followed a junior season when he posted second team laurels with 62 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions.
OLB – Jeff Bahl ‘02
Hurricane Jigga aka Sewanee’s Poison (because he just killed them) is still one of my favorite players and there are few former players who still continue to support the program the way Jeff has. Those things aside, he was pretty nasty on the field. Jeff created chaos and was always around the ball as noted by his uncanny ability to recover fumbles, something he did 15 times over his career. Bahl played the hybrid DE/LB position and did just about everything, finishing with 291 tackles, 33.5 tackles for a loss, 16.5 sacks and those 15 fumble recoveries. He was a Second Team All-ODAC pick as a sophomore and was a first team selection each of his final two seasons.
OLB – Bryant Fulk ‘08
For as versatile as Bahl was at the hybrid LB/DE position, Bryant was the best pass rush threat from that spot. Bryant was arguably the best defensive player on some of the best defenses of my time at W&L. He was a four-year starter and two-time First Team All-ODAC selection, who finished with 203 tackles, 39.5 tackles for a loss and 21.5 sacks. His sack total is second all-time behind only Robert Hull. Fulk was twice named the Richmond Touchdown Club’s Virginia Division II-III Defensive Lineman of the Year.
ILB – Lloyd Wilson ‘05
Lloyd Wilson was a tackling machine in the middle and perhaps the single-best run-stopper that W&L has had in the middle in my time. I also remember him as the guy who almost single-handedly willed the Generals to their first six-win season in 18 years with an 83-tackle season in 2004. Wilson finished his career with 280 tackles, 35.5 tackles for a loss and 9.0 sacks. Despite putting up tremendous numbers throughout, he was only honored on the all-conference team once, garnering first team recognition as a senior.
ILB – Jayson Lipsey ‘01
Some people may debate this choice because he was far from the most talented and athletic linebacker W&L has had, but he made up for it with sheer will and desire. Jayson earned all-conference honors just once (second team in 1999), but he was a bulldog that I just couldn’t ignore on this team. His 1999 season was as good as you will find in the W&L archives, totaling 105 tackles in 10 games. Included in that total is a 25-tackle game in which the Generals defeated Bridgewater 44-38 in an overtime shootout.
CB – Mark Snoddy ‘08
Mark was the Deion Sanders or Darrelle Revis of the ODAC for the better part of four years. By the end of his career, quarterbacks just stopped throwing in his direction because when they did, he usually picked them off. Mark was a three-time First Team All-ODAC selection, the 2006 Virginia Player of the Year (Roanoke Times) and the runner-up for the 2006 Dudley Award. He was the lynchpin of a W&L defense that ranked ninth nationally in pass defense in 2006, intercepting at least one pass in seven of the team’s 11 games. Snoddy finished that season with nine interceptions and 11 pass breakups as the Generals won the ODAC title. He finished his career with a school-record 19 interceptions.
CB – Jimmy Gift ‘08
It says a lot when both cornerbacks on this list played all four seasons together, but they were pretty darn good. When teams avoided throwing at Snoddy, they were forced to throw at Jimmy and he was up to the task. Gift was a two-time all-conference selection (second team in 2006 and honorable mention in 2007) who tallied 98 tackles, four interceptions and 15 pass breakups over his final two years. His 67 tackles, three interceptions and 3.5 sacks in 2006 were pretty impressive.
S – Kyle Luby ‘08
Kyle played in the same secondary with Snoddy and Gift for four years and even started all 10 games at cornerback as a rookie in 2004, earning Second Team All-ODAC honors. He moved to safety as a sophomore, posting honorable mention accolades in 2005 and Second Team All-ODAC honors in 2006. As a senior in 2007, Kyle recorded a team-best 84 tackles in being named the ODAC Defensive Player of the Year. Kyle finished his career with 251 tackles, 14.0 tackles for a loss, 4.0 sacks, four interceptions and 18 pass breakups.
S – Will Baker ‘01
The Generals have had some pretty good safeties of late and while I could have gone with Donovan Sawyer or even Jake Pelton in this spot, I went with the sentimental pick and chose Will. One-third of the fabulous Baker Boys (brothers Brad and Mike also played for the Generals), Will was an active safety who did a little bit of everything for some pretty bad defenses in the late 90’s. Frankly, they needed him to. Baker was a three-time all-conference selection who finished his career with 251 tackles, 11 interceptions and 18 pass breakups.
PK – Brad Wiginton ‘02
This was a tough choice between Brad and Ben Long, but I went with Brad because his career percentages were just a bit better than Ben’s. Plus Wiginton’s first field goal attempt as a rookie was a 42-yarder as time expired to defeat Sewanee, 23-21, in the only home game I have ever missed. Wiginton was a First Team All-ODAC and Third Team All-America selection as a senior when he hit 12-of-18 field goals and all 26 PAT’s to finish with 62 points (second on the team). For his career, Brad his 98-of-103 PAT’s (.951) and 23-of-24 (.676) field goals, both of which rank among the top five accuracy totals in W&L history.
P – Vacant
No offense to any of the punters we have had, but we haven’t had a single punter make the all-conference list since I’ve been here. Might as well just lineup and go for it on fourth down. If you want a name, I’ll tell you Donnie Banks ‘06 was probably the best we’ve had in my time.
All-Purpose Back – Stuart Sitterson ‘09
I really couldn’t do this list without finding a way to get Stuart on it. His numbers are pretty darn good in every area, but he just doesn’t make it at running back. However, he’s the best return man and his numbers are pretty nasty all the way around. Stuart ranks first all-time at W&L in career kickoff return yards (1,981) and career kickoff return average (31.4), and he’s tied with Colton Ward for kickoff return touchdowns (3). His 782 punt return yards are third all-time and he was the First Team All-America return man following his rookie season. Stuart finished with a school-record 5,931 all-purpose yards and he had a school-record 2,096 all-purpose yards as a senior. His 2,243 rushing yards are fifth all-time, while his 212 career points and 34 career touchdowns are second all-time to Marc Watson. Stuart is a likely candidate for the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame.