Gilles just misses out on Player of the Year honor

MARQUETTE — Westwood defensive end Sam Gilles has been a force all season long, stuffing opposing running backs and frequently pressuring quarterbacks.

As a result of his play, Gilles earned two Mid-Peninsula Conference honors, and on Wednesday, he was named to the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association All-U.P. Dream Team.

If that wasn’t enough, he came very close to earning two more awards at the UPSSA meeting, but was edged out in both categories.

Gilles got beaten out by one vote for Small School Defensive Player of the Year by Lake Linden-Hubbell linebacker Peter Heikkinen.

Later in the voting, he lost 13-9 to Kingsford defensive tackle Joe Rietveld for the Mitchell Snyder Lineman of the Year award.

Even though he came up just short of bringing home three major awards, Gilles was still talked about heavily at the meeting with several people mentioning how impressive his play had been all year. That doesn’t come as a surprise to Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala.

“When we were sitting around at the all-conference meeting, it was well-known how good he is,” Syrjala said. “It’s really hard to run to his side and very rarely does he get blocked. He’s just that good.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is