The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Hamm wins second Defensive Player of the Year award, five others take home Patriot League Honors

Seniors Marco Olivas and Malik Hamm lead the Leopards out of tunnel to take on Lehigh. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards).

As the season came to a close, the awards rolled in for the Lafayette football team. The Leopards racked up five First Team All-Patriot League honors and a Second Team All-Patriot League honor, while senior defensive lineman Malik Hamm received his second career Defensive Player of the Year award.

Starting the year with a 6-0 victory over 17-point favorite Sacred Heart, the Leopards looked to accomplish great things, and defensively they did just that, finishing second in the conference in total defense only to undefeated Holy Cross. The defense is led by its seniors, all of whom – including linebacker Marco Olivas, safety DaRon Gilbert and defensive linemen Damon Washington, Jyaire Stevens and Hamm – nabbed Patriot League honors. The offense only had one player awarded, junior tight end Mason Gilbert.

“[Olivas] is the greatest. I mean, he plays with such passion and motion,” head coach John Troxell said. “When you look at overall tackles in-conference, he was up there. I mean, he’s a great player but then you also got [Gilbert], [Stevens] got second-team and [Gilbert] got first-team. I think we finished … in the top twenty-five in a bunch of categories in the country,” he said.

But leading the way for the Leopards, as he has for the last five years, was Hamm, who was named Defensive Player of the Year. Hamm, who was the LaPietra captain last year and set the Lafayette all-time record for sacks this season, has made a massive impact on this football program.

“It’s been a great opportunity, the number of people I have been able to make a lifetime friendship with is amazing and I’m just thankful for the opportunity that Lafayette has given me to do that,” Hamm said.

Troxell said that Hamm will serve as an example for others of Lafayette’s excellence.

“I think when you’re recruiting kids, they see that you have good players. And, I think it’s good just for our program, for the institution to get that kind of recognition … I’m kind of hoping [Hamm] wins the Buchanan award,” Troxell said.

The Buchanan Award is given to the most outstanding defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, according to the NCAA.

The other captain on defense – Olivas – was not only named to the All-Patriot League for the second time in his career; he was also named Academic All-American for his work in integrative engineering.

“When you talk about [Olivas] as a leader he does a great job at making it clear to the rest of the guys what the standard is,” defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Saint Germain said. “In terms of his academics, he sends the message that you can be great at both. He really does an outstanding job both on the classroom and on the field and he makes it all work”.

Hamm said that his teammates have been the best thing about his experience at Lafayette.

“The memories that have been created with those guys is something I hold special,” Hamm said. “I can say that both staffs were full of great people who wanted and helped me succeed on and off the field, coming back for my fifth year was partly due to the trust I had with coach and the bonds I had with my teammates.”

As the season ends, attention turns to the future class of First Team All-Patriot League players. Official visits for football will be going on the next two weekends before the Dec. 21 early signing day deadline.

“I mean, obviously, we can’t give you names,” Troxell said “I think we’re spreading the talent around the field where we’re not stacking guys at the same positions. So that way we can get the most out of the young guys coming in. I think some of those guys will probably end up helping us.”

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Charlie Berman
Charlie Berman, Sports Editor

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