Bearcat Football Places Eight Players on First Team All-NWC

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- A total of eight Willamette University football players have been chosen First Team All-Northwest Conference for the 2009 season in voting by the NWC head coaches. Willamette also placed seven players on the Second Team and five players received Honorable Mention. Inside linebacker Ralph Pineda (Jr., Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS/San Jose State Univ.) of Willamette was chosen NWC Defensive Player of the Year.

2009 All-NWC Football Team
Complete List

Pineda recorded 81 total tackles for the Bearcats. He earned 31 solo tackles and registered 51 assists. He provided WU with 5.5 tackles for losses. Willamette led the NWC in scoring defense and total defense, allowing just 15.9 points and 279.2 yards per game.

Overall, Willamette placed 20 athletes on the All-NWC Team. The complete All-NWC squad included 97 players, with 27 on the First Team, 25 on the Second Team and 45 on the Honorable Mention list.

Linfield College Head Coach Joe Smith, who led the Wildcats to an undefeated conference title, was named NWC Coach of the Year. Linfield quarterback Aaron Boehme, who completed 61.4% of his passes and threw for 25 touchdowns, was chosen NWC Offensive Player of the Year.

First Team All-Northwest Conference

Willamette's First Team selections on offense were senior center Scott Hirschberger (Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS), senior offensive tackle Joe Penkala (Niles, Illinois/Loyola Academy) and junior wide receiver Scott Schoettgen (Columbia, CA/Sonora HS).

Bearcats chosen for the First Team defense were Pineda, sophomore defensive tackle Ron Carter (Atwater, CA/Buhach Colony HS), senior defensive end Cory Lowe (Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS), senior free safety Lukkes Gilgan (Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) and junior strong safety Arlin Taylor (Spring Valley, CA/Steele Canyon).

Scott HirschbergerScott Hirschberger (Sr., C) was named First Team All-NWC for the second consecutive year. In addition, he earned Second Team All-NWC honors in 2007. He started all 41 games during his four years with the Bearcats.

This year, Hirschberger led the Willamette offensive line as the Bearcats rushed for 2,344 yards in 10 games (234.4 avg.) and passed for an additional 1,684 yards (168.4 avg.). The Bearcats averaged 5.1 yards per running play and 8.3 yards per pass attempt.

Joe PenkalaJoe Penkala (Sr., OT) started all 10 games during the season. He provided solid blocking that helped the Bearcats gain 4,028 total yards (402.8 avg.). His efforts also contributed to Willamette achieving 212 first downs, while scoring 30 rushing touchdowns and 19 touchdowns through the air.

He also started several games as a freshman in 2006 and was a regular starter in 2007 and 2008. He was named Second Team All-NWC as a junior. During his four seasons at Willamette, the Bearcats gained have 9,418 rushing yards (229.7 avg.) and achieved 15,095 total yards (368.2 avg.).

Scott SchoettgenScott Schoettgen (Jr., WR) caught 49 passes for 840 yards and scored 14 touchdowns for the Bearcats this season. He tied a school record with four touchdown catches against the University of Puget Sound on Nov. 7. He missed one game due to injury, and averaged 5.4 catches and 88.7 yards per game during WU's other nine contests.

Schoettgen caught a career-high nine passes against Puget Sound and earned a career-high 191 receiving yards on just five catches against California Lutheran University on Sept. 12. In his three seasons at WU, he has caught 80 passes for 1,485 yards and 23 touchdowns. He received Second Team All-NWC recognition in 2008.

Ralph PinedaRalph Pineda's (Jr., ILB) 81 tackles ranked second on the WU defensive chart. He earned 5.5 tackles for losses, including three quarterback sacks. He forced three fumbles and recovered three fumble. He scored a touchdown on a 14-yard fumble return against Whitworth University on Oct. 3.

During the year, Pineda registered 10 or more tackles five times, including 14 tackles against Linfield on Oct. 24. Pineda transferred to Willamette following two seasons at San Jose State University.

Ron CarterRon Carter (So., DT) started every game in 2009 after starting the second half of the season in 2008. This year, he achieved 23 total tackles, including 10 solo stops and three tackles for losses. He also was credited with one forced fumble. His efforts kept opposing offensive linemen busy and allowed WU's two starting inside linebackers to combine for 168 total tackles.

