Two Bearcats grab GLVC player of the week awards

Two members of the McKendree University football team brought home Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week accolades for their performance in the Bearcats’ 34-28 season-opening win on Saturday at home against Northern Michigan University.

Junior defensive back Blake Benoist (O’Fallon, MO/Fort Zumwalt West) was selected as the GLVC Football Defensive Player of the Week, while junior punter Monte Wolke (Sigel, IL/Cumberland) brought home GLVC Football Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Benoist registered a career-high 11 tackles to lead all McKendree players against the Wildcats. Seven of his tackles were solos. In addition, Benoist intercepted a fourth-quarter pass and returned it 46 yards deep into Northern Michigan territory to set up the Bearcats’ final points of the contest. Benoist, who picked off three passes on his way to second-team All-GLVC honors in 2017, grabbed McKendree’s first interception of the 2018 season.

This is the first career GLVC Player of the Week award for Benoist, who is entering his third year as a starter in the Bearcats’ secondary.

Wolke picked up right where he left off last season by booming four punts for an average of 45.5 yards on Saturday. He had consecutive punts of at least 50 yards, including a long of 58 in the final minute of the first half against Northern Michigan. Two of Wolke’s four punts traveled inside the Wildcats’ 20-yard line.

Last season, Wolke averaged 40.5 yards per punt and placed nearly 40 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Wolke collected honorable mention All-GLVC honors in 2017.

Monday’s award is the second career GLVC Special Teams Player of the Week nod for Wolke. He also earned the honor last October against Missouri S&T.

McKendree will hit the road for the first time in the 2018 season on Saturday with a trip to Kentucky State University. Kickoff for the non-conference tilt in Frankfort, Ky., has been moved to 4 p.m. ET.