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Conquest Trio Earn End of Season af2 Awards

August 12, 2008 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Albany Firebirds News Release

ALBANY, NY - The Albany Conquest announced today that WR/LB Vernard Abrams has been named to the arenafootball2's 2008 All-Ironman team, while WR Antwun Williams and DL Michael Lewis were both named to the af2's 2008 Second Team All-American Conference squad.

"I am really excited for these three players," said Conquest Head Coach and Director of Football Operations Jeff Hoffman. "It speaks volumes for their abilities to get recognized by the opposing af2 coaches for these honors."

Vernard Abrams was a relatively quiet addition to the Albany roster who blossomed out of training camp to earn a spot in the starting lineup at wide receiver, yet became a much more valuable commodity than any of the Conquest coaches could have imagined. At times during the 2008 season Abrams played wide receiver, linebacker, defensive back, long-snapper and served as the backup quarterback for the final two weeks of the year. Abrams' numbers were indeed impressive on both sides of the ball; playing in all 16 games for Albany he caught 60 passes for 605 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, while defensively he had 29.0 tackles (21 solo, 16 assisted), 4.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and led the team with three fumble recoveries. One of fifteen players named to the squad, Abrams is in the running for the JLS Ironman of the Year award, which will be announced by the af2 office on Tuesday, August 19th.

"Vernard is one of the most versatile players I've ever coached," said Hoffman. "It's a fitting honor that he gets Ironman because not only is he a great football player, but he is also a great person."

Wide receiver Antwun Williams had a fantastic 2008 season for the Conquest. Williams led the team with 88 receptions, 1,123 receiving yards, 12.8 yards per catch, 29 receiving touchdowns and twice caught the longest reception of the year (45 yards). During the year he broke three franchise records, including passing Corey Hill to become Albany's All-Time leader in career touchdown receptions with 67 TD catches in 35 career games played from 2006-2008. Williams also broke two Conquest single-game records for Most TD receptions (7) and Most Points Scored (42) on May 23, 2008 vs. Manchester.

"Antwun put up incredible numbers for the second year in a row," said Hoffman. "But I'm not at all surprised by the numbers he puts up. He is a guy who should be playing at the next level."

Defensive End Michael Lewis re-joined Albany for their second game of the season and emerged as the Conquest's leading pass rusher. Lewis led the 2008 squad with 9.0 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, nine QB hurries and three forced fumbles, while finishing second on the team with 56.5 tackles. In Albany's final game of the year, July 25th vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Lewis recorded two sacks in the first half, passing Alex Houston (11.5 sacks in 2002) to become the Conquest's All-Time leader in career sacks with 13.5 recorded between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Lewis also set a new single-season team record with 13.5 tackles for loss, which helped him break the Conquest career tackles for loss mark with 22.0 in his two seasons with Albany.

"Mike has really grown as a player," said Hoffman. "Last year playing at Mack-Linebacker and this year at defensive end; he just keeps getting better. Mike has a very bright future and he is just beginning the upward swing of his career."

Former Albany quarterback Ryan Vena and defensive end Isaac Hilton both made the af2's 2008 First Team All-American Conference squad, both of whom now play for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers.

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