Quarterback Kiernan Dorney received the 2015 Offensive Player of the Year and MVP awards at the Lions and Cubs Awards lunch held at the King Street Brewhouse last Sunday. Dorney was at the controls for the record-setting 2015 Lions offence, which scored an all-time high (and GNSW record) of 62.5 points per game. Dorney led a devastating Lions passing attack, completing 142 passes on 200 attempts (71%) for 1,748 yards, with 37 touchdowns and only 1 interception on the year. His 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 2015 Waratah Bowl.
Running back Alex Watson finished second in the MVP polling and was recognised with a Pride of the Lions award. Watson was the mainstay of the Lions’ ground attack, rushing for 1,350 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season. Watson was at his best when he was needed most, thriving in the playoffs and receiving his third Waratah Bowl MVP award in rushing for 140 yards in the championship game. The Pride of the Lions award capped a bumper year for Watson in which he also claimed the Lions’ career rushing touchdown record.
Linebacker Bola Labulo beat out a strong field of deserving players, including Keenan Mackett, Nick Olive, Scott Thompson, Devin Lagorio and Steve Dabin, to claim the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year award. Labulo led the team in tackles (61), tackles for loss (18) and sacks (10) from his Sam linebacker position to put the opposition backfield under constant pressure. Labulo recovered 2 fumbles and caused another, and was relentless in his pursuit to the ball.
Special Teams Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year were awarded to Abdul Kadir for his fine season as returner and running back. Kadir led the team in punt and kick-off return yardage and took 3 returns back for touchdowns during the season – a new club record. Kadir was also a perfect foil for Watson, rushing for 499 yards on 76 carries at 6.6 yards per carry and scoring 11 rushing touchdowns, including a memorable 80 yarder against the Mustangs on the Square at Sydney Uni. We look forward to Kadir continuing his rise in the Lions’ backfield.
Pride of the Lions awards were also given to Keenan Mackett, Nick Olive, Scott Thompson, Tsuyoshi Kittaka and Sam Darcy for outstanding contributions on the field and for epitomising the Lions’ team spirit in their work off the field.
Justin Schnurstein received the Lineman of the Year award for an outstanding job in leading a largely new offensive line to a great season. Schnurstein started all 11 games and was in dominating form all year. He directed the blocking schemes from his position at Guard and, under his guidance, the offensive line powered the offence for an average of 425 yards per game and gave up only 6 sacks on the year.
The Most Improved Player Award was received by Joshua Yerrell, who played a major role this season as a wide receiver, starting all 11 games while holding 23 catches for 439 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.
Victor Martin received the Coaches Award after making telling contributions all year at slot receiver and displaying outstanding application and effort throughout the year. Martin came to the team as a newcomer this season and won a starting role in the hotly contested position of slot receiver, leading the team with 55 pass receptions and scoring 10 receiving touchdowns.
Finally, the David Allen Clubman of the Year award was presented to Andrew Ogborne and Nick Olive for their efforts in supporting and managing the club off the field.
Congratulations to all of the award winners for their outstanding contributions to a remarkable season.