YSU stars get Gateway honors

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State senior tailback Marcus Mason was named the Gateway Football Conference offensive player of the year and was one of a Gateway-record 10 Penguins who earned first team honors.

Mason, a native of Potomac, Md., who transferred to YSU from Illinois, finished fourth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award. He joined P.J. Mays as the only YSU players to be named Gateway offensive player of the year.

Jon Heacock was named the Bruce Craddock coach of the year for the second straight season after leading the Penguins to their second consecutive conference championship.

Joining Mason on the first team were senior center Ryan Jewell (Warren), senior tackle Patrick Walker (Bedford), senior nose tackle Jim Phelan (Chicago, Ill.), sophomore defensive tackle Mychal Savage (Hartsdale, N.Y.), senior linebacker Marty Hutchinson (Newton Falls), junior linebacker James Terry (Midlothian, Va.), senior cornerback Codera Jackson (Rochester, N.Y.), senior cornerback Jason Perry (Warrensville Heights) and senior punter Joe Bishop (Canton). Jewell, Jackson and Terry all earned first-team honors in 2005 while Mason, Bishop and Perry were second-team picks a year ago.

Sophomore tight end Derrick Bush (Circleville) and sophomore guard Brad Samsa (Warren) both were named to the second team, while junior quarterback Tom Zetts (Boardman), senior linebacker Jeff Koval (Austintown) and senior wide receiver T.J. Peterson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) were named honorable mention.

Southern Illinois had six players named to the first team and Illinois State had five, including defensive player of the year Cameron Siskowic. Perry was runner-up for defensive player of the year.

Mason averaged a league-best 166.2 yards per game during the regular season and 198.2 in league contests. His overall average was the fourth highest in league history.

Nine players from the same team have earned first-team honors four times the Gateway’s 22-year history — Missouri State in 1990, Northern Iowa in 1992 and 1994 and Western Kentucky in 2003.

YSU’s 15 total honorees were also high in the league, ahead of 13 from Illinois State.

Selections were made by a panel of the league’s coaches, sports information directors and media.