In two seasons at WU, Carter has accumulated 50 total tackles on 25 solo stops and 25 assists. He has achieved seven tackles for losses.

Cory LoweCory Lowe (Sr., DE) contributed 32 tackles this year, with 16 solo tackles and 16 assists. He tied for second on the team with 8.0 tackles for losses and ranked second with 5.5 sacks. He recovered three fumbles and brought two of the fumbles back for touchdowns. He also forced one fumble, broke up four passes and recorded four quarterback hurries.

Lowe started all 10 games in 2009 and finished his career with 40 games played. He achieved 133 career tackles (64 solo) to go with 31.5 tackles for losses and 18.5 sacks. He recovered five fumbles during his career and broke up 12 passes. He was chosen Second Team All-NWC in both 2007 and 2008.

Lukkes GilganLukkes Gilgan (Sr., FS) started every game this fall and accumulated 40 total tackles. He earned 2.5 tackles for losses broke up three passes. He also blocked a kick. Gilgan and the rest of the Willamette secondary limited opponents to just 5.5 yards per pass attempt and barely 50% completions (153 of 305, 50.2%)

In his career, Gilgan recorded 104 tackles (49 solo), while intercepting three passes, breaking up eight additional passes and blocking two kicks. He scored on a blocked punt return against Puget Sound in 2008. He played in a total of 38 games for the Bearcats.

Arlin TaylorArlin Taylor (Jr., SS) made 33 tackles while starting all 10 games in 2009. Sixteen of his tackles were solo stops. He also intercepted one pass, giving him three interceptions during the past two years. He scored on a 37-yard fumble recovery against Southern Oregon University on Sept. 19.

During his three seasons with the Bearcats, Taylor has played in all 32 games, while achieving 128 total tackles. He has broken up 10 passes, forced four fumbles, recovered five fumbles and intercepted three passes. He also earned First Team All-NWC honors in 2008.

Second Team All-Northwest Conference

WU was represented on the Second Team offense by sophomore tailback Jamiere Abney ( Bremerton, WA/Bremerton HS), junior offensive guard Luis Guerra (El Cajon, CA/Steele Canyon HS), junior offensive tackle Edward Salceda (San Pedro, CA/San Pedro HS/Los Angeles Harbor Coll.), sophomore wide receiver Chad Pollard (Bakersfield, CA/Liberty HS/Bakersfield College) and sophomore place-kicker Mitchell Rowan (Cotati, CA/Rancho Cotate HS).

Second Team defensive selections from Willamette were junior defensive end Walter Robinson, II (Altadena, CA/Cathedral HS) and senior inside linebacker Andrew Ross (Petaluma, CA/Petaluma HS).

Jamiere AbneyJamiere Abney (So., TB) took over at tailback after senior starter Deon Horne (Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) was injured in the first half of WU's game with Pacific Lutheran. Abney carried the ball 10 times for 77 yards and three TDs in the second half against PLU. He finished the year with 348 yards on 56 carries (6.2 avg.). He led the 'Cats with seven rushing touchdowns.

Luis GuerraLuis Guerra (Jr., OG) started in the offensive line each of the past two seasons. He was chosen Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2008. This year, he helped WU run 458 times for 2,344 yards, an average of 5.1 yard per carry. His efforts contributed to 127 first downs on the ground and 71 first downs passing. Willamette completed 56.7% of its passes (115 of 203) and allowed just 13 sacks.

Edward SalcedaEdward Salceda (Jr., OG) started for Willamette in all 10 games and made key contributions as a blocker on running and passing plays. WU averaged 234.4 rushing yards and 168.4 passing yards per game. Salceda helped the 'Cats gain more than 215 rushing yards six times. WU scored at least one rushing TD in all 10 games and at least one passing TD in nine games.

Chad PollardChad Pollard (So., WR) recorded 15 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also carried the ball 46 times for 311 yards and three more touchdowns. He averaged 6.8 yards per run and gained 18.6 yards per catch. He gained 76 yards on just six carries against Pacific Lutheran. His longest carry of the season went for 33 yards against Menlo College on Nov. 14.

