Players Only: 2018 Club Superlatives (Men’s Division)

New York PoNY’s Jimmy Mickle. Photo: Kristina Geddert — UltiPhotos.com

While Ultiworld has long featured various player awards, including All-Club selections, the voting has always been internal to our reporting team. Starting at last year’s National Championships, we started to ask players for their thoughts on the best of the best in various categories. What resulted was a fun and fascinating look at the Division from the players themselves: who do they see as the top performers from the season?

We asked a wide range of players for their thoughts on players in a variety of categories. Here’s what they had to say.

Player of the Year

Jimmy Mickle (PoNY). It’s true. He was very, very good at Nationals. We played him in pool play in 2017, and he probably had three or four turnovers. This year, he brought the impact he brings while limiting his turnovers, which is not good for other teams. Right now, he is the only player in the game with his skillset, a two-way player with size. Chris [Kocher] (PoNY) was very good this year as well, but I think it has to be Jimmy.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

“I think it has to be Jimmy, given everything he’s done and the success he had this year. Best player on the best team that won Nationals. I think you can (and should) make an argument that Kocher could be it too. Without Chris this year, I don’t think Jimmy has the same year, and Chris was there for all of it. Chris is asked to do less with the disc, but I think does more than Jimmy without the disc, both in terms of providing resets, deep cuts, practically always being open, and generating D’s.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

Grant Lindsley (Revolver). He’s got stamina, agility, acceleration, and great top speed. If you add that up, with the mentality that he has, that ‘I’m going to use all of those tools’, this move to Revolver has been fantastic for him. Effectively, he takes one of your best defenders out of the game; at your worst, he’s scoring five or six goals. I think he’s one of the top five in the game.” – Darryl Stanley (Truck Stop head coach)

“Gotta stick with Jimmy Mickle here. He had the biggest impact of any player on any team, anchored Pony’s offense, and was effective both backfield and downfield.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

“Gotta be Jimmy, he’s a player who’s not only dominant in almost every aspect of the game, but he makes everybody on his team a better player on and off the field. He alone is a missing link for many teams who’s needed to win a championship and was clearly that for PoNY.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

Chris Kocher. In our single match-up against PoNY, I found Chris Kocher to be the guy always being the release valve, continually having perfect timing, and being a key defender in deterring our break chances. While I don’t put too much into stat lines, his from Nationals was one of the more impressive in recent memory. Jimmy is obviously the most talented dude out there and causes big match-up problem. They might be 1,2 in this category. Maybe voter fatigue for me here, but I just thought Chris was incredible this season.” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Jimmy Mickle. He is a giant dude with amazing throws. You don’t want him going deep against you and you don’t want him throwing deep against you.” – Ryan Osgar (Sub Zero)

Best Defender

“I respect Dylan Freechild (Sockeye) more than almost any other player because of the fire that he brings. I know every time he matches me, I need to give my best to do the things that I want to do. It adds another level that he knows exactly what I’m trying to do. I love it. He brings that fire and pushes me to always be better when he’s covering me.” – Jimmy Mickle (PoNY)

Charlie McCutcheon (Sub Zero) and Cassidy Rasmussen (Revolver). [Rasmussen] is so all-around gifted, there’s few better on the D-line. Mike Drost. He’s more of a space defender, but obviously can lock up a guy. He’s so smart about when he’s going to go out in the line and gum things up from unexpected places.” – Darryl Stanley (Truck Stop head coach)

Sub Zero’s Charlie McCutcheon (left) battles with Sockeye’s Jacob Janin. Photo: Jeff Bell — UltiPhotos.com

Charlie [McCutcheon], he was a really good defender, he made me work to get every cut. It’s always fun when someone is playing physical fair defense and you know on every cut you’re going have to work to get open. They’re not going to give you anything easy.” – Chris Kocher (PoNY)

Jeff Babbitt passed the torch this year I guess… David Cranston (Truck Stop), Cassidy Rasmussen, Chris Kocher and Dylan Freechild come to mind. Conrad Schloer from Pony played some good defense as well.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

Mike MacKenzie on GOAT I think is someone who will get way more recognition hopefully soon. He was really hard defender to get open on and the two times I was able to score, one was breakside and the other looking back at the footage I fouled him (sorry, I promise not intentional). He seems like a crazy athlete and is also an incredibly nice guy.” – Tannor Johnson (Dig)

“When Jack Williams (Ring of Fire) is dialed in, I think he’s great. Athleticism to match anyone in the division, and has both speed and quickness that make it hard to get separation on him.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

