Ridley, Heeter, Burke Earn Football MVP Awards
Senior Jordan Ridley, junior Trae Heeter and sophomore David Burke earned Butler football Most Valuable Player awards for the Bulldogs' 2012 championship season. The three MVP's were among a host of players honored at the team's annual season-ending awards banquet on Sunday, Jan. 20.
Ridley, who led the Bulldogs in tackles for the third consecutive year, earned Butler's Defensive Top Dog Award for the third straight season. The talented linebacker, a three-time, first team All-Pioneer Football League performer, finished the season with 101 total tackles, fifth-most in the PFL. He closed out his stellar Butler career with 407 total tackles, which ranks third on the Bulldogs' all-time list. Ridley started every Butler game for the past three seasons.
Heeter, who led the PFL in rushing with 1,103 yards, received Butler's Offensive Top Dog Award. The Butler running back had two of the PFL's five 200-yard rushing performances in 2012 and an additional five 100-yard efforts. He led the Bulldogs in scoring (66 points) and all-purpose yards (1,230) and tied for the PFL lead in touchdowns (11). Heeter earned first team All-PFL honors.
Burke, who saw action in nine Butler games on special teams and as a defensive back, was named Butler's Special Teams Top Dog. He finished tenth on the team in tackles with 22 solo stops and 11 assists, and he tied for the team lead with two pass interceptions.
Senior David Thomas received the team's Bulldog Pride Award, given to the player who best exemplifies The Butler Way. Thomas rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on offense and recorded five tackles on special teams. He played in all 11 games in 2012 and 32 career games.
Senior Matt Storey, a team captain and starting offensive tackle, earned Butler's Offensive Battle of the Trenches Award Offense (Lineman of the Year). Storey started all 11 games in 2012 and 33 consecutive games for the Bulldogs. He was one of six Butler players to earn first team All-PFL recognition in 2012. Junior Jeremy Stephens, who led the Bulldogs in quarterback sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (14), earned the team's Defensive Battle of the Trenches Award (Lineman of the Year). Stephens, a first team All-PFL defensive lineman, finished third on the team in assists (41) and fourth in total tackles (71).
Junior Tom Judge, who made the switch from quarterback to wide receiver this season, received the team's Most Improved Player Award, while freshman running back Rico Watson earned the squad's Newcomer of the Year Award. Judge finished fourth on the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (357), while Watson led the squad in kickoff return yards (467) and finished fourth in rushing yards (118).
Head coach Jeff Voris presented Unsung Hero Awards, honoring scout team Players of the Year, to redshirt-freshman Dan Satterthwaite (Defense), freshman Guy DiBalsamo (Offense) and freshman Nick Simones (Special Teams).
Butler finished the season in a three-way tie with Drake and San Diego for first place in the PFL with a 7-1 record. It was Butler's second PFL championship in four years and third overall. The Bulldogs, who had a seven-game winning streak during the season, finished with an 8-3 overall mark. The seven-game winning streak was the longest in the PFL this season.