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Five Valpo Players Named to All-PFL First Team, Two Others Earn Second-Team Nods

by | Apr 27, 2021 | Featured, Football Blogs | 0 comments

Five Valpo Players Named to All-PFL First Team, Two Others Earn Second-Team Nods


After finishing with the program’s best winning percentage since 2003, the Valparaiso University football team was well represented as the Pioneer Football League unveiled its all-conference teams on Tuesday.


Junior running back Robert Washington (Huntersville, N.C. / East Gaston [Old Dominion]), junior linebacker Jaxon Peifer (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community), senior punter Ben Niesner (Black Diamond, Wash. / Tahoma [Portland State]), redshirt sophomore kicker Brian Bartholomew (Sugar Grove, Ill. / Kaneland) and freshman defensive back Keyon Turner (Chicago, Ill. / Marist) were named to the All-PFL First Team.


Redshirt freshman linebacker Evan Annis (Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Davidson) and freshman return specialist Charlie Maxwell (Elkhart, Ind. / Elkhart Christian Academy) were named to the All-PFL Second Team.


In addition, a Valpo quartet received All-PFL Honorable Mention status: redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Aaron Byrd (Bradley, Ill. /Bourbonnais), junior defensive lineman Trejuan Purty (Maryville, Tenn. / Maryville [East Tennessee State]), senior long snapper Doug Haugh (Redlands, Calif. / Redlands Senior) and junior defensive back Jadarius Horton (Charlotte, N.C. / West Charlotte [Southwestern College]).


The five first-team all-conference honorees mark the program’s most since 2005.


Washington was one of seven unanimous All-PFL selections, while Turner was the lone freshman on the all-league first team. Washington was named the first PFL Offensive Player of the Year in program history on Monday, while Niesner shared PFL Special Teams Player of the Year accolades.


Peifer finished with a team-high 42 tackles including 22 solos during the six-game season. He accounted for 3.0 tackles for loss totaling 15 yards, made a pair of sacks, broke up two passes, forced two fumbles and was credited with a QB hurry. Peifer helped Valpo rank third in the league in scoring defense thanks to his 7.0 tackles per game, which ranked seventh among all PFL players. He was one of four players in the league with multiple forced fumbles.


Peifer had a season-high nine tackles on two occasions, the March 27 home victory over rival Butler and the April 10 game at Morehead State. He had five or more stops in all six games and had six solos in each of the two games against Butler.


Bartholomew boasted the league’s best field-goal percentage at 87.5 percent, converting seven of his eight attempts. He had the most point-after attempts without a miss in the league, going a perfect 13-for-13 on PATs. The redshirt sophomore ranked sixth in the PFL in scoring at 5.7 points per game.


Bartholomew’s season-long 49-yard field goal came at a crucial time as it represented the first points of an eventual 10-7 win over Drake, the program’s first win over the Bulldogs since 2003 and its first-ever win in Des Moines, Iowa. Bartholomew also averaged 51.6 yards per kick on 25 kickoffs, booting a pair of touchbacks. He posted Valpo’s best single-season field-goal percentage since at least 2005.


Turner finished his season as the FCS nation’s true leader in takeaways with six. He recovered fumbles in Week 1 and Week 6 sandwiched around a four-game stretch of contests with an interception in Weeks 2-5. The rookie was named the co-PFL Defensive Player of the Week for Week 3.


Turner’s four picks helped him become one of only five Valpo players with four or more interceptions in a single season over the last 12 years despite the fact that this year’s slate was shortened to six games. He ranked in the top 10 nationally in interceptions per game, led the nation in interceptions per game among freshmen, became the first Valpo player with interceptions in four straight games in over two decades and became the first Valpo freshman with four interceptions in a season in over 20 years.


Washington ranked eighth nationally in FCS in rushing yards per game at 108.8. He accrued 100 or more rushing yards on four occasions including a season-high 199 on 39 carries in the March 13 season opener at Butler, the highest single-game rushing output by a Valpo player since 2012. His 199-yard performance marked the ninth-highest single-game rushing number in the nation this season, and he was one of three players nationally with multiple games of 180+ rushing yards.


Washington, who totaled 653 yards and five touchdowns on 140 carries over six games, had the most rushing yards in a season by any Valpo player since Brandon Hall’s 855 in 2014 despite this year’s slate being shortened to six games. Washington was named the PFL Offensive Player of the Week once this season and earned a pair of College Sports Madness PFL Offensive Player of the Week nods. In addition, the Valpo running back ranked 11th nationally in total rushing yards and 12th in all-purpose yards per game (129.33).


Niesner tied Greg Wood’s program record for single-season punting average at 43.6. When taken to the next decimal point, Niesner’s 43.58 is narrowly behind Wood’s 43.64, which is also the Pioneer Football League record. Niesner’s mark is the second-best in PFL history. He ranked eighth nationally in punting average in Division-I FCS this spring.


