Luke Gibbs was named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year to highlight the Mustangs’ selections on the 2016 All-GPAC Football Team.
Morningside College placed 11 players on the 2016 All-Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Football First Team as selected by the league’s head coaches.
The Mustangs’ headliner is Luke Gibbs, a junior defensive lineman from Maxwell, Iowa, who was named the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. Gibbs is a big play specialist for a Morningside defense that is the NAIA national leader in scoring defense and total defense, yielding averages of just 10.8 points and 243.1 yards per game.
Gibbs is the Mustangs’ top pass rusher with team-high totals of 5.5 quarterback sacks and six quarterback hurries and also leads the team with three blocked kicks. He is second on the team with 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 60 yards and with three forced fumbles. Gibbs has 35 tackles with 19 solos and 16 assists to go along with three pass breakups and an interception he returned 73 yards for a touchdown in last Saturday’s 14-13 win against Northwestern when the Mustangs wrapped up their sixth consecutive GPAC championship with a perfect 8-0 league record.
Morningside will take a 9-1 overall record and a No. 5 national ranking into the post-season and will host No. 12 Tabor in a NAIA Football Championship Series First Round Game this Saturday at noon.
Gibbs is joined on the All-GPAC First Team Defense by teammates Nate Crnkovich, Luke Grooters, Caden McDonald, Xavier Spann, and Darrian Turk.
Crnkovich, a senior defensive lineman from Papillion, Neb., has 30 tackles with 14 solos and 16 assists, including 5.5 tackles for losses of 13 yards, and is second on the team with five quarterback hurries.
Grooters, a senior linebacker from Rock Rapids, Iowa, is the Mustangs’ leading tackler with 23 solos and 41 assists for 64 total tackles, including six tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 20 yards, and a quarterback sack.
McDonald, a junior linebacker from Logan, Iowa, leads the Mustangs with 19 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 80 yards, five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. He has four quarterback hurries and an interception and is the Mustangs’ second leading tackler with 30 solos and 33 assists for 63 total tackles.
Spann, a sophomore defensive back from Lakeland, Fla., is second on the team with three interceptions and six pass breakups. Nineteen of his 24 tackles have been solo stops.
Turk, a senior defensive back from Silsbee, Texas, leads the Mustangs with five interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Nineteen of his 24 tackles have also been solos.
Morningside placed Austin Anfinson, Blake Frank, Tyler Kavan, and Jason Vander Kooi on the All-GPAC First Team Offense.
Anfinson, a senior offensive lineman from Hinton, Iowa, and Frank, a senior offensive lineman from Mapleton, Minn., are blocking standouts for a Morningside offense that leads the nation with an average of 573.9 yards total offense per game. The Mustangs are the fifth highest scoring team in the nation with an average of 51.3 points per game.
Kavan, a senior running back from Weston, Neb., is the Mustangs’ leading rusher with 1015 yards and 19 touchdowns in 179 attempts for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. He is Morningside’s all-time leader with 61 career touchdowns and 54 career rushing touchdowns and has scored a touchdown in 19 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Vander Kooi, a senior wide receiver from Hinton, Iowa, is the Mustangs’ leading pass receiver with 43 receptions for 692 yards and four touchdowns for an average of 16.1 yards per catch.
The Mustangs’ Jared Amundson, a sophomore from Sioux City, is the placekicker on the All-GPAC First Team. Amundson has made six of nine field goal attempts with a long of 37 yards and converted 63 of 66 PAT attempts to rank second on the Mustangs in scoring with 81 points.
Morningside’s Taylor James, Chase Reis, Trent Solsma, and Michael Whitehead were named to the All-GPAC Second Team.
James, a senior defensive back from Westfield, Iowa, has 27 solos and 19 assists for 46 total tackles, including 6.5 tackles for losses of 19 yards, to go along with three interceptions and two pass breakups.
Jason Vander Kooi
Reis, a sophomore defensive lineman from Grand Island, Neb., has 43 tackles with 21 solos and 22 assists, including eight tackles for losses of 37 yards, to go along with 3.5 quarterback sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Solsma, a sophomore quarterback from Dakota Dunes, S.D., has completed 169 of 254 pass attempts (66.5 percent) for 2551 yards and 25 touchdowns with only three interceptions.
Whitehead, a senior wide receiver from Le Mars, Iowa, has 38 pass receptions for 587 yards and eight touchdowns for an average of 15.4 yards per catch.
Morningside’s Austin Allen, a senior defensive lineman from Spencer, Iowa; Britton Barrier, a junior defensive back from Neola, Iowa; Andrew Metzger, a junior offensive lineman from Rock Rapids, Iowa; Garrett Temme, a freshman offensive lineman from Petersburg, Neb.; Tanner Ver Steeg, a junior wide receiver from Little Rock, Iowa; and Spencer Wyant, a sophomore punter from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, were named to the All-GPAC honorable mention list.
Click here for the complete 2016 All-GPAC Football Team.