BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- MSU Moorhead has six all-conference selections as the NSIC has announced its yearly postseason football awards. On top of the six Dragons honored, quarterback Jack Strand has been named the NSIC's Offensive Player of the Year.
Strand was named to the All-NSIC First Team Offense along with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Gage Florence. Junior linebacker Josiah Behm was named to the All-NSIC First Team Defense following his standout season. Wide receiver Brady Perryman was tabbed as an All-NSIC Second Team Offense performer while seniors Hayden Carr and Jake Bettcher were named All-NSIC Second Team Defense.
The sophomore Strand earns the conference's highest individual honor after turning in what was potentially the greatest single season in school history. Strand set MSUM school records in passing yardage (3,914), pass completions (370), pass attempts (550) and passing touchdowns (36). His 340 completions in NSIC competition is a new conference record while his 370 total completions led the nation in 2023. The fabulous sophomore finished second in the nation in overall passing yardage with his 36 touchdowns the third-highest total in Division II. On average, Strand threw for 355.8 yards per game, completing 67 percent of his passes during the season. He also tied the MSUM single-game record for passing touchdowns after slinging six against Sioux Falls on October 14. Strand becomes the first Dragon since Dustin Long (2007) to win the NSIC's Offensive Player of the Year award.
Florence earns First Team honors after another record-breaking season which saw him reel in 108 passes to reset his own single-season school record. His reception total led the country in 2023 as Florence hauled in nearly 10 catches per contest for MSUM. Oddly enough, Florence tallied the exact same receiving yard total as 2022 (996), but was able to reel in nine touchdowns on the season. The redshirt sophomore had a season-best 17 receptions against Wayne State on August 31.
Behm led the NSIC in tackles in 2023, totaling 94 tackles including 53 solo stops. The junior also registered 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss totaling 45 lost yards this season. He forced one fumble and also had a pair of pass deflections during the year. Behm also tied the single-game school record for an interception return as he took a pick 98 yards for a touchdown against Sioux Falls on October 14. The Appleton, Wis., native had five games where he registered 10 or more tackles, including a season-best 14 against Minnesota State on October 7.
Perryman blossomed into one of the most reliable sets of hands for MSUM in 2023. The sophomore brought in 53 receptions during the season for 644 yards and eight touchdowns. Perryman had a monster performance in the season-opener against Wayne State, hauling in 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. That performance was one of three multi-touchdown games for the Cottage Grove, Minn., native.
Carr concluded a historic Dragon career in style in 2023, tallying 24 tackles with 12 solo stops. The senior was one of the most vital frontline pieces for MSUM during the season as the Dragons allowed 117.5 yards on the ground in 2023, making them the third-best rush defense in the league. Carr was also privvy to making game-changing plays throughout his final campaign, tallying four sacks, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble. The Champlin, Minn., native also had three pass deflections at the line of scrimmage.
Bettcher only continued to cement himself as an elite ball-hawking defensive back in 2023. The Detroit Lakes, Minn., native registered 61 tackles in 2023 with 42 being solo takedowns. Bettcher was also tied for an NSIC-best five interceptions in 2023, including one in his final contest against Mary on November 11. He also led the NSIC with 14 total passes defended as he made nine pass breakups throughout the season.
The Dragons finished the season with a 7-4 record including a 6-0 ledger at Nemzek Stadium. It is the first time since the 1995 season that MSUM has gone undefeated inside the friendly confines. The last time the Dragons went 6-0 at home specifically was during the 1981 campaign.
This article was written by MSUM's Nolan Schmidt