Hess named first-team all-MVFC

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Sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess sets up a play against Illinois State University on Sept. 17. Hess threw four passing touchdowns in the game, tying a school record before breaking his own later in the season with five against Missouri State University. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

After setting numerous school records this season, Youngstown State University sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess was named to the first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference.

“It’s nice and it is a great honor … to be named in such an elite group in our conference with Tirrell Rennie and Matt Brown,” Hess said, referring to the University of Northern Iowa senior quarterback and the Illinois State University junior quarterback, respectively. “They are tough competition, and you can see that week in and week out in our conference.”

Hess set school records for single-season touchdown passes, 200-yard passing games, completion percentage, consecutive games with a touchdown pass and touchdown passes in a game.

He also threw for a career-best of 2,468 yards with 187 completions and three rushing touchdowns.

“We have been able to work hard ever since coach [Eric] Wolford got here, and we have had two strong seasons offensively,” Hess said. “And, really, we are just holding each other accountable and working hard on the field as well as off the field.”

He said he never really thought about individual honors.

“The individual accolades don’t really mean anything, especially during the season when you are focusing on one game at a time, trying to make a playoff run,” Hess said.

Finishing 6-5, the Penguins fell short of a playoff appearance.

“It was pretty tough, and it’s humbling,” Hess said. “It was hard for a while, and we were caught off guard and not expecting what was going to happen. But these were the things we have to live with as a team, and going through these experiences together will help us down the road. It is going to motivate us in the offseason, and we will be working hard.”

Hess joins first-team YSU running back Jamaine Cook. Cook finished the season with 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns, both high points of his career.

Hess said Cook is more deserving of the first-team honor.

“Jamaine is a great player, and we did some things together in the conference,” Hess said. “We put up a lot of stats and yardage. We realize it’s a pretty exclusive club to be in.”

Four other Penguins received all-conference honors. Junior center Mark Pratt, freshman wide receiver Christian Bryan and freshman linebackers Teven Williams and Travis Williams were selected to the MVFC all-newcomers team.