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Sports Connection Awards

Here's a look at our Sports Connection postseason awards segment for our local football teams/players.
ROCKFORD-We passed out our Sports Connection end of the season high school football awards over the weekend. In case you missed it here it is.

First up it’s our most improved team award.  That goes to the Christian Life Eagles.  They were 3-6 a year ago, but they improved by five wins to 8-1 this season thanks to a bunch of underclassmen who now had some experience under their belts.

Our top underclassman at the small school level goes to Lutheran sophomore running back James Robinson. He’s rushed for more than 2,000 yards, and he’s scored 39 touchdowns. He’s as big of an impact player as there is in the Stateline.

Our top underclassman pick at the big school level is Auburn junior quarterback Christian Lopez.  His explosiveness was apparent from the Knights' opening game when he ripped off a 96 yard touchdown run against Boylan. Lopez rushed for 936 yards this season while also showing an accurate passing arm when the Knights did go to the air.

The top duo honor goes to Hononegah running backs Alex Martin and Jake Wilson. Both players rushed for more than one thousand yards during the regular season. That’s only been done once before by teammates in NIC-10 history. 

Our top athlete award goes to Belvidere senior running back Maurice Jackson.  His quickness and elusiveness make him tough to stop when he’s in space.  He did a little of everything for the Bucs…running the ball, catching the ball, throwing it and returning kicks.

The best comeback performance of the year goes to Boylan. In week two at Hononegah the Titans trailed 21-0 at halftime. It looked like their conference record winning streak would end.  But the Titans kept their composure. They took advantage of some Hononegah fumbles, and the Titans roared back for a 35-34 win.

The best finish to a game came in week seven at Wyeth Stadium.  Auburn hosted Guilford. The Knights scored on a halfback option pass with 25 seconds to play to pull within one point of the Vikings.  But on the extra point kick Guilford’s Eddie Brown burst through the line, got a hand on the ball to block it, and Guilford held on for a 21-20 win.

The wildest game of the year was the Boylan-Belvidere North game in week 8. Boylan jumped out to a 24-0 lead. Then came a lengthy power outage. After that North stormed back to take the lead with just over three minutes to play, but the Titans recovered in time to pull off a 38-34 win and again preserve their record winning streak.

Our pick for the best school mascot of the year goes to the Guilford Viking. His energy level week-to-week is unmatched. 

Our choice for the best student section goes to Boylan. They’re loud and almost every week they have some sort of wild costumes on whether it’s a patriotic theme or a Halloween theme.

Our pick for the top band goes to Hononegah.

The best tackle of the year goes to Lutheran strong safety Logan Davis against Rock Falls. 

Our Bull In A China shop award at the small school level goes to Stillman Valley’s Zach Hare. He plows over people on offense and defense. 
And our Bull In A China Shop award at the big school level goes to Boylan’s Zachery Mathews.  He’s a rock at middle linebacker.  And when he gets the ball at fullback in short yardage there’s no stopping him.  He’s the reason the Titans were 5 for 5 in fourth down and short yardage plays in the playoffs last week.

The best single game performance by a player goes to Lutheran’s James Robinson.  In week one of the playoffs he set an IHSA record in Class 4A by scoring seven touchdowns against North Lawndale.  Robinson scored five of those touchdowns in the first quarter alone.

Our Armed And Dangerous award at the small school level goes to Aquin’s Aiden Chang. He’s closing in on 3 thousand yards passing this season and counting.
At the big school level North’s Jace Bankord gets the nod.  He set a NIC-10 record this season by passing for 22 hundred 83 yards, and he has another year to go.

Our Team Of The Year was a really tough call with five stateline teams going undefeated. We’re splitting this award up two ways. Winnebago gets a piece of it after going undefeated, beating the likes of Lutheran and Stillman Valley, and winning it’s first ever Big Northern West Championship.

Our co-team of the year is Sycamore.  The Spartans also went undefeated, and they became the first Northern Illinois Big 12 team ever to beat mighty Kaneland.

Our small school MVP honor goes to Lutheran’s James Robinson.  How can you overlook the stats?..more than 2,000 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns. And a motor that doesn’t quit.

Our large school MVP choice goes to Boylan junior quarterback Demry Croft. His duel threat ability to burn teams with a long run, or with the pass has made all the difference for the Titans this season.
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