Wooster senior quarterback Gary Muntean (Poland, OH/Struthers), Wittenberg senior defensive lineman Chandler Ferko (Plain City, OH/Jonathan Alder) and Oberlin freshman punter Bryant Walker (South Lyon, MI/East) have been named the Players of the Year to highlight the 2017 All-North Coast Athletic Conference football selections.
Muntean is the first Wooster player to earn the Mike Gregory Award as the NCAC’s Offensive Player of the Year since former great Tony Sutton won the award in back-to-back years in 2003 and ‘04. The award is presented in honor of Mike Gregory, a multi-sport standout at Denison in the 1920’s. Ferko makes it back-to-back years that a Wittenberg Tiger has claimed the Hank Critchfield Award as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year after Dustin Holmes collected the hardware in 2016. The award is presented in honor of Hank Critchfield, who was a 1927 graduate of The College of Wooster. Finally, Walker is the recipient of the NCAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year award after emerging as one of the top punters in the league during his freshman campaign.
Muntean, who elevated to the first team from the 2016 honorable mention squad, re-wrote the Wooster record book this season en route to leading the Scots to their first winning season since 2013. The Scots’ signal caller led the NCAC in nearly every passing category this season, completing 219-of-336 pass attempts for 3,159 yards and 33 touchdowns. Through the 10 regular season games, he also ranked in the top-10 nationally in four different categories, sitting sixth in TD passes (33), ninth in passing yards (3,159) and 10th in both passing efficiency (172.4) and passing yards per game (315.9). Muntean tossed four or more TD passes on five different occasions this season, which included tying his own single-game program record with five scoring strikes in the 58-25 win at Hiram on October 21st. Muntean capped his career at Wooster as the program’s career leader in total offense (9,041 yards), passing yards (8,295), passing touchdowns (65), completion percentage (62.1) and passing efficiency (145.6).
Ferko, who is now the 10th player in program history to earn the Hank Critchfield Award, jumped up to the top team this season after earning second-team laurels in each of the last two years. Ferko has been the undisputed leader of the Wittenberg defensive unit that allowed just 133 points through 10 regular season games and will enter the 2017 NCAA Division III Football Championships having limited opponents to an average of 98.1 yards per game on the ground this season. He closed out the regular season with 48.0 total tackles (26 solo, 22 asst.), which included finishing third overall in the NCAC with 9.5 sacks. Ferko, who also had one interception and two fumble recoveries in the regular season, had his best game of the season in a pivotal 21-14 home win over Wabash on October 28th as he tallied 10.0 tackles (5 solo, 5 asst.) and 3.0 sacks in the seven-point win that helped lead the Tigers to their league-leading 15th NCAC title.
Walker was the unanimous pick as the league’s top special teams player after he played a key role in establishing field position for the Yeomen squad that posted its highest win total since 2012 with an overall record of 4-6 and a 3-6 mark in league play. Walker led the NCAC in punting throughout the 2017 campaign with 54 punts that totaled 2,177 yards for a 40.3 average. He pinned opposing offenses inside the 20-yard line 18 different times, which included accomplishing the feat five times in a hard-fought 35-21 home loss against Wabash on October 21st. Walker also booted a season-long 70-yard punt against the Little Giants.
Wooster sophomore wide receiver Nick Strausbaugh (Fredericksburg, OH/Waynedale) was named the NCAC’s Newcomer of the Year as the top player in the league in his first year of collegiate competition in the sport of football. However, Strausbaugh is no stranger to NCAC athletics as he started 44 games in the outfield last spring for the Scots’ baseball team that won their 17th NCAC title and competed in the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time in history. Strausbaugh wasted little time finding his stride on the gridiron this fall as Wooster’s top receiving target, hauling in 53 receptions and leading the league in both receiving yards (1,294) and receiving touchdowns (17). Both of the later totals currently rank third in Div. III prior to the NCAA Championships. He topped the 100-yard receiving mark in seven games this season, which included catching eight passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-41 win at Kenyon on October 28th.
Finally, Wittenberg head coach Joe Fincham was named the NCAC Football Coach of the Year for the 10th time in his career after he guided the Tigers to a perfect 10-0 record during the regular season for the sixth time in his career. After winning the NCAC title for the 15th time in program history, Fincham will now lead the Tigers into the 2017 NCAA Football Championships where they will host Frostburg State in the opening round this Saturday (11/18). In 22 total seasons at Wittenberg, Fincham now owns an overall record of 201-43, which includes an impressive 144-19 mark against NCAC opponents.
|"Mike Gregory Award"||"Hank Critchfield Award"|
Player of the Year
Player of the Year
Player of the Year
of the Year
of the Year
|Gary Muntean||Chandler Ferko||Bryant Walker||Nick Strausbaugh||Joe Fincham|