WESTMINSTER — Perhaps Western Maryland College football coach Dale Sprague said itbest when he described what standout running back Eric Frees has brought to the Green Terrors' program.
"It's very hard at times beinga college football coach," Sprague said. "A lot of long hours all year long, but when a kid like this comes along it makes everything worthwhile."
The senior from Ephrata, Pa., capped his collegiate career Mondayby being selected the Centennial Football Conference's Most ValuablePlayer.
Frees dominated the balloting, receiving seven of eight possible votes by the conference coaches.
"I'm very happy with whatI accomplished; it's a great way to top off my career here and is a good reflection on the team and school," he said.
Frees saved his best for last on the field Saturday -- rushing for 205 yards on 48 carries with two touchdowns to help lead the Green Terrors past Johns Hopkins, 24-21. It was the first victory against Hopkins in his four years at WMC.
Trailing, 21-17, with just under three minutes remaining, the Green Terrors had a fourth-and-3 on Hopkins' 18 yard line. Sprague called on his "money man" to get the first down, and he got much more -- the game winning touchdown.
"Eric made two unbelievablecuts, a great stiff arm and got some great blocking," Sprague said. "It was a typical Eric Frees run and a fitting way to end a great career."
A great career, indeed. Frees probably will be in the recordbooks for a long time -- owning the majority of the school's and conference's rushing records.
Earlier this season, he became the conference's career rushing leader, finishing with 3,432 yards in his conference career.
This season, he carried the ball a school record 304 times for 1,545 yards (he set the school record of 1,594 yards last year) and a WMC school record 15 touchdowns.
He also became the state's all-time collegiate rushing leader in October, surpassing Navy's Napoleon McCallum's 4,179 career yards. Frees finished with 5,281career rushing yards -- placing him second all-time on the NCAA Division III career list.
Frees also ended his career as the leading all-purpose rusher (rushing, receiving and returns) in Division III history with 6,871 yards.
"It all hasn't sunken in just yet, but I'dtrade it all in for a championship or more victories," Frees said.
The English major will be missed on and off the field at Western Maryland.
"He (Frees) gave us not only his overall ability but his own personal charisma. He's a young man with high character and is a credit to the school and program," Sprague said.