APU's Watson, Thornton, Santa Cruz Grab Top Awards
Tyler Thornton (left), Terrell Watson (center) and Victor Santa Cruz (right) won GNAC top awards.
Tyler Thornton (left), Terrell Watson (center) and Victor Santa Cruz (right) won GNAC top awards.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – Azusa Pacific running back Terrell Watson, who set GNAC single-season records for rushing yards (1,702 yards) and rushing touchdowns (20), has been selected the 2013 GNAC Offensive Player of the Year.

The Cougars, who finished the regular-season with a 9-2 record and a seven-game winning streak, also won two other major awards as defensive back Tyler Thornton was voted the GNAC Defensive Player of the Year and Victor Santa Cruz was voted the GNAC Coach of the Year after guiding his team to their first GNAC title.

Santa Cruz will take his team to Rome, Georgia, next Saturday (Nov. 23) to play Greenville College in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) Victory Bowl. 

Santa Cruz, a 1995 graduate of the University of Hawaii, is in his eighth season at APU and has guided the Cougars to a 42-44 record as they have transitioned from the NAIA ranks to NCAA Division II.

Thornton finished the regular-season ranked second in the GNAC in total tackles with 114 and fifth in passes defended, intercepting four and breaking up six others.  He leads the conference in interception return yards with 119.

Also earning special awards were Central Washington offensive tackle Mike Nelson, Western Oregon defensive end Kraig Akins, Simon Fraser running back Chris Tolbert and Humboldt State wide receiver Chase Krivashei.

Nelson, who became just the fourth player in GNAC history to earn first team all-league honors four times, was voted the GNAC Offensive Lineman of the Year

He joins NFL veteran punter Michael Koenen of Western Washington (2001-04), Central Washington wide receiver Johnny Spevak (2006-09) and CWU linebacker Blake Walker (2001-04) in that exclusive club.

Akins was selected the GNAC Defensive Lineman of the Year.  He finished the season as the conference leader in tackles for loss (16) and tied Thornton for the lead in forced fumbles with four.  He also ranked second in sacks (8) and seventh in tackles (70).

Tolbert was voted the GNAC Newcomer of the Year.  The Central Connecticut transfer ranked third in the conference in rushing with 1.050 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Krivashei was a unanimous selection for GNAC Freshman of the Year honors after setting a GNAC record for most receptions with 96 for 915 yards.

Nelson was one of seven Central Washington players selected to the 29-man GNAC first team all-conference team.  Azusa Pacific and Western Oregon each placed six players on the first team.  Dixie State and Simon Fraser each had four and Humboldt State placed two on the first team.

Nelson was also one of seven unanimous selections to the first team along with Watson, Krivashei, Thornton, Akins, Dixie State wide receiver Mitch Frei and Central Washington defensive back Isaiah Davis.

Repeaters on the first team in addition to Nelson were Watson, Western Oregon wide receiver Tyrell Williams, DSU tight end Joe Don Duncan, Simon Fraser offensive lineman Matthias Goossen, WOU defensive lineman Gustave Benthin, Thornton and CWU defensive back Stan Langlow.

Goossen and Benthin were selected to the first team for the third year in a row.  Watson, Williams and Langlow were all repeaters from last year (Langlow at linebacker), while Duncan was a repeater from the 2011 season.



First Team: Quarterback –  Griff Robles, DSU (6-5, 235, Sr., Spanish Fork, UT); Ryan Bergman, WOU (6-2, 170, Jr., Issaquah, WA).  Running Backs – +*Terrell Watson, APU (6-2, 230, Jr., Oxnard, CA); Jordan Todd, CWU (5-6, 186, So., Bellevue, WA). Receivers – +Chase Krivashei, HSU (5-9, 165, Fr., Corona, CA); +Mitch Frei, DSU (6-2, 190, Sr., Santa Clara, UT); *Tyrell Williams, WOU (6-4, 200, Jr., Salem, OR). Tight End – *Joe Don Duncan, DSU (6-4, 265, Sr., Corona, CA).  Offensive Line - +***Mike Nelson, CWU (6-4, 305, Sr., Carnation, WA); Lance Barker, APU (6-2, 275, Sr., Anaheim, CA); Marcus Cuellar, WOU (6-4, 320, Sr., Independence, OR); **Matthias Goossen, SFU (6-3, 300, Sr., Richmond, BC); Neil Fuhrmann, CWU (6-3, 291, Sr., Sumner, WA).  Kicker  - Jamie Cacciatore, APU (5-8, 175, So., Orange, CA). Kick Returner – Tore Corrado, SFU (5-10, 175, Sr., Vancouver, BC).  +Unanimous  *Repeater  

