By: Brandon Vierya (@beatitdownb)
Here we find ourselves on the day of the MAC Championship game and what a season we’ve had from the 6 Mid-American Conference teams! Despite the difference in their records, throughout the season, every single team has been competitive and put on some dominant performances! With the MAC regular season now finished, and the end-of-season playoffs approaching let us take a look at each MAC team’s best offensive and defensive player after 6 amazing games!
First up, we’ve got the 5-1 Falcons. An explosive offense and stout defense has had this team a favorite since recruiting ended. On paper, this team has enough talent around the field that they could easily compare to many power two schools. With such a stacked roster, it was hard to pick just two players to be “the best on the team.”
Gunny McGuire, WR: 34 receptions, 630 receiving yards, 11 receiving TDs, 591 return yards, 1 return TD.
An explosive transfer from Oregon, Gunny McGuire was an early choice for the best offensive player in the MAC. With an eye-opening performance in week one against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, he was a force to game plan against. Scoring a touchdown in every single game this season, he was not only a force in the passing game, but he was hands down the best return specialist in the MAC.
Justin Brown, MLB: 59 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 4 forced fumbles.
On a stacked defensive squad, it’s hard to find just one stand-out player. With all the talent on this team, every player on the squad has had stand-out games. One player that has stood out every single week though has been Justin Brown. Averaging nearly 10 tackles a game, it seemed every time you saw the Bowling Green defense on the field that he was in on the play. With 4 forced fumbles, Brown is tied for second place in the entire league in two fewer games than the player at number one.
With a 2-5 record, the Golden Flashes didn’t find the success that they were after this season. However, they played competitive football when it mattered and found themselves with a surprise visit to the MAC semi-finals but ultimately fell short at the hands of the Falcons. Who was the standout players for the Flashes?
Aldous Sampson, HB: 59 carries, 32 receptions, 565 total yards, 6 total TDs, and 8 broken tackles.
One of the few bright spots in this offense that failed to find a rhythm was their two-headed running attack. Ultimately, while both Rambo and Sampson were dominant, Sampson stood out a tad more. With an impressive 500+ total yards in 7 appearances, he only started every other game which makes his numbers even crazier. Every time Sampson touched the ball, he made a splash.
Silus Riggs, CB: 25 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 4 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 1 TD.
A late signing this season, Riggs made his first season sixteen appearances in week two against the Eagles. The Missouri transfer found himself leading the team with seven tackles making an instant impact despite the loss. His two interceptions in the quarter-final game against the Bobcats solidified their victory. Taking one to the house, a late interception he took back inside the five-yard line allowed the Flashes to punch it in and get upset.
Next up, another 2-5 team in the Toledo Rockets. Competitive in all games this season, three of their losses were by a score or less. An experienced coach in dthall had this team as a force, despite what their record may show. Ultimately falling short of the championship, the Rockets stayed competitive until the very end of their regular season.
RaQ Rhodes, HB: 145 rushes, 26 receptions, 878 total yards, 6 TDs, 14 broken tackles.
From week one, Rhodes dominated the MAC. Racking up 307 total yards of offense and 3 total TDs in week one, he’s not only been one of the best backs in the MAC but has been one of the best in the league. In just 7 games he gathered nearly 900 yards with several trips to the end zone and was a wrecking ball when the ball was in his hands.
Chad Wendel, SS: 41 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 7 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble.
From the jump, Wendel has been a playmaker on a defense that fell short of their expectations this season. With 7 tackles and 3 pass deflections in week one, and another 7 tackles in week two he quickly established himself as a key piece on this defense. The little brother of CFSL great Carson Wendel, his goal coming into this season was to one-up his brother while making him proud. What a great start to what will likely become a fantastic career!
Coming in at 1-7, the Huskies struggled during their return to the MAC. However, their first-year coach has put together a team that has a good amount of talent and even better depth. While staying competitive in some games, and achieving their first and only win during their final regular season game, they bowed out of the playoffs in a game that the Rockets were red hot looking to avenge their loss the week prior.
Dustin Roller, HB: 155 rushes, 14 receptions, 843 total yards, 4 TD’s, 11 broken tackles.
