Bill Moritz, Carleton

Hutchinson, Minn. / Hutchinson
Week of: 2011-11-14

All season, the Carleton football team has enjoyed great special teams play, and that trend continued right through the Knights' final game of the regular season. Saturday's special teams star was punter Bill Moritz (Hutchinson, Minn.), who played a huge role in the field position game against Gustavus. Though the Gusties prevailed, 21-7, Moritz had a great game with his season-long punt and several that were either un-returnable or pinned Gustavus deep in its own territory. For his punting performance, Moritz has been named the final MIAC Football Special Teams Athlete-of-the-Week this fall.

Moritz punted seven times in Saturday's loss for 229 yards and a good average of 32.7 yards per punt, despite battling windy conditions throughout the game. One of his kicks went for a season-best 51 yards, and his seven kicks were returned for just a total of two yards. To top it off, Moritz was the only MIAC punter to pin his opponent inside their own 10-yard line twice this week. In fact, Mortiz trapped Gustavus back at its 3-yard line and 1-yard line, the latter of which led to an interception, returned for Carleton's only score of the game. This season, Moritz ranked third in the MIAC with only 1.7 yards per punt return. He punted 53 times this year for 1,624 yards (30.6 average) with two touchbacks, 17 fair catches and 11 inside the 20.

With the loss, Carleton finished the 2011 season with a 2-8 overall record and an eighth-place finish in the MIAC with a 1-7 mark. The Knights' two wins game against Hamline and against rival Macalester in nonconference action. Mortiz earned his Athlete-of-the-Week honor in his final game, as he is one of the team's seniors.

Jimmie Mattson, Saint John's

Eau Claire, Wis / Memorias
Week of: 2011-11-07

All season long, kicker Jimmie Mattson (Eau Claire, Wis.) has been perfect on field goal tries for Saint John's. However, his two biggest kicks may have come on Saturday when his team needed him the most. SJU used two Mattson field goals and three extra points - including the game-winning field goal with five seconds left to play - to overcome a 17-0 deficit and beat No. 19 St. Olaf 27-24 Saturday in Collegeville. As a result, Mattson has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week for the second-straight week.

Mattson was perfect again Saturday, going 3-for-3 on PATs and 2-for-2 on field goals to contribute nine points in the three-point victory. He started with a 31-yard field goal to get SJU on the board, nailed his three PATs, and then drilled the clutch game-winner just before the buzzer from 25 yards out to give his team the win. He also played a role in the field-position battle, kicking off six times with a 56.3 average and two touchbacks. Mattson leads the MIAC in field goal percentage at 1.000, he's 8-for-8 this year and also a perfect 15-for-15 in his career. He's made 26-of-29 PATs in 2011 (.871) and he leads the MIAC this fall with an average of 59.1 yards on 47 kickoffs.

 

With the win, Mattson and the Johnnies moved above .500 for the second time this season at 5-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play. Saint John's will wrap up its season on Saturday with a trip to St. Paul to face Hamline, which is 0-9 and 0-7 this season. The Johnnies' season finale' will kickoff at 1 p.m.

Jimmie Mattson, Saint John's

Eau Claire, Wis. / Memorial
Week of: 2011-10-31

A solid kicking game can relieve a lot of headaches for a football team, so it's a safe bet that legendary Saint John's coach John Gagliardi is happy he can call on Jimmie Mattson (Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) when he needs a big kick. The junior made a pair of important first-half field goals in the Johnnies' win over Carleton on Saturday, and he remained perfect on field goal attempts, both for the season and for his career. Mattson added five PATs and a great day kicking off as SJU cruised to victory over the Knights. For his performance, Mattson has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

Mattson's big day started with a 29-yard make to start Saint John's scoring and cut Carleton's early lead to 7-3. He added a 33-yard field goal late in the first half to push the Johnnies' lead to 20-7 just a week after he connected on a school-record 52-yard field goal. Saturday Mattson was also 5-of-6 on PATs, with his only miss coming on a bad snap. Mattson also kicked off nine times with an average distance of 63.4 yards per kick with one touchback. This season, Mattson is a perfect 6-for-6 on field goal attempts, and he's also 100 percent for his career at 13-for-13. He leads the MIAC in field-goal percentage and kickoff distance with an average of 59.5 yards on 41 kickoffs.

