It's DII Football Showcase Time For Wildcats, Cougars
Weston Carr (left) and Reilly Hennessey will leaver their respective teams when they face off on Sat., Oct. 6, in a GNAC football contest thast will be streamed on ESPN3.
Weston Carr (left) and Reilly Hennessey will leaver their respective teams when they face off on Sat., Oct. 6, in a GNAC football contest thast will be streamed on ESPN3.

Friday, August 24, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – For the fourth consecutive year, GNAC football will be featured in front of a national audience. And for the second straight year, Azusa Pacific and Central Washington will take center stage.

Picked to finish first and second in the conference in the recent GNAC Football Preseason Coaches Poll, the Cougars and Wildcats will take part in the NCAA Division II Football Showcase, which will be streamed online on ESPN3. The game on Sat., Oct. 6, takes place at Citrus Stadium in Glendora, California.

“The Division II Football Showcase is a great opportunity to showcase the GNAC and our student-athletes,” said Central Washington head coach Ian Shoemaker. “It’s a chance for the last two GNAC champions to face-off in a nationally streamed game. Our players are always excited to play a game and compete under that spotlight.”

“When national television comes to town, I particularly love it because they get to see our fan base and our college football environment,” said Azusa Pacific head coach Victor Santa Cruz. “I want people to see how unique and special our players are, because I am amazed on a daily basis by the stories of these young men and all they’ve had to do in life to be here. I’m humbled to be their head coach and that is really what I hope comes across on the national webcast.”

Central Washington is the defending GNAC champion and is picked by coaches to repeat. Ranked No. 9 in the American Football Coaches Association’s Division II Preseason Coaches Poll, the Wildcats outscored opponents by an average of 22 points per game en route to the No. 1 seed in Super Region 4 in the 2017 NCAA Division II Playoffs. Central Washington returns 13 starters from last year, including quarterback Reilly Hennessey, All-American offensive lineman James Moore and All-American defensive lineman Tyler Hasty.

Azusa Pacific finished third in the GNAC last year and is picked by coaches to finish second in 2018. The GNAC champion in 2016, the Cougars finished second in the league in scoring offense and was among the Division II leaders in both kickoff return average and pass defense. Azusa Pacific welcomes back 16 starters, led by consensus All-American wide receiver Weston Carr and senior linebacker Aaron Berry.

Central Washington won both meetings between the two schools last year. In the first meeting, Sept. 16 in Glendora, Gavin Todd made a 42-yard field goal with one second remaining that allowed the Wildcats to escape with a 17-16 victory. In last year’s Division II Football Showcase game, Oct. 28 in Ellensburg, Central Washington broke open a 10-10 halftime tie with three second-half touchdowns en route to a 34-23 win.

This is the fourth time that Central Washington has been featured in the Division II Football Showcase and the second time for Azusa Pacific. The Wildcats made two appearances last year, including a Nov. 11 matchup with Humboldt State that CWU won 42-28.

In addition to the excitement of the national webcast, Azusa Pacific’s 1998 football team will be honored in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Cougars’ NAIA national championship.

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