MARQUETTE, Mich. - Two Northern Michigan University football recruits have been named to the 2005 Old Spice Red Zone Players ofthe Year squad.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Named to the squad were Gannon Novak from New Lenox, Ill. and Ben Hempel from Franklin, Wis.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Novak and Hempel were honored in a full-pagecongratulatory announcement in USA Today on Feb. 3, 2005.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œRegardless,who is recruiting them or where they are going, they are recognized as one ofthe top players in their state,ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Doug Sams, the head football coach at NMU,said.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œWe thought (Gannon) Novak was a heck of a playmaker, a good special teamsplayer and he makes plays on defense.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ (Ben) Hempel set records in the state of Wisconsin high school football for passing yardage and passing touchdowns.ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚
The Old Spice Red Zone High School Football Player of theYear program uniquely recognizes those high school football players who elevatetheir play and that of their teammates in the Red Zone.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ The Red Zone athleteembodies and exemplifies leadership and performance.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ HeÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚™s the one player thecoach looks to when the game is truly on the line.
Gannon and Hempel were nominated by their high schoolcoachÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚™s and selected by the Red Zone Judging Committee from a large pool ofnominees from more than 4,500 participating high school football teams toreceive this honor.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ They are honored as two of 50 players across America who stood out among their peers for their exceptional performances in the Red Zone.
Novak, a defensive back, played for Providence Catholic as hewas an all-conference selection as well as an All-State selection by theIllinois High School Coaches Association for the 2004 season.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ He was named tothe Chicago Tribune All-State squad, was the Joliet Herald Playerof the Year for 2004 and was an all-area pick for the Star Newspaper andDaily Southtown Newspaper.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Novak registered 85 tackles, oneinterception, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for the 2004 season.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ He also had one blocked punt and five blocked field goals.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Novak returned 14punts for a 17 yard average and scored two touchdowns on punt returns duringhis senior campaign.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œIt means a lot, mainly because they donÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚™t base it onmere statistics.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ItÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚™s definitely an honor,ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Gannon said on winning the award.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œGuys on the list are going to big college programs.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ I know that I am as goodas anyone on the list.ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ The major factors in Novak picking the ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚˜Cats were theway the coaches treated him on his visit, his planned major (computer science)and the facilities.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚
Hempel, a quarterback, played for Franklin High School as he registered over 9,500 yards passing and 93 passing TDs for his career, whichwere both Wisconsin state high school records.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ For the 2004 season, Hempel wasnamed to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State team, was asecond team selection to the AP All-State team and was selected to the MilwaukeeJournal Sentinel All-State team as a second team pick.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Hempel was a firstteam all-conference selection and the Offensive Player of the Year for theconference as a senior.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ For his senior campaign, Hempel was 172-308 for 2,829yards and 28 TDs.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œIt was something that was a surprise.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ I never thought Iwould be named to a team like that,ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Hempel said of winning the award.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œIt isa great honor to be with those guys.ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Hempel looks forward to playing in theSuperior Dome with the offense that the ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚˜Cats use and to take advantage of theoutdoor activities that the U.P. has to offer.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚
ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚œWhen you start looking in it makes you feel real good aboutthe class you put together and what you have accomplished,ÃƒƒÃ‚¢Ãƒ‚Ã‚€Ãƒ‚Ã‚ Sams added.ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚ ÃƒƒÃ‚‚Ãƒ‚Ã‚