With the win Saturday, Mattson and Saint John's pulled back to .500 at 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the MIAC, and the team has now won two games in a row. The Johnnies - coming off their best performance of the season - face a big test Saturday when No. 19-ranked St. Olaf comes to Collegeville. The Oles are in second place in the MIAC at 7-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play and they could still win a share of the conference title with two wins and a little help. However, Saint John's is looking for its signature win of 2011, and St. Olaf offers that opportunity in what should be a great game Saturday at 1 p.m.
 

Tim Albright, St. Thomas

Urbandale, Iowa / Urbandale
Week of: 2011-10-24

With all the star players and storylines present in Saturday's Top 10 showdown between No. 3 St. Thomas and No. 10 Bethel, it ended up being the Tommies' kicking game that ultimately provided the difference in the 23-13 win. UST kicker Tim Albright (Urbandale, Iowa) scored 10 points - the final margin of victory - by nailing all three of his field goal attempts and both PATs while setting a new personal record for distance in the process. As a result, Albright has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week for the second time this season. In fact, St. Thomas players have earned the weekly special teams honor in five out of eight weeks this season.

 

Albright was both brilliant and consistent Saturday. His three field goals came from distances of 20, 25 and 48 yards, with the 48-yarder serving as his new career-best for distance. The kick is just five yards off the all-time UST record, and it's the longest field goal converted by a Tommie kicker in 21 seasons. Albright has now made five consecutive field goals. He also nailed both of his PATs Saturday to improve to 36-for-36 this season, and he has made 59 in a row dating back to October 2010. In addition to his scoring, Albright also played an important role in the field-position battle, averaging 60 yards apiece on his six kickoffs. This season, Albright leads the MIAC in PATs (36), PAT percentage (100), kick scoring (51 points) and his five field goals are tied for the second-most in the conference.

 

With the win, St. Thomas improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the MIAC and it moved one step closer to claiming its second-straight conference championship and automatic bid to the Division III playoffs. This weekend, the third-ranked Tommies host Gustavus Saturday at 1:10 p.m. in St. Paul, and a win would guarantee a share of the conference title and another playoff bid for UST. With one more win or a St. Olaf loss, the Tommies would claim the outright title for the second-straight season.

Tom Huepenbecker, Gustavus

Middleton, Wis. / Middleton
Week of: 2011-10-17

Gustavus battled then-No. 9-ranked Bethel Saturday down to the final minutes of the game, thanks in part to a big boost on special teams. Junior kicker Tom Huepenbecker (Middleton, Wis./Middleton) had an outstanding day both kicking and punting against the Royals to help the Gusties keep it close. He made all three of his PATs, both of his field goal attempts and played a big role in the field-position battle with his punting. For his performance, Huepenbecker was named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

 

Huepenbecker was a perfect 3-for-3 on extra point tries after each of the Gusties' trio of touchdowns, and his two field goals came in big spots. His first - from 29 yards out - got Gustavus on the board early in the second quarter, and when he connected from 34 yards in the third it tied the game at 20-20. Huepenbecker also punted five times for 150 yards and a 30.0 average, with two punts downed inside the Bethel 20-yard line, and one of his punts was muffed by the returner and led to a Gustavus touchdown. This season, Huepenbecker has been one of the MIAC's top kickers, as he is 5-for-7 on field goals and 14-for-15 on PATs, and he ranks fifth in punting with a 36.4 average.

 

Gustavus fell to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in MIAC play Saturday with its tough loss to Bethel, although it played perhaps its best game of the season. The Gusties will face another tough test this weekend at home when they host Saint John's. The Johnnies will travel to St. Peter Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Jordan Soteros, Carleton

Scottsdale, Ariz / Pinnacle
Week of: 2011-10-10

Carleton wasn't able to generate a lot of scoring Saturday in a 26-7 loss to Concordia. However, the Knights' lone touchdown was one for the highlight reels thanks to the dynamic playmaking ability of sophomore Jordan Soteros (Scottsdale, Ariz./Pinnacle). The defensive back/special teams ace took a kickoff all the way back for a 92-yard touchdown in the third quarter to pull Carleton within two scores, and Sorteros also had four other kick and punt returns in the game for the Knights. As a result, Sorteros was named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

