Three Crusaders Named to all-PFL Second Team, Six Others Notch Honorable Mention
A trio of Valparaiso University football players garnered places on the all-Pioneer Football League second-team and six others earned all-league honorable mention as the PFL announced its postseason all-league teams on Tuesday.
Sophomore Bailey Gessinger (Goshen, Ind. / Northwood) was named to the all-PFL second-team as a return specialist for the second consecutive season. Junior offensive lineman Tom Schofield (Chicago, Ill. / St. Rita) and junior linebacker Nick Turner (Gurnee, Ill. / Warren Township) joined Gessinger on the all-league second team.
Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jack Jarnigan (Los Gatos, Calif. / Los Gatos), sophomore kicker Dimitrios Latsonas (Westmont, Ill. / Westmont), senior running back Jarrett Morgan (Cooper City, Fla. / Cooper City), freshman wide receiver Donny Navarro (Naperville, Ill. / Neaqua Valley), fifth-year senior defensive back J.J. Nunes (Baltimore, Md. / Baltimore Lutheran) and junior linebacker Drew Snouffer (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington) all achieved all-league honorable mention status. Morgan and Snouffer repeated all-PFL honorable mention recognition, while the others were first-time honorees.
Gessinger returned 12 punts for an average of 8.5 yards per return and returned 32 kickoffs for 669 total yards, an average of 20.9 per return. Turner enjoyed a breakout junior campaign, totaling 101 tackles including eight tackles for loss. His 9.2 tackles per game ranked fourth in the PFL. Schofield started all 11 games as a key member of Valpo’s offensive line. As a team, the Crusaders ranked third in the league with 262.5 yards of passing offense per game and fourth in total offense at 399.8.
Latsonas, who won the PFL Special Teams Player of the Week Award for his three made field goals against Butler, finished the season with 11 converted field goals, tied for fourth in program history. He also shattered the program record with 35 made extra points. Snouffer led Valpo with 9.6 tackles per game, a total that ranked fourth in the PFL. He surpassed 100 tackles for the second consecutive season, finishing with 106 total tackles. Nunes, a captain and leader of Valpo’s defense, was third on the team with 70 tackles and had two interceptions, one of which sealed a Homecoming win over Stetson.
Jarnigan was the leader of Valpo’s offensive line, putting together a strong season as the starting center. Navarro burst onto the scene, becoming Valpo’s leading receiver as a freshman with 32 catches for 539 yards, an average of 16.8 yards per catch and 49.0 yards per game. He hauled in five touchdowns. Morgan rushed for 463 yards and five touchdowns, including Valpo’s lone TD in an 8-7 win over Dayton in the season finale.
Valpo head coach Dave Cecchini was named the PFL Coach of the Year on Monday, becoming the first Crusader coach to win that award since 2003. Valpo went 6-5 overall and 5-3 in league play, tying for third in the PFL after being picked to finish 10th in the preseason poll.
2017 Pioneer Football League Major Award Winners
Offensive Player of the Year: Anthony Lawrence, San Diego
Defensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Petersen, San Diego (unanimous)
Special Teams Player of the Year: Christian Searles, Dayton
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Daniel Smith, Campbell
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Henderson, Stetson
Coach of the Year: Dave Cecchini, Valparaiso
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: To be announced, Wednesday
2017 All-Pioneer Football League First Team
(as selected by PFL head coaches)
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
OFFENSE (3 RBs due to tie in voting)
WR Pace Temple (U, 2) Butler 6-2 200 Jr. Geneva, Ill.
WR Juston Christian (1, 3x) Marist 6-0 186 Jr. Owings Mills, Md.
WR Justin Priest San Diego 6-2 212 Sr. Sacramento, Calif.
QB Anthony Lawrence (1) San Diego 6-1 195 RJr. La Mesa, Calif.
TE Ross Dwelley (2) San Diego 6-5 240 RSr. El Dorado Hills, Calif.
RB Sam Schrader Butler 5-10 210 RSr. Mishawaka, Ind.
RB Wesley Dugger Davidson 6-0 192 Fr. Cincinnati, Ohio
RB Tucker Yinger (H) Dayton 6-0 191 Sr. Columbus, Ohio
FB Zach Nelson San Diego 6-2 240 RSo. Danville, Calif.
OL Payson Wick (H) Drake 6-3 282 5th. Floosmoor, Ill.
OL Ryan Lemke (H) Drake 6-3 297 5th Germantown, Wis.
OL Miles McArdle (1) San Diego 6-3 290 Sr. Napa, Calif.
OL Joe Hurney (2) San Diego 6-2 290 Sr. Charlotte, N.C.
OL Daniel Cooney (1) San Diego 6-8 315 RJr. Western Springs, Ill.
DL Emmanuel Olenga Campbell 6-4 260 RSo. Charlotte, N.C.
DL Nathan Clayberg (H) Drake 6-4 282 Sr. Pella, Iowa
DL Tanner Evans (H) Drake 6-5 269 So. Jackson, Wis.
DL Jonathan Petersen (U, 1, 3x) San Diego 6-1 240 RSr. Poway, Calif.
LB Jack Crain (2) Dayton 6-2 227 RSr. Lisle, Ill.
LB Willie Barrett (2) Marist 5-11 227 RJr. Holiday, Fla.
LB Max Michaels San Diego 6-3 280 RSo. Poway, Calif.
LB Jeb Boudreaux (2) Stetson 5-10 200 5th Mobile, Ala.
DB Carlos Merritt Campbell 6-0 195 RSr. Union City, Ga.
DB Christian Searles (1, 3x) Dayton 5-9 182 Sr. Chicago, Ill.
DB Sean Lynch Drake 5-9 181 Sr. Hawthorn Woods, Ill.