Niesner booted seven punts for 50+ yards this season including a career-long 72 in the season finale vs. San Diego. He pinned the opposition inside the 20 on nine occasions while totaling 1,351 yards over his 31 boots. Niesner earned a pair of PFL Special Teams Player of the Week accolades this spring.


Maxwell finished his season as the FCS national leader in kickoff return average at 29.8 yards per return. He was named a national player of the week honorable mention following his Week 6 performance against San Diego, which featured an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He accrued 151 return yards in that game, the most by any PFL player in a single contest this season. The 86 yarder marked the second-longest return by a PFL player this year.


Annis finished second on the team in tackles with 41, a single tackle behind Peifer. He posted 2.5 TFL and ranked eighth in the PFL at 6.8 tackles per game. Annis had a midseason stretch of three straight games with eight tackles or more, including back-to-back outings with a season-high nine tackles against Drake and Butler.


The PFL will round out its week of announcing awards on Wednesday afternoon by releasing the PFL All-Academic Teams.


2020-21 Pioneer Football League Major Award Winners

Offensive Player of the Year: Robert Washington, Valparaiso

Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Glajchen, San Diego

Co-Special Teams Player of the Year: Hunter Nichols, San Diego

Co-Special Teams Player of the Year: Ben Niesner, Valparaiso

Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Delvecchio Powell II, Presbyterian

Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Hammond, Davidson

Coach of the Year: Scott Abell, Davidson

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: To be announced, Wednesday

2020-21 All-Pioneer Football League First Team
(as selected by PFL head coaches)
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
WR BJ Byrd (U, H) Morehead State 6-2 190 Sr. Richmond, Calif.
WR Michael Carner San Diego 6-1 190 RSo. Westlake Village, Calif.
WR Keith Pearson (U) Presbyterian 5-9 175 Sr. Enoree, S.C.
QB Mark Pappas Morehead State 6-2 213 RJr. Avon Lake, Ohio
TE Derek Kline (U) San Diego 6-5 230 RSo. Phoenix, Ariz.
RB Dylan Sparks Davidson 6-0 201 So. Centreville, Va.
RB Robert Washington (U) Valparaiso 5-11 215 Jr. Huntersville, N.C.
FB Coy Williams Davidson 5-11 202 Jr. Lumberton, Texas
A-P Keith Pearson Presbyterian 5-9 175 Sr. Enoree, S.C.
OL Billy Corte (H) Stetson 6-5 285 RSo. Cleveland, Ohio
OL Antonio Derry (H) Stetson 6-4 308 RSo. Baltimore, Md.
OL Cam Marriott Morehead State 6-3 300 Jr. Redlands, Calif.
OL Khalil Miller Davidson 6-3 299 Jr. Lithonia, Ga.
OL DJ Wright (1) San Diego 6-4 275 RJr. Pittsburg, Calif.
DL Kevin Glajchen (U) San Diego 6-2 270 RSr. Saratoga, Calif.
DL Vaughn Taylor Jr. (U, 1) Morehead State 6-2 252 Sr. Washington, D.C.
DL Chris Reese San Diego 6-4 265 RSr. Littleton, Colo.
DL Fermon Reid (2) Stetson 6-0 254 RJr. Naples, Fla.
LB Jake Alexander Davidson 6-0 189 Jr. Belmont, N.C.
LB Kyle Bilchik (H) San Diego 5-10 210 Sr. Simi Valley, Calif.
LB Colby Campbell (U) Presbyterian 6-0 230 Sr. Montmorenci, S.C.
LB Kama Kamaka (1) San Diego 6-1 210 Sr. Kailua, Hawaii
LB Jaxon Peifer (H) Valparaiso 6-1 235 Jr. Normal, Ill.
LB Vincent Winey Morehead State 6-1 230 Sr. Lindenhurst, N.Y.
DB Brandon Barbee Morehead State 5-11 192 Jr. Orlando, Fla.
DB Michael Hawkins San Diego 6-1 200 Sr. San Diego, Calif.
DB Hunter Nichols (H) San Diego 6-0 185 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif.
DB Keyon Turner Valparaiso 5-9 160 Fr. Chicago, Ill.
PK Brian Bartholomew Valparaiso 5-11 160 RSo. Sugar Grove, Ill.
P Ben Niesner (H) Valparaiso 6-0 190 Sr. Black Diamond, Wash.
RS Jaylon Johnson (1) Stetson 5-10 156 So. Olive Branch, Miss.
RS Hunter Nichols San Diego 6-0 185 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif.
LS Ryan Kriceri (H) Drake 6-2 235 Sr. Aurora, Ill.
Notes in parentheses: U-indicates a player was a unanimous first-team selection; 4x-is a four-time first-team All-PFL selection; 3x-is a three-time first-team All-PFL selection; 1-was a first-team selection in 2019; 2-was a second-team selection in 2019; H-was a honorable mention selection in 2019. Six linebackers and two return specialists named to First Team, five linebackers and six offensive linemen to Second Team due to ties in voting.


