ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The annual Naval Academy football banquet was held Friday evening at a sold out Alumni Hall with several prestigious awards handed out. The 2004 season was one for the ages as the Mids posted a 10-2 record, won the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy for the second-consecutive season and defeated New Mexico to win the Emerald Bowl. The 10 wins tied a school record and were the most by a Navy team in 99 years. The Mids finished the year ranked 24th in the country in both polls, marking the first time since 1978 that Navy finished the year in the top 25. The Emerald Bowl win was just the fifth bowl win in school history.
Senior quarterback Aaron Polanco (Wimberley, Texas) won the E.E. "Rip" Miller Award, which is presented to the season¹s most valuable player as voted by his teammates. A first-year starter, Polanco had a remarkable year, rushing for 980 yards and a team-high 16 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,131 yards and eight touchdowns. Polanco led the country in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and was third in the country in rushing yards by a quarterback. His 16 rushing touchdowns tied for the second most in school history, while his 24-career rushing touchdowns ties him with Joe Bellino for the fourth most in school history. Polanco set school records for passing yards per completion (18.5), passing yards per attempt (9.9) and career passing yards per attempt (8.2).
Senior linebacker Bobby McClarin (Bethlehem, Pa.) was named the winner of the Roger Staubach Award, presented to the Navy varsity football player of the graduating class who has contributed the most to the team's success over his playing career. McClarin was a stalwart on one of the nation's most improved defenses over the last two seasons. This past year, McClarin finished second on the team in tackles with 107 and added 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and broke up three passes. McClarin saved his best performance for last, recording a career-high 17 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack in Navy's Emerald Bowl victory over New Mexico. For his efforts, he was named to the Collegiate Football News All-Bowl Team.
Senior fullback Kyle Eckel (Haverford, Pa.) was named the winner of the Joe Bellino Award, presented to the Navy varsity football player of the graduating class who is the leading ground gainer over his playing career. Eckel will go down in history as one of the all-time great backs in Navy history, rushing for 2,906-career yards and 25 touchdowns. Both totals rank as the fourth most in school history. Eckel joined Napoleon McCallum (1983 and 1985) and Chris McCoy (1996 and 1997) as the only players in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season twice. Eckel also won the Napoleon McCallum Award, presented to the Navy varsity football player of the graduating class who has gained the most all-purpose yards in his career. Eckel was recognized for his efforts by the head football coaches in the East, as he was named First-Team All-East.
Senior guard August Roitsch (Houston, Texas) was awarded the George Fritzinger Memorial Award, presented annually to a member of the graduating class who, as a football interior lineman, has excelled as a student-athlete and has contributed to the overall team leadership and spirit. Roitsch was a versatile performer for the Midshipmen playing both center and guard during his career. He was a three-year letterwinner and was Navy's top offensive lineman the last two seasons. Roitsch was named to the All-Bowl Team by both Sports Illustrated and College Football News.
Senior defensive end Jeff Vanak (Collegeville, Pa.) took home the Jeffrey R. Korn Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award, established by Jeff's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Ronald D. Korn, in memory of their son, a member of the Class of 1983. The award is given annually to the First Classman on the team who has demonstrated excellence both in the classroom and on the football field. Vanak was a consistent performer throughout his career, starting the final 25 games at defensive end. Vanak totaled 44 tackles with six tackles for a loss this fall.
Senior slot back Ryan Barry (Raleigh, N.C.) was the recipient of the Cmdr. Ralph Sentmann Award, which honors the member of the graduating class from the varsity football team who has achieved the greatest increase in class standing from Plebe year until First Class year. Barry was a key special teams performer the last three seasons, seeing action in 37-consecutive contests.
Sophomore fullback Ron Kimbrough (New Castle, Del.) was awarded the Collins/Roos Class of 1949 Junior Varsity MVP Award, presented annually to the most valuable player on the junior varsity football team as chosen by a vote of his teammates. Kimbrough was the starting fullback on the junior varsity team and gave the starting defense fits during practice in his role on the scout team. Kimbrough will enter spring ball competing for the starting fullback job vacated by Kyle Eckel.
Senior running back Amir Shareef (Buffalo, N.Y.) won the Lt.
Cmdr. A.A. Schaufelberger Award, which is presented to the most
valuable player of the sprint football Army-Navy game. Shareef, who is also one
of the top collegiate boxers in the country, rushed for 112 yards and a
touchdown on 21 carries in Navy's 27-10 victory over Army. The win gave
the Mids the Collegiate Sprint Football League championship.