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Bemidji State's Scheff named NSIC Defensive Player of the Year

Bemidji State football players Brody Scheff, left, and Dusty Sluzewicz, right, were named to the All NSIC North Division team Tuesday in a vote by league coaches. Scheff was named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji State senior safety Brody Scheff was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year as voted on by league coaches on Tuesday.

"It means a lot," Scheff said. "I'm just so blessed to play five years of college football without any major injuries and made great friendships. It's a great award but I feel so blessed to play."

He had 91 total tackles last season to rank seventh in the league and was a leader for BSU's No. 7 ranked scoring defense in Division II football.

Scheff, a Waconia native, played in every game and tied for the conference lead with four interceptions in NSIC play. He had six interceptions total on the year, which ranked 15th in the nation and tied five other BSU players for third most on the program's all-time list.

Scheff had three tackles for a loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in league play.

"Game after game I was put into good situations and some of the interceptions were gifts," Scheff said. "I've been in the right places at right times and some of it has been just luck."

Scheff was named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Week twice and was the National Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 11.

Scheff finished his career with 244 tackles and was 22 tackles short of the BSU career top 10 list.

Scheff's nomination led 12 Bemidji State selections on the 78-member NSIC North Division All-Conference teams.

Scheff was named to the NSIC North Division First Team with senior center Cory Immerman, junior tight end Brian Leonhardt, sophomore nose tackle Matthew Shaver and senior punter Jesse Sundby.

Immerman started nine games this season was named to the last two All-Conference teams, but this was his first selection to the first team and he helped lead BSU's rushing offense which rushed for 241.5 average yards per game.

Leonhardt led BSU in receptions (35), receiving yards (483) and had two touchdowns on the year.

Shaver started his first season at nose tackle this year and had 24 tackles in 10 games.

Sundby punted for 1,621 yards this season on 42 attempts and average a career-best 38.6 yards per kick. His longest kick of the year went for 62 yards against Augustana on Sept. 11.

Named to the NSIC North Division Second Team was senior wide receiver Justin Lee, junior linebacker Cory Crosby and senior safety Dusty Sluzewicz.

Lee was a wild card on the BSU offense this season. He had a career-best 191 yards receiving on 18 receptions. He also had a career year rushing with 317 yards on 35 carries and he completed the two passes he attempted this year. He totaled 560 all-purpose yards and 50.9 average yards per game.

Crosby finished second on the BSU defense with 74 tackles and led the Beavers with 28 tackles for a loss. He also had two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

Sluzewicz ranked third on the team with a career-best 68 tackles. He had four interceptions, 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble.

Named to the NSIC North Division Honorable Mention team was junior offensive guard Brett DeLange, junior running back Dustin Kroeplin, senior offensive tackle Davis Mickelson and junior quarterback Lance Rongstad.

DeLange started all 11 games at left guard this season and was named to the All-NSIC team for the third season.

Kroeplin was BSU's top running back with 670 yards and nine touchdowns.

Mickelson started 11 games at left tackle and was named to the All-NSIC team for the third season.

Rongstad threw for 1,286 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season as a starter. He is 809 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Rongstad's 190.5 yards per game average ranked seventh in the NSIC and his 2,095 offensive yards rank eighth on BSU's single season chart.

The BSU offense as a team set the school rushing record with 2,656 total yards this season. BSU's rushing attack compiled 31 touchdowns and ranked No. 13 in the nation.

Upper Iowa true freshman running back Chris Smith was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Year and the Offensive Newcomer of the Year. He rushed for 1,888 yards and nine touchdowns.

Winona State freshman linebacker Ryan Gerts was named the NSIC Defensive Newcomer of the Year and he finished second on the Warriors team with 70 tackles.

St. Cloud State coach Scott Underwood was named the NSIC Coach of the Year.

Bemidji State finished 8-3 overall, 7-3 in NSIC play to tie for fourth place in the standings and 3-3 in the North Division to tie for fourth place.