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Kren, Paulsen lead 16 MLC football players with All-UMAC honors

Information courtesy of MLC Athletics

NEW ULM — The Martin Luther College football team was well represented in the postseason awards release from the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) with 16 all-conference selections. Junior running back Joshuah Kren was named Most Valuable Offensive Player, while senior safety Ian Paulsen won Most Valuable Defensive Player honors.

Austin DeNoyer, Carrington Cunningham, Andrew Owczarzak, Jacob Schmidt, Tristan Pankow and Joe Herrewig (kick returner) joined Kren and Paulsen on the All-UMAC First Team. Mike Radue, Sam Boeder, Derek Gulrud, Nate Holz, Ben Riegsecker, Aiden Holien, Herrewig (defensive back), Micah Otto and Benjamin Hodel were all named Second Team All-UMAC.

The 16 MLC All-UMAC honorees is the most by a UMAC team since St. Scholastica received 18 all-conference awards in 2014.

Paulsen won Most Valuable Defensive Player honors after leading MLC with 66 tackles (42 solo) and seven pass break-ups, while also intercepting three passes and blocking one field goal. After playing offense for most of his first two seasons and battling injuries as a junior in 2018, the versatile senior showed his value throughout the season as one of the most impactful players in the conference as he helped the Knights lead the UMAC in points allowed (12.8), total defense (191.0), rushing yards allowed (48.5) and passing yards allowed (142.5) during league play.

Paulsen is the first MLC player to win Most Valuable Defensive Player since Chuqee Fletcher won the award in 2009.

Kren kept Most Valuable Offensive Player honors in the MLC backfield after DeNoyer won the award in 2018. Kren finished the 2019 regular season with a UMAC-best 19 touchdowns (13 rushing, six receiving) and 1,484 all-purpose yards to go with 1,010 rushing yards. Kren’s all-purpose yardage set a new MLC single-season record and showcased his all-around talents as he was the lone player in the conference to finish in the top 10 in both rushing and receiving yards per game this season. The junior speedster averaged 8.0 yards per carry and 36.5 yards per reception and recorded eight touchdowns of at least 50 yards.

DeNoyer followed up a record-breaking 2018 season in which he won Most Valuable Offensive Player with an even better 2019 campaign. The junior running back broke his own school record with 1,298 rushing yards in only nine games and averaged 161.6 rushing yards per game in seven UMAC contests. DeNoyer also finished with 11 total touchdowns and caught eight passes for 64 yards, and is only the second player in program history to record at least 1,000 yards rushing in back-to-back seasons.

Cunningham, Owczarzak, Boeder and Gulrud were the four mainstays on an offensive line that paved the way for the best rushing attack in the UMAC. The Knights led the UMAC (and second in all of NCAA Division III) with an average of 335.7 rushing yards per game, and set a new school record with 3,357 rushing yards this season. During UMAC play, that average was pushed to 374.5 as MLC led the conference in points per game (40.5), total offense (512.6) and fewest sacks allowed (six). Cunningham won First Team honors for the second straight season, while Owczarzak and Gulrud (each Second Team in 2018) earned their second all-conference award.

Schmidt and Holz are both four-year contributors who broke out on the defensive line during their senior seasons to earn their first all-conference recognition. Schmidt was named to the First Team after leading the Knights with 11.0 tackles for loss to go with 5.0 sacks and 36 total tackles. Holz led MLC with 6.5 sacks and recorded 9.0 tackles for loss, one interception and 33 total tackles to earn Second Team honors.

Pankow was named First Team All-UMAC for the second consecutive season after recording 54 total tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one interception as a senior. A four-year starting linebacker, Pankow played a critical role in the middle of an MLC defense that finished the season atop the UMAC standings in every major statistical category.

Herrewig won two all-conference awards this season on defense and special teams. He was named First Team All-UMAC as a kick returner after averaging 20.8 yards per return on 14 attempts. He also won Second Team honors on defense for the second time in his career after intercepting four passes and recorded six pass break-ups to go with 27 total tackles.

Radue was named to the Second Team at tight end after being named to the First Team as a sophomore in 2018. This season, Radue was the top receiving target and led the Knights with 22 catches for 321 yards and three scores. He also played a very valuable role as a blocker in helping the Knights push two running backs over 1,000 yards for the first time in program history.

Riegsecker received his first All-UMAC honor this season after finishing third on the team in tackles with 48. Riegsecker led the Knights with 72 tackles as a freshman in 2018, and this season showcased his all-around talents with 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and two interceptions.

Holien entered the season as the only new starter on defense and quickly proved his worth to the team with a UMAC-best five interceptions. Holien also added 33 tackles and six pass break-ups from his cornerback position to help the Knights finish first in the UMAC in both passing yards allowed (142.5) and pass efficiency against (86.5) during league play.

Otto won Second Team honors at both kicker and punter after winning UMAC Special Teams Player of the Week four times during the season. The sophomore finished the season 5-7 on field goals, with three of those field goals traveling at least 40 yards. He also finished the season with 20 consecutive extra points made. As a punter, he averaged 33.8 yards per punt and placed 11 punts inide the 20 yard line.

Hodel received his first all-conference honor as a punt return after averaging 13.4 yards on eight returns. The sophomore also plays a key role on offense as a wide receiver and finished the season with four catches for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Senior Alex Quist was named the MLC recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, given to one player on each team who best exemplified sportsmanship during the season.

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