Wednesday, December 29, 2010

4 Linfield Wildcats named All-American

On December 18th, 4 Linfield Wildcats were named members of the 2010 All-American team. Linfield Defensive End, Eric Hedin, was named a 1st team Defensive End (Linfield's 43rd 1st team All-American in program history) and the 'Cats Aaron Boehme (QB), Aaron Heston (OT), and Drew Fisher (Safety) were all honored by being selected as 2nd team members. These 'Cats were the only NWC players selected to's All-American team as the 'Cats finished the year at 9-2, won the NWC championship, and advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Playoffs where Linfield a double overtime decision to #7 St. Thomas by a score of 24-17.

It's a tremendous amount of recognition for this year's team and Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith provided his thoughts on this year's Linfield All-Americans: "All American Awards are individual awards that are almost always dictated by the team’s overall success. To have four players selected is quite an honor for our team. This year’s 2010 Team was a true pleasure to coach and will be one our staff remembers for quite some time. The stress the team felt after stumbling out of the gate was tangible, and this team worked its tail off until we were able to truly show what we were capable of vs Willamette, and were then able to alleviate some of that pressure. The seniors and these 4 All Americans helped us roll through the regular season and improve each week trying to focus on preparing enough to get to the point where we could beat the best in the country. I feel like we got to that point, but were unable to execute at a level high enough, for long enough, to prove that. I am so very proud of the character attributes and leadership qualities these men possess. They have set the bar high for our future team leaders and they will certainly be long remembered in our program." - Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith

Wildcat11 couldn't have said it better himself. Below is a round up of your 2010 Linfield All-American with some great insight provided by Coach Smith and each players position coach.

#97 Eric Hedin, Defensive End, Senior - 1st Team All-American

22 Sacks (#1 all divisons), 80 tackles, 36 for loss, 4 pass break ups, 3 fumbles recoveries, 1 forced fumbles, 3 blocked kicks, West Region Defensive Player of the year, 1st team All-West Region, NWC Defensive Player of the Year,

Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Line Coach Jackson Vaughan: "Eric really developed over his four year career. I felt things really started to click for him during the second half of his junior year and he performed at a very high level throughout the 2009 playoffs against some of the best offensive lineman in the country (Mary Hardin Baylor, UW-Whitewater, St. Thomas). I think this gave him a lot of confidence and gave him a glimpse into what was possible for him as a player. This fueled his motivation in the off-season and gave him a great deal of confidence going into this season.

When Eric added confidence to improved strength and physicality, tremendous height and wing span, toughness, and nose for the football we got a dominant player on defense. We have had some great defensive ends at Linfield and there have certainly been others that have been more dominating in terms of physically dominating the man across from them but very few have possessed Eric’s innate ability to get off blocks, find the football, and finish plays. I also was very happy to see the mental side of Eric’s game flourish this season as he started to take all of the knowledge, evaluate situations, and take calculated risks throughout the game with slight alignment and technique changes. In several games he was right on target with majority of these guesses or risks and they paid off with all of the extra opportunities to make plays in the backfield.

As a teammate and person the thing that I will remember most about Eric is his toughness, love for the game, and work ethic. He was a guy that led by example and showed up every day for four years and worked hard in practice on all aspects of his game. Even as a senior with some nagging injuries he did not ever want to miss a day of practice and the chance to improve and get himself ready for the upcoming week. I think this attitude and the passion he played the game with had a great impact on our defense and in some ways was as important to our defense as all the sacks and tackles for loss."

Coach Smith: "I have seen 5 impact defensive ends here at Linfield that could take a game over. Back in 1998 we had two at the same time playing. A QB turned DE named Ryan Carlson had two seasons in which he wrecked havoc each and every game. I never though I would see someone equal what Ryan did in terms of tackles for loss and sacks. Eric Hedin in the 2nd half of 2009 and the entire 2010 became the most dominant defensive player I have ever seen at Linfield. Ray Lions, Harrison Bertsch, Brandon Olson, Josh Ort, Alex Rix, Darren Causy, Julian Tyrell, Joe Dominey are the some of the best defensive players at any position during the 20 years I have been here. I am not sure any of those great players’ best season equaled what Eric was able to do. Certainly the rest of the defense helped Eric, but his relentless drive combined with that 6’7" frame and moves that made use of that, created a natural force rarely seen on the field. At times this year I became a fan and just watched Eric play. I watched him for the pure joy of it, knowing that what he was doing was as special and unique to me as Beethoven’s moonlight sonata or the Miami Dolphin’s perfect season might be to others."

