OLDS — Awards were handed out to eight members of the École Olds High School Spartan football team during a banquet at the school Nov. 30.
Landon Erick was named the Most Valuable Player and Owen Reimer received the Rookie of the Year award.
Austin Cromarty was named the Most Improved Player and Brody Rylance received the Unsung Hero award.
Radek Heppner received the Top Offensive Player award and Noah Worth was named the Top Defensive Player.
Dut Ajak was named the Top Lineman and the Dedication and Commitment award went to Cale Graville.
The Spartans had a fantastic season, making it into the playoffs before being beaten 49-9 by the Cardston Cougars.
During the evening, several coaches alluded to the team’s success.
And a couple, including head coach Kent Lorenz said it was a really tough decision deciding who would receive the awards. because everybody played so well.
“It’s sort of interesting, because this is probably the biggest sport I know of where it takes every single person to be pulling in the same direction to get the objectives, like the plays done and that,” Lorenz said.
“I’d really like to give one to all of you because you guys were so awesome this year.”
Kent Lorenz indicated that Erick personified what the Most Valuable Player award is all about.
“It’s the person that contributed the most to the team’s success,” he said.
“An MVP shows unwavering commitment, dedication, versatility and does whatever it takes to help the team win.”
“Our MVP for this season led by example. He did a lot of the gritty work that allowed his teammates to score touchdowns as well as blocks on special teams and sacks on defence.
“He also scored a touchdown on all three phases of the game of football, which is rare. Pick six, touchdown return on a kickoff and a number of touchdowns on offence. That’s no small accomplishment.”
Coach Marcus Lorenz, a former Spartan player himself, handed out the Rookie of the Year award and the Most Improved Player award.
Lorenz said Reimer’s “dedication, hard work and positive attitude were greatly appreciated by his teammates and coaches.
“This guy always had a great chant to start the game off, get the boys hyped up. Although (it was his) rookie this season, (he) didn’t play like one.
Lorenz also had high praise for Cromarty, the Most Improved Player.
He described Cromarty as “a force to be reckoned with this season.”
“He did everything his coaches asked for; popped in at many different positions. The team could count on him whenever they needed him.”
Unfortunately, Cromarty was not present to receive his award.
Coach George Grant said the Unsung Hero award goes to a player who takes on every role or position asked of him without complaint.
“This is an individual who took on the challenge every time with a quick nod and went ‘yeah, I can do that.’ Usually when he turned and walked away, I rolled my eyes and went, ‘no, I don’t think he can do that,’ but I still would ask,” Grant said.
“If somebody had said to me in Grade 10 that this person would be getting an award, I would have said, ‘no way.’ I really wanted to package him up and send him far, far away," he said, sparking some light laughter.
“But over the years he has improved. He got better. He became more coachable.”
Coach Aaron Stromsmoe handed out the Top Offensive Player award.
Stromsmoe said when evaluating who should receive that award "we’re looking for somebody who’s scoring points, who’s getting us yards. We’re looking for somebody who’s going to be a leader on the field; all of the above.”
He said Heppner fitted that bill perfectly.
“He could have fit in for the MVP award, he could have taken the rookie of the year award. Honestly, this guy kind of did it all for us.”
Coach Hayden Brenneis presented the Top Defensive Player award.
Brenneis, a new teacher at ÉOHS this year has been involved in virtually every aspect of football over the past 18 years, from player, to advisor and coach.
He said his first introduction to Worth and his impact on the team came when unlike the other players dressed in their team jerseys, Worth entered the room “wearing a bright silver metallic jersey that’s probably two sizes too small.”
That left him wondering what kind of a player this guy was, but Brenneis was quickly impressed by Worth’s ability.
“As our season progressed through those initial weeks, we were able to put in place a defence that was centered around this player, occupying and controlling the middle of the field," Brenneis said.
“He was dominant in stopping the run and extremely responsible as a stay-at-home defender.
“His presence was felt on and off the field as his love of the game and sheer enjoyment playing football rubbed off on to his teammates.
“His antics in the dressing room and on the field were not always the most appropriate (laughter) but did reflect his lighthearted approach to life and football.
“The more I was able to get to know him, the easier it was to see past this façade though and in reality, he’s a caring, respectable and hard-working young man, one that we at the program are proud to call one of ours.”
Coach Lyle Groves said Ajak was a dominant lineman and dedicated teammate.
“He was feared by other teams, at least those who were tuned into the game and they adjusted their plays and formations to compensate for him,” Groves said. “I will miss his dominant style and the impact plays he brought to our team."
He said Ajak was a real team player filling in on both offence and defence.
“He was a very intense player as well, waiting to be on the field to make a difference, to block or to attack, always in the zone, paying attention to the game,” he added.
Coach Rudy Durieux presented the Dedication and Commitment award.
“This is awarded to a player who demonstrates exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as a member of their team,” Durieux said.
He said while Graville was possibly “the most annoying player on the team” he was also one of the most enthusiastic.
“He just made, I think, the season more enjoyable for everybody,” Durieux said.