Five Football Players Claim All-MIAA Honors on Defense and Special Teams

Jake Babb, Luke Beckhusen, Mason Dekker and Austin Heeres pose for portraits by Alan Babbitt

Five Hope College football players have received All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association defense and special teams honors for the 2019 season from the league's coaches.

Linebacker Mason Dekker was named MIAA Most Valuable Player on defense.

FIRST TEAM

Defensive tackle Jake Babb, senior from Caledonia, Michigan (Caledonia HS)

Stats: Led team with 4 ½ sacks. Shares team lead with seven tackles for loss. Anchor up front for MIAA's top scoring defense at 16.9 points per game allowed and top total yards allowed at 294.1 per game. Defense held three different MIAA opponents to seven or fewer points. Finished with 35 tackles, including 22 in seven MIAA games.

Coach's Breakdown: "Jake's motor never stops and his intensity is off the charts.  Jake is determined to out work everyone on the field and is a warrior on the d-line.  He plays at such a high level, he wears offensive linemen out with perseverance." — Peter Stuursma

Safety Luke Beckhusen, senior from Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater)

Stats: First on the team in pass breakups with seven. Second on the team with 43 tackles, including 31 in MIAA play. Had one interception. Stalwart in secondary for MIAA's top scoring defense at 16.9 points per game allowed and top total defense at 294.1 per game. Defense held three different MIAA opponents to seven or fewer points. Finished with 35 tackles, including 22 in seven MIAA games.

Coach's Breakdown: "Luke is the QB of the defense as he gets us lined up correctly and is in charge of the communications from the secondary. He is incredible at playing the run from his safety position and yet is very intelligent and athletic in defending the pass. A three-year starter with the respect of his teammates for the way he plays the game." — Peter Stuursma

Linebacker Mason Dekker, senior from Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa)

Stats: Named MIAA Defensive MVP. Third on the team with 39 tackles, including 28 against MIAA opponents. Recorded two sacks and one interception. Signalcaller for MIAA's top scoring defense at 16.9 points per game allowed and top total yards allowed at 294.1 per game. Defense held three different MIAA opponents to seven or fewer points.

Coach's Breakdown:  "A three-year starter, two-time captain and the key cog to making our defense go, Mason (Dekker) is consistent, rarely out of position and makes everyone around him better. He is the consummate team player."

Punter Austin Heeres, senior from Wyoming, Michigan (Grandville Calvin Christian)

Stats: Averaged 36.1 yards per punt. Recorded a season-best punt of 72 yards. Put 13 of 31 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Finished with five points of 50-plus yards.

Coach's Breakdown: "Austin was the backup to Mason Opple and chose to return and focus solely on punting. He is self-made and worked extremely hard to be the best punter in the MIAA. He was timely in huge games with his punts inside the 10-yard line. He has a quick release which helps our punt cover team." — Peter Stuursma

SECOND TEAM

Linebacker Jeremiah Purnell, sophomore from Wyoming, Michigan (Wyoming)

Stats: Leading tackler with 44, including team-leading seven for loss. Returned a fumble for a touchdown. Credited with two quarterback hurries.  Helped MIAA's top scoring defense at 16.9 points per game allowed and top total yards allowed at 294.1 per game. Defense held three different MIAA opponents to seven or fewer points.

Coach's Breakdown: "Jeremiah plays the game of football from a downhill mentality as he can really run to the ball.  Very aggressive and great open-field tackler." — Peter Stuursma

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