#4 Aaron Boehme, Quarterback, Senior - 2nd Team All-American

193 Completions in 327 attempts for 2,661 yards, 26 passing TDs. Rushed for 386 yards and 9 touchdowns. 1st team All-West Region, NWC Offensive Player of the Year

Quarterbacks Coach Brett Elliott: "If you were going to build the ideal quarterback for this generation from scratch, you would come up with something that looks very much like Aaron Boehme. He is long, tall and athletic, with an above average arm and legs that run like a gazelles'. The combination of being able to throw and run at an elite level is what makes him an All-American talent. His ability to lead and perform under pressure is what makes him an All-American player. He has a broad range of interests that span from playing the guitar to being an exceptional cribbage player. Aaron is the kind of man and player that make coaches want to coach. He keeps things light when needed, but can also narrow his focus and become intensly driven to achieve his goals. It's been a true pleasure to coach a player of Aaron's caliber the last three years, and I see much more football ahead in his future."

Coach Smith: "I am not sure I have seen one player shoulder so much internal and external pressure to perform as what I saw Aaron have to do this year.   He not only shouldered it, but embraced it.   He willingly accepted any criticism or blame that came his way, and he truly rose to most every occasion.   He was the driver of this car and he drove it with the pedal all the way down.   We could not ask for a better leader of our football team, and I know his team willingly followed him."

#73 Aaron Heston, Offensive Tackle, Senior - 2nd Team All-American

Anchored an offensive line that lead the way to the 'Cats scoring 41.3 points per game (266.9 passing/187.3 rushing) and only allowed 15 sacks in 11 games.  1st team NWC, 1st team All-West Region

Associate Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach Doug Hire: "Aaron was re-recruited while a student on campus to play on the o-line with no high school or college experience. He learned offensive guard and OT (both sides) during his tenure all of which had to be done from scratch. Aaron is a self made player that committed to the weight room which showed on the field being physical and athletic. He spent time on his own learning the oline position, he loves playing football, and being a Linfield teammate."

Coach Smith: "Aaron has such a neat story of getting a fresh start and making the most of that.    It was a pleasure to see him develop and improve so much over his time at Linfield.  What struck me most about Aaron was his willingness and ability to play through the constant pain he suffered from this season, and I think that shows a great deal about him not only as a football player but also as a person.   I always enjoyed his whit and there was never a dull moment around Mr. Heston."

#4 Drew Fisher, Safety, Junior - 2nd Team All-American

Defensive Back Coach Neil Fendall: "Fish is a guy that loves to play the game of football. He has a knack for making plays on the ball and enjoys the big game atmosphere. He leads his teammates by providing confidence and keeping his poise throughout the game. One thing he doesn't get much credit for is his durability and reliability. To my knowledge, he has not missed a practice, much less a game, in his career.

Drew is our coaches reminder to keep things simple and have some fun. He is quick to remind me when we are "grinding" too much and need a perspective check. Another unknown fact is that he has helped coach my son's little league team and has taken his time to volunteer with the kids and they love him. I was impressed with his willingness and patience with those kids.

Fish is a quality young man. He has made our program better in his time here. Don't let his quiet demeanor fool you though, he's a sharp-witted guy. If teams don't avoid him altogether, look for him to have a great year next season."

Coach Smith: "Drew is someone we watched grow up at our summer camp since the time he was a freshman for Coach Knudsen's Centennial Eagles. About his junior year Coach Fendall kept telling me to watch that Fisher kid, as he can really hit and had a great nose for the ball. He has kept that up and is one of the finest safeties we have had play at Linfield. He is one of those players that rises to the occasion and is often at his best when the chips are down. He is a great teammate and truly is a joy to coach."

1 comment:

doc said...

These guys all have unique stories - and I'm glad they made the LINFIELD choice.
Picking a favorite player last summer for the 2010 season -#97 - made the season extra fun to watch.
Of course, it was any easy choice. After watching the pick up fumble ramble for a TD against UMHB in 2009, I knew I was in for something special.