Fredenburg named D3football.com Coach of the Year, 5 Crusaders named All-Americans

Photo by Luke Zayas/True To The Cru

CANTON, Ohio- Following UMHB’s national championship victory Friday night, head coach Pete Fredenburg was named D3football.com’s Coach of the Year. This marks the first time, since the honor was first awarded in 2005, that Fredenburg has been named Coach of the Year.

His leadership in helping UMHB win 20 games in the calendar year, as well as the program’s second national title in the last three seasons, was critical in the Crusaders’ success. He now holds a record of 257-40 in 24 seasons leading the program. Previously, he was the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year in 2013, and the American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2016.

“Starting the program and reflecting back, it has been an amazing journey for me and my family,” Fredenburg said postgame on Friday. “It’s been wonderful, because all of my experience coming into this was in D-I. When I took the job at Mary Hardin-Baylor and started dealing with D-III, I thought I would stay two or three years and stabilize my young son’s life. That was 24 years ago. What I have done is fallen in love with the D-III atmosphere and the whole essence of it. [Because of] guys like this, who play the game because they love to play, and do it unselfishly, and care very deeply about people who are competing with them for positions. That unselfishness and the camaraderie and the poise they play with…it’s been an incredible experience for me.”

UMHB safety Jefferson Fritz was named D3football.com’s Defensive Player of the Year, following his fifth season with the Crusaders. Fritz tallied two tackles, one solo, and an interception in the Stagg Bowl, capping off a decorated collegiate career for the native of Kaufman, Texas.

Prior to the game, Fritz was selected as a First-Team All-American at safety, his fourth straight All-America honor from D3football.com.

The senior tallied 64 total tackles, 44 of which were solo, two interceptions and eight pass breakups during the 2021 season, along with 1.0 tackle for loss. On Nov. 19, Fritz was selected as the ASC’s Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in his collegiate career.

The additional four All-America honorees from UMHB were center Jeffery Sims (First-Team), linebacker Jacob Mueller (Second-Team), returner KJ Miller (Second-Team) and cornerback Keith Gipson (Fourth-Team).

Sims was stellar in guiding a young, but talented offensive line, as the Crusaders allowed just 12 sacks over the 15-game season, and paved the way for 3,486 rushing yards. Mueller led the team in tackles, with 92, and ranked second in tackles for loss (15.0), while Gipson recorded a team-best five interceptions. Miller averaged 25.04 yards per punt return, returning two punts for touchdowns. He also returned four kickoffs for 60 yards.

Riley Zayas is the managing editor of True To The Cru. He has worked as a sportswriter since 2016 and can be emailed at rileyzayas@truetothecru.com.

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