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8-Player Football Awards: Defensive Player of the Year Finalists

11/05/2021, 10:00am CDT
By Travis Wilson

The WSN 8-Player Football Awards were launched in 2016 to recognize the outstanding players participating in reduced player football. Awards presented will be Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. All players are eligible regardless of grade level.

Each year, a preseason Watch List will be produced, then narrowed down to five finalists after the regular season. Winners will be announced the week after the 8-Player Championship.

These awards are not associated with any conference nor the WFCA awards, and are presented independently by


Hunter Cronauer, Wabeno/Laona - Just a junior, Cronauer has been a terror on defense for the Rebels this season, helping them to a league title and perfect record into the state semi-finals. He is second in the state with 142 tackles and leads the state with 44 tackles for loss and 19 sacks.

Bryson Keepers, Gilman - Keepers teamed with Julian Krizan for a dynamic duo on defense as the Pirates are into the state semi-finals. The junior defensive end recorded 73 tackles with nine sacks, an interception, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble.

Josh Kristoff, Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas - Kristoff helped the Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas co-op to a perfect regular season record and MONLPC-East Conference title. On the season he posted 126 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and scored two defensive touchdowns. In the Level 2 loss to Wabeno/Laona, he balled out with 24 tackles, including one for loss plus a forced fumble.

Julian Krizan, Gilman - Krizan was an All-State player last year and the WSN 8-Player Defensive Player of the Year. As a senior, he has been outstanding once again, recording 83 tackles and three sacks for the unbeaten Pirates. He's also a stalwart on offense, accumulating more than 1700 total passing and rushing yards with 30 combined touchdowns.

Ashton Maney, Three Lakes - Maney could have been a finalist on offense as well with more than 2100 yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns. However, he was just good on defense, recording 80 tackles, two tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a tied with a state-leading seven interceptions.

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

For the latest and most up to date football news and recruiting information, follow Travis on Twitter @travisWSN. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Travis at travis(at)

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