DURHAM, N.H.--Eight senior players from the University of New Hampshire football team were honored today at the team's annual awards banquet held on the UNH campus.
Senior defensive end Jon Oosterhuis (Guelph, Ont.) was the winner of the Bill Bowes Coaches Award for his outstanding efforts as a co-captain for the Wildcats. Oosterhuis was ninth on the team in total tackles (11-22-33) and was second on the squad in sacks with four in 2002. Oosterhuis proved to have a great nose for getting to the football and was second on the team in fumble recoveries with two.
Leading the offensive line as a co-captain was senior center Jason Ball (Londonderry, N.H.) who was selected as the winner of the MVP award. Named a third-team All-American by the Sports Network, Ball was named first-team All-Atlantic 10, first-team All-New England and first-team All-ECAC for his outstanding efforts in 2002. As a result of his strong showing for the Wildcats, he played in the Blue/Gray All-Star game which featured some of the nation's top seniors. Scouts from nearly every NFL team have shown interest in in the 6-2, 310-pounder and ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. picked him as one of the players to keep an eye on in the NFL draft after seeing Ball play in the Blue/Gray game. Ball was a key cog in an explosive UNH offense that averaged 449.2 yards per contest last season.
A newly-named honor, the Jack French Unsung Hero Award, was unveiled at the banquet in recognition of UNH's long-time football equipment manager who retired this season. Named co-recipients of the award were senior defensive lineman Mike Wells (Salem, N.H.) and senior offensive lineman Tim Sample (Falmouth, Mass.). Wells finished sixth on the squad in total tackles (11-19-32) and recorded one sack and one fumble recovery. He also had seven tackles for a loss. The best way to describe the play of Sample was steady and effective as he started every game and helped UNH rack up 449.2 yards of offense per game and 192.9 yards per contest on the ground.
Senior co-captain Ryan Day (Manchester, N.H.) broke nearly all of the UNH passing records in 2002, including career touchdowns, and was named the winner of the Bo Dickson Spirit Award. Day, who engineered many key scoring drives, proved he could get the job done under pressure and his confidence made everyone who played around him better. Day was among the Atlantic 10 conference leaders in passing yards (236.8 ypg.), and touchdown passes (16), and he was the team's second-leading rusher with 138 carries for 480 yards and six rushing TDs.
Named the recipient of the Jock MacKenzie/Bob Demers 12th Player Award was senior wide receiver Brian Mallette (Walpole, Mass.). Mallette, who was UNH's second-leading receiver with 55 catches for 623 yards, could always be counted on in a pinch, whether it was making a catch for just enough yards to get a first down, or leaping for a game-winning touchdown reception with just seconds left as he did in UNH's victory at Dartmouth. Mallette averaged 62.3 reception yards per game and scored four TDs for the 'Cats in 2002.
Senior safety Bryce Scottron (Hingham, Mass.) was honored with the Creeley "Buck" Buchanan Distinguished Service Award. Scottron joins his brother Ryan on this distinguished list of outstanding UNH players who have stood out both on and off the football field. Ryan, a fullback, received the honor in 1998. Bryce another of the UNH co-captains who were honored, had 26 tackles on the season and recorded one forced fumble as a leader for the Wildcat defense.
Senior defensive back Peter Bush (Swampscott, Mass.) was the recipient of the Eugene K. Auerback Student-Athlete Award. There was more competition for this honor than usual because UNH led all of the teams in the Atlantic 10 with nine players selected to the conference's All-Academic football squad. Bush checked in at the end of last semester with an impressive grade point average of 3.3. He is a pedagogy major at UNH.