FREELAND, MICH. -- A total of 14 All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Awards were handed out to members of the Trine University football team for their individual performances this season. Highlighting the list of recipients are seniors Lamar Carswell (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) and Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) who were named the MIAA Offensive and Defensive "Most Valuable Players."
Carswell, Winters, seniors Jeffery Barnett (Fremont, Ohio/Ross), Elijah Klepper (Mendon, Mich./Mendon), Andrew Hagar (Millersburg, Ind./Fairfield), Cayleel Hill (Owings Mills, Md./Owings Mills) and juniors Noah Routson (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay) and Simeon Washington (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) earned first-team accolades.
Seniors Robert Riley (Mendon, Mich./Mendon), J.J. Fierro (Kokomo, Ind./Maconaquah), juniors Mason McFarland (Berrien Springs, Mich./Berrien Springs), Lucas Garza (Syracuse, Ind./Wawasee) and sophomore Sam Cavanaugh (Muncie, Ind./Central) garnered second-team honors.
Winters earns MIAA Defensive "Most Valuable Player" for the second straight season as well as first-team All-Conference recognition for the third time after posting 29 total tackles (23 solo and six assists) during the regular season and had three interceptions to go along with a blocked kick that came on an extra point attempt. The 2017 All-American became the Trine all-time leader in interceptions with 21 for his career. Winters was also a threat on special teams as a punt returner with two punt returns for touchdowns and has averaged 23.4 yards per return which currently ranks as the fourth highest in NCAA Division III. He also became the program's all-time leader in career punt return yardage with 622 in 33 attempts (18.9 yards per return).
Carswell has been tabbed as the MIAA Offensive MVP for the first time in his career and earns first-team All-MIAA honors for the second time. Carswell has had a standout season in 2018, leading the conference, and the nation, in rushing with 2,184 yards which is a Trine single-season record. To date, Carswell owns or shares a combined 17 Trine career, single-season, single-game and MIAA single-game records. This season, Carswell has averaged an impressive 218.4 rushing yards per game and 9.0 yards per carry. He has run for a school-record 32 TD and 34 total TD (32 rushing and two receiving). He has rushed for 200 or more yards in five games this season, including a Trine and MIAA single-game record 359 yards in the regular-season finale against Kalamazoo (Mich.) College. Carswell became the program's all-time leading rusher this season and now has 5,254 career yards and has also set career marks in rushing TDs (74), all-purpose yards (5,575), total points scored (470) and total touchdowns scored (78; 74 rushing and four receiving).
Barnett has earned first-team All-MIAA honors as both a wide receiver and as a return specialist for the third straight season. As a receiver, Barnett has been the top target for Trine quarterbacks who has caught 32 passes for 679 yards and four touchdowns. He averages 21.2 yards per catch, which leads the conference. During the season, Barnett became the Trine all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,867 and is currently second all-time in receiving TDs with 22. He has recorded two games of 100 or more receiving yards so far this season, including a season-high 147 yards against Olivet (Mich.) College. On special teams, Barnett is one of the top kickoff return threats in the nation who averages 40.8 yards per return and has three returns for touchdowns (Trine single-season record). In only 13 attempts, he has racked up 531 yards and his 40.8 yard average would surpass his own single-season record by over 11 yards.
Klepper has earned his second-straight first-team All-MIAA recognition. Primarily a blocking tight end, Klepper has caught 12 passes for 152 yards and is tied with Barnett for the team lead in touchdowns with four. He has been averaging 12.7 yards per catch with a season-best 40-yard effort on two catches against Olivet in which both of his receptions were for a touchdown. Klepper joins Routson and Hagar on the offense line that has helped lead Trine to being one of the top offenses in the country. In rushing alone, the Thunder rank in the top-five nationally with 322.0 yards per game on the ground. Trine has accumulated 400 yards or more of total offense in seven of the 10 games this season, including three games of 500 or more yards and a season-high 670 yards against Lakeland which was the third highest total in a single-game in program history. For Hagar, this marks his second first-team All-MIAA award as an offensive lineman.
Hill earns his second first-team All-Conference honor as a defensive back who has made 20 tackles (18 solo and two assists) to date and leads the team in interceptions with four for 92 yards. He is also second in pass breakups with five. One of Hill's interceptions this season was for a touchdown which came against Manchester University in the season opener for 90 yards. His 90-yard return was a school record for longest INT return in a game. For his career, Hill has 15 interceptions which rank as the fourth most all-time.
Washington also earns his second first-team selection on defense from his linebacker position and has led the team for consecutive years in tackles with 78 (37 solo and 41 assists). He also leads the defense in tackles for loss with 11 and quarterback sacks with 4.5. His 78 tackles this season rank fourth highest in the conference and his 11 tackles for loss are third best. Washington recorded a pair of games with 10 or more stops that included a career-high 14 tackles (five solo and nine assists) in the win against Adrian.
Riley repeats as a second-team All-MIAA selection, while Fierro, McFarland and Cavanaugh receive their first All-Conference recognitions. Riley earns second-team honors for the second consecutive year and is fourth on the team in tackles with 53 (33 solo and 20 assists) as a safety. He has 1.5 tackles for loss and has one interception so far. He leads the team in pass breakups with nine.
Fierro is currently one tackle ahead of Riley for third on the team with 54 overall tackles (35 solo and 19 assists). He has a pair of interceptions to rank third on the team and also has a fumble recovery to go along with a blocked kick. Fierro has had seven games with five or more tackles with a season-high nine stops on two occasions against Olivet and Adrian.
McFarland has tallied 39 tackles as a defensive lineman (17 solo and 22 assists) with three tackles for loss and 1.5 tackles for loss. So far this season, he has had four games of four or more tackles with a season-high seven tackles against Olivet. McFarland has been part of a defense that ranks third in the MIAA in passing yards allowed per game (189.3).
Cavanaugh has had a solid season as a sophomore linebacker who ranks second on the team in tackles with 64 (29 solo and 35 assists). His 64 stops rank as the 10th most in the MIAA. He is amongst the team leaders in tackles for loss at 4.5 with two of those tackles being sacks. In addition, Cavanaugh has broken up a pair of passes. He has had two games this season with 10 or more tackles that includes a season-high 13 tackles against Albion.
Rounding out the list of Trine players who earned All-Conference honors is Garza who was a second-team pick as a kicker. Garza is second on the team in scoring with 62 total points having been successful on 59-of-62 extra point attempts to go along with one made field goal. During the season, he became the program's all-time leader in PAT kicks made (163) and attempts (176) in only his third season. He also connected on a string of 40-straight PATs against MIAA opponents, setting a conference record where he surpassed former Trine place kicker Jeremy Howard '10 who made 31 straight attempts in 2010. Garza currently sits in sixth place on the all-time scoring list with 193 points (163 PAT, 10 FG).
The Thunder will make its fifth overall appearance in the NCAA Division III National Tournament and will host St. Norbert (Wis.) College on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.