Pittsburg State University closed out a day of celebrating the 2011 National Championship football team Saturday evening with the Gorilla Football Awards Banquet at John Lance Arena.

Pittsburg State University closed out a day of celebrating the 2011 National Championship football team Saturday evening with the Gorilla Football Awards Banquet at John Lance Arena.

Pittsburg State Athletic Director Jim Johnson thanked “Gorilla Nation” for its support of the Pitt State football team.

“We had a phenomenal year,” Johnson said. “There’s not words to explain the support we had this year. You came out in just absolutely awful weather twice and supported us (playoff games against Washburn and Northwest Missouri). The reason we played Delta State here on Dec. 10 was the people (fans) in this room.”
Johnson finally thanked all the Pitt State players for their season.

“Over a 16-week period, you created a lifetime of memories,” Johnson said.

Pitt State head football coach Tim Beck drew a standing ovation.

“This year, we had the ultimate team and I’m very appreciative of that,” Beck said. “I could talk for a long time about our players, but everybody wants to get to the highlight video. . . . Bottom line is, we had a group of players and coaches that believed they could win every Saturday.”

Beck awarded senior Derek Jackson with the inaugural Heart of a Gorilla Award, a distinction created by assistant coach John Pierce.

Natalie Cullen, PSU associate athletic director, presented Eric Love with the Sunflower Award honoring the Gorilla senior with the highest cumulative GPA. Love, majoring in construction engineering technology, held a 3.67 GPA.

Distinguished alum John Levra recognized every Pitt State player who received MIAA Player of the Week, MIAA All-Conference, All-America and All-Super Region honors. Levra enjoyed his time at the podium with several observations and wisecracks.

Levra on a good-looking suit: I tell you what, Briceton (Wilson). Scholarships have gotten better. That’s a good-looking suit.

Levra on Nate Dreiling and John Brown: Nate and John are both sophomores. Isn’t that wonderful?
Former player Stacy Butcher (1997-2000) introduced the Work Team Offensive MVP (Trey Derryberry), the Work Team Defensive MVP (Lewis Foutz), the Ronnie West Award (Brown) and the Ronald Moore Award (Mandel Dixon).

Former Pitt State quarterback Brian Hutchins (1990-1993) started with a mock Best Hair Award, nominating J.R. Jones, Paul Robinson, Luke Stringer and Joe Uzzel (all defensive players) and honoring Jones. Hutchins presented the Richard Stratton Award (Zac Dickey), the Joe Murphy Award (Dreiling), the W.G. Parrott Award (Brown) and Carnie Smith Award (Dickey).

Pitt State seniors were introduced and earned a standing ovation: Calin Archer, Zac Dickey, Billy Ewy, Derek Fisher, Josh Heimerman, Ty Henry, Derek Jackson, J.R. Jones, Bristan Kelley, Eric Love, Chase McCoy, Cody Moore, Elijah Olabode, Hal Rivard, Paul Robinson, Aaron Sawyer, Kell Smalley, Luke Stringer, Jon Thomas, John White and Spencer Worthington.

Eric Knecht, sports director of KSNF-TV, closed out the banquet with a presentation of the 2011 Pitt State commemorative highlight video.

2011 PSU Football Team Awards
Carnie Smith Award (Most Outstanding Player) — Zac Dickey
W.G. Parrott Award (Most Valuable Offensive Player) — John Brown
Joe Murphy Award (Most Valuable Defensive Player) — Nate Dreiling
Richard Stratton Award (Most Sportmanship, Loyalty and Inspiration) — Dickey
Heart of a Gorilla Award — Derek Jackson
Ronald Moore Award (Most Outstanding Freshman) — Mandel Dixon
Ronnie West Award (Most Valuable Special Teams Player) — Brown
Work Team Defensive MVP — Lewis Foutz
Work Team Offensive MVP — Trey Derryberry
Sunflower Award — Eric Love