WESTWOOD, Mass. - The New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) announced their end of season awards on Wednesday afternoon, and in their second season as a member of the conference, Norwich football picked up ten postseason awards.
Manni Romero, Brasean Stewart, and Aaron Conner took home First Team All-Conference honors, while Jacob Barr, Paul Biello, Owen McKenna, Connor Bourque, and Michael Corinna took home Second Team honors. To top it off, freshman wide receiver Lavontae Decius was named Co-Rookie of the Year after his standout first season in maroon and gold and senior Dustin Spatz represents Norwich on the All-Sportsmanship team.
Manni Romero (Phillipsburg, N.J.) put up some of the most dominating single-game performances in Norwich football history in his first full season as a Cadet. In week four against Coast Guard, he tied a school record with four touchdown receptions in a seven reception, 118-yard day. He then went ahead and broke a thirty-year-old Norwich record with 272 receiving yards against Merchant Marine during week number six of the regular season, earning a New England Football Writers Association Golden Helmet Award and a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week. He ended up with 35 receptions for 566 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, earning First Team honors at the wide receiver position.
Junior Brasean Stewart (Bronx, N.Y.) earns a spot on the First Team after being named Second Team All-NEWMAC a year ago. The lockdown corner played in all ten games for the third straight season, totaling 57 tackles, a forced and recovered fumble, an interception, and five pass breakups. His best performance of the year came against Coast Guard in week four when he totaled 11 tackles, nine solo and two for a loss, along with an interception.
This year's leading rusher, Aaron Conner (Daytona Beach, Fla.) receives a First Team nod after rushing 154 times for 708 yards and six touchdowns. He set a new career-high against Coast Guard with 161 yards on 32 carries and found the end zone in five out of ten games this year. At the end of the year, Conner ranked in the top-five in the conference in rushes, yards, yards per game, yards per rush, and rushing touchdowns.
Jacob Barr (Walpole, Mass.) and Paul Biello (Cranston, R.I.) represent Norwich on the Second Team, two members of a Norwich offensive line that helped the Cadets to the most total offensive yards in the conference this season. Both men started all ten games this year, as Norwich's offense ranked second in yards per game and allowed just four sacks in the final four weeks of the season.
Owen McKenna (Attleboro, Mass.) earned Second Team recognition for his work as a punter this year, while also providing stellar play from the linebacker position. The junior was called to punt 46 times this year for 1,669 yards, averaging 36.3 yards per punt. He pinned his opponents inside the 20-yard line 11 times and only caused one touchback across those 46 punts.
Earning Second Team status under the Athlete position designation is junior running back Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.). Part of the Cadets' backfield trio along with Aaron Conner and Steve Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.), Bourque rushed 108 times for 559 yards and a touchdown. He also served as the team's primary kick return man, returning 18 kickoffs for 374 yards and 11 punts for 88 yards. He ended the year fourth in the NEWMAC in both all-purpose yards and all-purpose yards per game.
Michael Corinna (Milford, Mass.) forms the other part of a potent defensive back duo with First Teamer Brasean Stewart, as he put up 44 tackles and a team-high four interceptions on the year. He was tied for the conference lead in interceptions and took home a pick-six in week two against St. Lawrence from forty yards out.
Capping off the awards for the Cadets is freshman Lavontae Decius (North Lauderdale, Fla.) who took home Co-Rookie of the Year honors. He led the Cadets in yards receiving, spreading 684 yards over 32 receptions for a 21.4 yards per reception. Decius also found the end zone three times, including the Cadets' longest score of the year, an 83-yard bomb in the final week of the season against WPI. He'll share the honor after tieing in the voting with Maine Maritime's Terrell Thomas.
Finally, representing Norwich on the annual All-Sportsmanship team was senior Dustin Spatz (Bernville, Pa.). The All-Sportsmanship Team recognizes student-athletes from each team who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship and exhibit respect for themselves, teammates, coaches, opponents, and spectators. The award is intended to recognize the student-athlete on each team that best demonstrates the ideals of the NEWMAC and its Code of Conduct, regardless of his overall performance or statistics for the season.