The Redhawks claimed the freshman and defensive player of the year awards in football
Southeast Missouri State finished toward the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference football standings, but the Redhawks were big winners in the OVC's postseason awards.
The Redhawks received two of the conference's four individual awards Tuesday as voted on by the league's coaches and sports information directors.
Senior linebacker Blake Peiffer was named the OVC defensive player of the year and redshirt freshman quarterback Scott Lathrop was tabbed the OVC freshman of the year.
"It's good stuff for those guys," said Southeast coach Tony Samuel, whose squad went 3-8 overall and a seventh-place 2-6 in the nine-team conference. "I'm happy for them. They deserved those awards."
Joining Peiffer on the all-OVC first team was senior safety Tylor Brock, while senior tailback Levi Terrell earned second-team honors. Lathrop was also placed on the OVC all-newcomer squad.
"They all had great years and are very deserving," Samuel said.
Peiffer, a Jackson High School graduate, made the all-OVC first team for the second straight season. He finished the year ranked second in the league and 17th nationally in tackles with 117. He also had eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup.
Peiffer, a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award that recognizes the nation's top defensive player on the Football Championship Subdivision level, finished third all-time at Southeast with 359 career tackles. He earned All-American honors last year when he set the school single-season record with 151 tackles.
Peiffer is just the third Southeast player to be named OVC defensive player of the year and first since 1997.
"He had a great career. He's such a hard worker," Samuel said. "There are things he needs to work on [in order to have a chance at the NFL] but he is always working."
Lathrop was not expected to receive much playing time this year but that changed when projected starter Kyle Snyder, a transfer from Football Bowl Subdivision Ohio University, suffered a season-ending knee injury nine days into fall practice.
Lathrop came through with 1,824 yards of total offense directing Southeast's option-based attack. He rushed for 824 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. He completed 91 of 158 passes (57.6 percent) for 1,025 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
Lathrop, who rushed for at least 100 yards in four of Southeast's last six games, is the only OVC finalist for the Jerry Rice Award that goes to the nation's top FCS freshman.
"I thought Scotty had a great year. I feel like he exceeded expectations," Samuel said. "You never know when it's going to be your turn [to play]. He prepared that way. He put in an awful lot of work."
Brock ranked 23rd nationally in interceptions. He returned his team-high four interceptions for 108 yards and ranked second on the squad with 81 tackles. Brock also had three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and four pass breakups.
Brock also made the all-OVC first team in 2010, when he earned All-American honors. His 10 career interceptions are tied for fifth in school history. He is third in career interception return yards with 282.
"He's a great cover guy. He covered a lot of ground, and his numbers were there," Samuel said. "He's another guy, like Blake, who had a really good four-year career for us."
Terrell rushed for 1,349 yards, third most for a single season in school history. He ranked third in the OVC and 10th nationally in rushing as one of four players with over 1,000 yards in the OVC this season.
Terrell, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry, played two seasons for the Redhawks after transferring from Division II Nebraska-Omaha, which dropped football. His final college game Saturday at Murray State produced a career-high 215 yards.
"Levi had a great year," Samuel said. "He was good enough to be first team but there were also two other guys [Eastern Kentucky's Matt Denham and Tennessee State's Trabis Ward] that have been doing it. They were all pretty close."
Eastern Illinois won the OVC's other two major individual awards with junior wide receiver Erik Lora (offensive player of the year) and Dino Babers (coach of the year).
Lora, who missed last season with an injury, set the FCS record for receptions in a season with 124.
Babers, in his first season as a head coach, led the Panthers to the OVC title after they finished last a year ago.