Mitchell RowanMitchell Rowan (So., PK) finished the year second on the team in scoring with 64 points. He hit 6 of 8 field goals and made 46 of 51 extra point attempts. In two seasons, he has converted 11 of 16 field goals and 108 of 117 extra points. He now holds Willamette's career records for extra points made and attempted. This fall, Rowan averaged 35.7 yards per punt and 58.5 yards per kickoff.

Walter Robinson, IIWalter Robinson, II (Jr., DE) led the Bearcats with 11.5 tackles for losses and 6.0 quarterback sacks. He also forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and earned two quarterback hurries. He ranked fourth on the team with 60 total tackles (30 solos, 30 assists). In addition to his defensive efforts, he scored on a 28-yard pass out of field goal formation in the first half against Lewis & Clark.

Andrew RossAndrew Ross (Sr., ILB) was Willamette's top tackler in 2009, as he achieved 87 total tackles. He also led the team with 33 solo tackles and 54 assists. He recorded 4.5 tackles for losses and one interception. He was chosen NWC Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week after making 19 tackles in the Bearcats' 35-17 win over Pacific Lutheran. Ross earned 10 or more tackles four times.

Honorable Mention All-Northwest Conference

Willamette offensive players earning Honorable Mention were senior tailback Deon Horne (Issaquah, WA/Liberty HS) and junior flanker Mikey Lemon (McMinnville, OR/McMinnville HS/Linfield College).

Honorable Mention recognition also went to senior outside linebacker Matt Banta (Baker City, OR/Baker HS), sophomore outside linebacker Harmon Bruno (Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) and Bubba Lemon (Sr., McMinnville, OR/Tualatin HS/Linfield College).

Deone HorneDeon Horne (Sr., TB) started at tailback until he was injured in the seventh game. Even so, he gained 463 yards and scored three TDs on 85 carries (5.4 avg.). He rushed for a career-high 143 yards on 18 runs against California Lutheran. In 2008, he rushed for 988 yards on 137 carries (7.2 avg.), scored 12 TDs and was named First Team All-NWC. In his career, he ran 237 times for 1,590 yards.

Mikey LemonMikey Lemon (Jr., FL) contributed to both the running and the passing game. He rushed 36 times for 229 yards (6.4 avg.) and two touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 140 yards. In WU's 22-15 win at Southern Oregon, he ran 11 times for 49 yards and caught five passes for 63 yards. Lemon transferred to Willamette after playing two seasons at Linfield.

Matt BantaMatt Banta (Sr., OLB) was named Honorable Mention All-NWC for the second year in a row. In 2009, he earned 38 total tackles, with 2.5 tackles for losses and 1.0 sacks. He also broke up three passes, forced a fumble and recorded one quarterback hurry. During his career, he provided the Bearcats with 143 tackles. He registered 13.0 tackles for losses and forced three fumbles.

Harmon BrunoHarmon Bruno (So., OLB) provided solid defense throughout the season. He achieved 12 tackles against California Lutheran, 11 against Linfield and 10 versus Concordia-Moorhead. For the year, he made 66 tackles, 8.0 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks. He intercepted two passes and earned two QB hurries. In two years, he has supplied 104 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for losses.

Bubba LemonBubba Lemon (Sr., CB) played in all 10 games after transferring to Willamette from Linfield for his senior season. He intercepted two passes, including one near midfield against Menlo that set up a touchdown five plays later. He also made eight tackles, with one tackle for a loss, during 2009. He earned Second Team All-NWC honors while playing at Linfield in 2007.

The 2009 Season

The Bearcats concluded the season with an 8-2 overall record, including 5-1 (2nd place) in the Northwest Conference. Willamette averaged 38.2 points and 402.8 total yards per game. On defense, the Bearcats intercepted 14 passes and recovered 12 fumbles. Opponents were held to 112.6 rushing yards and 166.6 passing yards per game.

Willamette's 382 points were the second highest regular season total in school history, trailing only the 423 points scored during the regular season in 2008. The 2009 Bearcats scored 35 or more points six times, including more than 40 points in five games.

Head Coach Mark Speckman improved his overall record at Willamette to 71-50 (.587). The Bearcats are 19-3 since the start of the 2008 season.

WU inside linebacker Ralph Pineda was named First Team All-NWC and was chosen NWC Defensive Player of the Year.

WU inside linebacker Ralph Pineda was named First Team All-NWC and was chosen NWC Defensive Player of the Year.