By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information
email@example.com • juniatasports.net
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – After posting the most wins since 1990, and earning a trip to its first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) bowl game, the Juniata College football team continued to soar high on Tuesday when the Centennial Conference announced head coach Tim Launtz was the Coach of the Year, senior Brandon Felus (Columbia, Pa./Columbia) was Defensive Player of the Year, and eight Eagles had been selected to all-conference teams. The number marks the most of any Eagle team since 2002 and the highest ever in the Centennial.
"It's very nice to know that the coaches in the Centennial have acknowledged not an individual, but a team," said Launtz of the accolades. "Football is a team sport. Any award given in football is a direct reflection on team."
Joining Felus on first-team were fellow senior captains Jared Shope (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) and Kevin Gorman (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly Central). Gorman is a three-time all-conference selection and this is Shope's second nod. Both were named to the second team last year.
Junior Ward Udinksi (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) earned his first all-conference award. The quarterback was selected to the second team along with fellow juniors Isaiah Slutter(Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack), Kyle Schuck (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove), and Josh Gongloff(Tyrone, Pa.Bellwood-Antis). Junior Ethan Wilt (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) continued the defense's dominant presence in the awards with his selection to the all-conference honorable mention defense.
"It is very satisfying to know that we placed eight members of this team on the all-conference list," said Launtz. "It just proves that it's a team because everyone worked hard. Everyone cared about each other to achieve this."
Launtz led the Eagles to a 7-3 finish in the regular season. Pegged to finish seventh in the preseason poll, Juniata upset opponent after opponent en route to its 6-3 conference record, earning a third place spot.
"It is satisfying to know that they realize that the football program and Juniata College are very viable members of the Centennial Conference," added Launtz. "And throughout our play on the field we have earned respect. This award represents the commitment and sacrifice that our players have made, their parents, the Juniata administration, the support staff and our coaches. I don't view this as any type of individual reward. I view this as a great reward for anyone involved in Juniata College football."
Felus is the first Eagle in 14 years to earn player of the year honors. The defensive tackle ranks top 20 nationally in sacks and is also ranked nationally in tackles for a loss. He is fifth on the team in total tackles and has collected a team-high 10 sacks and three blocked kicks during this season.
"Brandon's play exemplifies not settling for mediocrity," said Launtz. "Everyone in the Centennial game planned and was aware of Brandon Felus at all time. He is so deserving of this award. But Brandon would be the first to tell you that his achievement was the result of playing as a team, playing as a unit. It takes 11 guys doing their job for the unit to succeed. I think it demonstrates that our players understand that being individually responsible will lead to collective success that leads to individual recognition. It's about big team, little me. "
Juniata is now preparing to take on Albright in the ECAC Southwest Bowl. Kickoff is set for Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. in Reading, Pa.
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