“Handler defender: Johnny Bansfield (High Five). He completely locks you down and takes you out of the game when he wants to. Makes you question if you should be playing anymore. Downfield defender: Charlie McCutcheon. He’s an absolute force on defense and just sticks to his guy like glue. Incredible speed, toughness, physicality. Bullies the best offenders all game long and wears them down. He’s really close to being the best defender in the world, no joke.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

“I don’t think Von Alanguilan (Machine) is the best match-up defender. However, I do think he’s the most influential D player. He comes up with like a D a game. That’s game changing.” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Charlie McCutcheon. Had to play against him all year in practice and no one is more annoying than this person. Completely relentless defender.” – Ryan Osgar (Sub Zero)

Best Thrower

Jimmy [Mickle] has throws most people can’t throw. Low-key, Harper Garvey might give him a run for his money. I think Harper has a better hammer and as close to as good of a flick.” – Chris Kocher (PoNY)

George Stubbs (Revolver). I was super impressed with his upwind flick hucks.” – Ryan Osgar (Sub Zero)

“Stepping outside the mixed division, I’ve never seen anyone like Harper Garvey (PoNY). Banking on the fact that none of the other captains knew who he was, I waited until the 3rd round to draft Garvey for an indoor tournament back in 2014. Best 3rd round pick ever. But seriously, his snap is incredible. He makes every throw look so completely effortless.” – Sam Valesano (No Touching)

Markham Shofner (Truck Stop). Watching Markham over the years has been wild. Year after year, he has some of the best throws I’ve ever seen. And this year he really never coughed up the disc. He was reliable, consistent, and the biggest threat with a disc in his hand. He hucks 80 yards+ on both sides so it doesn’t matter what teams force, he can hit any spot. If marks go flat, he has the breaks. Game over.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

“I think it’s Jimmy still. His ability to break the mark and hit hucks that very few other people are hitting put him here. He’s the only male player I know whose hucks meet their targets at an exact spot, allowing him to pinpoint deep throws other players wouldn’t even attempt.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

“Going with a bit of a wildcard, but Keegan North (High Five) was as impressive of a thrower as I consistently saw all year long. No fear and incredible confidence.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

Jimmy. Duh. Move along. (Lowkey, though, Cody Bjorklund (Rhino).)” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Toughest Matchup

Jonathan Nethercutt (Ring of Fire) is a dangerous person. We have to account for him every time we play him. He has great throws in the wind. Obviously, he’s a powerful thrower, and he’s hard to guard, too. Probably Kurt Gibson (Machine). Maybe Dylan Freechild. They are very agile. I’m a straight-line kind of guy, so if you get me in the open field, I’m fine. If you get me in the handler space, I’m not doing that.” – Jay Froude (Doublewide)

Nethercutt is a clear one. Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop) for us was more downfield, when I was playing. He was more striking deep.” – Nicky Spiva (Truck Stop, formerly)

Jacob Fairfax (Ring of Fire). While it has been Trent Dillon or Chris Kocher in the past, I didn’t get to play against either of them much or at all this year. Fairfax is big and fast enough to make deep cuts tough, and quick enough to pressure unders.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

Revolver’s Cassidy Rasmussen. Photo: Kyle McBard – UltiPhotos.com

Cassidy Rasmussen. Usually you get a defender who is this young, up and coming freak athlete, or you get this old savvy vet who is smarter than you, but Cassidy combines both. He never is out of position, knows what cuts to respect. He is also very athletic, so even if you get a little separation, he’s not going to give any more up. Plus he is in very good shape so you can’t play traditional O-line defense on a turn, he picks up and then sprints deep and you’re pissed.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

“This is is a tough one for me. I honestly never felt super contained or well-covered all year, which I think is a product of being in much better shape this year than the past few years, but also Jimmy/Kocher/Jagt/Sam Little likely drawing the better defenders. I remember last year thinking Cassidy did a great job on me, but he didn’t cover me much this year.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

Johnny Bansfield or Dylan Freechild. They know what you are gonna do before you do it. Really annoying and not to mention they are more athletic than you as well.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

Grant or Jack probably. Kurt. They are all scary. I do my best to not get caught up in the moment and freak out over how to guard somebody. Grant, Jack, Kurt all strike fear into my heart.” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Chris Kocher. I didn’t get to play against him since I was injured when we played PoNY at US Open, but everyone knows Kocher is a monster on both sides of the disc.” – Ryan Oscar (Sub Zero)

Most Underrated

Nick Simonelli (Sub Zero). Reliable, fast, great timing, and doesn’t play outside himself. Also has huge role behind the scenes improving the overall fitness level of Sub Zero in his role as a trainer.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

“It’s a running joke on Truck Stop every time the ultimate media or community talks about good defenders and omits David Cranston. He has been the best defender on one of the best defenses in the sport for (at least) the last four years. His communication and team defense were originally what made him great, but now he consistently gets blocks as well. Plus he is a universe O-line player who dominated games on the turn this year, and was Truck’s first defender to come over to the O-line.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

