KUTZTOWN, Pa. — Matt Cella, Ahkee Cox-Cowan and Jack Pilkerton received First Team honors to headline a Kutztown University program-record nine selections to the Don Hansen Football Gazette All-Super Region 1 Teams, which were released by the outlet on December 30.
Cella, a senior who started every game at center, and Pilkerton, a redshirt senior that led all tight ends in Super Region 1 with 10 touchdown catches and was second with 666 receiving yards, represented the Golden Bears on the First Team Offense. Cox-Cowan, a senior cornerback that set program career records for passes defended (63) and breakups (51), was named First Team on defense. The three First Team picks are a new benchmark for KU.
Senior quarterback Collin DiGalbo and senior running back Abdul-Hassan Neblett were voted to the Second Team Offense. Offensive linemen Justin Tindull and Jayson Williams grabbed spots on the Third Team Offense, while safeties Nick Palmer and Shawn Turber-Ortiz landed on the Third Team Defense.
The nine all-region honorees are a new program standard for Kutztown, which matched a school record with 11 victories and finished the season ranked 16th in the final American Football Coaches Association Division II Poll. It’s the second consecutive season in which the Bears have set a new program record for Don Hansen Gazette All-Region picks, following last year’s seven.
2019 KUTZTOWN DON HANSEN FOOTBALL GAZETTE ALL-SUPER REGION 1 SELECTIONS
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
Matt Cella (Secane, Pa./Springfield) | Sr. | C | Secane, Pa. / Springfield
Cella, a three-year starter and 2019 team captain, directed an offensive line that paved the way for one of the top offensive seasons in 104 seasons of KU football. The Golden Bears set a program single-season record with 33 rushing touchdowns and produced 5,837 yards of total offense –second most in a season all-time. Cella is a three-time All-PSAC selection and is being honored as a Don Hansen Gazette All-Region pick for the second year in a row after earning a spot on the Third Team Offense in 2018. He started all 13 games for the Maroon and Gold. KU’s 3,544 passing yards were its third most in a season, while its 2,293 rushing yards ranked fourth. The Golden Bears allowed the fifth fewest sacks per game in Super Region 1 with 1.31 per game.
Jack Pilkerton (La Plata, Md./La Plata) | RSr. | TE | La Plata, Md. / La Plata
A threat in the passing game during all three of his seasons with the Golden Bears, Pilkerton exploded for career-highs of 44 catches, 666 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019. Though he was a surprise PSAC East Second Team selection, Pilkerton’s fantastic season was validated with All-America Second Team honors from the Associated Press. Pilkerton’s 10 TD catches were tied for fourth most in a season in KU history and he finished with four multi-score games.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
Ahkee Cox-Cowan (Harrisburg, Pa./Harrisburg) | Sr. | CB | Harrisburg, Pa. / Harrisburg
Cox-Cowan led the team with 16 passes defended and 13 breakups en route to setting Kutztown career records in both categories with 63 and 51, respectively. The senior’s three interceptions were third most on the team and his 56 tackles (43 solo) ranked sixth. Cox-Cowan forced a fumble and made a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss on a Kutztown defense that led Super Region 1 and ranked fourth in Division II in turnovers gained with 32. The lockdown corner is just the second player in team history to earn Don Hansen All-Region honors three times, joining NFL running back Craig Reynolds (Willow Grove, Pa./Abington). Cox Cowan is also a three-time All-PSAC East First Team selection and two-time D2CCA All-Super Region 1 pick.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
Collin DiGalbo (Secane, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) | RSr. | QB | Secane, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner
DiGalbo, the 2019 PSAC East Offensive Player of the Year, set new single-season career-highs in passing yards (3,193), touchdown passes (30), completions (22), passing attempts (355), passing yards per game (266.1), rushing yards (571) and rushing attempts (131). A four-year starter behind center, he ranks second at KU in career passing yards (9,282), tied for second in rushing TDs (33), third in completions (725), third in passing attempts (1,140) and third in passing TDs (74). DiGalbo is a four-time all-conference honoree and was a Don Hansen Gazette Third Team All-Region selection last year.
Abdul-Hassan Neblett (Newark, N.J./Paramus Catholic) | RSr. | RB | Newark, N.J. / Paramus Catholic
Thrust into the starting role at running back following the graduation of Reynolds, Neblett responded with a career year. The redshirt senior from Newark, New Jersey, became just the 10th Golden Bear to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (1,059) and first since Reynolds in 2016. He led KU with a career-high 12 rushing TDs –tied for seventh most in a season in team history– and also produced a career-high 48 receptions for 373 yards and two scores. Neblett averaged a career-best 6.7 yards per carry and 81.5 rushing yards per game in collecting All-PSAC East First Team honors. This is his first selection to a Don Hansen Gazette All-Region team.
THIRD TEAM OFFENSE
Justin Tindull (Seven Valleys, Pa./Dallastown) | OT | RSr. | Seven Valleys, Pa. / Dallastown
Tindull repeats as a Don Hansen Gazette All-Region Third Team pick after starting all 13 games at left tackle for the 11-2 Golden Bears. He was a catalyst up front as Kutztown battered opponents for more than 5,800 yards of total offense and 35.5 points per game. The Golden Bears’ pass protection was among the best in Super Region 1, ranking fifth with just 1.31 sacks allowed per game. Tindull and the o-line also helped KU rank eighth in SR1 in passing offense, ninth in scoring and 11th in rushing offense. He racked up 43 career starts, including 34 straight to close out his career. Tindull is also a two-time All-PSAC East selection.
Jayson Williams (Pomona, N.J./Cedar Creek) | OG | RJr. | Pomona, N.J. / Cedar Creek
Williams joins fellow offensive linemen Cella and Tindull as a two-time Don Hansen Gazette All-Region honoree with his second straight Third Team nod. The right guard has made 34 starts for the Maroon and Gold over the last three seasons, including 25 in a row heading into 2020. Kutztown averaged 449.0 yards of offense per game –eighth best in Super Region 1. The Golden Bears were also top 10 in SR1 in fewest sacks allowed, passing offense and scoring.
THIRD TEAM DEFENSE
Nick Palmer (Montville, N.J./Bergen Catholic) | Jr. | S | Montville, N.J. / Bergen Catholic
Palmer’s ball-hawking abilities were on full display during the 2019 season and a career-year culminated with his first career All-PSAC East and Don Hansen Gazette All-Region accolades. The junior safety led KU with a career-high six interceptions and also produced a career-high 62 tackles in 13 games. Palmer totaled 2.0 tackles for loss, seven passes defended and picked off a pass in each of the Golden Bears’ NCAA playoff games.
Shawn Turber-Ortiz (Northumberland, Pa./Shikellamy) | RJr. | S | Northumberland, Pa. / Shikellamy
One of the nation’s top tacklers and a crucial part of Kutztown’s secondary, Turber-Ortiz blew past 200 career tackles with 73 through the team’s first seven games. He also had four interceptions and was named PSAC East Defensive Athlete of the Week three times before suffering an injury on the opening possession of the Shippensburg game, Oct. 26, that limited his availability the rest of the way. Turber-Ortiz still ranked in the top 20 in Super Region 1 with 5.0 solo tackles per game and claimed a spot on the All-PSAC East First Team for the second straight season. This is his first all-region honor. With 248 tackles and 13 interceptions thus far in his career, Turber-Ortiz ranks in the top 15 in both categories at KU.