The 2014 season officially came to an end for the Sudbury Gladiators Football Club on Wednesday evening, with 11 different players recognized at the year-end awards banquet.
Thunder Bay native Devyn Chenier was the only double recipient, capturing both Team MVP honours for the Varsity Gladiators, as well as being named as Special Teams Player of the Year.
Acadia lineman Bauer Negrych captured the Lineman of the Year award, taking advantage of the summer competition to fine tune the skill set that he will need to try and crack the starting lineup with the Axemen.
"I needed to have more control, more understanding of the game, to work on the smaller things, like footwork," said Negrych. "A lot of the precision things that would help me to become a starter."
Defensive secondary stalwart Josiah Walt nabbed the nod as Defensive MVP, quite a progression for the soft-spoken young safety.
"When I first got here, it was all veterans that were in all of the starting spots," said Walt.
"When I stepped into that, I was the youngest guy, trying to fit in. This year, I was in more of a leadership role, with a lot of rookies in the secondary."
Although not terribly big by normal football standards, Walt remained fearless, patrolling the field in search of interceptions, or key open field tackles.
"Somebody my size fits in perfectly as a DB (defensive back)," noted Walt. "You have to be athletic enough to cover the receivers and make the cuts on time with them. And then it's just form tackling, staying square and using your centre of gravity, to make the plays you should be making."
Rounding out the senior winners were Lively quarterback Hunter Holub (Offensive MVP), as well as lineman and jack of all trades Jared Nebonaionoquet, feted as Gladiator of the Year.
The Junior Gladiators’ awards would see six different players recognized, with rookie playmaker Noah Skuce earning Team MVP accolades.
Joining Skuce in the winner’s circle were Graeme Stevens (Defensive MVP), Ian Christakos (Offensive MVP), Zack Corcoran (Lineman of the Year), Mackenzie Campbell (Special Teams Player of the Year) and Andrew Kohut (Gladiator of the Year).
For Christakos, who opened 2013 as the team's quarterback before shifting to running back, the 2014 campaign was especially rewarding, cementing his home in the offensive backfield.
"I would rather be a running back — I'm not tall enough to be a quarterback," surmised Christakos. "When I started playing as a running back, I was a very impatient runner, I wouldn't allow blocks to develop. I would just try and go as fast as I can.
"If you are patient with your first steps, you're able to see where the blocks are developing, and you can see where the linebackers are going."
Most of the players suiting up with both teams will soon be fully immersed in their high school football seasons, as Gladiators’ team management begins preparation for the 2015 OFC (Ontario Football Conference) campaign.