Nov. 19, 2009
Louisville, Ky. - While they may have come a couple of plays short of ending their on-field careers at the top, Shorter College football seniors A.J. Cooley and Logan Lollis each capped their Hawk tenure with a very prestigious distinction: two-time Mid-South West Player of the Year.
Cooley and Lollis were named the Mid-South West Division Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively, as announced by the league offices on Thursday morning.
This is the second consecutive season that the tandem has earned its respective honor, and the decorated pair highlights a total of 10 Hawks to be named to the All-Conference squads.
Cooley, who ended his career as Shorter's all-time leading rusher with 4,111 yards, ran for 1,429 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2009, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and leading the Mid-South with a 129.9 yards per game average. He crossed the goal line a total of 20 times with the help of one receiving score and a pair of kick off return TDs.
Cooley ranked second in the NAIA in total rushing for the second straight year, finished third in the country in scoring and fourth in rushing yards per game. He eclipsed the 200-yard mark three times this season, including a school record 255-yard, four TD effort in a win over Belhaven that earned him NAIA National Player of the Week honors.
Cooley scored 50 rushing touchdowns in his career and departs Shorter as the holder of every rushing record.
Lollis leaves the Hawk program as its most accomplished defensive player.
The Lyons, Ga., native stands alone as Shorter's all-time leading tackler with 328 stops after posting 104 in 2009, his second straight season of triple digit tackles after he notched a single-season record 113 in 2008.
Lollis is also the Hawks' all-time leader in sacks - he had six this season - and demonstrated his dominance with a single-game record, 3.5 sacks against Belhaven on Nov. 7.
Lollis' 9.5 tackles per game average ranked fourth in the Mid-South.
Four other Hawks joined Cooley and Lollis on the Mid-South West Division first team.
Offensive linemen Nick Newborn and Kavin Walker earned first team nods after anchoring an offensive line that boasted the nation's top rushing offense for the second consecutive season. Behind Newborn and Walker, the Hawks averaged 326.0 yards per game on the ground.
Hazard was one of the most explosive weapons in Shorter's arsenal this season, serving as the team's leading receiver with 13 catches for 347 yards and four touchdowns, scoring two TDs and accounting for 169 yards on the ground and returning two kickoffs for touchdowns as well.
Each of Hazard's eight total touchdowns came from at least 20 yards out and included a school record 85-yard TD catch against Cumberland (Tenn.). He set a single-game receiving record with 102 yards against Pikeville.
The speedy Appleton was a perfect compliment to the inside power of Cooley. The Fort Payne, Ala., native rushed for 758 yards and six touchdowns, picking up 8.6 yards each time he carried the football.
He ranked fourth in the Mid-South in rushing yards per game (68.9) and picked up a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries against LaGrange College.
Appleton was a viable option in the passing game as well, snaring five passes for 85 yards and one score.
Four Hawks earned Mid-South honorable mention recognition - offensive lineman Andy Kellogg, linebacker Daniel Hazard, who was the Mid-South's Defensive Player of the Week after the Hawks' season opener at Lenoir-Rhyne, linebacker Garrett Hochstetler and senior corner A.J. Baker, who leaves as Shorter's all-time leader in interceptions with 15 after tying his own single-season record of five in 2009.
20 Hawks were named to the Mid-South All-Academic squad, as they maintained at least a 3.25 grade point average on a 4.0 scale: Bo Bearse, Spenser Bettis, Matt Broome, Derik Cooper, Josh Dorminy, Blake Ducatel, David Guliford, David Hall, Kevin Hall, Ines Kananda, Steven Kelley, Seth Lindsay, Landon Littlejohn, Nick Newborn, Zach Owens, Drew Putnam, Sam Robison, Ben Williams, Jared Williams and Collin Wooddy