Gunn, Lobato and Tonye-Tonye earn football MVP awards
By HEATHER KENNEDY
GREELEY – The Northern Colorado post-season Football banquet was a much happier affair on Sunday afternoon after the team’s big 28-27 win on Saturday over North Dakota to conclude the 2012 season. The Bears finished the season 5-6 overall and 4-4 in Big Sky Conference play and tied for fifth place in the league standings.
It was hard to delineate who was more important to the offense this season, so the team awarded co-Offensive MVP honors to senior wide receiver Dominic Gunn and junior quarterback Seth Lobato. Gunn caught 49 passes for 673 yards and six touchdowns on the season, while Lobato completed 231-of-396 passes for 2,797 yards and 19 touchdowns. His 2,797 yards ranks third on the single season charts, behind Corte McGuffey’s junior and senior campaigns.
The defensive MVP award went to senior linebacker Herve Tonye-Tonye. He led the team with 80 total tackles, forced three fumbles, had 3.5 tackles for loss, one interception and one quarterback hurry on the year. The senior from Montreal, Quebec, was drafted a year ago in the fourth round of the Canadian Football League draft by Toronto.
It was no surprise to anyone in the room that Gunn was also named the special teams MVP. The senior recorded 498 kickoff return yards with one touchdown and had 392 punt return yards and two touchdowns – finishing the year third on the single-season charts. In addition, Gunn led the special teams with seven tackles, including five solo stops.
Junior running back Tromaine Dennis earned the team’s offensive newcomer of the year award after rushing for 953 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also established a new Division I single game record on Saturday with 222 rushing yards, bettering his own mark of 178 yards from earlier this season against Idaho State.
Sophomore linebacker Leilon Willingham was honored as the team’s defensive newcomer of the year despite missing the final two games of the season. Willingham recorded 37 tackles, had a 30-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, three pass breakups and 2.5 tackles for loss and saw time at each of the three linebacker spots.
Each year the team presents the Vic Nottingham Humanitarian Award, presented to the player who best exemplifies giving back to the team along with leadership. This season, senior linebacker Cameron Friend was given the award. Friend is extremely active in both Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes In Action as well as a team captain.
The academic award was presented to junior offensive lineman Joe Carroll and rightfully so. The transfer from Colorado State-Pueblo sports a 3.934 grade point average with a double major in anthropology and history.
The coaches also awarded scout team MVPs on both offense and defense and those went to true freshman Sean Rubalcaba (quarterback) and Taylor Risner (defensive back), respectively.
The final award of the night was presented by Jim Hensel, director of strength and honor code/player development. The forever reliable award was given to senior defensive back Jordan Bible – a favorite amongst players and coaches for his work ethic, attitude and football intelligence.
2012 Northern Colorado Football Team Awards
Scout Team Defensive MVP: Taylor Risner
Scout Team Offensive MVP: Sean Rubalcaba
Academic Award: Joe Carroll
Vic Nottingham Humanitarian Award: Cameron Friend
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Leilon Willingham
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Tromaine Dennis
Special Teams MVP: Dominic Gunn
Defensive MVP: Herve Tonye-Tonye
Co-Offensive MVP: Dominic Gunn and Seth Lobato
Forever Reliable Award: Jordan Bible