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GNAC Football Season Preview: Azusa Pacific
Play Video Azusa Pacific finished third in the GNAC standings in 2017 and will be led by First Team All-American wide receiver Weston Carr.
Azusa Pacific finished third in the GNAC standings in 2017 and will be led by First Team All-American wide receiver Weston Carr.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. - In the fourth of our GNAC Football Video Previews profiling the conference's five programs, we feature the Azusa Pacific Cougars.

The champion in three of the six years it has been in the GNAC, Azusa Pacific was picked to win it all in 2017. The Cougars, however, came out on the losing end of four close contests to both Central Washington and Humboldt State. Azusa Pacific finished second in the GNAC in scoring offense (41.4 points per game) and led the conference in both kickoff returns (24.2 yards per return) and pass defense (204.6 yards allowed per game). The Cougars were the most efficient GNAC team inside the 20-yard line, ranking 20th in Division II in red zone offense (88.5 percent).

Azusa Pacific and Central Washington each went 3-0 in non-conference play, helping lead the GNAC to a 9-2 record in non-conference games against Division II opponents.

Like Central Washington, Azusa Pacific returns a great deal of experience on both sides of the ball. Junior wide receiver Weston Carr was a consensus First Team All-American after he led the GNAC and was second in Division II with 132.5 receiving yards per game. Carr also finished third in Division II with 15 receiving touchdowns. Senior center Sakalaia Hungalu will anchor an experienced Azusa Pacific offensive line. The First Team All-GNAC selection was a major factor on a line that allowed just 23 sacks in 2017. Senior kicker Jacob Hall earned First Team All-GNAC honors after making 7 of 8 field goal attempts and averaged 40.1 yards per punt.

Senior linebacker Aaron Berry leads a quartet of returning All-GNAC defensive players. Berry earned first-team honors after he led the team with 84 tackles and 12 tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Adrian Shocks was a Second Team All-GNAC pick, finishing second for APU with 79 tackles and seven tackles for loss. Senior linebackers Willie Fair and Ma’ake Muti, both second-team selections, each finished with 38 tackles while Second Team All-GNAC cornerback Lavell Thomas had three interceptions, the most of any returning APU player.

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