 

Sorteros' big play came with 10:09 left to play in the third quarter and served as an emphatic answer to a Concordia touchdown pass just 14 seconds earlier. The 92-yard run back ranks as the fifth-longest kick return touchdown in Carleton history, and it is also ranks as the fifth-longest in the NCAA this season (pending this week's stats). This is the only kick return touchdown in the MIAC this season and the second-longest in the league in the last four years.  Sorteros finished the game with three kick returns and an average of 41.0 yards per return, and a 7.0 average on two punt returns. He continues to lead the MIAC in both punt return (10.2 yards) and kick return (29.6 yards) averages.

 

The loss to the Cobbers dropped Carleton to 1-4 overall this season and 1-3 in MIAC play. The Knights will try to get back on track Saturday in a big rivalry game across town on St. Olaf's home field against the Oles, who are coming off a bye. The Northfield battle will begin at 1 p.m.

Harry Pitera, St. Thomas

St. Paul, Minn. / Cretin-Derham Hall
Week of: 2011-10-03

The fourth-ranked St. Thomas football team prides itself on its special teams play, and that was on full display again Saturday in the Tommies' annual showdown with archrival Saint John's. St. Thomas' Harry Pitera (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) blocked a second-quarter punt that the Tommies picked up and returned for a touchdown that helped St. Thomas to a 49-0 halftime lead and the eventual 63-7 final score. For his big play production, Pitera has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

Pitera burst into the backfield and blocked the Johnnies' punt early in the second quarter, and teammate Jack Gavin recovered the blocked kick and took it in 12 yards for the score. In addition to his special teams' excellence, Pitera also recovered a fumble from his linebacker spot to set up another UST TD, and he had five solo tackles, three assist tackles and two tackles-for-a-loss in the win. Pitera's Special Teams honor is the fourth for the Tommies this season in just five weeks.

5St. Thomas is one of just two undefeated teams left in the MIAC, as the Tommies are off to a 5-0 overall start and a 4-0 start in MIAC play. This weekend, fourth-ranked St. Thomas  heads across town Saturday for a 1:10 p.m. start. at Augsburg, which is also unbeaten at 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the MIAC. The winner will have the inside track on the 2011 MIAC Championship.
 

Eric Murphy, Carleton

Stillwater, Okla. / Stillwater
Week of: 2011-09-26

It would be both natural and easy to immediately assign all the credit for Carleton's first win of 2011 to the offense, which scored 34 points, and the defense, which kept Hamline off the scoreboard in the 34-0 win. However, credit also needs to be rightfully assigned to the outstanding performance on special teams by the Knights' kicker, Eric Murphy (Stillwater, Okla.). The senior had a perfect placekicking performance, nailing all four of his extra points and both field goal attempts while averaging nearly 50 yards per kick on kickoffs. For his performance, Murphy has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

 

For Murphy, Saturday's perfect performance was simply the extension of his perfect season thus far. His four field goals made are tied for the MIAC lead, and he is the only conference kicker who hasn't missed yet on either an extra point or field goal (4-for-4 field goals, 6-for-6 extra points). Saturday Murphy hit a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter, and capped the scoring with a 27-yarder in the fourth quarter while adding the extra point after all four of the Knights' touchdowns. His 10-point afternoon was a career best, and the most points in a game by a Carleton kicker since 2003.

 

All three of this week's MIAC Football Players-of-the-Week will be on the same field Saturday, when Murphy and his teammates travel to the Twin Cities. Carleton will play Saturday at Augsburg at 1 p.m., hoping to build on the momentum of their first win. Meanwhile, Augsburg is one of three unbeaten teams in the MIAC, so the Knights and their special teams star will try to play the spoiler in Minneapolis.

