Central Washington Tapped For Division II Football Showcase
Michael Roots earned 2018 GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors after averaging 97 rushing yards per game.
Michael Roots earned 2018 GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors after averaging 97 rushing yards per game.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – For the fifth straight year, Central Washington will be on display on a national stage as the Wildcats have been selected to take part in the NCAA Division II Football Showcase.

The Wildcats’ home opener on Saturday, Sept. 14 against Ferris State will be streamed exclusively on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app as part of the showcase, which features a different Division II football game every week.

“It is an honor once again to be selected to host an NCAA Division II Football Showcase game at Central Washington University,” said CWU athletic director Dennis Francois. “The ESPN production and broadcast of these games have been outstanding publicity for our University and our football program, but the student-athlete experience is probably the most special aspect of these games. I am excited for both our student-athletes and Ferris State’s student-athletes to experience game day at CWU.”

The game marks the sixth time that the GNAC has been featured in the D2 Football Showcase and the fifth time for Central Washington. The Wildcats last played in the showcase on Oct. 6, 2018, beating Azusa Pacific 45-31 in Glendora, California. The Wildcats played in showcase games twice in 2017, which included a 42-28 win over Humboldt State on Nov. 11 in what was the de facto GNAC championship game.

Central Washington has a 3-1 record in the four Division II Football Showcase games and has won the last three times it was featured.

“It’s an honor when your team gets selected to play on ESPN,” said first-year CWU head coach Chris Fisk. “It’s a dream come true for our kids, our staff and CWU. I’m excited we get to showcase our ability on ESPN.”

Picked to finish second in the GNAC Preseason Coaches Poll, Central Washington posted an 8-3 overall record in 2018 and shared the conference title with Azusa Pacific with a 7-1 mark. The Wildcats finished with one of the most potent offenses in the nation, ranking second in Division II with 540.9 yards of total offense per game and 47.7 points per game; sixth with 272.6 rushing yards per game and ninth in red-zone offense (.892).

Fisk inherits a program with 84 returners and 17 returning starters. The Wildcats will build its offense around First Team All-GNAC and all-region running back Michael Roots. The junior and 2018 GNAC Newcomer of the Year carried the ball 139 times for 1,067 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 97 rushing yards per contest. The team returns a solid offensive line, led by First Team All-GNAC senior Nicholas Streubel.

The corps of nine defensive returners is led by senior linebacker Donte Hamilton, who earned First Team All-GNAC and Third Team Don Hansen All-Super Region 4 honors with his 88 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Also back is senior linebacker Tevin Gray, also a First Team All-GNAC choice, and Second Team All-GNAC senior defensive back Tyren Sams.

The Wildcats will host a Ferris State squad that opens the season ranked No. 2 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II Preseason Coaches Poll. Finishing with a 15-1 record, the Bulldogs won the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title with an 8-0 record before rolling through the playoffs to meet Valdosta State in the Division II championship game. Ferris State took a close 49-47 loss in the final. Ferris State returns 18 starters from last year’s team.

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