Keon Edwards popcorn celebration

Keon Edwards celebrates with some popcorn after scoring a touchdown, Nov. 5, 2022.

The Mustangs men’s football team’s success this season has led to three team members winning major individual conference awards at the OUA’s awards ceremony Thursday and 14 being named OUA all-stars this week.

For the eighth straight season, Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall has been recognized with the David ‘Tuffy’ Knight award as Ontario University Athletics’ football coach of the year. Marshall led the team to its first undefeated season since 2019 and credited his selection to two late Western University football coaches who he once played for and coached under — Darwin Semotiuk and Larry Haylor.

“My coaches and mentors … I learned from the best,” said Marshall at the OUA awards ceremony Thursday. “I learned from Darwin Semotiuk and Larry Haylor, [and] they were the best. Not just great coaches but great people, and special friends for me.”

Part of the credit for Marshall’s recognition went out to his players — specifically, Mustangs fifth-year running back Keon Edwards, who took home OUA football’s most valuable player award, which was recently renamed the Larry Haylor Award.

The Mustangs superstar running back gained 1,032 rushing yards to go along with nine rushing touchdowns. While Edwards was honoured to have received the award, he recognized the team for his motivation and success.

“The way I do it, it’s [honestly] the team,” said Edwards. “This trophy honestly represents something we’ve all been working hard for and I just do it for them.”

Another Mustang, sixth-year free safety Daniel Valente Jr., was presented the President’s Award as the OUA’s most outstanding stand-up defensive player.

Valente Jr. finished the season with a league-leading five interceptions on top of his 16 tackles and one sack.

The Western defensive back is excited for the opportunity to continue making big plays this Saturday, especially with another trophy on the line — the 114th Yates Cup.

“I’m super excited. Every time [I] get the opportunity to hit the field with [my] teammates, it’s going to be an exciting opportunity, especially when you’re playing for trophies now,” said Valente Jr.. “I’m just gonna go out there, give it [my] all, and go Mustangs.”

Marshall, Edwards and Valente Jr. will lead a team of 14 OUA all-stars this weekend after it was announced the Mustangs led the province in OUA all-star selections this season. Headlined by second-year quarterback Evan Hillock and sixth-year defensive tackle Malcolm Hinds, the announcement included nine Western first-team and five second-team all-star picks.

The Mustangs are set to host the Queen’s University Golden Gaels for a Yates Cup rematch to maintain OUA supremacy on Saturday at 1 p.m..

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Sports Editor

Kieran is a Sports Editor for Volume 116, covering hockey, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse, curling, softball and fencing. Email him at kieran.drover@westerngazette.ca.

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