Valparaiso University head football coach Dale Carlson has announced the program’s year-end awards for the 2012 season, honoring 10 Crusaders with individual awards for their contributions on and off the field.
Safety Alex Grask (Naperville, Ill./Central) was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, marking the second time in the last three seasons that a defensive player has received the honor. The junior finished fourth in the Pioneer Football League with 113 tackles, averaging just more than 10 per contest. Grask was the team’s leading tackler nine times this season and twice tallied 14 tackles in a game.
Redshirt freshman Jake Hutson (Blanchard, Mich./Montabella) received Offensive Player of the Year honors while senior punter Greg Wood (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) added to his list of accolades, garnering Special Teams Player of the Year honors. Hutson scored a team-high eight touchdowns to go along with 753 rushing yards, the highest single season total by a Crusader since 2008. The rookie also scampered for a career-best 248 yards against Campbell University and was named PFL Co-Player of the Week for the performance. Wood, a preseason All-PFL selection, averaged better than 40 yards per punt and pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line 29 times. He amassed 14 punts of 50 or more yards, including a season-long effort of 64 yards.
A pair of freshmen were recognized for their contributions on the offensive and defensive lines. Right tackle Sam Manternach (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Prairie) started all 11 games and was pegged as the team’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, while defensive lineman John Guilford (Spencer, Ohio/Black River) appeared in every game for the Crusaders, registering team-highs in sacks (3) and tackles for a loss (6.5).
Wide receiver Eric Slenk earned the Crusader Special Team Effort Award, freshman wide receiver Austin Etzler (Elida, Ohio/Elida) earned the team’s Offensive 110% Award and freshman linebacker Tevin Johnson (Denver, Colo./Prairie View) was named the Defensive 110% Award winner.
The annual Richard P. Koenig Award, which exemplifies moral character, academic, and athletic achievement went to tight end Mike Gerton (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein), who caught 20 passes for 161 yards and two scores in his final season.
Senior linebacker Chris Howard (Crown Point, Ind./Andrean [Butler]) received the Joe Sever Trophy, which recognizes not only skill, but the courage, character, attitude, and achievement above and beyond the call of duty.