DURHAM, N.H.-- Six football players and one athletic department staff member were honored today at the University of New Hampshire football team's annual awards banquet held on the UNH campus Sunday afternoon.
Senior tailback Stephan Lewis (Coatesville, Pa.) was named the recipient of the team MVP award after a record-breaking season with the Wildcats in 2003. Lewis, named a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, was also first-team All-Atlantic 10, first-team All-ECAC, first-team All-New England and was also one of 16 finalists for the Walter Payton Award which is given annually to the top offensive player in the nation. Lewis' statistics were impressive in 2002, as he rushed the football 242 times for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns.
An outstanding receiver, he also recorded 41 catches for 419 yards and five touchdowns as the second-leading pass-catcher for the Wildcats. Lewis led the nation in all-purpose yardage with an average of 202.6 yards per contest. Other honors for Lewis during the season included: being named Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Week and National Player of the Week following his efforts in UNH's win over UMass and Lewis earned his third consecutive Bill Knight Award as the MVP of the game vs. the Minutemen.
Senior tight end Carl Betz (Chatham, N.J.) received the Bill Bowes Coaches Award for his outstanding efforts on the offensive line in 2002. Betz who is one of the strongest members of the team, was a highly effective blocker on the offensive line and was also an accomplished receiver as evidenced by his five catches for 45 yards. He also checked in with one receiving touchdown for UNH. The award, which is just four years old, has been given to some very special players, including the likes of defensive end Jon Oosterhuis (2001), Brett Bashaw (2000) and Jermaine Washington (1999). Betz who began his career as a fullback, played admirably at tight end for the 'Cats.
Bill Pizzano, who serves as the Director of the Wildcat Athletics Council, received the prestigious Bo Dickson Spirit Award for his tireless efforts on behalf of the UNH football program throughout his many years working for the University. Pizzano, who is the department's primary alumni affairs staff member, will be among some important company when you look at past winners for this award. Quarterback Ryan Day won it last year, preceded by long-time coach and administrator Dave O'Connor in 1999. Tailback Dan Curran won in 1999 and John Haggerty was recognized in 1998. The first winner of the award was offensive lineman Mike White in 1997.
Many of the previous winners of the Jack French Unsung Hero Award have been players who saw a great deal of action in games on Saturday afternoon. However this year's recipient is being recognized for his efforts mostly in practice and in the weight room, and for his efforts as a team leader and captain. Senior quarterback Mike Hurley (Walpole, Mass.) did not take many snaps in 2002, but he provided piece of mind for the team as it knew it had a talented and capable backup at the quarterback position. He did see action in three games in 2002, completing 5x11 passes for 29 yards.
Senior captain Michael Taylor (Allentown, Pa.) was the Wildcats' top receiver in 2002 and as a result earned the Creeley "Buck" Buchanan Distinguished Service Award for his efforts on and off the football field. Taylor enjoyed a productive senior year in which he caught 44 passes for a team-best 624 yards and an average of 14.2 ypg. He also recorded three touchdowns on the season, including a long of 76 yards for paydirt.
The recipient of this year's Eugene K. Auerbach Student Athlete Award is senior offensive lineman Nick Gaunce (Ewing, N.J.). Gaunce headed into the banquet with an impressive overall GPA of 3.07 as a sociology major. Nick has had an interest in possibly working with the FBI when he graduates from UNH.
The recipient of this year's Jock MacKenzie/Bob Demers 12th Player Award is one of UNH's hardest working defensive players in senior free safety Czar Wiley (North Bergen, N.J.). Wiley, a tri-captain completed the 2002 season as the Wildcats' leader in total tackles (43-35-78) and in pass deflections with five. He also recorded one interception, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.