Exceptional Bulldogs: M-S football's players of the year

Mahomet-Seymour ended its season with two consecutive wins, but finishing 3-6 was a big-time disappointment. The Bulldogs missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

It was just the second time in head coach Keith Pogue's 11-year career that the Bulldogs didn't finish with a winning record.

"It didn't go right," senior safety Connor Thomason said. "Not as we had planned, but I learned so much. I learned so much about myself, and about my friends.

"Leaving out like this, it's great to go out like this. Us seniors, we played together for 10 straight years. It's just incredible to go out like this. I love all these guys. Bulldog football is in good hands."

It's time to hand out the Mahomet Citizen end-of-the-year awards.

 

Breakout Player of the Year, Clay Hubble: Hubble exploded onto the scene this year, totaling 544 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Hubble might be short and slight, but he wasn't afraid of the big stage, and he certainly wasn't scared of the competition.

Hubble averaged eight yards per carry this season. Hubble's big numbers are even more impressive with the fact that he only got double-digit touches in three games this year. Hubble got 73 touches and scored seven touchdowns. That's one touchdown every 9.6 carries.

Without Dylan Gates and Veldman next year, Hubble should get the lion's share of the carries. There were whispers about how good Hubble could be, but he exceeded everyone's expectations as a sophomore and the future is bright.

 

Defensive Player of the Year, Connor Thomason: Thomason led the Bulldogs with a team-high eight interceptions. According to stats compiled by The News-Gazette, there wasn't another area player with more interceptions than Thomason.

Thomason had an interception in six of the nine games, and he capped off his career the right way with a three-interception performance in the 20-13 win over Macomb on senior night. Thomason also finished sixth on the team with 37 tackles. Senior linebacker Daunte Roberts is certainly deserving of Defensive Player of the Year, as he finished with a team-high 84 tackles and seven tackles for a loss, but Thomason being the No. 1 ballhawk in the area gives him the slight edge.

 

Most Improved Player, Zach Travis: Travis had just one tackle in the season-opening loss to Washington. That's it. But the sophomore defensive end exploded for four sacks in the win over Charleston and developed into the Bulldogs' best pass rusher as the season progressed.

Travis is another sophomore with a very bright future. Travis finished second on the team with 52 tackles, and he racked up a team-high six sacks.

In the loss to Mascoutah, Travis had nine tackles, one tackle for a loss and one sack. Travis' speed rush off the edge is devastating, and more time in the strength and conditioning program will help him take the next step to be a physically dominant defensive end.

Don't rule out Travis' offensive impact. With his frame, strength and physicality, Travis could be used at tight end and add consistency to the Bulldogs' offense, while also being an intimidating red zone option.

 

Offensive Player of the Year, Jordan Veldman: Veldman led the Bulldogs in rushing, receiving and total touchdowns. The senior tailback basically did it all, and he finished with 1,181 yards from scrimmage this year. Veldman rushed for a career-high 706 yards and was a big-play threat.

Even with an offensive line that struggled in Apollo Conference play, Veldman averaged nearly six yards per carry. His impact as a running back was huge, but his ability to go out in the slot and make plays in the passing game really elevated his game. Veldman hauled in 25 receptions for 475 yards and four touchdowns.

Veldman showed fantastic chemistry with senior quarterback Dawson Finch. When Finch was in a bind, he looked Veldman's way.

You might want to offer up a prayer for offensive coordinator Mike Burner as he toils away this offseason finding ways to replace Veldman's incredible production.

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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