In the final day of announcing the 2008 RSN award winners, we are proud to give out two “Career Achievement” awards and name four athletes named to our “Honorable Mention” list.
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNERS
Bobby James – A Career For the Record Book
Central Michigan bound Bobby James may have had his best season as a Hobart Brickie this past fall, which is really saying something. James was a four year starter for the Brickies and made an immediate impact for the historic program. As a freshman James caught 47 passes (a career high) for 751 yards and six touchdowns. In his sophomore season, James didn’t catch as many passes (41) or have as many yards (738), but was able to find the end zone 10 times. His junior season numbers of 41 catches for 639 yards and seven touchdowns would be considered outstanding for any Region receiver, but some viewed it as a down year for James as Hobart’s offense was led by a dangerous running attack.
James proved his doubters wrong this season with a 44 catch, 776 yards and 12 touchdown performance. His 2,904 receiving yards puts him in the top ten in Indiana history for career receiving yards. It was his skills on the defensive side of the ball this season that made James, already one the of the Region’s best athletes, one of the best all-around players in the area. Playing at the linebacker spot, James recorded 27 solo tackles, one sack, forced two fumbles, picked off two passes and scored three defensive touchdowns.
Joe Gill – The Left-Handed Leader
Joe “Bubba” Gill is a rare breed in Region football – a three year starter at quarterback. The 6’4” 216 pound Gill burst onto the scene as a sophomore for the Mustangs in 2006, winning his first three career starts and leading Munster to a 5-5 record, their best mark since the 2003 season. Gill threw for 12 touchdowns and was picked off only three times in his debut campaign. The 2007 season saw Munster and Gill take a step back, falling to 3-7. While Gill’s passing yardage increased from 788 to 972, his touchdown passes decreased to four.
Gill returned for his senior season in 2008 on a mission and forced football fans all over the Region to take notice of the action on Columbia Avenue. In Munster’s 11 games this season, Gill threw for over 1700 yards and 19 touchdown passes as the Mustangs opened up their offense and allowed their quarterback to show off his rocket arm. Munster finished the season with a 7-4 record and their first round victory over Lake Central marked Munster’s first playoff victory since 2003. For his career, Gill threw for 3,469 yards and 35 touchdown passes.
Mark Butkus – Griffith
When your last name is Butkus, you are going to stand out every time you put the pads on and step out onto the football field, especially when you play linebacker. Griffith’s Mark Butkus not only was a standout on the defensive side of the football, but his contributions to the Panther offense made him a player that opposing coaches had to take notice of. Butkus began the year at fullback in the Griffith wishbone, but was moved to halfback late in the season. When Butkus wasn’t making the most of his carries, he was the lead blocker for standout sophomore Ed Johnson. On the year, Butkus finished with 103 solo tackles, 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. On offense, Butkus ran the ball 91 times for 511 yards and six touchdowns.
Roger Cardwell – Hobart
Hobart’s Roger Cardwell was never the biggest player on the field at 6’0” and 170 pounds. But the Brickie senior made up for a lack of size with quickness and plenty of heart. Cardwell did it all for the Brickies during the 2008 season. As a receiver, defensive back and return specialist, Cardwell racked up 1,090 all purpose yards. On offense, Cardwell caught 28 passes for 510 yards and six touchdowns. He also picked off three passes in the defensive backfield and averaged over 23 yards per kickoff return.
Shevin Williams – Morton
For the 2008 Morton Governors, Shevin Williams was “Mr. Everything”. Rushing, receiving and playing in the secondary – Williams did it all for the GLAC champions, and he did it all at a standout level. Offensively, Williams didn’t get many touches, only 50 on the season, but he made the most of his opportunities. Williams carried the ball 35 times and picked up 248 yards, good for 7.1 yards per carry and found the end zone six times. He was just as dangerous when catching passes. With only 15 receptions, Williams finished the year with 302 receiving yards, which averaged out to 20.1 yards per catch, and had three touchdowns. As much of a force as we was on offense, Williams’ real impact came when the Govs didn’t have the ball. Williams was third on the team with 96 tackles. He also picked off two passes, recovered three fumbles, sacked the quarterback once and broke up five passes.
Darcell Ballentine – Calumet
Odds are that when Darcell Bellentine got the ball during the 2008 season, the Calumet Warrior faithful were going to have something to cheer about. Ballentine, who made a career on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, was outstanding at creating big plays all over the field. As one of Calumet’s major offensive threats at running back, Ballentine averaged 11 yards per carry and finished the season with 901 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. At receiver, Ballentine only caught two passes, but they both went for touchdowns. Ballentine returned six kicks on the season, with a 32.6 return average and one score. On defense, Ballentine was Calumet’s shutdown corner. He recorded 36 tackles and forced one fumble to go along with one interception.