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CAAZone Mid Season Football Awards

By Ed Sheahin, Editor  Published: 12th October 2011

Where does time go?  It’s hard to believe we are already at the halfway point of the CAA football season.  There has been some great football played this season with some real surprises.

Only two of the eleven CAA football programs have losing records (Villanova and Rhode Island).  Still any team can win the conference title with plenty of games remaining in the regular season.

Towson Coach Rob Ambrose and his Tigers have surprised everyone but themselves in 2011.

There are some great stories that have emerged 5-6 games into the season.  Without a doubt, the best story of the first half has to be the emergence of the Towson Tigers (2-0, 4-1) program.  Already with more wins than they had the previous two seasons combined.  What Head Coach Rob Ambrose has accomplished is simply amazing.

Another team on the rise, well, in its infancy of existence, Old Dominion (2-1, 5-1) is competing for the first time as a CAA program.  If ODU were a student, the football program would be in its junior year.  With as much pure talent as any program in the conference, Bobby Wilder’s squad is very close to making this a special season.

Ironically, Towson visits Old Dominion this week.  We’ll get a chance to see which program is closer to competing for a CAA Championship.

There have been some disappointments as well this season.  William & Mary (1-2, 3-3) was the preseason favorite and now their 2011 season hangs in the balance when they host New Hampshire (2-0, 4-1) this weekend.  Inconsistent play at the quarterback position has resulted in the Tribe barely averaging 12 points per game.  Opponents are able to lock down on All-American candidate, RB Jonathan Grimes, without the threat of a passing attack.

Villanova (0-3, 1-5) has been a contender for a CAA conference title for years.  Coach Andy Talley said right from the start, he was uncertain as to the type of team he would have this season.  The Wildcats had so many talented players graduate last season, it has been a daunting task for Talley to establish leadership and cohesiveness with so many young players forced into action.

Still salvageable, Richmond (0-3, 3-3), led by one of the best FCS quarterbacks in the country in Aaron Corp – Who set a single game passing record last weekend for passing efficiency against Towson completing 31 of 34 pass attempts – has the offense to play with any FCS team, but their defense has to tighten up if they are to make a run at the playoffs.

Okay, now it’s time to name the CAAZone’s CAA mid season football awards.  I’m sure everyone has their opinion, especially when it comes to your team, so feel free to comment on my selections.  Remember, I have had the luxury to see six of the CAA teams play live, and the other five on television replays.  This is not an exact science, just one person’s observations.

If you are a fan of the television show “The Office” as I am, you’ll appreciate the title of the CAAZone’s CAA football first half awards.  Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) developed the annual “Dundee Awards” for oddities involving members of his staff.

Named in honor of one of the hardest working commissioners in the country and a true professional, CAA Football Commissioner Scott Meyer, I present to you the 2011 “Scotty Awards”:




2011 First Half Most Surprising Team:  And the winner is – Towson Tigers

Close second – New Hampshire   Honorable Mention: Old Dominion and Maine


2011 First Half Most Exciting Offensive Team:  And the winner is – New Hampshire

Close second – Maine   Honorable Mention: Richmond, Old Dominion, UMass


2011 First Half Shut Down Defensive Team:  And the winner is – James Madison

Close second – Delaware   Honorable Mention: William & Mary

The new Purple Reign! The Dukes swarming defense leads the CAA in yards allowed per game.


2011 First Half Special Teams Unit:  And the winner is – Old Dominion

Close second – UMass   Honorable Mention: New Hampshire and Villanova


2011 First Half Game of the Year:  And the winner is – Maine 25 JMU 24 in OT

Close second – Richmond 23 Duke 21   Honorable Mention: ODU 45 Hampton 42


2011 First Half Comeback Award:  And the winner is – UMass, who trailed ODU 24-0, took a 25-24 lead only to lose in the end 48-33.  No secondary recognition awards in this category.


2011 First Half Team Ball Protection Award (turnover ratio):  And the winner is – Maine

Close second – Old Dominion   Honorable Mention: Towson and Delaware





2011 First Half CAA Player of the Year:  And the winner is – UNH QB Kevin Decker

Close second – Maine QB Warren Smith   Honorable Mention: UMass RB Jonathan Hernandez, UD QB Tim Donnelly, UD RB Andrew Pierce, Richmond QB Aaron Corp, Richmond WR Tre Gray, UNH WR R.J. Harris, W&M RB Jonathan Grimes, Maine RB Pushaun Brown, UNH LB Matt Evans, UD LB Paul Worrilow, and W&M LB Jabrel Mines


2011 First Half CAA QB of the Year:  And the winner is – UNH QB Kevin Decker

Close second – Maine QB Warren Smith   Honorable Mention: Richmond QB Aaron Corp


2011 First Half CAA RB of the Year:  And the winner is – UMass RB Jonathan Hernandez

Close second – Maine RB Pushaun Brown   Honorable Mention: UD RB Andrew Pierce


2011 First Half WR of the Year:  And the winner is – Richmond WR Tre Gray

Close second – UNH WR R.J. Harris   Honorable Mention: UD WR Nihja White


Center Gino Gradkowski anchors the Blue Hens offensive line

2011 First Half OL of the Year:  And the winner is – UD C Gino Gradkowski

Close second – Maine LT Joshua Spearin   Honorable Mention:  JMU C Roane Babington


2011 First Half DL of the Year:  And the winner is – ODU DL Ronnie Cameron

Close second – Towson DL Frank Beltre   Honorable Mention: Maine DL Raibonne Charles


2011 First Half LB of the Year:  And the winner is – UD LB Paul Worrilow

Close second – UNH LB Matt Evans   Honorable Mention: W&M LB Jabrel Mines and JMU LB Stephon Robertson


2011 First Half DB of the Year:  And the winner is – Towson DB Jordan Dangerfield

Close second – ODU DB John Darr   Honorable Mention: UD DB Travis Hawkins


2011 First Half Kicker of the Year:  And the winner is – UNH K Mike MacArthur

Close second – UD K Sean Baner   Honorable Mention: Towson K D.J. Soven


2011 First Half Special Teams Player of the Year:  And the winner is – ODU P Jonathan Plisco

Close second – UMass KR Jesse Julmiste   Honorable Mention: W&M KR Jonathan Grimes

Monarchs have a special teams weapon in junior punter Jonathan Plisco who is averaging over 47 yards per punt this season.


2011 First Half Freshmen of the Year:  And the winner is – Towson RB Terrance West

Close second – UNH WR R.J. Harris   Honorable Mention: Villanova LB Dillon Lucas


2011 First Half Coach of the Year:  And the winner is – Towson Coach Rob Ambrose

Close second – UNH Coach Sean McDonnell   Honorable Mention: Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove


There you have it!  Like I mentioned before, this is just one individual’s opinion who has witnessed a great deal of CAA football the last six weeks.  I am certain these names will change some by the end of the year however; you should watch the teams and players mentioned above a little closer.  They are all deserving of some sort of recognition for their hard work to this point.  Injuries and a tough CAA schedule will change the complexion of this list by year’s end, not ability or effort.


Follow Editor Ed Sheahin on twitter @NFLSkins to read sideline reports each week from the CAA Game of the Week.

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