ST. LOUIS -- Five Sycamores represent Indiana State on the 2012 All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team while a school-record and league-high 14 Sycamores overall were honored as the postseason awards were announced today (Nov. 26) by the league office following a vote of conference head coaches, sports information directors and media members.
Indiana State's five members of the All-MVFC First Team tied for the second-most among league schools with champion North Dakota State behind Illinois State's eight honorees. The Sycamores' 14 overall honorees on the first, second and honorable mention teams was the most in the league ahead of 13 from NDSU and 12 from Illinois State. This is the second consecutive year in which Indiana State has led the league in the number of all-conference representatives.
Shakir Bell finished a close third in the MVFC Offensive Player Of The Year Award balloting with 40 points, just nine points behind the winner, Matt Brown from Illinois State. South Dakota State's Zach Zenner finished second with 45 points.
Aaron Archie likewise finished third in the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year voting by tallying 31 votes. Marcus Williams of North Dakota State won the award with 54 points, while Illinois State's Colton Underwood was second with 48.
Connor Underwood was third in both the MVFC Freshman and Newcomer Of The Year Award races as UNI's Sawyer Kollmorgen won each and South Dakota State's TJ Lally was the runner-up in both.
Trent Miles finished fourth in the Bruce Craddock MVFC Coach Of The Year balloting. Craig Bohl of North Dakota State was the winner.
Junior Runningback Shakir Bell, Senior Defensive End Ben Obaseki, Senior Linebacker Aaron Archie, Senior Defensive Back Johnny Towalid and Senior Punter Lucas Hileman each earned First Team All-MVFC honors.
Junior Fullback Austen Wozniak, Senior Offensive Lineman Casey Paswater, Senior Offensive Lineman Evan Borchers, Sophomore Kicker Tanner Fritschle, Senior Linebacker Jacolby Washington and Junior Defensive Back Calvin Burnett were named Second Team All-MVFC.
Senior Tight End Michael Mardis, Freshman Defensive End Connor Underwood and Junior Defensive Back Larry King took home All-MVFC Honorable Mention plaudits.
Shakir Bell as named to the All-MVFC First Team for the second consecutive season as he finished as the Sycamores' leading rusher with 269 attempts for 1,475 yards (third-best ever at INS) and 11 TDs, with a long rush of 64 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per rush and 134.1 yards per game. He set the MVFC single-game rushing record with 349 yards on the ground against Drake and was named MVFC and National Offensive Player Of The Week following that game. Bell finished second in the league in rushing yards per game and sixth nationally (134.1 rushing yards per game) while his 134.1 yards of total offense per game ranked 10th in the MVFC. He averaged 6.55 points per game, which was sixth in the MVFC and tied for 77th nationally while his 147.0 all purpose yards per game was second in the league and 17th in FCS. Bell went over 100 yards rushing seven times, including in 5-of-8 MVFC contests. He was the MVFC Offensive Player Of The Year in 2011 and finishing tied for second in the Walter Payton Award voting and became the first sophomore to ever finish in the Top 3.
Ben Obaseki earned First Team All-MVFC honors for the second consecutive year after spending all season on The Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. He tallied 43 total tackles, including 18 solos and 25 assists and recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss of 22 yards and three quarterback sacks for 18 yards. His 5.5 quarterback sacks ranked tied for 23rd in the MVFC and he had a season-best six total tackles at Indiana and again versus South Dakota State. Obaseki posted 1.5 tackles for a loss of eight yards against South Dakota and had quarterback sacks against South Dakota State, Southern Illinois and South Dakota.
Aaron Archie earned First Team All-MVFC honors for the second year in a row and finished his Sycamore career by being named an all-league player during each of his four seasons. He led the team with 128 total tackles, including 49 solos and 79 assists, finishing his career with 426 total tackles, a new Indiana State school record. Archie led the team with 10 tackles for losses, with four pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and a forced fumble. He was a leader of the nation's third-ranked defense as he 11.36 tackles per game average tied for the best in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and was tied for eighth nationally. Archie posted just under one tackle for a loss each game, good enough for 11th-best in the MVFC and his 126 tackles ranks tied for the 11th-most in a season at ISU. He recorded double digit tackles in 10-of-11 games this season, including a best of 15 against Missouri State.