“This one’s really easy and he’s been underrated for a long time: Jason Tschida (Sub Zero). He should have been on Player of the Year lists the past two years. He is an unbelievable rock and just an absolutely excellent player who can dominate any game and any matchup.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

“I think there’s a case for Rowan honestly. He made first team All-Club, but I don’t think people realize how good he is still. He’s extremely talented in all of the major skills (cutting, throwing, handling, defense, discs in the air.) There’s few players that well-rounded with top of the division skills across the board. I actually think Sam Little (PoNY) is probably the right answer. I’m biased, cause I’ve gotten to see him the last two years, but he might be one of the best at timing his cuts and getting the most out of his skillset. He’s consistently getting lots of yards underneath and has great break throws. He can also lead an offense when needed as evidenced by him leading PoNY’s D-line to many breaks this year. Henry Fisher (Ring of Fire) impressed me multiple times this year as well. He may be accurately rated at this point, but I kept seeing him in the endzone scoring deep and being impressed Jack Williams scored again, but then realizing it was Henry.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

Noah Saul, Ring of Fire.” – Kristen Pojunis (Wildfire)

“This is a tough one because players who are underrated usually go to overrated because it’s frequently pointed out. It’s also an award for people you’ve played with: it’s difficult to tell if somebody is underrated if you’ve only played against them once or twice. That’s why people are always backing up their underrated brother. So, with that said, I’ll take Jacob Janin (Sockeye). Jacob would fit in any system and be effective on any offensive unit. He’s smart, efficient, turnover-free, effective thrower and is one of the better deep cutters (even considering is size). He doesn’t need touches to make an impact. He creates space really well and makes plays on a whim even when his usage has been down. He’s not a huge playmaking defender but he’s no slouch. Intelligence and good awareness makes him a tough match-up on a turn, and he is a great dude to have around when protecting break chances. Without JJ, I’m not sure our O team has the kind of Nationals we had. Harper Garvey would be another that goes here…Ben Lohre (Johnny Bravo)…Pawel Janas (Machine)…Raphy Hayes (Rhino Slam)…Matt Rehder (Sockeye) might be underrated again. People forget just cause he’s been around for 11 seasons doesn’t mean he’s still not elite JUST HITTING HIS PRIME.” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Bretton Tan on GOAT is also a fun player to watch that’s the same age as me. He was on Cricket’s hip in both games and had multiple Ds on him in the semi-final game. Crazy fast player that’s hard to keep up with and should be someone gaining more recognition, also incredibly nice.” – Tannor Johnson (Dig)

Best Downfield Receiver

“I’m going to say Jacob Fairfax.” -Jay Froude (Doublewide)

Antoine Davis (Revolver), Tannor Johnson (Dig), Ben Jagt (PoNY).” – Darryl Stanley (Truck Stop head coach)

PoNY’s Ben Jagt makes the catch in front of Truck Stop’s David Cranston. Photo: Sandy Canetti — UltiPhotos.com

Ben Jagt or Antoine Davis. Rehder, too, but again, we expect it from Rehder. It’s boring when he’s open under 99% of his time on the field at Nationals. Matt is also the best throwing big. Jimmy is big, but he’s not a big. Jack is a freak, but he’s not a big. Rehder is a pure post that has touch around the rim and fires bounce passes cross court. Nevertheless, Jagt and Antoine were great this year. Let’s just sit back and enjoy their ascendance to Rehder status ;)” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Ben Jagt. Such a deep threat that defenders respect it and give him open unders.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

Jay Froude (Doublewide). He just flies, it’s pretty unreal how explosive Jay is. With his size, speed, and vertical, he is someone you have to be wary of at all times. Unlike some of the other freak athletes who you can just back by 10 yards, Jay’s throws are dope and now the defender is at a loss for how to play him.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

Ryan Osgar (Sub Zero). He played a near perfect Nationals with the best defenders matching up against him. He’ll take you under or deep, pick your poison. One of the quickest first steps in the game.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

Grant. I’m not sure there’s another player with his quickness in the game. His ability to change direction extremely quickly and accelerate to a very high top speed make him dangerous in either direction. He’s often backed because people are scared of him burning them deep, so he just always chews up free yards under.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

Smartest/Craftiest Player

“My boy Harper Garvey. Harper has ascended to another plane of existence. He is playing 4-D Runescape while we are all playing checkers.” – Ryan Osgar (Sub Zero)

