LOUISVILLE, Ky.-The Belhaven football team had 17 of its players recognized by the Mid-South Conference for their efforts on the field and in the classroom when the awards were announced Thursday by the MSC. The Blazers put seven players on the All-Conference West Division First Team, including Calvin Lewis who was named Defensive Player of the Year. Nine additional players were West Division Honorable Mention selections while three players earned Academic All MSC honors.
Lewis, a junior linebacker from Lorman, MS, was the MSC West Division Defensive Player of the Year and a selection on the All Conference First Team after registering a team high 89 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss to help anchor the Belhaven defense in 2012. Lewis also recorded two interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown, 3.5 sacks, and four fumble recoveries. Lewis was seventh in the MSC tackles per game at 8.1. Lewis along with his fellow defenders built one of the best defense’s in the MSC this season. The Blazers were second in points allowed per game (17.1) and third in total defense in the conference, allowing just 271.5 yards per game.
Joining Lewis on the first team was teammate Craig McDonald who racked up 81 stops on the year. McDonald, a senior from Collinsville, MS, was also tied for seventh in the MSC in tackles per game with an average of 8.1. McDonald became Belhaven’s all time leading tackler in the final game of the season with seven stops against Bethel. McDonald surpassed Reginald Lumpkin who had 292, ending his four year career with 296. McDonald made 8.5 tackles for a loss and picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown.
Joshua Herring paced all Belhaven defensive linemen with 47 tackles leading to a post on the MSC West Division All-Conference First Team. Herring, a senior from Montrose, MS, had 9.5 tackles for a loss and finished the 2012 campaign with a team best four sacks. Herring also had a fumble recovery and return for a touchdown at Faulkner University.
Kicker James “Bo” Bryan earned a spot on the All MSC West First Team and was also an Honorable Mention selection. Byran, a senior from Saucier, MS, had his season cut short due to injury, but still turned in some impressive numbers in the kicking game. Bryan was the West Division’s First Team punter after averaging 43.4 yards per punt. Bryan had 11 punts land inside the 20 yard line and seven kicks traveled 50 yards or more. His performance as a placekicker earned him MSC West Division Honorable Mention Honors. Bryan was 7 for 13 in field goal attempts and 37 for 38 in extra points. Bryan led the Blazers in scoring with 58 points, ranking him 21st in the NAIA.
On offense, Belhaven had three players on the MSC West Division All Conference First Team led by running backKadero Edley. Edley, a junior from Raymond, MS, rushed for a team high 942 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2012 season. Edley averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 85.6 yards per game. Edley ranked fifth in the MSC in yards per carry.
Wide receiver Kylan Pollard found the end zone seven times on pass receptions and hauled in 36 catches, both team highs, to make the MSC First Team. Pollard, a senior from Laurel, MS averaged 59.9 yards per game and 18.3 yards per catch.
Offensive lineman Matt Hall made his presence felt anchoring the Belhaven offense at the right tackle position en route to first team honors. Hall, a junior from Russellville, Ark, helped the Blazers shatter the school record for rushing yards in a season with 2,488 this season. The previous mark was set in 1999 with 1,709. Due in part to Hall, Belhaven also set a new bench mark for rushing touchdowns with 27 in 2012. The previous school record was 19 recorded last season. Belhaven was the third best rushing team in the MSC with 226.2 yards per game and fourth in the conference in scoring with 32.9 points.
Honorable mention selections on offense included offensive lineman Alex Kibby and Fred Smith. Kibby, a senior from Moss Point, MS and Smith a senior from Decatur, MS teamed up with Hall to help break new ground when it came Belhaven’s running attack.
Running back Justin Gaines was an honorable mention selection on offense after turning in another solid season. Gaines, a senior from Montrose, MS ran for 699 yards and had six touchdowns in 2012. Gaines averaged a team high 6.3 yards per carry and picked up 63.5 yards per game. Gaines completes his two year career at Belhaven with 1,676 yards and 18 TD’s, ranking him third in school history in career yards and second in touchdowns.
Fellow running back Patrick Wilson joined Gaines as an honorable mention selection. Wilson, a junior full back from Wiggins, MS scored two touchdowns, but his specialty was teaming with the front line to open holes for the tailbacks. Wilson was one of the best in the conference this season at opening running lanes for Edley and Gaines this past season.
On defense, Belhaven had four additional players receive MSC West Division Honorable Mention honors. Jared McCarthy was one of those selections after picking up 39 tackles and 6.5 tackles for a loss in 2012. McCarthy, a senior defensive lineman from Silver Creek, MS, added 2.5 sacks, an interception, and three quarterback hurries.
Reese Unger was an honorable mention selection after his solid work on the defensive line in 2012. Unger, a senior from Tenino, WA, brought down 29 ball carriers and had six tackles for a loss. Unger was tied for second on the team in sacks with 3.5 and an interception and two fumble recoveries.
Linebacker Darius Wren had a big year during his first campaign as a Blazer. Wren, a junior from Shucktown, MS, was third on the team in total tackles with 73 and tackles for a loss with 8.5. Wren was second on the team with three interceptions, led the team with 10 pass breakups and had two fumble recoveries.
Isiah Wiley rounded out the list of honorable mention selections for Belhaven this season as both a defensive back and return specialist. Wiley, a senior cornerback and kick returner from Monroe, La., transferred to Belhaven for his senior season from Southern Cal, where he started six times as a junior. Wiley led the nation (NAIA) in punt returns with 19.4 yards per return. He was fifth in yards per kickoff return (28.6) and returned two punts for a touchdown. Defensively, Wiley tallied 23 tackles, intercepted two passes, broke up six passes, and forced two fumbles.
Three Blazers were named to the MSC West Division Academic Team for their work in the classroom. Scott Foreman, William Ashley, and Pat Wilson were those three selections. The award is reserved for student-athletes that are sophomores or higher academically with at least a 3.25 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.