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Owens Named NAL Offensive Rookie of the Year

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Seven Players Earn All-League Honors

Massachusetts Pirates wide receiver Thomas Owens was named the National Arena League Offensive Rookie of the Year at the league's annual awards banquet which was held at the Lexington Hotel and Conference Center in Jacksonville, FL.

The 6'1" 205 lb. wide out from Florida International appeared in 11 games and had 59 receptions for 577 yards and ten touchdowns while averaging 9.8 yards per catch and 52.5 yards per game.  His 59 receptions were second on the team. A native of Boynton Beach, FL, Owens also ran the football three times for three yards and had three kickoff returns for seven yards, including one for a touchdown.

Owens best performance of the season came on the road in a June 29 game at Columbus when he had eight receptions for 110 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two touchdown receptions in the Pirates overtime loss in Jacksonville and five catches for 88 yards and a score in the Pirates playoff loss to Carolina.

Earlier in the week, seven Pirates were named to All-NAL post season teams.  As for the First-Team, the Pirates secured two positions on offense and two more on the defensive side of the ball.

On defense, defensive end DJ Griggs, who was a First-Team All-NAL performer last season, makes the list again in 2019. During the regular season, Griggs was second in the league in sacks with 9.5 and tied for the third most tackles for a loss with 12. Griggs also led all Pirate defensive linemen in tackles with 26.5., quarterback hurries (7) and added the team’s lone safety.

Also earning First-Team defensive honors was defensive back Lawrence Austin.  The rookie from Georgia Tech led the league with 56 solo tackles was second in the NAL with 63 total stops. Austin was also second with ten interceptions and third in passes defended with 33.  Austin led the league with 166 interception return yards with two of those returns resulting in touchdowns, which tied him for second most in the league.

On offense, both First-Team positions were secured by Mardy Gilyard. Gilyard earned one of the three wide receiver spots as he set National Arena League single season records with 33 total touchdowns (29 receiving, four rushing) and 198 total points. The former University of Cincinnati standout was four in receptions with 84, fourth with 950 receiving yards, and finished in the top ten in receiving yards per catch and receiving yards per game. His 29 TD receptions where tied for second most in the NAL.

Gilyard was also selected as the league’s best kick returner. Among players with ten or more returns, Gilyard had the highest average return at 25.2.  With 12 kick returns he amassed 302 yards.  Gilyard was second in the league with 1,288 all-purpose yards for an average of 92.0 yards per contest.

Offensive lineman Tre' Jackson and center Thomas Claiborne joined quarterback Sean Brackett on the Second-Team offense while kicker Mike Weaver was honored on the defensive side.

Jackson, a former Super Bowl Champion with New England Patriots and Claiborne who starred at Boston College,  helped the Pirates average 3.3 yards per carry which was the best in the NAL. The Pirates also had the most first downs rushing in the league (42) and the protection from the offensive line helped Pirates' quarterbacks gain the league's top passing efficiency rating at 104.9.

At quarterback, Brackett led the league in plays (436), pass attempts (396) and completions (244).  Brackett also led the NAL with 12 rushing touchdowns. The 2018 NAL Most Valuable Player was second in six categories including 2,657 offensive yards, 2,523 passing yards, 57 touchdown passes, 69 total offensive touchdowns, a 61.6 completion percentage and a 105.5 pass efficiency rating.

Weaver appeared in nine games and led NAL kickers averaging 8.9 points per game. The former Demon Deacon from Wake Forrest was tied for the league lead with five made field goals and was second in made field goal percentage at 45.5. Weaver was also second in the league in extra points made connecting on 54 of 65 with a percentage of 83.1.

The Pirates were also honored for having the leagues' best community relations and best media relations departments. 

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office.

For group outings please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates

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