Valparaiso had five players named to the All-Pioneer Football League North Division First Team and three more earn Honorable Mention honors as the conference announced its annual awards on Wednesday.
Earning First Team honors were Joe Blahowicz (Buffalo, N.Y./Alden H.S.), Jeff Horton (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran North H.S.), Ryan Palonka (Boca Raton, Fla./Olympic Heights H.S.), Mike Jones (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich H.S.), and Andrew McCawley (Omaha, Neb./Creighton Prep).
Steven Hlady (Montague, Mich./Montague H.S.), James Riker (Tekonsha, Mich./Tekonsha H.S.), and Brandon Sturman (Brookeville, Md./Sherwood H.S.) each earned Honorable Mention.
Blahowicz, a wide receiver, led the Crusaders with 44 catches for 544 yards on the season. The senior made three touchdown grabs as well. Horton set a new single season rushing record for the Crusaders at running back. He gained 1,358 yards, 350 more than the previous school mark. He also caught 38 passes for 297 yards and totaled 13 touchdowns between the ground and the air. Palonka was a four-year starter for Valpo on the offensive line, starting every game during his career. At left guard, he helped open up the holes for the Crusader backfield.
Jones led the Crusader defense at strong safety. He made 61 tackles on the season, including 2.5 for loss. He also broke up five passes, forced three fumbles, and recovered four. McCawley was a perfect 20-of-20 on point after touchdown attempts and 9-of-13 on field goal tries. He had ten touchbacks on 40 kickoffs.
Hlady was a four-year starter at center for the Brown and Gold. He started 43 games in four years, helping pave the way on the offensive line. Riker led the Crusaders with 11 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks while recovering a fumble at defensive end. Sturman, a middle linebacker, led Valpo with 63 tackles, including five for loss and forced two fumbles.
Valpo finished the season 3-8 overall and 1-3 in PFL North play, placing fourth.