UNITY – The UCHS Warrior football team held their annual banquet Nov. 29, welcoming family and friends to celebrate their success this past season.
Coaches Kyle Clark, Graeme Gieni and Robert Cey organized the evening, recognizing past coaches Pat Orobko and Martin Berg for starting the 23-year-old tradition.
A highlight reel of best plays was shown, giving each player on the team a turn in the spotlight. Coach Clark thanked each player who was out due to injury for taking turns filming.
“Even though they couldn’t be on the field, they still supported their team by showing up,” said Clark.
All players are asked at the end of the season to submit their choices for each award, then the coaches factor in their thoughts and choose the best candidates for each award.
Jaden Blanchette received the Rookie of the Year award as well as the Offensive Player of the Year. Blanchette joined the team in Grade 10, quickly picking up the offensive plays. Coach Cey said he knew he could count on him during the Biggar game, where he eventually turned the game around for the Warriors. Coach Clark also spoke of how he has been one of the more impressive rookie seasons over the eight years he coached.
Dawson Grant, who joined the team last year, walked away with the Most Improved Player of the Year. Coach Gieni recognized Grant for his commitment to the sport. With the advantage of speed, Grant took the coaches’ feedback and was able to adapt to new techniques that allowed him to be a better teammate and contribute to the success of the team.
Jagr Lewin was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year. His team and coaches noted his ability to read the game, always pursuing the ball and impeccable timing in tackles have contributed to the Warrior’s success. Lewin’s presence has strengthened the defensive line over the season, along with his resilience, hard work and passion.
Most Valuable Player was awarded to quarterback Noah Gumpinger, who was described as an asset to the team. He took on the role of convert kicker this year, making 31 out of 37 attempts. Gumpinger was able to score 58 per cent of the points for the team over the season as well.
Two graduates were also recognized, Darrian Wildeman with Lineman of the Year and Toby Thompson with the Heart and Soul Award.
Wildeman was described as a consistent leader by Coach Cey. The team and coaches wanted to see Wildeman reach the red zone to score a touchdown and as the season progressed, the coaches could see he had a great set of hands as a receiver. Wildeman scored several majors this season and he will be missed by the entire team.
Thompson was unanimously chosen by his teammates to receive the Heart and Soul Award. Coach Clark spoke on how Thompson was a constant for the team, even when injured. Thompson was recognized for playing a wide variety of positions over his three years with the team and never once did Thompson push back.
Along with Wildeman and Thompson, Kyler Kereluk, Jared Abrams and Shawn Dyck will also be graduating in the spring. Each player was recognized and signed the graduate plaque that hangs in the clubhouse, as a reminder of the shoes future Warriors have to fill.