Almost every starter on the Central Washington University football team earned all-conference honors Wednesday when the Great Northwest Conference announced the teams.
Eleven members of Central’s defense and 10 offensive players earned all-GNAC status, with six defenders and four offensive players landing on the first team.
Ian Shoemaker, a Graham native who coached CWU to its first playoff appearance since 2009, was named GNAC coach of the year. Senior linebacker Kevin Haynes of Battle Ground is the Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, senior defensive lineman Bo Banner of Bellingham was Defensive Lineman of the Year and junior quarterback Reilly Hennessey of Camas was Newcomer of the Year.
Central (11-0) earned a No. 1 seed in the 24-team NCAA Division II playoffs on the strength of 97 players who attended Washington high schools. Forty-six players are from the South Sound.
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Senior tight end Kyle Self (a Peninsula High graduate), junior offensive lineman James Moore (Bethel) and sophomore lineman Nicholas Streubel (Coupeville) joined Hennessey on the first-team offense.
Senior defensive lineman Nicholas Aumua (Auburn Mountainview), sophomore lineman Christian Penny (Chiawana), junior cornerback Tyler Hasty (Bellevue) and senior defensive back Jackson Huerta (Kentwood) joined Banner and Haynes on the first-team defense. Central’s defense was instrumental in the Wildcat’s perfect regular season. They Wildcats held opponents without an offensive touchdowns in four games.
Earning second-team honors: Senior running back Austin Pernell (Kentlake), sophomore receiver Nate Rauda (O’Dea), freshman tight end Samuel Sanchez (O’Dea), junior offensive lineman Luke Asbjornsen (Graham-Kapowsin), sophomore defensive lineman Billy Greer (Wilson), senior linebacker Sean Elledge (Glacier Peak), senior safety Max McIntosh (Rogers) and sophomore defensive back Darien Williams (Lincoln).
Honorable mention honors went to senior offensive lineman Reggie Long (Skyline), senior receiver Justin Peterson (Lakewood) and sophomore defensive lineman Elisha Pa’aga (Eastside Catholic).
"Each of these players are deserving of the awards they earned and we are thankful the rest of the league was able to see the impact they had on our football team," Shoemaker said in a statement posted on the school website. "Everyone in our program should take pride in these accomplishments. Although the awards are handed out to individuals, it is truly a group effort."
On his coach of the year award, Shoemaker said, “I am honored and humbled by this award, and like I mentioned before, this accomplishment will be shared amongst us all. We have an unbelievably talented staff that has worked tirelessly to get us to where we are. 11-0 is no easy task, and our coaching staff, from top to bottom, has been dialed in all season and dedicated to seeing this program take off. But at the end of the day, none of this is possible without student-athletes who are just as dedicated as the coaching staff. We have a very special group, and we all realize how important each person is to the success of our team.”
Adrian Shocks, a junior linebacker for Azusa Pacific and a Todd Beamer High graduate, earned second-team honors.
The playoffs start this week, but Central has a bye. The Wildcats host the winner of Saturday’s Winona State-Texas A&M Commerce game in the second round, Nov. 25 at noon.