Bulldog Football Honored with 15 All-SCIAC Awards among 13 Student-Athletes in Impressive Showing

Bulldog Football Honored with 15 All-SCIAC Awards among 13 Student-Athletes in Impressive Showing

It was announced earlier today that the University of Redlands football team hauled in 15 awards among the All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Teams, as determined by the head coaches of the member institutions.  This marks the most All-SCIAC accolades for the Maroon and Gray since 2010 when the squad earned 17.  In this year's remarkable showing, 13 student-athletes combined for five First-Team nods and 10 Second-Team awards.

Senior linebacker Mitch Shepherd (Seattle, WA), senior defensive back Daniel Gonzales (Mentone, CA), junior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA), junior offensive lineman Tommy Garcia (La Habra, CA), and junior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) landed on the First Team. 

After being named the 2016 SCIAC Defensive Player of the Year, Shepherd caps off a stellar career with the Bulldogs by collecting his fifth All-SCIAC award and his third First-Team selection.  During the Maroon and Gray's 5-1 conference season that culminated in winning the Smudge Pot for the fifth-consecutive time, Shepherd played a pivotal role with a team-leading 34 tackles, including five tackles for a loss of 16 yards, as highlighted by three sacks. This versatile and talented competitor also forced one fumble, nabbed a one-handed interception, and recorded two break-ups in conference action.

With this year's First-Team nod, Gonzales receives his inaugural award in his second and final campaign with the Bulldogs. As of the end of the regular season, Gonzales led the nation in interceptions per game with an average of one for a total of nine on the year.  In six conference games, he recorded four picks for 17 return yards while registering eight break-ups for another SCIAC-best.  Furthermore, this team captain racked up 29 tackles, including 19 solo hits. 

Munroe also picks up his first-ever All-Conference honor with a spot on the First Team.  While providing persistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he tallied seven quarterback hurries during six conference competitions.  He also supplied three sacks for 21 yards, forced one fumble, and supplied 17 total tackles. 

On the other side of the ball, Garcia gains his second All-SCIAC award after being selected to the Second Team in 2016.  While offering consistency and strength as the Bulldogs' center, he was a major contributor to the team's 3,088 yards of total offense for the second-most among the SCIAC en route to scoring 42.5 points per game.  In addition, Garcia helped Redlands to achieve the most rushing yards in the conference with 1,637 in six conference games.

Hierlihy completes the First-Team selections for the Maroon and Gray with his inaugural such accolade as the team's kicker.  This Fred Mitchell Award Watch-List member converted nine of 12 field goals, including a long of 50 yards, during conference contests.  He split the uprights on all 22 PATs for the best percentage in the SCIAC.  Overall, he scored 49 points to rank second on the team.  His kickoffs impressed with an average of 61.1 yards per attempt for a total of 2,992 yards on 49 boots. 

In addition, Redlands reeled in 10 Second-Team awards, as highlighted by two more for Hierlihy.  He won the honor for punting as well as for Special Teams in his second season with the Bulldogs.  With minimal opportunities to punt due to the Bulldogs' offensive success, he put up a conference-leading punting average of 45 yards on just 14 opportunities.  He landed five inside the 20-yard line and recorded five punts of 50 or more yards, as highlighted by a long of 66 yards. 

Furthermore, senior wide receiver Cole Blackburn (Sammamish, WA) finishes off his outstanding career at Redlands with his third All-Conference award with a spot on the 2017 Second Team.  As Redlands' top target, this team captain tallied 525 yards on 40 receptions for three touchdowns in SCIAC competition.  His biggest output of the season came in the Bulldogs' 42-25 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on October 21, when he hauled in nine catches for 132 yards, including a long of 37.

Senior offensive linemen Toma Suafoa-Aumavae (Long Beach, CA) and Matthew Schallert (Canyon Lake, CA) collect Second-Team awards after making solid contributions to the Bulldogs' front line.  Schallert becomes a three-time All-Conference honoree, while Suafoa-Aumavae receives his inaugural such award.  The duo played an integral role in the team's 113 pass completions and 1,451 passing yards against SCIAC competition. Finally, Suafoa-Aumavae and Schallert contributed to the Bulldogs' conference-bests in first-downs offense with 158 and fourth-down conversion percentage of 71%.

After an impressive first season with Redlands, junior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) becomes an All-SCIAC Second-Teamer.  He won his way into the starting role for the Bulldogs and amassed 1,308 passing yards on a completion rate of 64.1% with only one interception against SCIAC teams.  He made 100 completions, including 13 for touchdowns with seven different receivers.  But Plante's contributions extended well beyond passing, as he supplied a team-best 537 rushing yards on 96 attempts, which led to nine touchdowns in conference action.

On the ground, junior running back Josiah Alvira (Danville, CA) also provided effective ball-carrying skills for the Bulldogs, which landed him on the Second Team as well.  During six SCIAC games, he pounded out 473 rushing yards on 66 attempts for an impressive average of 7.2 per rush.  He tallied two touchdowns on the ground and hauled in five catches for 39 receiving yards.

Defensively, the Bulldogs were represented by senior defensive lineman Tristan Corwin (Wildomar, CA), senior linebacker Curren Lapes (Ladera Ranch, CA), and senior defensive back Dustin Nascimento (Aiea, HI) as Second-Team selections.

Following a pair of First-Team honors, Corwin becomes a three-time All-SCIAC honoree with this year's award.  His relentless pursuit of the opposing quarterback resulted in nine hurries in just five conference games played.  He also tallied 11 tackles and one interception, with the pick coming in the Bulldogs' thrilling win over Cal Lutheran University in the regular-season finale. Finally, Corwin registered one pass break-up and one fumble recovery.

Nascimento, who served as a team captain in his final season, hauls in back-to-back Second-Team honors.  During six conference games, he tied for second on the team with 32 tackles.  This included 1.5 tackles for a loss of four yards.  He also earned two quarterback hurries and one pass break-up.

Finally, Lapes becomes an All-SCIAC recipient for the first time in his four-year career.  As a talented linebacker, he also tallied 32 tackles against SCIAC foes to tie for second on the team.  He earned 1.5 tackles for a loss of six yards, including one sack. 

For a complete list of the All-SCIAC honorees, please visit the SCIAC website