Thursday, August 23, 2012
PORTLAND, Ore. - Two players that helped Humboldt State produce nearly 36 points per game in leading the Lumberjacks to a 9-1 record are gone, but the ‘Jacks will remain a potent force this fall and are the favorites to win their second consecutive GNAC football title.
HSU, which returns 16 starters including nine on offense, earned four first-place votes and outpointed Central Washington 24-20 in the annual GNAC Coaches pre-season poll.
Humboldt is also ranked among the top teams nationally in NCAA Division II. The ‘Jacks earned a No. 21 ranking in the AFCA Coaches pre-season poll and earned a No. 17 spot in the USA College Football.com poll.
Quarterback Mike Proulx, who threw for 2,888 yards and 25 touchdowns, and running back Lyndon Rowells, who rushed for a GNAC record 1,417 yards, both graduated.
Alex Rump will likely replace Proulx at quarterback for fifth-year head coach Rob Smith. Last year Rump saw limited duty completing three of seven passes for 32 yards.
Humboldt is a little more experienced at running back.
Among the candidates to replace Rowells is Daniel Wyatt who is back after spending a redshirt year at Tuskegee. Two years ago Wyatt rushed for 513 yards and five touchdowns for the Lumberjacks.
The Lumberjack offense will also feature three returning all-stars including wide receiver Victor Spencer and offensive linemen Brett Frydendahl and David Kulp.
Back on defense is a pair of first team all-league picks – linebacker Chris Peterson and defensive back Jeremiah Maluia.
Central Washington, which had won six of the previous eight GNAC titles, will try to rebound from its first losing season since 2001.
The Wildcats have 10 returning starters on offense, including one from the 2009 season.
Coach Blaine Bennett also reloaded with several Division I transfers including running backs Demetrius Sumler from Colorado and Johri Fogerson from the University of Washington.
Quarterback Ryan Robertson will also have available some outstanding receivers including Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) All-American Tavoy Moore from Idaho State.
Western Oregon also appears to have the guns to challenge Humboldt State for the title returning a league-best 10 all-stars, including three first team defensive selections in lineman Gavin Drake, linebacker Scotland Foss and defensive back Bryce Peila.
Peila led the GNAC and ranked third nationally in interceptions with nine.
The Wolves, who came in third in the coaches’ poll, will be going with a new starting quarterback. The candidates include Cody VonAppen and Trey Shimabukuro.
Azusa Pacific will make its debut in the GNAC this fall and brings another solid football program to the conference. It earned a No. 4 ranking in the pre-season poll.
Victor Santa Cruz’s team posted a 9-3 record last year as a NAIA independent losing to Carroll, Mont., in the playoffs.
While quarterback John van Raadt, who rushed for 1,200 yards and threw for 1,875 doesn’t return, the Cougars do have four first team NAIA independent all-stars.
Simon Fraser and Dixie State tied for fifth in the pre-season poll.
The Clan is coming off a 3-7 season and returns two first team GNAC all-stars in running back Bo Palmer and offensive lineman Matthias Goossen.
Palmer is the GNAC’s top returning rusher, gaining 1,219 yards last season when he scored eight touchdowns.
Dixie State has 17 returning starters – one more than Humboldt’s total - led by consensus All-American tight end Joe Don Duncan who led the nation’s tight ends in catches with 64 for 949 yards.
The Red Storm also return first team GNAC defensive back and kick returner Cache Morgan.
The GNAC season begins next Thursday (Aug. 30) as Azusa Pacific debuts against UC Davis, Humboldt State hosts Colorado Mesa and Simon Fraser plays at Pacific.
Central Washington opens its season Saturday (Sept. 1) at Texas A&M-Kingsville, while Dixie State plays at Adams State and Grand Valley visits Western Oregon.
2012 GNAC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
AUGUST: 30 - Azusa Pacific at UC Davis, 6 p.m.; Colorado Mesa at Humboldt State, 6 p.m.; Simon Fraser at Pacific, 7 p.m.
SEPTEMBER: 1 – Central Washington at Texas A&M – Kingsville, 7 p.m.; Dixie State at Adams State, 7 p.m.; Grand Valley at Western Oregon, 1 p.m. 8 – Azusa Pacific at Humboldt State, 6 p.m.; Central Washington at Simon Fraser, 2 p.m.; Western Oregon at Dixie State, 6 p.m. 15 – Dixie State at Azusa Pacific, 6 p.m.; Central Washington at Western Oregon, 1 p.m.; Simon Fraser at Humboldt State, 6 p.m. 22 – Azusa Pacific at Central Washington, 1 p.m.; Humboldt State at Dixie State, 6 p.m.; Simon Fraser at Western Oregon, 1 p.m. 29 – Western Oregon at Azusa Pacific, 6 p.m.; Humboldt State at Central Washington, 1 p.m.; Dixie State at Simon Fraser, 6 p.m.
OCTOBER: 6 – Azusa Pacific at Simon Fraser, 2 p.m.; Central Washington at Dixie State, 1 p.m.; Western Oregon at Humboldt State, 6 p.m. 13 – Humboldt State at Azusa Pacific, 6 p.m.; Simon Fraser at Central Washington, 1 p.m.; Dixie State at Western Oregon, 1 p.m. 20 – Central Washington at Azusa Pacific, 6:30 p.m.; Dixie State at Humboldt State, 6 p.m.; Western Oregon at Simon Fraser, 2 p.m. 27 – Azusa Pacific at Western Oregon, 1 p.m.; Central Washington at Humboldt State, 6 p.m.; Simon Fraser at Dixie State, 1 p.m.
NOVEMBER: 3 – Azusa Pacific at Dixie State, 1 p.m.; Western Oregon at Central Washington, 1 p.m.; Humboldt State at Simon Fraser, 2 p.m. 10 – Simon Fraser at Azusa Pacific, 6 p.m.; Dixie State at Central Washington, noon; Humboldt State at Western Oregon, 1 p.m.