Wristen named RMAC Coach of the Year; 20 All-RMAC, including 11 first team honorees

Wristen named RMAC Coach of the Year; 20 All-RMAC, including 11 first team honorees

RMAC RELEASE

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (November 15, 2017) - A league-best 11 members of the Colorado State University-Pueblo football team were selected as All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference First Team to highlight 20 all-conference selections, as the league office announced its yearly award winners. Head Coach John Wristen was named RMAC Coach of the Year for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.

The ThunderWolves went 9-2 overall and 9-1 in RMAC play to earn a share of the 2017 RMAC Championship with Colorado Mesa University. The Pack have won six of the last seven league titles. 

CSU-Pueblo has earned the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs and will travel to No. 1 overall and No. 2 seed Minnesota State University, Mankato. The game is set for Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. MST in Mankato, Minnesota. 

Wristen earned RMAC Coach of the Year five years straight from 2011 to 2015. He guided the Pack to a league title, an NCAA appearance and the team's eighth straight eight-plus win season.

Of the 11 All-RMAC First Team selections, seven came on the defensive side of the ball. Josh Croy (DE, Littleton, Colo.) was the lone senior in the group, while juniors Brandon Payer (ILB, Pine, Colo.), Deyon Sizer (DT, Aurora, Colo.), Noor Shongolo (OLB, Commerce City, Colo.), Darius Williams (CB, Gilbert, Ariz.) were selected, along with sophomores Tanner Draper (So., Amarillo, Texas) and Emery Taylor (CB, Aurora, Colo.).

For the offense, seniors Zach Boyd (TE, Fort Lupton, Colo.), Corbin Feenstra (C, Superior, Colo.) and Ty McCulley (LT, Pueblo, Colo.) were honored, while junior Kevin Ribarich (WR, Pueblo, Colo.) was also recognized as the first team punt returner.

Senior Spencer Nathe (LG, Peoria, Ariz.) and junior Marché Dennard (RB, Phoenix, Ariz.) were recognized as All-RMAC Second Team Offense, while redshirt-freshman kicker Mitchell Carter (Colorado Springs, Colo.) earned second team honors on special teams.

Gathering honorable mention recognition were Tanner Cuda (Jr., P, Castle Pines, Colo.), Rex Dausin (Sr., QB, San Antonio, Texas), Keith Hed (Sr., RT, Pueblo West, Colo.), Ammon Johnson (So., WR, Denver, Colo.), Quinn Vandekoppel (Jr., ILB, Castle Rock, Colo.), Osha Washington (Sr., WR, Stockton, Calif.).

FIRST TEAM ALL-RMAC

Boyd: All-RMAC First Team ... Finished 3rd on the team with 18 receptions and fourth with 203 receiving yards ... Tied for second in touchdowns with three ... Long reception went for 53 yards ... An extension of the CSU-Pueblo offensive line that ranked 3rd in the RMAC and 33rd nationally in sacks allowed (1.27 spg) and were 5th in the conference in tackles for loss allowed (5.73 tflpg) ... Helped block for a 1,000 yard rusher.

Croy: All-RMAC First Team … Named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week after the first game ... Started all 11 games at defensive end after missing last season due to injury ... Fifth on the team with 47 tackles (21 solo) ... Added 8.5 tackles for loss (-26 yards), which is second on the team and 13th in the RMAC ... Totaled 3.0 sacks (-17 yards) and a forced fumble ... Academic All-RMAC First Team.

Draper: All-RMAC First Team ... Finished the regular season third on the team with 50 tackles (26 solo) ... Added four interceptions (106 return yards) to help guide the ThunderWolves to 21 interceptions to rank 4th in NCAA Division II ... Added five break-ups to total nine passes defended ... Recorded 2.5 tackles for loss (-5 yards) and blocked a field goal attempt ... The ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

Feenstra: All-RMAC First Team ... Started all 11 games at center ... The ThunderWolves scoring offense was second in the RMAC and 24th nationally this season ... The Pack had the 4th best rushing attack in the conference with 191.5 yards per game and led the league in completion percentage (60.9%) ... Guided a 1,000 yard rusher ... CSU-Pueblo ranked 3rd in the RMAC and 33rd nationally in sacks allowed (1.27 spg) and were 5th in the conference in tackles for loss allowed (5.73 tflpg) ... Academic All-RMAC First Team ... Academic All-District.

McCulley: All-RMAC First Team ... Started all 11 games at LT and has started on the line in all 50 games he has played in, missing just one game in his career during his redshirt-freshman season ... The ThunderWolves scoring offense was second in the RMAC and 24th nationally this season ... The Pack had the 4th best rushing attack in the conference with 191.5 yards per game and led the league in completion percentage (60.9%) ... Guided a 1,000 yard rusher ... CSU-Pueblo ranked 3rd in the RMAC and 33rd nationally in sacks allowed (1.27 spg) and were 5th in the conference in tackles for loss allowed (5.73 tflpg).

Payer: All-RMAC First Team ... Started all 11 games at inside linebacker and finished the regular season with 99 tackles with 66 solo ... Was 4th in the RMAC in tackles and 2nd in solo tackles, which also ranks 21st nationally ... The 66 solo tackles is a new modern era program record ... Led the RMAC with 14.0 tackles for loss (-50 yards) and added 4.5 sacks to tie for 5th ... Forced three fumbles (T-3rd in RMAC, T-41st nationally) with one recovery ... Compiled five games with double-digit tackle totals with a season high 14 ... The ThunderWolves defense finished 10th nationally in both total defense (273.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and 11th in turnovers gained (27).

Ribarich: All-RMAC First Team Punt Returner ... Led the RMAC in punt return average (10.1) and total punt return yards (253) ... Ranked 33rd at the end of the regular season in punt return average ... Posted a long return of 34 yards ... Recorded seven punt returns for 88 yards at Dixie State (Nov. 4) to record the most returns and return yards in a game by a member of the RMAC this season ... Added 148 receiving yards on 15 receptions to total 403 all-purpose yards (fifth on the team).

Sizer: All-RMAC First Team ... Started all 11 games at nose tackle ... Finished second on the team with 51 tackles (26 solo) ... Added six tackles for loss (-18 yards) to rank third on the team ... Had one sack (-5 yards) ... Recovered a fourth quarter fumble and returned it 15 yards to set up a field goal and move the score to 30-24 in a win against then-No. 8 Colorado Mesa ... The ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

Shongolo: All-RMAC First Team ... Finished fourth on the team with 50 tackles (22 solo) ... Compiled 4.5 tackles for loss (-15 yards) with one sack (-9 yards) ... Recorded one interception and a break-up ... The ThunderWolves were top 20 nationally in scoring defense (10th), total defense (10th), turnovers gained (11th) and passing yards allowed (18th).

Taylor: All-RMAC First Team ... Finished the regular season as the RMAC leader in passes defended with 18 to rank T-7th in NCAA Division II ... Brought down six interceptions (113 return yards) to rank second in the RMAC and T-9th nationally ... Scored twice on the six interceptions ... Added 3.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) with 41 tackles (26 solo) ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

Williams: All-RMAC First Team ... Williams finished the regular season T-2nd in NCAA Division II for interceptions with eight, which is also a CSU-Pueblo program record ... Returned those eight interceptions for 176 yards (6th in Division II) and three touchdowns (T-1st in Division II) ... Added nine pass break-ups to finish 2nd in the RMAC in passes defended (17), which also ranks T-12th nationally ... Compiled 44 tackles (32 solo) with 4.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) and a sack (-6 yards) ... Named RMAC Player of the Week once in 2017 ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.