|by Brent Harris • November 21, 2006|
Wabash junior linebacker Adrian Pynenberg has been named the Hank Critchfield Award recipient for 2006 as the North Coast Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Pynenberg also heads a list of 12 Little Giant football players named to the league’s All-Conference teams.
Pynenberg led the Little Giants in tackles for the third consecutive season, recording 101 stops in 10 games. He was fourth in the conference in total tackles, tied for second in tackles for losses (14), and third in sacks (7.5). A preseason First Team All-American selection by both d3football.com and Lindy’s College Football Annual, Pynenberg was also named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District V Second Team. He recorded a career-best 20 tackles in the Little Giants’ victory over Millikin, one of five games he reached double figures in total tackles. Pynenberg has started every game of his career and was named one of four co-captains for the 2006 season. He is currently second in school history in career tackles for losses with 47, fourth in total tackles (283), and eighth in quarterback sacks (18.5).
Pynenberg was selected to the All-NCAC First Team for the second consecutive season, as well. He is the third Wabash player to win the Critchfield Award, named for the 1927 Wooster graduate and presented each year by Mr. Ernie Infield of Wooster. Nate Boulais ’03 won the award in 2002 and Blair Hammer ’04 was the 2003 recipient.
Joining Pynenberg on the All-NCAC First Team is senior quarterback Dustin Huff. Huff led the NCAC and was third in the nation in total offense with 3,287 yards. He topped all NCAC quarterbacks with 2,961 passing yards and 29 TDs, and led the conference and was fifth in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 170.9. He threw for over 300 yards five times and tossed three or more touchdown passes in six different games. Huff also ran for 326 yards and four scores.
Mike Russell, Patrick Millikan, and Will Certain were also First Team All-NCAC Offense selections. Russell, a junior, led all wide receivers in the conference with 60 catches for 1,052 yards and tied for the top mark in TD receptions with 13. His receptions and yardage totals also placed him among the top players in nation --- he finished the year ranked sixth in receiving yards per game (105.2) and 28th in receptions per game (6.0). Russell’s 13 touchdown catches tied him for the second-most in a season in Wabash and NCAC history. He also became only the fourth Little Giant receiver to eclipse the 1,000-receiving yards mark.
Senior co-captains Certain and Millikan both started on the right side of an offensive line that helped Wabash to the third-best passing offense in the nation with an average of 301.2 yards per game. Their offensive unit also ranked 13th in scoring (35.6 points per game) and 12th in total offense (423.1 yards per game). Certain, a guard, and Millikan, a tackle, were both also named ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District V First Team selections. Millikan earned All-NCAC honors for the third time after being named to the conference Second Team in 2004 and First Team in 2005. Certain was an All-NCAC Second Team member in 2005.
Senior defensive end Frank Knez joined Pynenberg as a First Team All-Conference Defensive pick. The senior moved from linebacker to the defensive line early in the season after an injury to teammate Jared Lange. Knez finished the year with 46 tackles, including nine tackles for losses totaling 45 yards and six sacks. He added two interceptions to his season totals before capping his career with a safety in the 113th Monon Bell Classic to secure the 23-20 win for the Little Giants.
Geoff Walker, Richard Roomes, and Chad Finley were Second Team All-NCAC selections. Walker, a senior wide receiver, played in the first six games before seeing his season end with a knee injury at Wittenberg. Despite the injury he still finished eighth in the league with 33 catches and sixth in receiving yards per game with an average of 66.7. He caught five touchdown passes for a total of 11 in his career.
Roomes, a junior, started nine of ten games at cornerback, finishing fifth on the Little Giant team in tackles with 42. His first career interception came at Wittenberg, picking off a pass and returning in 41 yards. He made a career-best eight tackles at Franklin in the season-opener, with six solo stops. Roomes blocked an extra point against Allegheny in a Homecoming victory for Wabash. He recorded a forced fumble in the win over Ohio Wesleyan.
Junior kicker Finley was the second-leading scorer for the Little Giants with 56 points. He kicked 41 extra points to break the Wabash single-season PAT record. Finley was 5-of-7 in field goal attempts, including a career-long 46-yard boot against Millikin. He also handled the punting duties for the Little Giants, averaging 35 yards per punt. He hit a season-best 60-yard punt in the Wabash victory at Earlham.
Two other Little Giants were named to the Honorable Mention All-Conference team. Senior TJ Schaffer made 30 tackles as a defensive tackle, including two tackles for losses totaling 20 yards. He made a career-best five tackles against Ohio Wesleyan, then matched it once again in a win over Wooster. He also recorded 1-1/2 sacks for 18 yards and one quarterback hurry. Schaffer was also an Honorable Mention pick in 2005.
Senior tight end Tim Schirack earned his first All-Conference honors after making seven catches for 131 yards. He made a career-best two TD catches on the season, including a nine-yard touchdown catch against DePauw in the Monon Bell Classic. His biggest career reception also came in that game when he hauled in a 32-yard pass near the goal line to set up the first touchdown of the game.