Rewarding the accomplishments of an undefeated regular season in which they dominated on the scoreboard and in numerous statistical categories, the Linfield football program placed 20 players and its head coach on the Northwest Conference all-star list. The teams were finalized last week following a vote of the NWC's eight head coaches.
Linfield linebacker Dominique Forrest (Sr., Portland, Ore.) was selected as the NWC's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. Quarterback Josh Yoder (Sr., Hubbard, Ore.) was honored as the conference's Offensive Player of the Year. Coach Joseph Smith received the nod as Coach of the Year in the NWC for the fifth consecutive season.
Forrest bounced back from a serious injury suffered during last season's playoffs to regain his All-America form. He led Linfield with 76 total tackles, despite playing fewer than three quarters of many games due to lopsided outcomes. Forrest also contributed four sacks, three pass breakups and forced two fumbles, recovering one.
Yoder led the Wildcats in rushing, gaining 611 yards in 10 games and scoring 16 touchdowns. He was also an accurate passer, completing 63.9 percent of his throws. Yoder totaled 2,070 yards and 19 touchdowns and conceded just seven interceptions.
Named as first team NWC all-stars were receiver Charlie Poppen (Jr., Oregon City, Ore.), tailback Josh Hill (Sr., Portland, Ore.), offensive guard Eric Pitassi (Soph., West Linn, Ore.), defensive tackle Jeremy Girod (Jr., Vancouver, Wash.) and Tyler Steele (Sr., Salem, Ore.), rover Mike Nardoni (Jr., Palos Verdes, Calif.), defensive end Alex Hoff (Soph., Lebanon, Ore.), and defensive backs Colin Forman (Sr., Beaverton, Ore.) and Kyle Wright (Sr., Springfield, Ore.).
Second team all-NWC recognition went to receiver Brian Balsiger (Soph., Tualatin, Ore.), center Jeremy Patrick (Jr., Portland, Ore.), offensive tackle Jesse Archambault (Sr., Roseburg, Ore.), linebacker and Tim Edmonds (Sr., Portland, Ore.).
Honorable mention was accorded to tight end Jacob Priester (Sr., Patterson, Calif.), kicker Josh Repp (Sr., Alta Loma, Calif.), defensive tackle Mike Maierhofer (Sr., Mission Viejo, Calif.), and defensive backs Brandon Funk (Sr., Millwood, Wash.) and Ian Zarosinski (Sr., Vancouver, Wash.).
Poppen was again one of the most exciting pass catchers in the NWC. He totaled 35 receptions in Linfield's balanced offense, gaining 585 yards and scoring five touchdowns.
Hill rushed for 600 yards in 10 games, scoring 16 touchdowns. He averaged 60 yards rushing a game and 4.6 yards per carry while also catching 15 passes for 149 yards and two TDs.
Pitassi captained an offensive line that was among the Division III leaders in productivity. The Wildcats averaged an eye-opening 53.7 points and 485.8 yards per game.
Girod and Steele, both second generation Wildcats, anchored Linfield's interior defense, limiting opponents to just 59.3 yards rushing and 252.3 total yards per game.
Steele was credited with 22 tackles, including eight for loss and three sacks. He also recovered a fumble.
Girod was the Wildcats' third-leading tackler with 35 stops, 13 for loss, six sacks and a fumble recovery.
Nardoni, whose position calls for him to be part pass rusher and part defensive back, recorded 25 tackles, five of them for loss, one sack and an interception. He also broke up three passes and forced a pair of fumbles.
Forman, a repeat first team pick, racked up 34 tackles, three interceptions, four pass breakups and one fumble recovery while starting eight of the Wildcats' 10 contests.
Wright, another two-time first team honoree, made 43 tackles, second only to Forrest. He was credited with six pass breakups, a fumble recovery, two interceptions and one sack.
Balsiger, a first-year starter who began his career at Portland State, caught 31 passes for 451 yards and four scores.
Patrick was a stabilizing influence on the offensive as Linfield's No. 1 center, starting all 10 games. Archambault, a first-year starter, was steady as well, providing ample protection for Yoder to run or pass.
Edmonds was the Wildcats' fourth-leading tackler, picking up 34 tackles, including 19 unassisted. He made one sack, plus two other tackles for loss, and broke up two passes.
Priester caught five passes for 34 yards and one touchdown.
Repp was solid all season as Linfield's kicker. He was 7 for 12 on field goal attempts and nearly automatic in PATs, successfully converting 66 of 69 extra points.
Maierhofer's season was limited to six games, but he remained one of the NWC's leading defensive tackles against the run. Maierhofer was credited with four tackles and three quarterback hurries.
Funk started nine games at cornerback, recording 10 tackles and one interception. He also served as Repp's holder on point-after touchdowns and field goals, making him a significant contributor to the Wildcats' high rate of consistency on special teams.
Zarosinski started eight games in the secondary, intercepting three passes, breaking up six pass attempts, and filling in with 19 tackles, 15 of them unassisted.
The Wildcats, ranked second in the nation for much of the season, captured the program's fifth NWC championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA playoffs last Saturday with a 42-21 victory over 13-ranked Pacific Lutheran. Linfield hosts Hampden-Sydney (Va.) Saturday at Maxwell Field in a second-round contest starting at noon.
Dominique Forrest, Josh Yoder
Top defensive, offensive performers
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128