After a tough but fun season the Lancers capped off their 2016-17 campaign by celebrating their Annual Awards night. This season was largely a rebuilding year after losing an unusually high amount of vets, however, there were many positives to take away from the season and the current rookie class who are now heading into their second year look poised to take next season by storm. The level of improvement over a single year was truly impressive and the final two games the Lancers competed in, namely a 32-30 loss to University College Dublin and a heartbreaking double overtime loss at Varsity, provide much promise for a successful campaign next year. The Lancers undertook their first Tour this season which allowed them to create relationships and build their skills outside of the UK. They also achieved Half-Blue status and were able to present the award to American Football players at Oxford for the first time in history.
Now onto the award nominees and winners:
There were several offensive awards to be handed out this season, namely the Offensive MVP, Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the Hammer Award. The nominees for the Offensive MVP were QB Will Szymanski, C/DT Rob Main, RB Connor Thompson, and DE/RB Jonny Brooks. The winner was RB Connor Thompson for his solid performance running the ball this season. Next up was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The nominees were WR Milo Reynolds, LT Jon Berry, WR Chris Nowek, and LG Alon Witztum. The winner was WR Chris Nowek for his becoming a go-to receiver at the TE spot. The Hammer Award, given to the best lineman, nominees were C/DT Rob Main, LG Alon Witztun, LT Jon Berry, DE Billy Lemieux, and RG Guanze He. The winner was C/DT Rob Main for his contribution on the line on both sides of the ball.
The defensive awards for the year were the Defensive MVP, Defensive Rookie of the Year. The nominees for the Defensive MVP were LB Matt Williamson, LB Harvey Appleby, DB Josh Allen, C/DT Rob Main, and DE/RB Jonny Brooks. The winner was LB Matt Williamson for his hard-hitting performance this year as the Mike Linebacker. As for the Defensive Rookie of the Year, the nominees were DB Joe Muse, DT Max Howell, DB Matt Shore, and LB Matt Williamson. The winner for his stand-out play and solid tackling was DB Joe Muse.
Next up there were three team awards to be given out. They were the Most Improved Player Award, the Guy Dawes Award (for contribution off the field), and the Veteran Award. The nominees for the Most Improved Player Award were LG Alon Witztum, DB Matt Shore, DB Joe Muse, WR Chris Nowek, and LB Blake Lewis. The winner was LB Blake Lewis for his rapid increase of ability at the Linebacker position. The nominees for the Guy Dawes Award were LB Billy Lemieux, QB Will Szymanski, C/DT Rob Main, and DB Josh Allen. The winner for his vocal and motivating presence on the sidelines this season was LB Billy Lemieux. Finally, the Veteran Award nominees were QB Will Szymanski, C/DT Rob Main, DE/HB Jonny Brooks, and WR Joe Barker. The winner was QB Will Szymanski for his leadership and motivation both on and off the field.
Next up on the list were the team voted Champagne Moment of the Year, TD of the Year, and the infamous Arsehole of the Annum. The Champagne Moment of the Year included the Lancers first Tour, the newly acquired Half-Blue status, the comeback at Varsity to send the game to OT, and a walk in the gardens by a certain DB on Tour. The winner by almost unanimous consent was the ‘walk in the garden’ moment, a great memory from our first Tour. The TD of the Year had several nominations: a big TD run from Jonny Brooks against the division winning Cardiff Cobras, a tipped-ball TD catch by Milo Reynolds, a TD run by Connor Thompson in the Varsity comeback, and a 2-point conversion catch by Chris Nowek to send the Varsity game into OT. The winner was Connor Thompson’s big run at Varsity where he made several outstanding moves to reach the endzone. The Arsehole of the Annum is a team voted award given to the biggest botched moment of the year. The winner was future president Josh Allen for dropping and accidentally handing over our defensive play calls at our match against the Solent Redhawks.
Finally, the prestigious MVP of the season award. The nominees this year were QB Will Szymanski, C/DT Rob Main, DB Josh Allen, and DE/HB Jonny Brooks. The winner for his outstanding performance all season was Jonny Brooks, a player whose skill level and commitment to the game was truly an inspiration to all on the team.
The award night ended with the announcement of the first class of Lancers who would receive Half-Blue jackets this year. The Blues jackets are an Oxford tradition that recognizes student athletes across the university. This was the first year that American Football players had ever received this award and the winners were: DE/HB Jonny Brooks, C/DT Rob Main, RG Guanze He, DB Joe Muse, WR Chris Nowek, RT Sam Smith, DB Josh Allen, RB Connor Thompson, WR Joe Barker, and LB Matt Williamson.
The Lancers would like to congratulate all the players and nominees for the awards this season. Their dedication, athletic excellence, and commitment to the team are truly an inspiration and we commend them for their efforts. We wish those who are moving on from Oxford the best of luck in their careers and are excited to see those who are returning next season to continue to develop their skills on the pitch.