Northern Lights, Great Land announce year-end awards

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Both the Northern Lights Conference and the Great Land Conference announced their awards this week.

Kenai, the NLC champion and small-schools state champion, took the bulk of the awards in the Northern Lights. Junior running back Dakota Craig is Offensive Player of the Year, senior safety TJ Hancock is Defensive Player of the Year, Jim Beeson is Coach of the Year and Jim Dawson is Assistant Coach of the Year.

Soldotna took the last major award in the NLC, as junior Dan Spindler is Lineman of the Year.

In the Great Land Conference, Nikiski took the majority of the major awards even though the Bulldogs finished second in conference play to Eielson.

Billy Anderson is the Offensive Player of the Year, John Schwenke is the Lineman of the Year and Ned Clooten is the Coach of the Year.

Picking up the other major award in the NLC is punishing linebacker Jamie Hurlburt of Eielson.

Craig broke Kenai's school record for rushing yards in a season by rushing for 1,712 yards on 255 carries. The junior fumbled just once on all those carries, and the Kardinals were able to recover that fumble.

Just as importantly, Beeson said that Craig remained a team player despite piling up more and more impressive stats.

"This is such a great group of kids," Beeson said. "It doesn't matter to them who's successful, they just care about winning and losing football games."

Hancock called the defensive signals from his safety spot for the Kardinals. Kenai's defense was dominant all year, and punctuated that dominance by shutting out Eielson in the small-schools title game.

"I can't remember a safety being player of the year in the 14 years I've been doing this," Beeson said. "That says a lot right there.

"He's like a linebacker because he loves to come up and smack people. But they also didn't want to throw at him back there."

With Beeson getting Coach of the Year, it's really no surprise that Dawson received Assistant Coach of the Year.

Dawson is the defensive coordinator for the Kardinals, and also coaches the skill positions on offense.

"The guy is as qualified, if not more qualified, than any other coach in the state of Alaska," Beeson said of Dawson.

Beeson also said his Coach of the Year Award is due to his team and others on his staff, including those involved with the junior varsity squad. That squad started the year 0-3, but won its last five games to win its conference.

Spindler kept up a fine SoHi tradition with his Lineman of the Year Award.

"It seems like every year we have the Lineman of the Year and Kenai has the Offensive Player of the Year," Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell said.

Truesdell said Spindler's award continues to show the quality coaching of assistants Jeff Baker and Galen Brantley.

It also shows Spindler's ability to work.

"He came out of nowhere," Truesdell said of Spindler. "He was a junior varsity kid last year, and he worked really hard in the weight room in the offseason.

"At the first day of practice this year, I never would have dreamed that he would be Lineman of the Year."

Nikiski's Anderson rushed for 904 yards in the regular season this year, but Clooten said that is not what earned his senior the award.

He said coaches were interested in how Anderson fared against Kenai in the first round of the playoffs. Anderson had 112 yards on 19 carries in that game, and that performance against the Kards' stingy defense swayed the voters.

Schwenke is just a junior and won Lineman of the Year even though he is 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds.

"He has a great ability to stay low," Clooten said. "He's a John Randall type of player. His motor never stops until the final whistle."

Clooten was the Coach of the Year Award in his first year as head coach with the Bulldogs.

Clooten took over a program he termed "user-friendly" from the previous work of coaches like Lee Moore, Scott Anderson and Ward Romans.

"Honestly, I'd never done anything with the wing-T offense before I came up here," Clooten said. "I spent a lot of time learning the offense from Scott this past summer.

"The kids really knew it well, and I didn't want to change it. I fit into their system, and that's probably why we had success."

2003 Northern Lights All-Conference Selections

Offensive Player of the Year -- Dakota Craig, Kenai.

Defensive Player of the Year -- TJ Hancock, Kenai.

Lineman of the Year -- Dan Spindler, Soldotna.

Coach of the Year -- Jim Beeson, Kenai.

Assistant Coach of the Year -- Jim Dawson, Kenai.


First Team

Quarterback: Cole Chappell, sr., Kenai.

Halfback: Dakota Craig, jr., Kenai; Garrett Gardner, jr., Soldotna.

Fullback: Daniel Ghormley, sr., Soldotna.

Tight end: Josh Bennett, jr., Kenai.

Wide receiver: Nate Schmidt, sr., Skyview.

Center: Michael Scheffert, jr., Kenai.

Guard: Zach DeMello, jr., Kenai; Daniel Spindler, jr., Soldotna.

Tackle: Kenny Dormady, sr., Kenai; Jon Verhelst, sr., Soldotna.

Kicker: Jose Araya, sr., Kenai.

Return specialist: Daniel Ghormley, sr., Soldotna.

Long snapper: Danny Autrey, sr., Kenai.

Second team

Halfback: Brad Zemke, sr., Kodiak; Jason West, jr., Homer.

Fullback: Ryann Hansen, jr., Kenai; Bryan Smith, sr., Homer.

Tight end: Richard Derkevorkian, jr., Skyview.

Wide receiver: Brandon Moffett, jr., Homer; Johnny Mills, sr., Soldotna.

Center: Tony Silva, sr., Skyview.

Guard: Adam Hediger, sr., Homer; Bubba Meyers, Kodiak.

Tackle: Danny Autrey, sr., Kenai; Mathew Hicks, jr., Soldotna.

Kicker: Shane Tachick, sr., Soldotna.

Return specialist: TJ Hancock, sr., Kenai.

Long snapper: Brett Wise, jr., Homer.

