ALBANY -- You just can't keep those Panthers from winning weekly awards. Panthers QB Cecil Lester had already been named the Southern Indoor Football League's Offensive Player of the Week twice this season after the Panthers first two games.
So after the Panthers demolished Greenville, 78-13, the SIFL almost had to name a Panthers defender this week. Linebacker Steve Morrison was named the league's Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, while kicker Juan Bongarra, who just joined the team before the game against the Force, was named the SIFL's Special Teams Player of the Week.
Morrison was in the middle of a defensive masterpiece, and not only had three tackles but made an interception and ran it back for a touchdown on a day when Albany dominated every defensive phase of the game.
"I'm happy for (Morrison),'' Panthers coach Lucious Davis said. "He has really played well ever since he joined us. He had a big game, and he came up with that big play, the interception for a touchdown, so I'm happy he won it. I feel like they could have given it to a number of guys from our defensive team. They all played a great game.''
Davis gets an assist on the Bongarra award. He was so upset with the Panthers' dismal kicking after a 70-64 win against Lafayette two weeks ago that he held open tryouts. The former Panthers kicker went 1-for-5 on PATs against Lafayette, and it was so bad that Davis went for two-point conversions after every TD in the fourth quarter.
Davis brought in two kickers, and Bongarra, who was kicking for Albany State just last fall, won the job. Then he made Davis look like a genius. He went 8-for-9 on PATS and scored two points on kickoffs on what are called "unos" in arena football. You get an uno, which is worth one point, when the ball goes through the small opening in the net on the kickoff.
Albany had kicked
only one uno all year until last week, and when Bongarra kicked his first uno, the crowd reacted with one of the biggest ovations of the night.
"I knew he had a strong leg when he was at the workouts, trying out for the team,'' Davis said. "I'm really happy for him. I felt our kicking game was one the weakest parts of our game. We had to do something about it, and we did. It's a plus to have him. I'm glad we've got him.''