Butler's Bushka, San Diego's Kapapa lead 2022 PFL Major Award Recipients

Monday, November 28, 2022
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – Butler quarterback Bret Bushka and San Diego defensive lineman Muhindo Kapapa are the 2022 Pioneer Football League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. The duo leads the list of the league’s major award winners as selected by the PFL’s head coaches and presented Monday.

Joining Bushka and Kapapa is Butler kicker and punter Luka Zurak, the league’s Special Teams Player of the Year. In addition, St. Thomas head coach Glenn Caruso was selected by his peers as the 2022 PFL Coach of the Year.

Stetson quarterback Brady Meitz and Drake linebacker Finn Claypool are the league’s Freshman Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.

The annual PFL Major Awards announcement launches the league’s annual awards week. The PFL will announce its 30th All-PFL Teams Tuesday. The league will announce its Scholar-Athlete of the Year Wednesday, coinciding with the announcement of the 30th Academic All-PFL teams. 

Bushka, a redshirt junior from Lombard, Illinois, becomes the second Butler athlete to win the league’s top offensive honor, joining 2012 recipient Matt Lancaster. He led all PFL athletes with 3,004 offensive yards and 25 touchdowns. While Bushka’s 2,377 passing yards ranked second among PFL passers, his 627 rushing yards were eighth among the league’s rushers and led all quarterbacks. He led the PFL in pass efficiency (142.17) and completion percentage (64.7) and was tied for the league lead with 20 passing touchdowns. At the end of the regular season, he ranked among the FCS top 25 in total offense (17th, 273.1 yards per game), completion percentage (25th), passing touchdowns (22nd), and points responsible for (23rd, 14.2 points per game).

Kapapa, a graduate student from Fairfield, California, is the fifth San Diego defender to claim the league’s defensive honor and the second in the last three seasons. He led the league in sacks (9.0) and tackles for loss (14.0) in San Diego’s 10-game schedule. Kapapa posted 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in just seven league outings, ranking second and fifth in those respective categories. He ranked among the FCS’ top 15 in both tackles for loss (15th, 1.4 per game) and sacks (9th, 0.9 per game) at the regular season’s end.

Zurak, a redshirt junior from Cleveland, Ohio, is the second Butler athlete to claim the league’s special teams honor since the award was established in 2015. He joins Guy DiBalsamo, who claimed a share of the inaugural award in 2015. Zurak led all PFL kickers with 72 points scored in 2022, connecting on 36-of-37 PATs and 12-of-15 field goals. He also handled punting duties for the Bulldogs and led the league with a 41.78 average, including seven kicks of 50-plus yards. His 56-yard game-winning field goal at San Diego is the second-longest field goal made in the FCS this season. 

Caruso, a Greenwich, Connecticut native, claims his first PFL Coach of the Year citation after leading St. Thomas to its first PFL Championship in only its second season as a Division I member. After opening the season with a loss at Southern Utah, the Tommies won their next 10 games to post a 10-1 overall record and completed an unbeaten 8-0 run through PFL play. In league play, St. Thomas led the league in total defense with 281 yards allowed per game – the only team to limit its opposition to less than 300 yards per game – while also leading the league with just 94.5 rushing yards allowed per game. Offensively, St. Thomas tied for the league lead in touchdowns scored (37) and was second in scoring offense (33.8 points per game).  

Just 15 plays into the 2022 season, Meitz was called on to take over the reins of the Stetson offense after starter Alex Piccirilli suffered an injury. The Cumming, Georgia product would lead the Hatters in a comeback victory in that game and eventually started the next nine games. Meitz finished his rookie season leading the PFL in passing yards (2,548) and 300-yard passing performances (4) and was second in passing touchdowns (17). He finished with 1,501 passing yards and 11 touchdowns in seven PFL games, ranking fourth among PFL passers in both categories. Meitz joins Jalen Leary as Hatters to win the league’s freshman offensive honor since the award was established in 2008.

Playing for his hometown team, Claypool enjoyed an impressive redshirt freshman campaign. He finished third among league tacklers in both tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (8.0), ranking among the FCS’ top 25 in each category. The Des Moines, Iowa native, recorded 12 solo tackles for loss, and all eight of his sacks were solo stops during the campaign. Claypool led the way with 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in league play while also averaging 4.63 tackles per game to rank among the league’s top 50. He is the fourth Drake athlete to earn the league’s freshman defensive award and the first since Mack Marrin won the 2014 honor.

2022 Pioneer Football League Major Award Winners

Offensive Player of the Year: Bret Bushka, Butler

Defensive Player of the Year: Muhindo Kapapa, San Diego

Special Teams Player of the Year: Luka Zurak, Butler

Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Brady Meitz, Stetson

Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Finn Claypool, Drake

Coach of the Year: Glenn Caruso, St. Thomas

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: To be announced, Wednesday