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2016 All-NCAC Football Squad Announced

2016 All-NCAC Football Squad Announced

2016 All-NCAC Football Team

DePauw senior quarterback Matt Hunt (Indianapolis, IN/Heritage Christian), Wittenberg senior linebacker Dustin Holmes (Springfield, OH/Tecumseh) and Wittenberg senior kicker/punter Will Gingery (Bexley, OH/Bexley) have been selected as the Players of the Year to highlight the 2016 All-North Coast Athletic Conference football selections.  

Hunt is the first player in DePauw history to earn the Mike Gregory Award as the NCAC’s Offensive Player of the Year. The award is presented by Richard Gregory of Columbus, Ohio, in honor of his father, a multi-sport standout at Denison in the 1920’s. Holmes is now the ninth Wittenberg Tiger to earn the Hank Critchfield Award as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. The award is presented in honor of Hank Critchfield, who was a 1927 graduate of The College of Wooster. In addition, Gingery is the winner of the NCAC’s inaugural Special Teams Player of the Year award following an outstanding senior campaign.  

Hunt, who collected his third career All-NCAC citation on the first team for the second year in a row, was the unanimous selection from the coaches as the league’s top offensive player in 2016 after leading the league in numerous different categories. The dual-threat quarterback torched the league with his legs, ranking first in rushing yards (947) and sharing the league lead with 10 rushing scores. He scored three or more rushing touchdowns against league opponents on three different occasions, which included a three touchdown performance in DPU’s 37-34 victory over arch-rival Wabash in the 123rd Monon Bell Classic on November 12th. The signal caller was also efficient through the air for the Tigers as he finished the season by completing 249-of-388 pass attempts for 2,580 yards and a league-leading 26 touchdown passes. Hunt, who threw just eight interceptions on the year, tallied 23 of his scoring strikes against NCAC opponents, which included tossing four touchdowns on four different occasions in wins against Hiram, Kenyon, Allegheny and Oberlin.  

Holmes, who is the first Wittenberg player to collect the Critchfield Award since Eddie Vallery in 2009, was the backbone of the Tigers’ defense that allowed just 96 points (9.6 ppg) in 10 regular season games. In those 10 games, Holmes collected 90 tackles (47 solo, 43 asst.), 7.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 sacks. Holmes, who also scooped up two fumble recoveries and picked off two passes, topped the 10-tackle mark in four different games, led by a 22-tackle (9 solo, 13 asst.) performance in Wittenberg’s key 24-14 win over Wabash on September 24th. Holmes will now lead the Tigers into the NCAA Division III Football Championships for the 14th time in program history where they will square off against Thomas More on November 19th in Kentucky. 

Gingery was the unanimous pick as the league’s top special teams player after leading the league in both punting and field goals. The senior punted only 45 times in the 10 regular season games, but he totaled 2,019 yards on those attempts for an average of 44.9 yards per punt, which included a season-long 69-yard boot in the win over Wabash. He also led the league by converting 18-of-22 field goal attempts, which included two 50-yarders in wins over Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster. After converting 38-of-39 extra point attempts on the year, Gingery also led the league in scoring with 92 total points.  

Kenyon freshman quarterback Thomas Merkle (York, PA/York Suburban) was named the NCAC’s Newcomer of the Year as the top player in his first year of collegiate competition. The freshman signal caller provided a boost for the KC passing attack this year as he finished the season by completing 276-of-464 pass attempts for 2,928 yards and 15 touchdown passes. He eclipsed the 300-yard mark on five different occasions, which included a school-record 438-yard performance in a 48-35 loss against DePauw on October 1st. His 276 completions and 2,928 yards were also single-season program records for the Lords. 

Finally, Denison head coach Jack Hatem was named the NCAC Football Coach of the Year for the first time in his career after leading the Big Red to an eight-win season for the first time since the 1986 campaign. He is now the first DU head coach to earn the league’s top honor since Keith Piper collected the award in both 1985 and 1986. In seven total years at the helm of the Big Red program, Hatem now owns an overall record of 41-29, which includes a mark of 34-21 in league games after DU finished the 2016 campaign by finishing in a three-way tie for second place with a 7-2 record against conference foes.

"Mike Gregory Award" "Hank Critchfield Award"      
Player of the Year
Player of the Year
Special Teams
Player of the Year 
Newcomer of the Year Coach of the Year
Matt Hunt Dustin Holmes Will Gingery Thomas Merkle
Jack Hatem