A successful 2017 season was capped with a successful night as the annual Lake Forest College football team banquet was held at Mickey Finn's on Sunday, January 20th. 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 2017 Most Valuable Player was awarded to senior running back Joey Valdivia. Valdivia led the nation in scoring for the second year in a row with an average of 18 points per game. In his 10 games this season, he also broke his own record for rushing yards this season with 1,809 rushing yards. Valdivia had 26 rushing touchdowns, finishing third in the nation. Furthermore, Valdivia averaged 180.6 rushing yards per game and 216.8 all-purpose yards per game allowing him to finish second in the nation in these categories. Valdivia was named First Team All-Midwest Conference, 2017 Offensive Skill MVP by the Midwest Conference, 2017 All Region and Third Team all-American by D3fottball.com, and First Team All American by AFCA.
Senior cornerback Jenri Salonga was voted the 2017 Most Improved Player. In his 10 games played, Salonga had 35 solo tackles and 16 assisted tackles for a total of 51 tackles. Salonga averaged 5.1 tackles per game. Moreover, Salonga had 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery for the year. This season's Rookie of the Year award went to freshman wide receiver Chase Allen. Allen played in 8 of the 10 games for the Foresters with 36 receptions and 428 yards. By the end of his freshman season, he had scored 5 touchdowns for the Foresters.
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 linebacker Charles Timmerman. The fourth 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 involvement, and community service. The 2017 award winner for his second straight year is senior long-snapper Ryan Shalosky.
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 freshman wide receiver Trysten Reeder. The 2017 defensive award winner was Sophomore defensive lineman Bobby Inman
Brannon Maron, a 10-year-old honorary team member, was "adopted" by the team through a Team Impact Program, which allows kids who are facing life-threatening illnesses to gain support from local sports teams. Brannon exemplifies what it means to be a cheerful spirit. He dances after every touchdown, and truly lives up to his forester hype-man nickname. This season he was able to achieve his life-long dream of scoring a collegiate touchdown this season in our scrimmage against Concordia University in Chicago. There was no better way to celebrate his energetic spirit than to award him with the 2017 Coaches Award.
The Plutchak 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 offensive lineman Tom Steen.
The Foresters also announced two of their four team captains for the 2017 season as voted on by their teammates. Seniors Jagan Cleary and Ethan Shierer were selected to lead the team. The other two will be named at a later date.
List of Awards
MVP: Joey Valdivia
MIP: Jenri Salonga
ROTY: Chase Allen
Coaches Award: Brannon Moran
Gridiron Gang Award: The Plutchak Family
Benny Watters Scout Team Offensive POTY: Trysten Reeder
Benny Watters Scout Team Defensive POTY: Bobby Inman
Tom Carr '70 Commitment to Excellence: Ryan Shalosky
Steve Little Memorial: Charlie Timmerman
DJ Baker Forester Pride: Tom Steen
by Deb Jezuit and Lexey Bruni