A successful 2016 season was capped with a successful night as the annual Lake Forest College football team banquet was held at Key Lime Cove on Sunday, January 22. The night opened up with a brief introduction from Head Coach Jim Catanzaro and was followed up by parting words from each of the non-returning seniors. Senior speeches included wisdom to the underclassmen, favorite Lake Forest College football memories, and the "roasting" of some of the coaches.
The 2016 Most Valuable Player was awarded to senior running back Joey Valdivia. Valdivia led not only NCAA Division III football with 29 rushing touchdowns, he led across all divisions. In his 10 games this season, he also finished 4th in Division III in rushing yards per game (153.5) and 7th in total rushing yards (1,535). Valdivia was named First Team All-Midwet Conference and was also named a D3football.com Third Team All-American. Returning next season, Valdivia was also named one of the 2017 captains.
Sophomore wide receiver Chris Edomwande was voted the 2016 Most Improved Player. He averaged 15.2 yards per catch and made some of the most important third-down conversions of the season. Edomwande was also a danger on special teams, recording three blocked punts, good for second in the nation. This season's Rookie of the Year award went to freshman linebacker John LaPonte. Making a big impact at outside linebacker and on special teams, LaPonte finished second on the team in tackles and recorded an interception and a blocked punt.
The third annual Steve Little Memorial Award was given to an individual who embodies the student-athlete and works the hardest for his academic accomplishments – striving for both academic and athletic achievement. This year's winner was junior h-back Joel Nierling. The third annual Tom Carr '70 Forester Commitment to Excellence Award honors student-athletes who make an impact not only on the football field, but off the field in the College community as well. Individuals who receive this award should demonstrate consistent and significant leadership in the threefold spirit of the award: team engagement, campus invlovement, and community service. The 2016 award winner is junior long-snapper Ryan Shalosky.
Renamed this year to the Benny Watters Scout Team Player of the Year, the two awards (one for offense and one for defense) are given to players who show continual growth and leadership on the scout team. This season's offensive award winner was sophomore offensive lineman Ammon Schirling. The 2016 defensive award winner was freshman defensive back Jeremy Brown.
Senior student assistant Ryan Bullock was awarded the 2016 Coaches Award for his countless hours and dedication to the Forester Football program. After beginning his Forester career on the field, Bullock has made tremendous contributions the past two years through his work in Hudl, extra film study, scouting, recruiting, and helping Forester football on the defensive side of the ball.
The Mulford family received the 2016 Gridiron Gang Award, given to a fan, supporter, or family that goes above and beyond to support Forester football. The Gridiron Gang as a whole puts tremendous effort into making the experiences of the players uniquely special, win or lose.
In 2012, the Forester Pride Award was created in recognition of the player that best embodies what a Forester football player should be – passionate, resilient, disciplined, and tough. This individual also cares about his teammates and his team's success far more than he cares about his own. Renamed this year to the DJ Baker Forester Pride Award, this award now takes on additional meaning after the passing of defensive lineman DJ Baker. The winner of this award exhibits an infectious spirit that resonates with his teammates and engages people from any background to feel the warmth, love, and care that DJ shared with his teammates. This individual should also bring great energy and emotion to the program and most importantly, he must carry the torch of our program into the community both on campus and beyond. There is no greater honor in the Forester program. The 2016 DJ Baker Forester Pride Award was given to senior defensive lineman Brendan Power.
List of Awards
MVP: Joey Valdivia
MIP: Chris Edomwand
ROTY: John LaPonte
Coaches Award: Ryan Bullock
Gridiron Gang Award: The Mulford Family
Benny Watters Scout Team Offensive POTY: Ammon Schirling
Benny Watters Scout Team Defensive POTY: Jeremy Brown
Tom Carr '70 Commitment to Excellence: Ryan Shalosky
Steve Little Memorial: Joel Nierling
DJ Baker Forester Pride: Brendan Power