Joseph Lopez's high school football career has come to an end. It ended when the team lost a very hard-fought battle against the Interlake Thunder in the Rural Manitoba Football League's semifinals. 

Dauphin earned the right to host that game after a very good regular season which included many highlights and memories throughout the season. And while his high school career has come to an end on the gridiron, Joseph has plenty to look back on and be proud of.

The 17-year-old consistently put up big numbers on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball and he was a leader on and off the field. It may have not ended with a championship, but Lopez does believe this was his most enjoyable year of football to date.

"Just because of who my teammates were this year, we had such a special group," said Lopez. "I also had the chance to finish off my high school career with some guys that I have been playing with since middle school, so that was special. Every game meant so much to us."

Joseph was a nominee for the most outstanding player on the offensive side of the ball as he finished with 20 carries for an outstanding 388 yards on the ground. He also had three catches for 85 yards. While he was very impressive offensively, Lopez was next level defensively. He finished the season with 37 tackles, four assists, four sacks, one fumble recovery, two interceptions, two knockdowns, and one defensive touchdown. 

On top of his nomination offensively, Lopez was also nominated for the most outstanding defensive player award and that was an award that he ended up taking home. At the league's year-end awards ceremony, Joseph was named the most outstanding defensive player. It's an award that he believes he couldn't have won without his great teammates.

"It means a lot. From the start of the season, I knew I wanted that award and I was pushing hard for it," said Lopez. "When I heard that I won it, I was really excited. I worked really hard for this but my coaches and teammates are the real reason that I was able to win it."

Joseph will now continue his football journey with the Manitoba Selects as they're off to Texas for an exhibition series of games early next year. He was approached by a coach from the team after Dauphin played Interlake in the league semifinal. Lopez is one of only a few players on that team that are from rural Manitoba. Lopez says getting recognized is a great feeling.

"It was exciting, it's the first time that something like that has happened to me," said Lopez. 

Lopez will then head to Ireland with the Parkland Pirates rugby program as they will play a series of exhibition games against teams from Ireland in late March. In other Clipper news, Matthew Zurba was presented with the Norris Aitken award. Stay tuned to hear from Matthew in the coming days.