Pineda Receives Third Team All-America Recognition

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University inside linebacker Ralph Pineda (Jr., Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS/San Jose State Univ.) has been chosen Third Team All-America by D3Football.com. Overall, a total of 101 NCAA Division III athletes were selected for All-America recognition, with 26 players on the First Team and 25 players each named to the Second Team, Third Team and Honorable Mention.

2009 NCAA Division III All-America Football Team
Complete List
Selected by D3Football.com

During the season, Pineda recorded 81 total tackles for the Bearcats. He earned 31 solo tackles and registered 51 assists. He also provided WU with 5.5 tackles for losses. He earned a reputation for making hard, memorable tackles that had an impact in each game.

Pineda was eligible for the All-America Team after being named First Team All-West Region. He also was chosen First Team All-Northwest Conference and was selected by the NWC head coaches as the NWC Defensive Player of the Year.

Willamette finished the season with an 8-2 overall record, including 5-1 in the NWC. The Bearcats led the NWC in total defense, allowing just 279.2 yards per game. WU also ranked first in the conference in scoring defense, as opponents achieved only 15.9 points per game.

The Bearcats concluded the regular season ranked #21 in the D3Football.com Top 25. Willamette was ranked #20 in the final regular season AFCA Coaches Poll.

Third Team All-America

Ralph Pineda

Ralph Pineda (Jr., ILB) ranked second on the Willamette defense with his 81 total tackles. He recorded 31 solo tackles and 50 assists. He earned 5.5 tackles for losses, including 3.0 quarterback sacks.

Pineda forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles. Against Whitworth University in a 42-13 win on Oct. 3, he forced a fumble, recovered the ball and scored a touchdown on a 14-yard return on the same play.

He also intercepted two passes and broke up two passes. Pineda returned one of his interceptions from the goal line to the Willamette 45-yard line against Southern Oregon University, setting up WU's final touchdown of the game nine plays later. The Bearcats defeated the Raiders, 22-15.

During the year, Pineda registered 10 or more tackles five times, including 14 tackles against Linfield College on Oct. 24. The Wildcats, who were ranked #6 in NCAA Division III at the time (D3Football.com Top 25), defeated Willamette, 30-27. Pineda achieved 12 tackles in the win over Southern Oregon and earned 11 tackles in the victory over Whitworth.

He helped the Bearcats limit opponents to just 3.1 yards per rushing attempt. He also contributed to a pass rush that resulted in 34 quarterback sacks by the Bearcats for a total of 177 yards. WU held opponents to 5.5 yards per pass attempt and to 10.9 yards per completion.

Pineda transferred to Willamette following two seasons at San Jose State University. He played in a total of 13 games for the Spartans.

In addition to choosing the All-America Team, D3Football.com also announced its top national awards for the 2009 season. Cecil Shorts, a wide receiver at Mount Union College, was named NCAA Division III Offensive Player of the Year. Eddie Vallery, a defensive end for Wittenberg University, was selected NCAA Division III Defensive Player of the Year.

Lance Leipold, head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was chosen NCAA Division III Coach of the Year. Leipold guided UW-Whitewater to the NCAA title, including a 38-28 victory over Mount Union in the national championship game.

Ralph Pineda records one of his 14 total tackles against nationally-ranked Linfield.

Ralph Pineda records one of his 14 total tackles against nationally-ranked Linfield.