Craig, Leonard share football MVP honours

Lucas Punkari

Given the variety of positions they played, and the different ways they helped the Muskie football team to a semi-final berth in the WHSFL’s Currie Division this past season, it was easy to see why Colton Craig and Jamon Leonard both were awarded the highest honour a player can get.
The pair were recipients of the Paul Renaud Trophy, which recognizes the Most Valuable Player to the Muskie football program, during the team’s annual awards banquet last Tuesday night at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
And after they received the accolade, the co-winners were quick to praise each other for their fine seasons.
“Jamon was just outstanding all year, and the holes he would make for me as a running back were just great,” lauded Craig, a Grade 11 student who played most of the season at running back but also played a little quarterback and slotback.
“And after I made the blocks, to see him just run right through the hole was good to see,” added Leonard, a Grade 12 student who played on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Another big fan of the play of both Leonard and Craig was Muskie head coach Chad Canfield, who had a wide grin on his face when talking about what each player brought to the team.
“I just smile every time I watched Jamon on film as he’s a lot of fun to watch,” Canfield explained.
“He’s so technically sound and his effort is just non-stop, which makes it amazing to watch him completely dominate the guy right across from him on the field.
“With Colton, it didn’t matter whether he asked him to play quarterback or running back this year, in addition to the spot where he is more comfortable at slotback,” Canfield added.
“Whenever we needed a few extra yards on passing, he would use his arm, and he ran really hard all of the time, so he did a great job all year long and we are looking forward to having him back in 2012.”
In addition to the MVP award, there also was a tie for the team’s rookie of the year honours, with Grade 9 quarterback Ben Whitburn and Grade 12 linebacker Nick Kaun sharing the honours.
“Nick was one of those guys that was just easy to coach,” Canfield noted.
“He’s been in a sports program before, having been a member of the hockey team here, and he took to football really well and it was a pleasure to have him out here.
“It would have been nice to have him for all four years, [but] it’s still better to have him for his final year than to not have him play at all,” he reasoned.
Whitburn, on the other hand, was thrown right into the fire in his first year with the Muskies, becoming the starting quarterback after projected starter Tobijah Gerber was lost for the season due to an ACL injury.
“It’s tough to come into this league and play as a Grade 9, especially when you are a starting quarterback,” Canfield stressed.
“He was a little intimidated at the start, especially with the amount of footwork that you need for that position, but he has done some great things as a Grade 9 and he is going to great to watch over the next few years.”
Meanwhile, the Reece Scofield Memorial Award winner was hardly a surprise as stand-out Grade 10 defensive back Braden Webb took home the honours for the most outstanding defensive player for the Muskies.
“Braden made the all-conference team for a reason,” Canfield noted. “He has great ball skill and he caused a lot of turnovers for us.
“And if we didn’t have that, I don’t think we would of won as many games as we did.”
Rounding out the award recipients was returning Grade 12 student Lucas Glover, who took home the Marc DeGagne Award for outstanding contribution to the Muskie program for his work as a coach over the last two seasons.
“He was a great player for us, but I think Lucas has been an even better coach,” Canfield said.
“We’ve had a lot of new kids come out in the past couple of years who have never even put on football equipment before, and Lucas is there to help them out.
“And if the coaches aren’t there yet, he’s out there running the drills.
“In the last couple of years, whether we are down or if we are in a close game, he’s been right there to pick up the guys, which has been excellent,” Canfield lauded.
Even though the latest season has come to an end, there is sense of optimism going into the 2012 campaign, especially with Craig.
“I think we have a really good chance of doing well next year, and I’m hoping that we will have another exciting year like this one,” he enthused.