MARQUETTE - The Northern Michigan University football team was shut out from the major GLIAC postseason awards on Wednesday evening, however, the Wildcats did land four on the All-GLIAC first-team offense and defense.
Senior defensive tackle Zach Anderson of Sault Ste. Marie was the lone representative on the defensive first team after making 71 tackles, including 10 for a loss. He also had a sack and an interception. He was a second-team selection as a sophomore and junior and played the second half of his senior year with a high ankle sprain.
"He's extraordinarily fast for someone his size and strength," NMU head coach Chris Ostrowsky said prior to Northern's game at Northwood. "He has it all. He has all the intangibles and he's shown to have a ton of character and courage by basically playing with one leg now."
Senior offensive lineman Jace Daniels of Escanaba joined a pair of special team honorees on the All-GLIAC first-team offense in senior kicker Rockne Belmonte and junior kick returner Christian Jessie.
Daniels started in all 11 games for Northern (4-7 overall, 3-7 in GLIAC) as a junior to be named to the All-GLIAC second team. He started all 11 games again this season for NMU.
"An Upper Peninsula kid, I think he's as gifted of a big kid as there is in this league, as big as he is," Ostrowsky said of Daniels last week. "He's just a good kid, a good football player and a kid that I've had the privilege of coaching. He's such an outstanding young man."
Jessie, who also plays wide receiver, averaged a league-leading 28.6 yards per kick return. He had the longest kick return for a touchdown not only in the league this season, but in Wildcat and Superior Dome history - 99 yards - against Ferris State on Saturday.
Belmonte had a record-breaking season for NMU as the team's placekicker. Belmonte set the record for longest field goal in NMU and Superior Dome history when he hit a 58-yarder against Grand Valley State. The 45 field goals Belmonte made in his four years at NMU is also a school record.
Belmonte converted on 70 percent of his field goals this season, making 14 of 20, along with all 25 extra-point attempts. He was 4 of 5 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 3 of 4 from 30-39, 5 of 6 from 40-49 and 2 of 5 from 50 yards or longer with the two successful deep kicks being from 55 and 58 yards.
His 14 field goals made led the GLIAC and left him one short of his own record of field goals made in a single season at NMU, which was set last year.
"He's been a source of comfort when you are building a program and you're really building it from scratch," Ostrowsky said before he set the NMU career field-goal record against Saginaw Valley State. "There are at least some things you want to rely on and that was at least one thing we didn't have to entertain much."
No Wildcats made the All-GLIAC second team, but six were named honorable mentions - junior offensive lineman Pat Fehlberg, senior linebacker Eddie Knoblock, junior running back Casey Cotta, sophomore linebacker Nick Krause, junior quarterback Cody Scepaniak and junior linebacker Morgan Stenz.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.