Philadelphia The Penn football program held its annual postseason awards banquet on Feb. 4 at the Inn at Penn to honor its members for performances on and off the field during the past year. The banquet is a gathering of Quakers past and present that assemble to pay tribute to the current group of student-athletes that proudly wear the Red and Blue. The George A. Munger award for the team’s offensive and defensive most valuable players was bestowed upon wide receiver Dan Castles and linebacker Luke Hadden.
Castles, a first-team All-Ivy selection as well as Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) All-Star, finished 2004 with 966 yards and eight touchdowns on 70 catches. During the course of the season, the Toms River, N.J. native became Penn’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions (27), moved into second all-time in receiving yards (2,444) and third all-time in receptions (167). Castles recorded five 100-yard games with a season high of 145 and three scores on nine catches against Dartmouth on Oct. 2. The record-breaking grab came in the final moments against Harvard as rookie signal-caller hit Castles in the corner of the end zone, forever linking the two in the Penn history books. Hadden emerged from the 2004 season as the team’s most prolific tackler, stopping 66 ball carriers (32 solo stops). The Moorestown, N.J. native also registered a career first when he intercepted Dartmouth’s Charles Rittgers and ran 35 yards for the touchdown. Hadden, a first-team All-Ivy selection, recorded three-consecutive games with double-digit tackles, stopping 32 ball carriers over that span.
The program’s oldest award, established in 1938, is the Edgar Church Memorial Award. It is voted on by the letterwinners and given to the player that contributed the most to the team. This year’s recipient was senior defensive end Bobby Fallon. Fallon, a 2004 second-team All-Ivy selection, was the team leader in tackles for loss (10.5) for a combined 67 yards from his defensive end position. The senior racked up 42 tackles (25 solo) and tied for the lead in sacks with 4.5. One of Fallon’s most memorable moments of 2004 came in the opening quarter of the Quakers’ 20-14 win at Cornell. With a little less than five minutes gone in the game, Fallon intercepted the first pass of his career and scampered 17 yards for his first-career touchdown.
The Charles (Chuck) Bednarik award is given to the team’s top offensive and defensive lineman. This year’s recipients were Michael Pierce and Michael Sangobowale. Pierce, who received honorable mention for All-Ivy, started all 10 games on an offensive line that was working together as a unit for the first season. He and his cohorts pass blocked the top-ranked passing offense in the Ivy League, ranked 21st in the nation, and the third-most proficient passing attack in the Ancient Eight. Sangobowale, a first-team All-Ivy selection, shared the team lead in sacks with classmate Fallon and finished second on the squad in tackles for loss with 9.0.
Penn’s most improved players on the offensive and defensive side of the ball receive the Francis (Reds) Bagnell Award. This year’s recipients were junior quarterback Pat McDermott and sophomore defensive lineman J.J. Stanton. McDermott, All-Ivy honoree, came on strong in his first season as a starter, passing for the ninth-most yards in a season, giving him 2,199 for his career, a total that ranks him 12th all-time. The Yonkers, N.Y. native threw for over 300 yards twice this season, hoisting 384 yards at Bucknell, the fifth-most single game passing yards in school history, and 341 yards against Brown, good enough for 12th-best on the all-time list. The junior had four multi-touchdown games, including three scoring tosses against Dartmouth. He finished the season ranked second in the Ivy League in total offense (226.89 ypg), 33rd in the nation, and third in the Ancient Eight in passing efficiency (120.74), 49th in the country. Stanton appeared in all 10 games during his sophomore campaign, recording 26 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. The Haddonfield, N.J. native also recorded his first-career interception, returning the pick against Bucknell 47 yards to the Bison’s 13-yard line. Stanton found the end zone in the season finale when Gabe Marabella hit Stanton from five yards out on a fake field goal attempt against Cornell.
The Penn Football Club Award is awarded to the senior, who by reason of scholastic achievement, competitive spirit, sportsmanship, cooperation and unselfish devotion to the team, has brought honor and distinction to himself, his coaches and team. This year’s recipients were running back Sam Mathews for the offense, defensive back Duvol Thompson for the defense and punter Josh Appell for special teams. Mathews rushed 716 yards on 178 carries (4.0 ypc) in 2004, earning him a second-team All-Ivy selection. This season’s effort, coupled with his 1,266 yards a year ago, gives him 1,982 rushing yards for his Penn career, placing him ninth all-time with the Quakers. Thompson, one of only two defensive unanimous first-team All-Ivy selections, broke up six passes, the second most of his career, intercepting one to give him five during his time in the Red and Blue. His six deflections tied for the team lead with junior Michael Johns. Thompson also registered 29 tackles (23 solo) in 2004. The Calumet City, Ill. native’s senior-season productivity also earned him a spot on the 2005 Hula Bowl roster, one of only two Ivy Leaguers to make the trip to the Island of Maui. Appell, Penn’s second unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection in 2004, led the Ancient Eight in punting the entire season and finished 2004 with a 40.9 yards per punt average. Appell recorded only two games this season with an average under 40 yards, pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line 17 times and had punts in excess of 50 yards or more 12 times. His longest of the season was 58 yards, two yards shy of his career-long 60-yarder against Harvard on Nov. 16, 2002. The senior also joined Castles as an ECAC All-Star and was selected to be a member of the 2004 Division I-AA Athletics Directors Association (DI-AA ADA) Academic All-Star Team.
Penn also honors its newcomers with the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Chris Mizell was selected at tight end, while Kory Gedin received the award on the defensive side of the ball. Mizell began and finished his sophomore season as the Quakers’ starting tight end. His performance on the gridiron resulted in the Bronx, N.Y. native receiving honorable mention for All-Ivy League. Gedin, a transfer from the University of North Carolina filled in at the linebacker position and did nothing but rank second on the team in tackles with 61 and lead the Red and Blue in solo stops with 41. Gedin was forced into the starting role after tri-captain Ric San Doval suffered an injury last summer and Mark Herman was injured in a preseason scrimmage.
The evening’s final award is given to the senior that best personifies “Pennsylvania kind of football” in honor of George A, Weiss, W’65. The 2004 George Weiss award was given to tri-captain Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski, as many of his coaches and teammates have said throughout this his fifth season in the Red and Blue, is a coach on the field. The senior defensive back has a great analytical and football mind and it shows through his leadership between the lines and off the field. Stefanski has battled back from two serious knee injuries in his Penn career, even coming back to play in the final two games of Penn’s championship season of 2003. The Wayne, Pa. native received honorable mention for All-Ivy League in 2004 as he tied for third on the team with 49 tackles.
The Red and Blue concluded their season with an 8-2 record overall and a 6-1 mark in the Ivy League. Penn ended the 2004 campaign ranked No. 21 in both the Sports Network and the ESPN/USA Today polls.
The Quakers will look to replace a senior class of 21 student-athletes that leave an imprint on the football program with the highest winning percentage at Penn in the modern era (.897) and tie the Penn Class of 2004 with the highest Ivy winning percentage (.929) in the history of the League.
Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications