Mason winner of MVP award
The Jermaine Hopkins Outstanding Defensive Lineman was awarded to Jeff Koval of Austintown.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Senior tailback Marcus Mason was qualified to win most of the awards presented Saturday afternoon at Youngstown State's football banquet held in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Hall.
But the award that Mason was most deserving of was the final one presented at the affair, the team's Most Valuable Player Award.
The 5-foot-9, 210-pound running back from Pontiac, Md., completed an outstanding season with the Penguins, leading the team and the Gateway Conference in rushing with 1,847 yards on 302 carries and 23 touchdowns.
Through his efforts the Penguins captured their second straight Gateway Conference championship, posted an 11-3 overall record and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Series playoffs.
He was the 2006 Gateway offensive player of the year and earned first team All-American honors by the American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp, Associated Press and The Sports Network.
Mason was one of many YSU players honored Saturday.
Senior linebacker Marty Hutchinson (6-4, 210, Newton Falls) was named the outstanding defensive player, while senior tailback Monquantae Gibson (6-0, 205) was the outstanding offensive player.
Senior cornerback and team co-captain Jason Perry (5-8, 165) was the recipient of the Ron Stoops Most Inspirational Award.
The Jim Zdelar Outstanding Offensive Lineman award went to senior tackle Pat Walker (6-5, 305) and the Jermaine Hopkins Outstanding Defensive Lineman was awarded to senior linebacker Jeff Koval (6-1, 221, Austintown).
Senior punter-kicker Joe Bishop (5-10, 194 from Canton) received the Paul McFadden-Jeff Wilkins Specialist of the Year award.
Senior tackle Joe DeBee (6-4, 302) was the winner of the Dr. Pat Spurgeon Torch Bearer Award and senior guard John Foster (6-1, 300) won the Dr. Neal Frost Outreach Man of the Year award.
All of the awards were selected by the YSU coaching staff, except the MVP award, which was voted on by the entire team.
Other awards were the YSU Football Alumni Club's Difference Maker Award, which went to Mason and junior tight end Louis Irizarry (6-5, 252, Ursuline), and the Four Square Club Awards, that were presented for the outstanding individual performance in the game against Maine University.
The offensive awards went to senior tailback T.J. Peterson (6-1, 185) and the defensive honor went to junior linebacker James Terry (6-2, 220).
The Club also presented the award to the Academic Player of the Year on the team to redshirt freshman quarterback Todd Rowan, who accumulated a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
All of the awards were not presented at the banquet and were to be awarded during halftime ceremonies of the YSU-Cleveland State basketball game Saturday night.
The Penguins had 15 players earn All-Gateway Conference honors, including first-teamers Mason, Perry, Bishop, Hutchinson, Terry, Walker, senior center Ryan Jewell, senior defensive tackle Jim Phelan, sophomore defensive tackle Mychal Savage and senior defensive back Codera Jackson.
Second team selections were sophomore tight end Derrick Bush and sophomore guard Brad Samsa, while Koval, Peterson and junior quarterback Tom Zetts were honorable mention.
Irizarry was named to the All-Gateway Newcomer team while Jewell, Samsa, Koval, Zetts and junior defensive back Bob Perez all were named to the Academic All-Gateway team.
The Penguins received the conference championship trophy from YSU president Dr. David Sweet at Saturday's basketball game, while Jon Heacock accepted his second straight Bruce Craddock Coach of the Year award from the Gateway and also his second straight American Football Coaches Association Region Four Coach of the Year award.