Nine Polar Bears named All-Ohio Athletic Conference in Football for 2017

Nine Polar Bears named All-Ohio Athletic Conference in Football for 2017

By Tim Glon

| 2017 All-OAC Football Team (.pdf) |

ADA — Nine Ohio Northern student-athletes were named All-Ohio Athletic Conference in football for 2017 in voting conducted by the league's 10 head coaches.

Senior linebacker Zach Schmerge (Wapakoneta), junior receiver Chad Rex (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) and sophomore running back Christiaan Williams (Sidney/Anna) were all First Team All-OAC selections.

Senior corner back Cyler Caldwell (Wadsworth), junior punter Sean Devany (Cuyahoga Falls/St. Vincent-St. Mary), junior offensive tackle Kyle Gonterman (Wapakoneta) and sophomore linebacker Mark Niles (Miramar, Fla.) were Second Team honorees.

Senior offensive guard Nate Jones (Locust Grove, Ga./Community Christian) and junior defensive end Justin Croswell (Macomb, Mich./Lutheran North) received Honorable mention All-OAC honors.

Schmerge is now a 3-time First Team All-OAC honoree and has led the Polar Bears in tackles for each of the past three seasons.

This year, he led the team and was fourth in the OAC with 94 tackles.

Schmerge ends his career ranked third all-time in ONU history with 320 career tackles. In 37 career games, he also had 4.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and an interception.

Rex led the OAC with 14 receiving touchdowns, was third with 926 receiving yards and was sixth with 51 receptions in his second season as a starter.

He will enter his senior campaign ranked 11th all-time at ONU history with 89 receptions and ninth with 1,228 receiving yards. he also has 17 touchdown receptions in 25 career games.

Williams has now earned First Team All-Conference honors in each of his two seasons as a Polar Bear.

This season, Williams led the OAC with 269 rushes, 1,623 rushing yards and 2,016 all-purpose yards. He was also third in the league with 11 rushing touchdowns.

He also had a league-best and school-record 407 rushing yards in a 51-21 victory over Capital on Oct. 7 this season.

In his two seasons at Ohio Northern, Williams ranks seventh all-time in school history with 2,831 rushing yards. He is also 10th with 462 rushing attempts, is third with an average of 6.13 yards per rush and is seventh with 3,567 all-purpose yards.

Caldwell was fifth on the team with 52 tackles and second with four passes broken up while starting all 10 games at corner this season.

He wraps up his career with 97 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, eight passes broken up and two interceptions in 40 games.

Caldwell s also a 3x Academic All-OAC honoree.

Devany was third in the OAC with a 35.0-yard average for 40 punts this season. He also has 17 kicks inside the 20 and forced 17 fair catches.

In his 40 punts, opponents had only six punt returns for a total of minus-2 yards.

Gonterman is a three-year starter on the offensive line. This season, he started four games at left guard and five games at right tackle.

He has played in 28 career games with 25 starts. Gonterman has started 15 games at right tackle, five games at right guard and four games at left guard in his three seasons as a Polar Bear.

Niles had a breakout year in his first season on the ONU varsity. He started all 10 games as an outside linebacker and was second on the team and fifth in the OAC with 90 tackles this year.

He was also second on the team with 4.5 sacks and had a 16-yard pick-6.

Jones is making his second appearance on the All-Conference team after earning Second Team honors in 2016.

A two-year starter at right guard, Jones made 20 consecutive starts after playing on the defensive side of the ball his first two years at ONU.

Croswell has played in 25 career games and started all 10 games at defensive end in 2017.

This season, he was seventh on the team with 42 tackles and led the team with 5.0 sacks, 8.0 tackles for loss and two blocked kicks.

He will enter his senior season with 51 tackles, five sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

The Polar Bears finished with a 7-3 record and were second in the OAC with a 6-3 mark in 2017 under 14th-year head coach Dean Paul.

ONU's second place finish clinched an upper division finish in the league for the 21st time in the past 22 seasons.