2020-21 All-Pioneer Football League Second Team
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
WR Thomas Campbell-Clay Morehead State 5-10 196 Jr. Knoxville, Tenn.
WR Yogi Flager Butler 5-10 165 Fr. Fairview Heights, Ill.
WR Johnny O’Shea Butler 6-2 180 RSo. Palatine, Ill.
QB Tyler Huff Presbyterian 6-1 200 So. Orange Park, Fla.
TE Jackson Sherrard Davidson 6-5 233 Jr. Olney, Md.
RB Emilio Martinez San Diego 5-10 200 Sr. Salinas, Calif.
RB Jordan Younge-Humphrey Stetson 5-9 208 So. Rockledge, Fla.
FB Michael Gadinis San Diego 6-1 220 RJr. San Diego, Calif.
A-P BJ Byrd Morehead State 6-2 190 Sr. Richmond, Calif.
OL Mark Bach Drake 6-0 267 Sr. Barrington, Ill.
OL Will Berkey Davidson 6-3 293 Sr. Atlanta, Ga.
OL Alex Brown Stetson 6-3 300 Sr. West Palm Beach, Fla.
OL Cole Foley Davidson 6-4 293 Jr. Winston-Salem, N.C.
OL Gordon Sandorf Davidson 6-3 287 Sr. Clearwater, Fla.
OL Skyler Spetter Butler 6-5 280 RSo. Bargersville, Ind.
DL Jonathan Hammond Davidson 6-2 218 Fr. Dunwoody, Ga.
DL Jake Hoper Drake 6-4 269 Jr. South Beloit, Ill.
DL Muhindo Kapapa San Diego 6-2 275 RJr. Fairfield, Calif.
DL Tanner Wilhelm Presbyterian 6-1 235 RJr. Fyffe, Ala.
LB Evan Annis Valparaiso 6-1 220 RFr. Hilliard, Ohio
LB Declan Carr Drake 6-1 226 Jr. Frankfort, Ill.
LB Ethan Hull Stetson 6-1 220 RSo. Crestwood, Ky.
LB Ryan Kriceri Drake 6-2 235 Sr. Aurora, Ill.
LB Will Kulick Drake 6-2 223 Sr. Aurora, Colo.
DB Jaylon Bolden Davidson 6-3 206 Sr. Rowlett, Texas
DB Oka Emmanwori Presbyterian 5-10 183 So. Columbia, S.C.
DB Danny Morales Drake 5-11 180 Jr. Temecula, Calif.
DB Jeffrey Smyth Presbyterian 5-11 180 So. Beaufort, S.C.
PK Caden Bonoffski Davidson 5-8 174 So. Huntersville, N.C.
P Andrew Foster Morehead State 6-3 230 Sr. Knoxville, Tenn.
RS Charlie Maxwell Valparaiso 5-5 135 Fr. Elkhart, Ind.
LS Mike Wojciechowski Stetson 5-7 167 RFr. Oak Harbor, Ohio


2020-21 All-Pioneer Football League Honorable Mention

BUTLER: Devin Aguilar  (RJr., DB), Jordan Caselberry  (RSo., DL), Mickey Kane  (RJr., LB), Grant Purlee  (RJr., OL), Kavon Samuels (Jr., RB), Trevor Scott  (RJr., OL), JJ Wadas (Fr., PK). DAVIDSON: James Boyle  (Sr., DL), Jalen Jefferson  (Jr., LB), Kaedon Jenkins  (So., DB), Tate Kipperman  (Sr., OL), Mark McCurdy (Fr., AP), Tyler Phelps (Sr., QB), Evan Pritchard  (Jr., P), Jalen Staples (Jr., WR), Eli Turner (Jr., AP). DRAKE: Ben Gerdes  (RSo., DL), Grant Gossling (RJr., FB), Colin Howard  (So., WR), Max Johnson  (RJr., DL), Alex Rogers  (RJr., DB), Jake Shipla  (Fr., DL). MOREHEAD STATE: Cam Barrett  (Sr., LB), Devin Connors  (Jr., DL), Mike Davis  (Sr., OL), Ian Holder (Jr., RS), Nick Lavender  (So., DL), Tyler Noble  (Sr., DB), Jacob Ungruhe  (Jr., OL). PRESBYTERIAN: Trent Carrington  (RJr., DB), Luke Foster  (RJr., OL), Rod Haygood  (Sr., DB), Noah Mangum  (So., OL), Jarrett Nagy  (Jr., LB). SAN DIEGO: Mason Randall (RSr., QB). STETSON: Connor Becker (So., WR), Michael Carley  (So., WR), Jaylon Johnson  (So., DB), Rassi Littlejohn  (So., DB), Greg Moore  (RJr., DL). VALPARAISO: Aaron Byrd  (RSo., OL), Doug Haugh (Sr., LS), Jadarius Horton  (Jr., DB), Trejuan Purty  (Jr., DL).