Johnny Towalid finished off his Sycamore career in fine fashion by being named to the All-MVFC First Team for the first time. He set a new Indiana State record with three interception returns for a touchdown while also setting the school record with two pick 6's in a game at No. 1 North Dakota State as well as the career record with four. He was named the MVFC and National Defensive Player Of The Week for his two interception returns for a touchdown against the Bison and paced the team with five interceptions on the season, which tied for second-best in the MVFC and ranked tied for eighth nationally. Towalid recorded 34 total tackles, including one for a loss and broke up nine passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. He had a season-best six tackles at North Dakota State and posted multiple tackles in 10-of-11 games.
Lucas Hileman was the fifth Sycamore representative on the All-MVFC First Team after taking home second team and all-newcomer honors last year. Hileman was also a two-year member of the Indiana State baseball team as a centerfielder. He punted 62 times for 2,736 yards, an average of 44.1 yards per punt, including a long of 66 yards at Southern Illinois. Hileman's 44.1 yards per punt was the best in the MVFC and ranked seventh nationally while his 44.1 yards per punt is also a new single-season school record. The Sycamores owned a 39.45 average in net punting, which led the MVFC and was third nationally. Hileman averaged over 40 yards per punt in all eight league games and in 10-of-11 games overall and he had a 50.7 average per punt following the Drake contest. He owned 19 punts over 50 yards for the season and pinned the opponent inside their own 20 a total of 22 times and gave up just 10 touchbacks and forced 10 fair catches.
Austen Wozniak picked up Second Team All-MVFC honors after he rushed 12 times for 34 yards, averaging 2.8 yards per carry and caught nine passes out of the backfield for 70 yards, averaging 7.8 yards per catch with a touchdown on fourth-and-one in the season opener at Indiana which proved to be a season-long of 23 yards. He finished the year with three pass receptions for 17 yards at Western Illinois and made a tackle at Youngstown State.
Along the Sycamore offensive line, both Casey Paswater and Evan Borchers were named to the All-MVFC Second Team. Both were fourth-year starters and Borchers was named the MVFC Offensive Lineman Of The Week following Bell's 349 rushing yard performance against Drake. The Sycamore rushing attack averaged 158.82 yards per game, which was fourth-best in the MVFC and 52nd nationally...The Sycamore offense averaged 23.1 points per game, which was fifth in the MVFC...ISU averaged 307.9 yards per game...Gave up only two quarterbacks per game.
Tanner Fritschle made his debut in the postseason honors by being named to the All-MVFC second team. He was 15-of-18 on the year in field goal attempts, including a long of 48 yards as part of the Sycamores road victory over No. 1 North Dakota State. Fritschle's 83.3 percentage on field goals is a new school record while he also made each of his last five field goal attempts this year. He converted 29-of-30 PAT's and was honored by The Fred Mitchell Award Committee for the month of September. Fritschle booted 50 kickoffs on the year for 3,121 yards, averaging 62.4 yards per kick and 23 touchbacks. His 1.36 field goals per game average ranked second in the league and tied for ninth nationally while he led the team with 6.73 points per game, which was fifth in the league and tied for 67th in FCS. Fritschle made field goals to end the first half in each of the Sycamores' first four games.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jacolby Washington was named to the All-MVFC Second Team for the third consecutive season. He finished second on the team with 110 total tackles, including 42 solos and 68 assists and posted eight tackles for a loss of 26 yards with two quarterback sacks for 14 yards. Washington added two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery. He averaged 10.0 tackles per game, which ranked third in the league and 23rd in FCS while his .73 tackles per loss game tied for 17th-best in the MVFC. Washington reached double figure tackles in seven games, including a season-best 14 against Drake and had 1.5 tackles for a loss of 12 yards at No. 1 North Dakota State.
Calvin Burnett was a Second Team All-MVFC selection, marking his second season of being honored by the league. Burnett was a All-MVFC Honorable Mention pick as a freshman in 2010 and was also named to the all-newcomer team. He recorded 60 total tackles, which ranked third on the team and added two tackles for loss and one quarterback sack. Burnett finished second on the team with four interceptions for 53 yards in returns with eight pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. He posted multiple interception efforts in back-to-back games at Southern Illinois and versus Missouri State and finished tied for sixth in the league for most interceptions, as well as tied for 23rd nationally. He was named the MVFC Special Teams Player Of The Week following his two punt return for 59 yards against South Dakota and had multiple tackles in all 11 games, including a season-high 10 at Indiana and a MVFC season-best of seven at No. 1 North Dakota State.
