SaberCats Announce 2012 Team Awards
|The SaberCats announced their 2012 award winners at their annual team banquet this week.
SaberCats Media Relations
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The SaberCats announced today their 2012 team award winners. All awards were presented this week at the Annual Postseason SaberCats Banquet. Quarterback Mark Grieb, defensive lineman Joe Sykes, offensive lineman Emmanuel Akah and wide receiver Huey Whittaker all brought home seasonal honors for their performances during the 2012 season, which saw the SaberCats return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Grieb, Akah, Whittaker and defensive lineman Tim McGill were the 2012 team captains and were instrumental to the team’s success throughout the season.
Grieb (6-2, 200, UC Davis) produced his best statistical season as a professional, which is saying a lot for the future Arena Football League Hall of Famer. He was named the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player for 2012 as he set both individual and franchise records in 2012, completing an eye-popping 476-of-704 passes for 5,744 yards and 112 passing touchdowns. Grieb also rushed for three more scores, making Grieb responsible for 115 of the SaberCats 165 total touchdowns. The former UC Davis Aggie extended his consecutive regular season games played streak to 132, while becoming the first player in AFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in now seven straight seasons and 70-plus touchdowns in now nine consecutive years. Grieb ranks second in AFL history in passing yardage (47,901), third in passing touchdowns (922) and is tied for second in completions (3,885).
Sykes (6-5, 280, Southern) had a season for the ages along the defensive line on his way to being named a First Team All-Arena selection, as well as SaberCats Defensive Most Valuable Player and Defensive Lineman of the Year. The second year man out of Southern posted an AFL single season record for sacks in a season with 16.0. He broke the previous record of 15.5 set in 2010 by SaberCats teammate Gabe Nyenhuis when he was a member of the Tulsa Talons. He finished the season with 33.0 total tackles, forced five fumbles, recovered two more, had an interception he returned for a touchdown and returned a blocked field goal for another score. Sykes is still up for numerous AFL awards including the National Guard Most Valuable Player, Riddell Defensive Player of the Year and the Game Tape Exchange Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Akah (6-3, 335, Winston Salem State) made a huge impact up front in his first season with the SaberCats, earning the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award. The four year AFL veteran appeared in 17 games and made 15 starts along the offensive line that surrendered the fifth fewest sacks in the league at 20 and helped keep quarterback Mark Grieb healthy for the entirety of the season. Akah was also a major asset in the locker room as one of the team leaders throughout the 2012 campaign.
Whittaker (6-5, 225, South Florida) turned in a tremendous 2012 season, his first in San Jose and he was honored Tuesday night as the team’s Ironman of the Year as well as the Most Inspirational member of the SaberCats. The former South Florida Bull hauled in 69 passes (third most on the team) for 828 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for four more. He also had a huge impact defensively as well as on special teams, posting 26.0 total tackles, forcing two fumbles and recovering three more. Whittaker also had a key role in the SaberCats playoff loss to the Arizona Rattlers on July 28, scoring four total touchdowns (three receiving and one rushing) as well as making an interception on the other side of the ball. He was not only an important fixture on the field, but off of it as well, helping in the locker room as a leader where Whittaker could always be seen mentoring younger players.
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The ArenaBowl XVI, XVIII and XXI champion San Jose SaberCats, just concluded their 16th Arena Football League season. Fans can log on to thesanjosesabercats.com, call 408-673-3400 and follow the SaberCats on Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest news on the team. Contact the front office at the above phone number for information on 2013 Season Ticket Packages.