Sports | Matt Kelley
As this football season draws to a close, Bethel honors a few key players.
Offensive MVP: Erik Peterson, QB, sophomore
With the poise and efficiency Peterson displayed this year, it's easy to forget that he's just a sophomore in his first year as a starter. His completion percentage of 66.7 led the MIAC and broke a 12-year-old school record. The running game took a hit this year with injuries to running backs Brandon Marquardt and Jesse Phenow, and Peterson stepped up with 218 yards of total offense per game and 20 total touchdowns, while turning the ball over just eight times.
Defensive MVP: Seth Mathis, LB, junior
Mathis was fourth in the conference in total tackles with 105, and his role as a tackling machine is well known. But it was as a pass defender that Mathis truly stood out. The junior's four interceptions were tops among MIAC linebackers, but it was the timing of those picks that made the difference, with each coming at a critical moment in a close game. On a defense that was talented and disciplined across the board, Mathis shined by making huge plays at critical times.
Unsung Hero: Mitch Hallstrom, WR, junior
After playing safety in 2011, Hallstrom switched back to receiver this year and immediately became Erik Peterson's favorite target. His 10 catches in the opening game against Wartburg set the tone, and Hallstrom went on to lead the MIAC in catches this year with 61 and post the second-most receiving yards in the conference with 665. Why hasn't he gotten more attention? No touchdowns. Regardless, Hallstrom was an invaluable chain-mover this year.
Most fun to watch: Jesse Phenow, RB, junior
Although Phenow had to fight through injuries in the beginning of the year, his tenacity and passion showed throughout the season. The long-maned junior, who led the Royals in rushing in 2011, totaled just 291 yards this year but scored five touchdowns in six games. Even on crutches on the sideline, Phenow was a leader for a team that prided itself on toughness, sincerity and passion. Add a punishing running style, and Jesse Phenow was pure entertainment.