DB Colton Giorgi San Diego 6-1 208 Sr. El Dorado Hills, Calif.
PK Drew Bevelhimer Butler 6-1 185 So. Indianapolis, Ind.
P Sean Smith (U, 1, 3x) Dayton 6-4 222 Jr. Avondale, Pa.
RS Christian Searles (1) Dayton 5-9 192 Sr. Chicago, Ill.
LS Conrad Mueller (H) Davidson 5-11 193 Sr. Waxhaw, N.C.
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 2016, 2-was a second-team selection in 2016, H-was a honorable mention selection in 2016; FR-
was a Freshman Player of the Year in 2016.
2017 All-Pioneer Football League Second Team
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
OFFENSE (3 RBs, 6 OLs due to ties in voting)
WR Aaron Blockmon Campbell 6-1 206 RJr. Sanford, N.C.
WR Steven Doran Drake 6-3 212 Jr. Germantown, Wis.
WR Jarin Higginbotham Morehead State 6-0 195 RJr. Liberty Township, Ohio.
QB Daniel Smith Campbell 6-0 200 RFr. Leesburg, Va.
TE Adam Trautman Dayton 6-1 225 Fr. Williamsburg, Mich.
RB Irvin Riley Jacksonville 5-9 185 So. Savannah, Ga.
RB Marcellus Calhoun Marist 6-0 197 RSr. Columbus, Ohio
RB Emilio Martinez San Diego 5-9 190 Fr. Salinas, Calif.
FB Keenan Simpson Jacksonville 5-7 205 So. Summerville, S.C.
OL Shuler Littleton Campbell 6-7 300 RJr. York, S.C.
OL Ben Gauthier Dayton 6-2 275 Jr. Avon, Ohio
OL Jordan Lewinsky Drake 6-5 290 Sr. Mequon, Wis.
OL Richard Duncan-Murphy Marist 6-3 325 RSr. Bensalem, Pa.
OL Liam Maloney Morehead State 6-4 328 RSr. Liberty Township, Ohio
OL Tom Schofield Valparaiso 6-3 285 Jr. Chicago, Ill.
DL Chad Burdo Butler 6-1 275 RSr. Oswego, Ill.
DL Josh Willis Butler 6-2 234 RSr. Bowie, Md.
DL Mack Marrin Drake 6-2 246 5th Mendota Heights, Minn.
DL Eddie Zinn-Turner Marist 6-1 298 RSo. Malvern, Ohio
LB Ethan Brunhofer Butler 6-2 220 Sr. Denver, Colo.
LB Mike Maize Drake 5-11 238 5th Des Plaines, Ill.
LB Trevor Tufano Jacksonville 5-11 210 So. New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
LB Nick Turner Valparaiso 6-1 225 Jr. Gurnee, Ill.
DB Isaak Newhouse Butler 6-1 200 Sr. Grand Haven, Mich.
DB Griffin Garland Jacksonville 6-0 195 Sr. Jupiter, Fla.
DB Ray Clark San Diego 5-11 201 Sr. Brentwood, Calif.
DB JJ Henderson Stetson 5-10 161 RFr. Tampa, Fla.
PK Trevor Smith Davidson 6-3 195 Sr. Tampa, Fla.
P Jack Flatau San Diego 5-9 180 RSr. Oceanside, Calif.
RS Bailey Gessinger Valparaiso 5-10 165 So. Napanee, Ind.
LS Griffin Garland Jacksonville 6-0 195 Sr. Jupiter, Fla.
2017 All-Pioneer Football League Honorable Mention
BUTLER: Connor Andras (DL & LS); Mason Brunner (LB); Bobby Jensen (OL); Duvante Lane (FB); Dakota Sneed (OL). CAMPBELL: Mitchell Brown
(K); Ray Miller (LB); Jack Ryan (LB); Tyler Shirley (LS); Dante Simmons (CB). DAVIDSON: George Hatalowich (DB); Wes Hegemann (OL); Nick Nolting
(OL); Bryce Perry Martin (DL); Will Wicks (WR). DAYTON: Alex Jeske (QB); David Leisring (DB); Nick Surges (DL); Matt Tunnacliffe (LS). DRAKE:
Jabari Butler (CB); Devin Cates (WR); Danny Donley (K); Grant Kraemer (QB); Kyrell Newell (CB); Connor Ostrander (TE); Peter Read (DL); Kieran
Severa (LB); Terry Wallen (DB); Will Warner (DB). JACKSONVILLE: Jake Dempsey (OL); Prince Gray (WR); Tyler Havenner (DL); Jake Howell (OL);
Thomas Oporto (LB); Jaleel Roberts (OL); Emon Smith (DB); Calvin Turner Jr. (DB); Caysaun Wakeley (LB). MARIST: Wes Beans (DB); Lawrence
Dickens (WR); Jordyn Jean-Felix (DB); Brandon Miller (CB); Dan Wittekind (OL). MOREHEAD STATE: Braylyn Cook (DB); Brandon Fields (LS);
Landon Hurst (WR); Chauncey Johns (DB); Lawson Page (QB); Juanyea Tarver (RS). SAN DIEGO: Michael Bandy (WR); KJ Mahoney (LB); Emilio
Martinez (RS); Kishan Patel (CB); Trevor Provencio (OL); Connor Spencer (DL); Marcus Vaivao (LB). STETSON: Eddie Curry (DL); Jeff Fallabel (DL);
Matias Gasc (P); Justin Jordan (WR); Eric Martin (DB); Donald Parham (TE); Andrew Rogalski (OL); Shayne White (DL). VALPARAISO: Jack Jarnigan
(OL); Dimitrios Latsonas (K); Jarrett Morgan (RB); Donny Navarro (WR); J.J. Nunes (DB); Drew Snouffer (LB).