Ithaca College football players earn Liberty League Player of the Year honors, team prepares for NCAA tournament
Photo courtesy of Ithaca Creative Media
ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) - The Ithaca College football team is headed to the NCAA DIII tournament this weekend as they travel to Springfield, Massachusetts to take on Springfield College. As the regular season has come to a close, the Liberty League released their conference honor awards. Two key players on IC's team were named offensive and defensive players of the year.
Senior, running back, Jalen Leonard-Osbourne was named Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year and 5th year, linebacker, Ben Stola earned Defensive Player of the Year.
Leonard-Osbourne has 144 rushing attempts for 861 yards and 9 touchdown so far, the most he's had in a season.
"Honestly with A.J. going down and Jake Williams going down, I felt like I had to play a more crucial role with the offense and just getting there mentally, preparing myself to be that guy, one of the star guys on offense to help lead this team to where we are now", Osbourne said. "I feel like this group of guys that we're a part of, we've all faced adversity so we're pretty much used to it."
Stola leads the league in tackles this season. He accumulated 102 total tackles, 49 being solo, and 10 tackles for a loss of yards.
I honestly just get put in great spots to succeed from my coach, from the defensive scheme every week and playing around great players", Stola said. "They make my job easier. Every time I make a tackle, it's because someone else is doing their job so I'm able to do mine so a lot of the credit just goes to them to be honest."
ICFB went 8-2 overall this season. The Bombers lost to 18th ranked Johns Hopkins in week one and 15th ranked SUNY Cortland in the Cortaca Jug.
The Bombers faced Springfield last season in the second round of the playoffs. They were able to come out with a win 31-20. IC ultimately lost to 1st ranked North Central College.
Freshman quarterback Colin Schumm has quickly become a vital piece in the teams offense as starting QB A.J. Wingfield suffered a season-ending injury in the week 6 game against Union College.
"It was definitely a surprise, you know, nobody expected it to happen like that. But I think for me it was just sticking to my principals, taking care of the football, making sure that the offense is still running the same way that it did with A.J.", Schumm said. "I think it just starts with refocusing the team, you know it was a heartbreaking loss last weekend but I think coming into this week we were able to refocus and just focus on this week and what our goals still are and what they've been all year and building on what we've done so far."
Head coach Michael Toerper talked about how Ithaca will be facing a unique Springfield offense, but one they've seen before.
"A triple option provides a unique challenge and something that's completely different than all the offenses we've faced this year but for our guys, fortunately enough, having faced them last year, they understand what that challenge entails when you get to game day", Toerper said. "It's one thing to prepare for it out here in the field, it's just a lot faster and a lot more downhill when you get to game day so now it's about when we get out there getting used to the speed and physicality and just keep playing one play at a time."
The Bombers play this Saturday, 11/18 at 12 PM.