College Sports

He just became McKendree’s first Defensive Player of the Year — in any sport

McKendree defensive end Lucky Baar is the Bearcats’ first football All-American of the NCAA Division-II era.
McKendree defensive end Lucky Baar is the Bearcats’ first football All-American of the NCAA Division-II era. McKendree Sports Information

McKendree University senior football standouts Lucky Baar and A.J. Wentland continued to add to their impressive list of postseason honors with national accolades from the NCAA Division II Conference Commissioners’ Association (D2CCA). The 2016 D2CCA Football All-America team was released Wednesday morning by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Baar was selected as the 2016 D2CCA Ron Lenz Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first McKendree player to earn the award in any sport. Wentland garnered second-team D2CCA All-America honors to give the Bearcats their first two D2CCA football All-America honorees.

From his defensive end spot, Baar helped rewrite the McKendree football record books. In 2016, he led the Bearcats with 21.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 quarterback sacks among his 55 total tackles. Baar was just a half-sack shy of his school record of 18 sacks, which was set back in 2014. Baar registered three sacks in a game four times this season. He closed his McKendree career with 12 multisack games.

Over his four-year career, Baar recorded 46.5 quarterback sacks, which is an NCAA Division II record. He also holds the McKendree career mark in tackles for loss with 65.5, and is tied for the program lead in forced fumbles with eight. Baar leads all Division II players with 1.94 sacks per game and is third in tackles for loss with 2.4 per contest.

Baar earned first-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honors for the third consecutive year in 2016. He also finished third in the voting for this year’s Gene Upshaw Award, which is presented to the top interior lineman in Division II. In addition, Baar has been nominated for the 2016 Cliff Harris Award, which is given to the top defensive player from a Division II institution.

Wentland also made his impact on the Bearcats’ record book during his four seasons in a McKendree uniform. Early in 2016, the Bearcats’ middle linebacker became the program’s all-time leader in tackles, and finished his career with 421 stops. For the third year in a row, Wentland set a school record for tackles in a season, notching 145 in 2016.

In his last 32 games at McKendree, Wentland posted at least 10 tackles in a game 28 times. During the Bearcats’ Oct. 1 game at Southwest Baptist University, he had 22 tackles to tie his own single-game record established back in the 2015 regular-season opener against West Liberty University.

Following the season, Wentland was named the 2016 GLVC Defensive Player of the Year. He joined Baar – who collected the honor in 2014 – as the only Bearcats to earn the honor. Wentland has also been nominated for the 2016 Cliff Harris Award.

The McKendree University football team closed its 2016 season with an overall record of 8-3. The Bearcats were 6-2 in GLVC play.