An all around all purpose guy, Roller gave Rhodes some serious competition for the best back in the MAC. Roller rolled his team into many close games and was arguably the key reason that they remained as competitive as they did. His most impressive outing was week two when he led his Huskies to a heartbreaking one score loss to what would become the #2 seeded Falcons. Despite the loss, he put up 190 yards and 2 TD’s.
Garrett Evans, MLB: 65 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 pass deflections, 2 interceptions.
Garrett Evans was the X-factor on this Huskies defense that struggled week after week. He led the MAC in tackles and went out week after week putting the team on his back. He only found himself under 10 tackles in one outing this season. His presence was enough to take both the #1 seed and #2 seed to the limit this season despite falling just short both times.
The dark horse of the MAC is up next, with the Bobcats coming in at an impressive 4-2 record. Rated dead last in the ores-season poll at #26, the Bobcats fought their way into the hearts of the CFSL and emerged as a sleeper to win the MAC. Head Coach Kyler quietly put together a dominant team and explosive talent on both sides of the ball and shot for the stars when trying to bring his underdog story full circle. The Bobcats ultimately fell short of the Golden Flashes, but don’t let that take away from their fantastic season!
Del Toro, QB: 235/338, 2499 passing yards, 98 rushing yards, 21 Total TD’s.
An offense that fell under the radar was led to a season that shocked the league by their star-studded shot caller. Towering over the other Quarterbacks at 6’5 and 265 pounds, his size was often used to his advantage as he led all MAC Quarterbacks with 6 rushing TDs. He also showed off his cannon of an arm weekly, allowing all three of his starting wide receivers to put up over 400 yards in just 6 games.
Isabella DeJesus, MLB: 48 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 pass deflections, 2 interceptions.
At the beginning of the season, if you’d had told me that Ohio’s 3-4 scheme would be one of the best in the MAC, I’d have laughed. They took a rarely used scheme, plugged in the right talent, and came out and performed extremely well. Leading that 3-4 was the only female on the squad, Isabella. A hard hitting, play making lady that moved all over the field and put herself exactly where she needed to be every single time to make the play.
Lastly, we have the Eagles who found themselves as the #1 seed to end the regular season. The Eagles lost their first game after a 25-point comeback by the Falcons and took that loss personally. Following their only loss, they went undefeated to finish out the season and stood atop the MAC. Arguably the most explosive offense in the MAC, they found themselves averaging 47.8 points a game on the season.
Ludwig Friedman, QB: 238/334, 2720 passing yards, 82 rushing yards, 31 total TDs.
From the minute that this team was put together, the talent on the offense had all signs pointing to the Air Raid offense. Having a Quarterback that could throw 60 times a game, and use his legs to escape the pocket as necessary was a cheat code. Ludwig’s goal at the beginning of the season was to break records and that’s exactly what he did. Friedman led the MAC in passing this season while setting school records for most single-game passing TDs, most passing TDs in a season, and EMU career passing TDs. Ludwig was also the only MAC player nominated for an end of season award (Freshman of the Year).
Axel Holgersen, MLB: 50 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 1 forced fumble.
The Eagles’ phenomenal season wasn’t only due to their high caliber offense. The Eastern Michigan defense was able to shut down the run game throughout most of the season, resulting in other teams having to throw the ball a lot and allowing the secondary to come away with 11 interceptions. A brick wall in the run game, and a leader on the defense, Axel found himself all over the defense where it mattered. Whether it was blowing up the run, head hunting the QB, or dropping into coverage, Axel could do it all.
At the beginning of the season, the return of the MAC shocked the league. Many CFSL greats started and made themselves known through their stint in the MAC. The hype around the MAC was real, and all of the coaches did a fantastic job in living up to the hype this season. With two games of the week, and multiple All-American nominees, this has been an incredible season for the Mid-American Conference. Tonight we will crown a champion, and then it’s off to the playoffs. Will it be the Eagles or the Falcons? Lastly, here’s my question for you all. Can the MAC end this season with yet another bang by seeing a win in the end-of-season playoff race? As always, feel free to all about it in league chat!
Tune in to Twitch at 7 P.M. CST to watch the Bowling Green Falcons and Eastern Michigan Eagles battle for the crown.