Lucas Lueders – Morningside College

FootballScoop is proud to announce that Lucas Leuders the 2018 FootballScoop NAIA Coordinator of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.

After years of knocking on the door, Morningside broke through to win its first NAIA championship in 2018. And after years as a finalist, Lucas Leuders has now been recognized by his peers as the top of his profession.

For starters, the Mustangs scored at least 34 points in all 15 games — every one of them wins — and posted 49 points or more in 11 contests, including a 5-game stretch in which they averaged 66.6 points. On the year, Morningside ranked second in NAIA with 52.6 points per game.

The Mustangs were led by their combination of senior quarterback Trent Solsma and senior wide receiver Connor Niles. Solsma led the nation with 5,391 yards on 385-of-540 passing (71.3 percent), good for an astonishing 9.98 yards per attempt with 72 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. Niles, the all-time NAIA leader in receptions, closed his career by hauling in 153 grabs for 2,639 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Their 34th and final touchdown connection came with 1:29 to play in the NAIA Championship, a 16-yard connection to lift the Mustangs to a 35-28 win over Benedictine College.

Niles wasn’t Morningside’s only threat through the air. Bo Els caught 70 passes for 825 yards and nine touchdowns, while Reid Jurgensmeier snared 54 receptions for 858 yards and 13 scores.

The Mustangs were also effective on the ground. Arnijae Ponder carried 319 times for 1,683 yards and 23 touchdowns, while Anthony Sims added 621 yards and five scores on 96 carries.

Morningside finished seventh in NAIA in rushing while leading the country in passing, adding up to a unit that led the nation with 562.2 yards per game — more than 20 ahead of their next closest competition — on 7.1 yards per play. In raw numbers, the Mustangs snapped the ball 1,182 times for 8,433 yards with 420 first downs and 109 touchdowns over 15 games. Needless to say, each of those numbers led the country.

Solsma was named the NAIA’s National Player of the Year in addition to being the NAIA First Team All-American quarterback. Niles and his 34 touchdowns made the NAIA’s second team. Solsma, Ponder, Niles, Els, senior tight end Riley Rischling, senior offensive tackle Garrett Temme and senior offensive lineman Garrit Shanle were named First Team All-Great Plains Athletic Conference honorees, with Solsma winning the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award.

Lueders graduated from Sterling College in 2008, where he was an all-conference defender. He joined the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at St. Ambrose University, then joined the Morningside staff in 2013 as offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Brock Caraboa [Marian], Greg Robinson [Bethel], Ron Shiels [Siena Heights] and Lueders) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year’s winner.

Lueders will receive his awards and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.

Previous winners of the NAIA Coordinator of the Year award are Joe Woodley (Grand View [Iowa], 2013), Ken Fasnacht (Southern Oregon, 2014), Scott Power (Marian [Ind.], 2015),  Joey Didier and Eric Wagoner (Saint Francis [Ind.], 2016) and Patrick Donley and Trevor Miller (Saint Francis [Ind.], 2017).

keystats

1st Nationally – Total Offense           109 Total Touchdowns
1st Nationally – Passing Offense           15-0 National Champions

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National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.