And the winner is…

Jessie Cunningham
Lion quarterback Luis Perez scans downfield for the perfect opening. Perez ended the game with 4 touchdowns.

By Ricky Moser | Sports Writer

Texas A&M University- Commerce senior quarterback Luis Perez adds another accolade to his stellar 2017 season.

The announcement came Thursday that Perez was awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top football player in Division II this year. Perez finished an impressive 63 points ahead of the second-place finisher and is only the third player from the Lone Star Conference to win the prestigious award.

Luis Perez has thrown a Division II best 4,678 yards and 44 touchdowns this season and has Texas A&M- Commerce (13-1 overall, 7-1 Lone Star Conference) ready to take on the University of West Florida (11-3 overall, 5-3 Gulf South Conference) in the national championship game.

“This is not about an individual award. That award is won because of coaches, players around me and the supporting cast,” Perez said. “It’s an exciting feeling and on top of that I get to play for a national championship.”

Texas A&M- Commerce head football coach Colby Carthel was quick to praise his All-American quarterback.

“He’s just a winner in every sense of the word on the field and off. He’s a very skilled athlete.”

Perez will lead the Lions against the Argonauts of West Florida, a team that has drastically improved as the season has progressed and now finds themselves competing for a title in just their second year of existence.

“You go back and you watch them through the year and they have gotten better each and every week. Their ground game has gotten better and better so they’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Carthel said. “It’s very impressive what they’ve done. I think they’ll be here again in the future. I think their future is very bright in terms of their program.”

Ricky Moser
Lions quarterback Luis Perez, head coach Colby Carthel, and linebacker Brucks Saathoff answer questions at Media Day a day before the National Championships. Perez had won the 2017 Harlon Hill Trophy, and Saathoff has been nominated for the Cliff Harris Award.

Junior linebacker for A&M- Commerce, Brucks Saathoff, shared his thoughts on the lethal West Florida offense.

“They have the ability to throw and run the ball very well. They do a great job of dividing it out so it’s hard to get a beat on them. That’s going to make it difficult but we’re up for the challenge and we’re excited about it,” Saathoff said.

It’s worth noting that both the Lions and Argonauts shared a common opponent this season in North Alabama. A&M- Commerce won their respective matchup by a single point while West Florida won by 23.

“That ball is oblong and it bounces different every time it hits the turf. We played those guys [North Alabama] at different times of the year and we’re a different team than we were that first week,” Carthel said.

“The overall message throughout our program the last two years has been ‘To the Top’ and that’s where we are,” Carthel said. “Hopefully we show up and play football so we can have some fun memories after this.”

Kickoff for the national championship game will be at 5 p.m. Saturday from Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The game will also be broadcasted on ESPN2 and can be streamed using the ESPN app.