“This is the ‘Josh Markette‘ (Dig) award. He still has it. Watch him throw a backhand fake, then lift his arm up four inches and release it is a thing of beauty. He never gets point blocked, breaks all the marks, has his release point arsenal larger than anyone, and has the best scoober in the game. But what really gets him this award is the vision. He sees everything, and with his craftiness he is probably the funnest player to watch in the division. You should see him play goaltimate…” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

Bob Liu (Ring of Fire). I mean he throws lefty backhand dimes consistently. Nuff said. He also has the best/smartest mark and seems to always have a clutch foot block in a big moment.” – Josh Klane (Sub Zero)

Simon Montague (Sockeye) comes to mind. I can’t think of a craftier thrower. I felt this way before playing Sockeye. Dalton Smith (Doublewide) is crafty AF. Nethercute [sic] threw a throw behind his back once, that’s crafty.” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Most Fun Matchup

“I enjoy playing against John Stubbs (Revolver). He’s got a bunch of good blocks in him. It’s a ton of fun watching him play and playing against him. He’s a great player.” – Chris Kocher (PoNY)

Sawyer Thompson (Revolver). No one trash talks like Sawyer, and no one is as fun to talk trash to. And he comes up with incredible blocks.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

Chris Kocher. We don’t get to play against each other often, but the couple points we matched up this year were memorable. I just remember slamming into him two or three times over the course of one point and he never called a foul or complained. When you get those types of matchups, where both players are going super hard at each other in a competitive, clean (but super physical) atmosphere, it makes it fun.” – Rowan McDonnell (Truck Stop)

Sockeye’s Dylan Freechild. Photo: Scobel Wiggins — UltiPhotos.com

“It didn’t happen often, but I always enjoyed when Dylan Freechild covers me, for a few reasons. He’s objectively a better player than me and faster/quicker/younger, so getting open on him means you did something right. I feel like I have to be on top of my game to meaningfully contribute when he covers me. Also, he’s incredibly hard to slow down when he’s on offense, so it forces me to play defense as smart as I can and stay on my toes. I also love when Nick Purifico (Johnny Bravo) covers me. We go way back, both being Delaware guys and both having a fiery reputation. I think people always expect us to blow up and get into it, but we’re pretty good friends and it’s always a good time.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

“What even is most fun? I like guarding Jimmy. I think I do it better than anybody. I’ve played alongside that dude so much. I’ll sell all his secrets for the right price. Conversely, I get fired up when Cassidy guards me. He’s so strong, fast, and disciplined and exudes confidence and it’s awesome to battle with that. Frustrating sometimes, too.” – Dylan Freechild (Sockeye)

Assorted

Best dump: “Joel Schlachet (Revolver). Every offense improves immeasurably with Joel on it. His quickness, timing, vision, hunger for scoring, and reliability are second to none.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

Largest impact: “There should be the largest impact in ultimate award (like the Walter Payton award) and go to Rowan McDonnell. From what I can tell, he does a lot to coach people in the DC area, AUDL player of the year, and is someone to always watch when seeing Truck Stop play. He’s an incredible guy and I’d be surprised if anyone worked harder to live and breath ultimate than him.” – Tannor Johnson (Dig)

Most improved: “Ben Snell (Sockeye). He was a big name in college, then didn’t do much in club for a few years (played minimally on Bravo 2015, cut from Sockeye in ’16, before playing on DGP defense in semifinals for Sockeye ’18.) He’s gotten himself in great shape and works extremely hard on D whenever he’s on the field.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

Revolver’s Ashlin Joye. Photo: Kyle McBard — UltiPhotos.com

Best pump fakes: “Ashlin Joye (Revolver). Fakes are an underrated skill until one watches Ashlin. He’s arguably the best thrower in the Men’s Division, but he’s definitely the best faker. Even at practice, even in marking drills with old teammates who know exactly what he’s going to do, Ashlin’s fakes continue to be effective. If you can get a mark to move out of the way as Ashlin can, then all your throws end up being better because the mark isn’t there applying pressure. Watch that man shimmy.” – Grant Lindsley (Revolver)

Best with the leastBen Katz (PoNY). Look at him – he shouldn’t be good, but he just is. He’s shorter and pretty skinny, but was a crucial piece to a championship winning defense. He can break the mark extremely well, very reliable hands, gets open, and provides valuable resets consistently, and plays incredibly smart heads up D, often generating poach blocks out of nothing. One of the only guys I’ve seen play that can completely meander away from his matchup but have that person not thrown to. Honorable mention: Cricket.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

Surprised they’re still playing: “Ryan Purcell (Doublewide). I remember thinking he was the man at Michigan when I was a freshman at Delaware. Hadn’t heard anything about him in a while, then saw him with Doublewide! I don’t know how much he does for them, but it was cool seeing someone I used to look up to still out there.” – Sean Keegan (PoNY)

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