Honorable mention

Tight end: Kory Wilbanks, soph., Soldotna; Zach Keplinger, Kodiak.

Center: Kurt Romberg, jr., Soldotna.

Guard: Zach Baker, sr., Kodiak.

Kicker: Matt Deal, sr., Kodiak.

Long snapper: Antonio Silva, sr., Skyview.


First team

Inside linebacker: Geordon Main, sr., Kenai; Dakota Craig, jr., Kenai; Jacob Howarth, soph., Soldotna.

Outside linebacker: Michael Scheffert, jr., Kenai; Daniel Ghormley, sr., Soldotna.

Defensive back: Justin Smith, soph., Homer; TJ Hancock, sr., Kenai; Neil Gardner, sr., Soldotna.

Interior lineman: Cam Hagen, soph., Homer; Justin Lee, sr., Kenai; Angelo Luna, sr., Kodiak; Clay Burman, sr., Soldotna.

Punter: Josh Blanchard, jr., Homer.

Utility player: Jake Fraley, sr., Homer.

Second team

Inside linebacker: Dan Rainwater, sr., Homer.

Outside linebacker: Devion Hagen, sr., Homer; Bryan Smith, sr., Homer.

Defensive back: Brandon Miles, soph., Kenai; Eric Simpson, sr., Soldotna; Tyler Wehrli, jr., Skyview.

Interior lineman: Papapa Nicholas, soph., Kenai; Dennis Bryant, sr., Kodiak; Daniel Spindler, jr., Soldotna; Zach Rohr, sr., Skyview.

Punter: Ryann Hansen, jr., Kenai.

Utility player: Ronnie Rainey, jr., Kenai.

Honorable mention

Inside linebacker: Brandy Goracke, jr., Soldotna; Zach Baker, sr., Kodiak.

Outside linebacker: Bubba Meyers, sr., Kodiak; Nick Pifer, sr., Skyview.

Defensive back: Joe Hoanin, jr., Homer; Jason West, jr., Homer; Brandon Cleveland, sr., Skyview.

Interior lineman: Elwin Delos Santos, soph., Kodiak; Brad Zemke, sr., Kodiak.

Punter: Kory Wilbanks, soph., Soldotna.

Utility player: Brett Toering, sr., Soldotna.

2003 Great Land All-Conference Selections

Offensive Player of the Year -- Billy Anderson, Nikiski.

Defensive Player of the Year -- Jamie Hurlburt, Eielson.

Lineman of the Year -- John Schwenke, Nikiski.

Coach of the Year -- Ned Clooten, Nikiski.


First team

Quarterback: Evan Skinner, Eielson.

Halfback: Bobby Dunbar, ACS; Billy Anderson, Nikiski.

Return specialist: Jeremiah Taylor, Nikiski.

Fullback: Chris Tidwell, Eielson.

Wide receiver: Chad Odom, Eielson.

Utility player: Jeremiah Taylor, Nikiski.

Tight end: Carl Arts, Valdez.

Tackle: Cody Dwyer, ACS; Chris Minch, Houston.

Guard: John Schwenke, Nikiski; William Winkler, Eielson.

Center: Travis Swing, Eielson.

Kicker: Chet Dyson, ACS.

Second team

Quarterback: Taylor Richey, Houston.

Halfback: Sean Chase, Seward; Nick Rogers, Eielson.

Return specialist: Logan Dodd, Valdez.

Fullback: Alex Hawkins, ACS.

Wide receiver: Jeremiah Taylor, Nikiski.

Tight end: Kimo Manley, Eielson.

Tackle: Chad Whaley, Eielson; Skyler Gallien, Nikiski.

Guard: Johnny Smithson, ACS; Jamie Hurlburt, Eielson.

Center: Josh Boye, Nikiski.

Kicker: Jeremiah Taylor, Nikiski.

Honorable mention

Quarterback: Zach Womack, Nikiski.

Halfback: Scott Williams, ACS.

Fullback: Ray Ledet, Seward; Dylan Bergman, Sitka; Andy Kappler, Houston.

Tight end: Louie Oliva, Nikiski.

Kicker: Matt Broussard, Eielson; Logan Dodd, Valdez.


First team

Outside linebacker: Chris Tidwell, Eielson; Travis McGahan, Nikiski.

Inside linebacker: Bobby Dunbar, ACS; Jamie Hurlburt, Eielson.

Defensive back: Taylor Richey, Houston; Jeremiah Taylor, Nikiski; Chad Odom, Eielson.

Interior lineman: Josh Boye, Nikiski; John Schwenke, Nikiski; Ray Ledet, Seward; William Winkler, Eielson.

Punter: Chet Dyson, ACS.

Defensive utility player: Billy Anderson.

Second team

Outside linebacker: Travis Swing, Eielson; Cody Gilmore, Seward.

Inside linebacker: Billy Anderson, Nikiski; Justin Albee, Sitka.

Defensive back: Sean Chase, Seward; Logan Dodd, Valdez; Josh Slepecki, ACS.

Interior lineman: Cody Dwyer, ACS; Chad Whaley, Eielson; Kimo Manley, Eielson; Alex Hawkins, ACS.

Punter: Chris Tidwell, Eielson.

Honorable mention

Outside linebacker: Gage Graika, Valdez; J.D. Welch, Houston; Anthony Lorenzo, Nikiski.

Defensive back: Jared Mazurek, Nikiski.

Interior lineman: Brent Luddington, Eielson.

Punter: Coty Beck, Seward; Logan Dodd, Valdez.

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