Michael Mardis was selected to the All-MVFC Honorable Mention Team and was a all-academic pick one year ago. He was the team's leading receiver with 34 receptions for 408 yards and four TDs, with a long pass reception of 43 yards. Mardis averaged 37.1 yards per game, which ranked 20th in the MVFC and also averaged 3.09 receptions per game, which ranked 21st in the league. He had eight multi-catch games, including a season-best six receptions at Indiana and against Illinois State.
Connor Underwood was an All-MVFC Honorable Mention selection as a redshirt freshman for the Sycamores. He finished fifth on the team with 48 total tackles, including 19 solos and 29 assists and posted 9.5 tackles for a loss of 42 yards. Underwood led the team with six quarterback sacks for 27 yards and added one interception at Western Illinois, with three pass breakups and five quarterback hurries. He averaged .55 quarterback sacks per game, which ranked fourth in the MVFC and tied for 57th nationally while his .86 tackles for a loss was 12th in the MVFC. Underwood recorded a season-best 10 tackles at No. 1 North Dakota State with two tackles for a loss and recorded a season-best three tackles for a loss of 20 yards versus Drake. He was credited with a season-best two quarterback sacks at North Dakota State.
Rounding out the Sycamore selections for 2012 was Larry King, who was named an All-MVFC Honorable Mention selection. He was named to the MVFC All-Newcomer squad in 2010. King was fourth on the team with 57 total tackles, including 22 solos and 35 assists. He had 1.5 tackles for a loss of eight yards and tallied three interceptions for a return of 62 yards with three pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. King recorded a season-best 10 tackles against South Dakota State and posted interceptions in back-to-back games, including a game sealing one in the fourth quarter on the road against No. 1 North Dakota State and another for a 51-yard return at Western Illinois.
Indiana State finished the season with a 7-4 record, earning its third consecutive winning campaign for the first time since 1967-69. The Sycamores tied for third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 5-3 record, alongside Illinois State and Southern Illinois. North Dakota State finished the regular season with the MVFC Championship and a No. 1 national ranking on the strength of a 10-1 mark, with its lone loss coming to at the hands of the Sycamores in Fargo.
The Sycamores enjoyed a five-game winning streak for first time since 1996 by defeating Southern Illinois, Missouri State, No. 1 North Dakota State, Western Illinois and South Dakota in succession. Three of those victories (SIU, NDSU, and WIU) came on the road. Additionally, the Sycamores rose to as high as No. 14 in the national polls this season, which is tied for the highest for the Sycamores since joining the MVFC and the highest in the Trent Miles era.
The Sycamore defense was outstanding this season, allowing just 156 points, including the program's first shutout since 1996 with the 44-0 victory over Quincy on September 8. ISU's defense allowed an average of 14.27 points per game which ranked second in the MVFC and third nationally. Indiana State finished third in the conference in pass efficiency defense and sixth nationally with a 100.37 rating. The Sycamores allowed 296.4 yards per game which was second in the league and sixth-best in FCS. ISU gave up just 167.4 passing yards per game which was third in the league and 15th-best nationally.
Bell went over the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the season in just the seventh game as he put up 96 yards on the ground as the Sycamores downed No. 1 North Dakota State in front of a near capacity crowd at the Fargodome 17-14. Bell rushed 26 times in the game for 96 yards as he broke his own school record set last year for being the fastest Sycamore to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Bell now has 3,794 yards for his career which is third on ISU's all-time list. Bell averaged 134.1 rushing yards per game which was second in the MVFC and sixth nationally. Bell has reached 100 yards rushing in 18 of his 33 career games. Vincent Allen (4,335 yards from 1973-77) and David Wright (4,181 yards from 1992-95) are the only two players to sit ahead of Bell on the ISU all-time career rushing list.
Finally, Indiana State finished 2012 with a 3-1 record on the road in Missouri Valley Football Conference play, owning victories over Southern Illinois, Western Illinois and No. 1 North Dakota State. ISU also won its final road league game in 2011 at Missouri State, giving the Sycamores a four-game road MVFC winning streak which was snapped in the regular season finale at Youngstown State on November 17. ISU's four-game road winning streak was the longest in program history.