The Syracuse Strong handed out some hardware after a remarkable 2019 undefeated campaign. Here are the full results and highlights.
Not many teams can claim that they had consecutive undefeated seasons, yet that’s what the Syracuse Strong accomplished in back-to-back seasons from 2018-2019.
30 straight victories, consecutive NFA league championships, New York State Minor League Championship, and a 2018 National Championship.
All that success doesn’t happen by accident, it takes a lot of dedication not only from the players but the coaches, board of directors, and everyone involved with the gameday operations.
On October 5, team president Khalid Bey ended the award ceremony by doling out some hardware to recognize the players that stood out during this remarkable season.
Rashad Burns, running back
- There was no competition for this award. With over 1,200 yards rushing on the season, he carried the Strong all year long. Rashad’s best game of the year came in Week 6: he finished with over 300 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.
EJ Maeweather, linebacker
- If Rashad Burns is the heartbeat of the offense, then EJ Maeweather is the heartbeat of the defense. He makes all the calls on the defensive side of the ball and is a true veteran on this team (going through every different version of the minor league squad in Syracuse).
Iron Man of the Year
- A fitting award for Scott Irons Jr. This is a player that many have referenced throughout the season as a hothead, but when he has his head screwed on right he has proven to be a difference-maker on both sides of the football.
- While ‘Flash’ Gordon is the literal definition of an ‘Iron Man’. He also plays both sides of the ball and filled in at running back throughout the season. Gordon is a hated enemy and also a treasured teammate. If he’s on your team you love him, if he’s on the other sideline you hate him. ‘Flash’ has a big mouth, but he backs it up with his ferocious intensity and playmaking abilities.
Most Improved Player of the Year (offense)
LaQuan ‘LA’ Rouse, wide receiver
- LA was really good in 2018, but he continued and improved in 2019. A true playmaker that opened up the Strong offense with his vertical ability. Syracuse has had a lot of different receivers come through this offense, but none have stood out as much as LA has.
Most Improved Player of the Year (defense)
KJ White, defensive back
- Passing is the name of the game in today’s football. Which means there are several premium positions: quarterback, edge rusher, offensive line, and the secondary. Each holds great value and KJ White made Syracuse feel safe on the backend. A lockdown corner with the ability to create turnovers.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Jason Boltus, quarterback
- It’s odd handing out a ‘Rookie of the Year’ award for a player as seasoned as Jason Boltus is. Boltus is 33 years old and has spent over a decade in the CFL, AFL, and now in the NFA. Despite all that experience, this was Jason’s first year with the Syracuse Strong. All year long he helped stabilize the offense, he’s unassuming, and as he often says just wants to do his “one-eleventh” for the team. Jason certainly did that this season and some.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Wilquan Burke, linebacker
- There weren’t many candidates for this award because the Syracuse Strong defense returned most of its starters from the year before. But even with that, Wilquan found ways to stand out. Burke scored on a pick-six, delivered bone-crushing hits, and was always willing to learn.
Community Service Award
Aaron Smith, wide receiver
- Last but certainly not least is the Community Service Award. The Syracuse Strong pride themselves on their relationship with the community. All year long the Syracuse Strong players and coaches volunteer in the community to help raise money for charity, get their hands dirty with projects, and do everything they can to make an impact. Aaron Smith is one player that no matter what the assignment was showed up and had 100 percent attendance. He’s a really good football player and an even better person.