Friday, December 31, 2010

Toast to Trine's Watt, Franklin's Ray

Earlier this month, Trine University quarterback Eric Watt (pictured above) was named the winner of the 2010 Gagliardi Trophy, NCAA Division III football's most prestigious individual award and D3's version of Division I's Heisman Trophy. It recognizes a student-athlete's excellence in football, academics and community service.

He was announced as winner in front of a live audience and chosen over defensive end Matt Hoffman of Rowan and quarterbacks Kyle Ray of Franklin and Ben McLaughlin of Louisiana College.

Watt led Trine (Angola, Ind.) to three Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles and three NCAA Division III playoff berths. With Watt as a full-time starter, the Thunder went 29-1 in three years.

Why is this a big deal -- and cause to mention in this blog? Because the one regular-season loss that Trine suffered came in September 2009 at Franklin College, a game I shot and uploaded pictures for a previous blog post. I still have a gallery up with images from that game: Trine-Franklin football. Franklin came from 13 points behind late in the third quarter to pull out the win, 30-29. The Grizzlies had an equally successful season this year, losing just once and making the postseason playoffs. 

I find it fascinating that Ray (below), who also played in that September 2009 game at Franklin, also was a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy this year. His stellar 2010 senior season was largely responsible for Franklin's success and qualification for playoffs. For his first three years at Franklin, Ray wore jersey No. 10 (as seen below, his junior year); this season, his last, he switched to No. 26 in tribute to his father, who also played at Franklin and who died last year.

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