Second Team: Quarterback – Ryan Stanford, SFU (6-3, 199, So., Phoenix, AZ); Dasmen Stewart, APU (6-4, 225, Sr., Oxnard, CA).  Running Backs – Chris Tolbert, SFU (5-11, 205, Jr., Baltimore, MD); Joe Harris, WOU (6-1, 170, So., Coquille, OR).  Wide Receivers – Antoinne Wafer, WOU (5-8, 165, Sr., Seattle, WA); Jesse Zalk, CWU (5-8, 153, Fr., Battle Ground, WA); Bobby Pospischil, SFU (5-9, 185, Jr., Coquitlam, BC).  Tight Ends – Jamel Kett, SFU (6-5, 220, So., Toronto, ON).  Offensive Line – David Kulp, HSU (6-2, 295, Sr., Lompoc, CA); Dillon Reagan, HSU (6-4, 310, Sr., Issaquah, WA); Cody Clay, APU (6-6, 330, Jr., Fullerton, CA); Alexander Jones, WOU (6-3, 280, Sr., Portland, OR); Brooks Abel, CWU (6-5, 305, Sr., Kent, WA).  Kicker – Matt Bruder, HSU (5-9, 180, Jr., Jamul, CA). Kick Returner – Jesse Zalk, CWU (5-8, 153, Fr., Battle Ground, WA; Tarik Myles, APU (5-6, 152, Fr., Rancho Cucamonga, CA).


First Team:  Defensive Line – +Kraig Akins, WOU (6-2, 290, Jr., Springfield, OR); **Gustave Benthin, WOU (6-2, 285, Sr., Knappa, OR); Matt Moody, APU (6-1, 225, Sr., La Habra, CA); Austin Schnizler, CWU (6-3, 266, Sr., Ventura, CA).  Linebackers – Jake Duncan, DSU (6-0, 240, Sr., Corona, CA); Casey Chin, SFU (5-10, 225, Sr., Port Coquitlam, BC); Shane Kuenzi, WOU (6-0, 195, So., Salem, OR); JB Torsy, CWU (5-10, 212, Jr., Trabuco Hills, CA). Defensive Backs – +*Tyler Thornton, APU (5-8, 182, Jr., Bakersfield, CA); +Isaiah Davis, CWU (5-10, 176, So., Bremerton, WA); *Stan Langlow, CWU (6-4, 205, Sr., University Place, WA); Silas Goma, APU (6-1, 195, Sr., Thousand Oaks, CA). Punter – Chris Campbell, HSU (5-11, 175, Jr., Granite Bay, CA).  Punt Returner -  Earl Anderson, SFU (5-10, 175, So., Toronto, ON). +Unanimous  *Repeater  

Second Team: Defensive Line -  Saula Taufa, DSU (6-4, 320, Jr., Lahaina, HI); Tovar Sanchez, CWU (6-3, 237, So., Seattle, WA); Silas Sarvinski, HSU (6-1, 265, Jr., Ferndale, CA); Alex Markarian, HSU (6-4, 285, Jr., Chino Hills, CA); Talaiasi Taueli, APU (6-1, 283, So., Mesa, AZ);  Linebackers – Ridge Nielsen, CWU (5-11, 231, Sr., Mesa, AZ); Sean Barber, APU (6-1, 220, Sr., Edgewood, WA); Jake Henderson, APU (6-1, 220, Sr., Fontana, CA).  Defensive Backs -  Derek Jones, SFU (6-1, 195, Sr., Edmonton, AB); Zac Christian, DSU (6-1, 185, Jr., Plain City, UT); Pat Tepea, WOU (6-0, 200, Sr., Kailua, HI); Cedrique Chaney, CWU (5-11, 186, So., Kelso, WA).  Punter – Alexander Bradt, WOU (6-1, 195. So., Salem, OR); Matt Burke, CWU (6-0, 192, Sr., Laguna Hills, CA).  Punt Returner – Isaiah Davis, CWU(5-10, 176, So., Bremerton, WA).

GNAC Offensive Player-of-the-Year – Terrell Watson, APU (RB, 6-2, 230, Jr., Oxnard, CA). GNAC Defensive Player-of-the-Year -  Tyler Thornton, APU (DB, 5-8, 182, Jr., Bakersfield, CA). GNAC Offensive Lineman-of-the-Year -  Mike Nelson, CWU (OL, 6-4, 305, Sr., Carnation, WA).  GNAC Defensive Lineman-of-the-Year  - Kraig Akins, WOU (DL, 6-2, 290, Jr., Springfield, OR). GNAC Newcomer-of-the-Year – Chris Tolbert, SFU (RB, 5-11, 205, Jr., Baltimore, MD).  GNAC Freshman-of-the-Year – Chase Krivashei, HSU (WR, 5-9, 165, Fr. Corona, CA). GNAC Coach-of-the-Year – Victor Santa Cruz, APU.