Quarterback Matt Hilley received the 2016 Most Valuable Player award at the Sydney Uni Gridiron Awards Dinner held recently at the King Street Brewhouse.
Hilley showed great application to quickly master the Lions’ playing system and win the starting job in the pre-season. He flourished as he developed combinations with his receivers – throwing for 310 yards and seven touchdowns against the Mustangs and 380 yards and six touchdowns against the Pirates – to finish with 181 completions on 300 attempts for 2186 yards and 29 touchdowns on the year.
Hilley’s control of the offence and ability to direct the attack from the line of scrimmage were instrumental in the Lions racking up an undefeated season and winning the 2016 Waratah Bowl.
Defensive lineman Martin Balada beat out a strong field of deserving players, including Nick Olive, Keenan Mackett, Steve Dabin and Batuhan Tuylu, to claim the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year award.
Balada led the team in tackles (60) – quite an achievement from his down lineman position – and tackles for loss (18), while also recording seven sacks, to put the opposition backfield under constant pressure. Balada recovered a fumble and caused another, and was relentless in his pursuit to the ball.
Receiver Sam Darcy’s fine season was recognised with the 2016 Offensive Player of the Year award. Darcy led the Lions in scoring for 2016 with 74 points from his 46 catches for 616 yards, with 12 touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Darcy tied a club record with four receiving touchdowns in the game against the Mustangs and equalled the club career record of 54 receiving touchdowns on running in a 22 yard touchdown reception in the playoff win.
Pride of the Lions awards were given to Nick Olive, Alex Watson, Keenan Mackett, Steve Dabin, Harry Granger, James Gifford and Batuhan Tuylu for outstanding contributions on the field and for epitomising the Lions’ attitude in the way they played the game.
Aaron Carbury received the Lineman of the Year award for an outstanding job in leading the offensive line to a great season. Carbury started all 11 games and was in dominating form all year. He directed the blocking schemes from his position at Tackle and, under his guidance, the offensive line powered the offence for an average of 353 yards per game and gave up only four sacks on the year.
Mitchell Dicalfas received the Coaches Award after making telling contributions all season at linebacker and displaying outstanding application and effort throughout the year. Mitchell graduated to the Lions from the Cubs this season and won a starting role as a linebacker despite only having played on the offensive side of the ball as a junior.
Freshman of the Year was awarded to Chris Day, who beat out a field of players in their first season of senior football with the Lions, including Mitchell Dicalfas, Chris Tolson, Greg Steele-Mills, Joel Suttor, Matt Taber, Nikhil Varghese, Alexander Hunt and Supi Save.
Day played in every game, earning a starting role late in the year, and equalled a club record with 15 pass break-ups in the season from his position at cornerback.
The David Allen Clubman of the Year award was presented to Justin Lauderdale for the time and energy he contributed in coaching the Cubs and helping out around the club in so many other ways, including filming Lions games.