The most impactful players in the mixed division on the offensive end
November 8, 2019 by Ultiworld in Awards with 0 comments
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Ultiworld is pleased to announced our fourth annual Mixed Club Awards. While we consider both regular season and postseason performance, because of the nature of the Club Division, we weight success in the Series and at Nationals above all else. The All-Club teams are selected based on input from Ultiworld reporters, contributors, and editors.
2019 Mixed Club Offensive Player Of The Year
Caleb Denecour (Minneapolis Drag’N Thrust)
What a difference a year makes. One year after he and his wife Holly Denecour missed Nationals when Holly gave birth to their child, Caleb Denecour led Minneapolis Drag’N Thrust back to the semifinals after a no. 1 overall seed-worthy regular season. Along the way, he proved pivotal to the Drag’N offense, throwing the most assists for Minneapolis at Nationals with 12 and picking up six goals as well. Time and again, Denecour got the disc in crucial positions and made the correct throw. On a team deep with outstanding players, Denecour was the most dynamic part of the offense and helped power Drag’N to a highly successful season.
Denecour’s standout feature on the field is his speed. He is one of the fastest players in the division and he uses it to great effect, rapidly opening up throwing windows that otherwise might not have been there. While this could make him the primary deep threat for Drag’N, Denecour most often served as the initiating cutter for the Minneapolis O, with their standard offensive possession this season starting in a vertical stack with Denecour in the back. A few hard steps out, a sharp cut under, and Denecour often had the disc looking to find a continuation cutter with one of his many dangerous throws.
With the disc in his hands, Denecour had the field vision to spot available receivers through any gap the defense presented . Being a lefty didn’t hurt, as his throws came from places defenders may not have been initially anticipating. Whether it was a zippy flick across the field or a step-through backhand, Denecour seemed to always have something to throw regardless of the situation he found himself in. That also included a righty backhand that he used to great effect to reset the disc or flip a short pass into the end zone.
Every team’s offense needs a go-to player, someone they can rely on to constantly get open and throw the right throws, and Denecour was that and more for his club this season. He was statistically at the top of the team’s leaderboard and somehow also their glue guy, with the whole offense flowing smoothly around him. In a stellar season capped with a return star appearance at Nationals, Denecour made the difference on offense for Drag’N Thrust.
– Jenna Weiner
1st Runner-Up: Cody Kirkland (San Francisco Mischief)
San Francisco Mischief’s offensive line sliced through their competition on the way to the final in San Diego, and the engine in the middle of the handler set was Cody Kirkland. Over the past few years with Mischief, he’s made himself more and more integral to the team’s offensive flow, and this year it truly came together. At Nationals, he put up six goals and 15 assists, accompanied by an astonishing volume of touches. Mischief showed one of the most balanced offenses in the division at Nationals, and he still accounted for 23% of Mischief’s touches in the final against AMP.
Throughout the year, if teammates found themselves in trouble or needing a reliable reset, it was Kirkland who came to the rescue. Combined with pinpoint disc placement on his passes, he stepped up to provide the big scoring throws and speedy distribution in the handler set that his offense needed to excel at the top. He also flashed impressive cutting timing downfield, taking advantage of teams overplaying the reset space to push upline or into the stack to keep Mischief marching towards the end zone. That sense of when to stay and when to push is tough to find, and the fact that Kirkland often chose the right moment helped push Mischief to the next level. His on-field connection with fellow offensive standouts Lexi Zalk and Gina Schumacher made this iteration of Mischief’s offense one of the best units we saw, and if this combination sticks together next year, another trip to the final is in the cards.
– Colin Clauset
2nd Runner-Up: Nick Lance (Fort Collins Shame)
You won’t find many throwers who can attack every square inch of the field from wherever they stand in any division. Nick Lance is one of those rare throwers. Watching him work in the Fort Collins Shame handler set was one of the ideal combinations of player and team. No one in the mixed division attacks deep quite like Shame, and with Lance finding seemingly impossible release angles and undefended patches of grass to keep pushing the pace, it’s not a surprise that they made it to the semifinal in San Diego.
He led his team with 15 assists on the weekend, but his impact extended far beyond the scoring numbers. A thrower like Lance forces defenses to play honest, as any poach will be punished immediately. With the team-wide speed and vertical ability of Shame, this led to easy downfield scores and open cuts for the entire roster. Particularly in the windiest rounds of Nationals, pushed the Shame offense from good to great. Kevin Herrera was the only other player on their roster who cracked double-digit assists, and every single player on the roster was a goal-scoring threat because they could focus on winning one-on-one instead of fighting through a defensive scheme. Lance once again showed why he’s one of the most feared players in the game with the disc in his hand. Fort Collins was inches away from halting AMP’s championship run, and Lance is a huge reason why they even got that close.
– Colin Clauset