Andrew White | Staff Writer
On Jan. 16, the Northeast Conference announced that the Duquesne Dukes football team won the 2017 NEC Sportsmanship Team Award. It marked the fourth time the Dukes have won the award since 2011 and the first time winning the award since 2014.
The Northeast Conference created the Sportsmanship Awards in 2008, the same year the Dukes joined the NEC as a football-only member. According to the NEC website, “The awards are designed to acknowledge the team in each conference sport that, in the opinion of its peers, most closely demonstrates good sportsmanship based on the NEC Principles of Sportsmanship and Standards of Conduct.”
Voting is conducted at the conclusion of each season by each team and head coach, who rank teams within the conference based on a set of criteria.
“When I think of the traits common to Northeast Conference student-athletes, fair play and winning with integrity always come to mind first,” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said in a recent press release.
“I couldn’t be prouder of all the NEC student-athletes and coaches who continue to prioritize these values year after year and congratulate those teams that have been recognized by their peers with this prestigious honor.”
The Dukes were joined in the fall awards class by Central Connecticut State and Sacred Heart. The Blue Devils led the league in awards as they brought home the Sportsmanship Team Award for men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and women’s cross country. The Pioneers brought home the award for men’s cross country.
Prior to 2014, the last time the Dukes won the award, they had also taken home the honor in 2011 and 2012.
The award was just the latest of accolades that the Dukes brought home in the 2017 season. The Dukes had a league-high 12 players on All-NEC teams, including eight on the first team. Among those was graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stuart, who was also named the 2017 NEC Offensive Player of the Year.
Senior Ben Huss has also racked up numerous awards, including being named to the Football Championship Subdivision All-American Team, as well as the HERO Sports All-American Team and the Associated Press’ FCS All-American squad.
Huss played this past Saturday in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, as well.
The Dukes, who started off the year hot, dropped their last two games of the season, including a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Central Connecticut State on Nov. 11 which eliminated them from postseason contention. They finished the season 7-4 with a 4-2 record in NEC play.
The Dukes are scheduled to open the 2018 campaign against UMass on Aug. 25 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.