Fritz Waldvogel, St. Thomas

Mendota Heights, Minn. / St. Thomas Academy
Week of: 2011-09-19

Throughout his prolific career at St. Thomas, senior Fritz Waldvogel (Mendota Heights, Minn./St. Thomas Academy) has proven to be a game-changer, both at wide receiver and on special teams. In Saturday's MIAC opener, Waldvogel's return abilities constantly gave the Tommies great field position, setting up scoring drives and reaching an incredible individual milestone in the process as St. Thomas cruised to a 49-14 win over St. Olaf in both teams' MIAC opener. For his performance, Waldvogel has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

Waldvogel racked up 228 all-purpose yards in the win with a 65-yard touchdown catch and another nine-yard run for a score, but his MIAC honor is a result of his performance in the return game. Waldvogel returned the game's opening kickoff 24 yards to start a St. Thomas 65-yard scoring drive. He also had punt returns of 40, 29 and 22 yards set up short fields for the Tommies all afternoon. In the process, he passed the 1,000 career punt return yards, becoming just the second MIAC player and ninth Division III student-athlete to reach 1,00 yards in both punt returns (77 for 1,000) and kickoff returns (48 for 1,307). With just 153 more yards, Waldvogel will become St. Thomas' all-time leader in all-purpose yards.

 

With the win over St. Olaf, the Tommies improved to 3-0, and got their defense of their 2010 MIAC Championship off to a 1-0 start. St. Thomas will get a good test Saturday when it travels to Moorhead to face Concordia at 1:10 p.m. The Cobbers lost a heart-breaker to Saint John's in overtime and it will be a good matchup before the Tommies host the Johnnies in their annual showdown in St. Paul on Oct. 1.

Tim Albright, St. Thomas

Urbandale, Iowa / Urbandale
Week of: 2011-09-12

The fourth-ranked St. Thomas football entered the 2011 season with a lot of strengths on their side, and for the second-straight week it appears the Tommies' kicking game will be near the top of that list all season. Junior kicker Tim Albright (Urbandale, Iowa) had a big hand - or, foot - in UST's 45-22 win over UW-River Falls Saturday, connecting on all six of his kicks and tying his career-long field goal in the process. For his contributions to St. Thomas' win, Albright has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week.

Saturday, Albright gave the Tommies the kind of consistency in the kicking game that coaches crave, going a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs and nailing his only field goal attempt of the day, a 36-yard try, that equaled his career long for distance. His field goal gave UST a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter and, along with four of his PATs, were part of a 31-0 surge that allowed the Tommies to take control of the game. Albright also kicked off seven times for a total of 414 yards and one touchback. This season, he's a perfect 7-for-7 on PATs and he has made his last 32 PAT attempts dating back to last season.

 

The Tommies and Albright, now 2-0, will face another undefeated team when they open MIAC play this weekend. St. Thomas will host also-unbeaten St. Olaf in an outstanding early-season showdown between two of the teams picked to finish in the top half of the conference standings. Kickoff is set for 1:10 p.m. Saturday on the St. Thomas campus in St. Paul.

 

Garrett Maloney, St. Thomas

Elm Grove, Wis. / Marquette High
Week of: 2011-09-06

Over the past few seasons, the University of St. Thomas has become known for its outstanding play on special teams, although the headlines in that department usually go to game-changing returns or blocked kicks. However, sophomore punter Garrett Maloney (Elm Grove, Wis./Marquette High) proved again Saturday that he's invaluable in the field position battle that helped St. Thomas defeat a good St. Norbert team, 20-7. Maloney's punts kept the Green Knights pinned back in their own territory all afternoon and, as a result, he has been named the first MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week for the 2011 season.

Maloney punted five times Saturday for an outstanding average of 43.6 yards per punt. However, he was able to pin two of his kicks inside the St. Norbert 10-yard line, and that field position led to the Tommies keeping the Green Knights off the scoreboard over their final 15 possessions. St. Norbert led 7-0 in the early going, but St. Thomas scored the game's final 20 points to start 1-0. For his career, Maloney is just a shade under a 40-yard per punt average with a 39.1 average on 41 career punts.

The Tommies will try for a 2-0 start with their only road nonconference game of the season Saturday just across the border into Wisconsin. UST and UW-River Falls will kick off their duel at 1:10 p.m. in River Falls, Wis., to wrap up non-league play. St. Thomas begins its 2010 MIAC Championship defense the following Saturday, Sept. 17, when it hosts St. Olaf.