National Coaches Poll Puts Central Washington In Top-25
Central Washington is paced by defensive lineman Tyler Hasy (No. 9, center), who earned First Team All-American honors in 2017 by both the D2CCA and AP.
Central Washington is paced by defensive lineman Tyler Hasy (No. 9, center), who earned First Team All-American honors in 2017 by both the D2CCA and AP.

Monday, August 13, 2018

WACO, Texas – One season removed from an undefeated regular season and earning the No. 1 seed for Super Region 4 in the NCAA Division II playoffs, Central Washington has received a top-10 ranking in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Preseason Division II Coaches’ Poll.

The Wildcats, picked last week to repeat as conference champion in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, is No. 9 in the national poll. Central Washington received a total of 494 points and dropped two spots from its final 2017 poll position of No. 7.

Central Washington is joined by two other GNAC programs which are among those receiving votes. Azusa Pacific is 14th among the listed teams with 22 points while Humboldt State received four points.

Central Washington posted just the second undefeated regular season record in conference history in 2017, matching its 8-0 conference mark with an 11-0 regular season record. Solid on both sides of the ball, the Wildcats outscored opponents by an average of 22 points per game and led Division II in rushing defense (44.6 yards allowed per game) and team tackles for loss (10.7 per game). Central Washington led the GNAC in both scoring defense (17.6 points per game) and total defense (259.9 yards per game) while also leading the conference in rushing yardage (243.1 per game).

The Wildcats return eight starters on offense, including a number of key skill players. Senior Reilly Hennessey was a difference-maker at quarterback after transferring from Division I-FCS Eastern Washington. Hennessey finished third in the GNAC in total offense, averaging 261.3 yards per game, while throwing for 28 touchdowns and rushing for five more. His pass efficiency rating of 159.5 is the highest of the conference’s returning quarterbacks. Senior offensive lineman James Moore earned Second Team D2CCA All-American honors while junior Nicholas Streubel was a First Team D2CCA All-Super Region 4 selection. Senior kicker Gavin Todd returns after making 10 of 14 field goals last year.

On defense, senior defensive lineman Tyler Hasty returns after earning First Team All-American honors by both the D2CCA and Associated Press last year. Hasty led the GNAC with eight interceptions, ranked fourth in Division II with 0.7 interceptions per game and 10th in passes defended (1.6 per game) to go along with 48 tackles. Junior defensive lineman Billy Greer earned Second Team D2CCA All-Super Region 4 honors after finishing seventh in Division II with 1.10 sacks per game (12 total) and was second in the GNAC with 15 tackles for loss. The Wildcats also return all-conference players in senior defensive lineman Elisha Pa’aga and junior defensive back Darien Williams.

In addition to the AFCA preseason ranking, Central Washington is ranked No. 6 in the College Football America Yearbook Preseason Poll and No. 11 in Street & Smith’s 2018 Preseason Football Poll.

Week one of the GNAC football season begins on Sat., Sept. 1, with Central Washington taking on Division I-FCS power Eastern Washington in Cheney, Wash. Conference play begins on Sat., Sept. 8.