Monday, January 31, 2011

Linfield's Aaron Heston playing in D1 All-Star Game

Linfield Senior All-American Offensive Tackle has been selected to play in the inaugural Dixie Grid Iron Classic in St. George, Utah. The game will be held this upcoming Saturday (Feb. 5th) and is made up of primarily of D1 seniors along with players from Division II and the NAIA. Heston is the only player from Division III that was invited to play in this year’s game. The Dixie Grid Iron Classic is intended to replace the long standing and now disbanded Hulu Bowl as one of the 5 division 1 senior all-star game. In fact, the last Linfield Wildcat to participate in one of the Division 1 all-star games is Linfield Quarterback Brett Elliott who played in the 2006 Hula Bowl. Needless to say, this is a big honor for our mountain of an offensive tackle.

The roster spot opened up at the last minute for an offensive lineman and Heston made a quick and easy decision to jump on the opportunity to play in the game. “Up to this point I had been methodical training for my pro day which is quite different than a normal off season training schedule."  Heston wrote to Wildcat11.

This is a big opportunity for the 6’5” 315lbs tackle to show his skills and measure himself from defensive linemen from schools like Florida, BYU, Fresno State, Wisconsin among others. Heston is aware of the challenge; “These are big time players and it will certainly be different than anything I've seen before.” But the week of practice leading up the game is a huge chance for the Linfield tackle to make an impression on scouts and his coaching staff who will be composed of members of the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League. The week will be filled with scouts hovering over each drill and play to see if they can uncover players than can bolster their pro rosters and with that in mind Heston knows he has to be at his best every moment he’s on the field.

“I am also excited for the experience in itself. I never got the chance to play in the Oregon Les Schwab bowl in High School (Heston graduated from West Linn High in Oregon) since I only played one year of High School ball. I'm excited to meet people from around the country that I wouldn't otherwise have had the chance to meet. I really have nothing to lose throughout this whole ordeal and a whole lot to gain.” Wrote Heston

We’ll touch base with big #73 though out the week via Heston’s twitter account @aheston or you can follow him and get updates as the week progresses.

Congrats to Mr. Heston on the great honor and best of luck representing the ‘Catdome and Division III!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There's no flopping in Football! Or is there?

Being a red-blooded American there are a few things that raise the hackles of WC11 like no other. People talking on their cells phones while checking out at a store, taking away excellent parking spots for a bike rack that nobody uses (that's another story), junk mail, but one of the worst in my book is flopping. Yes, flopping. It's so un-American that I have a hard time watching basketball with the proliferation of flopping that has infiltrated our borders from overseas.

Yes, flopping and acting like you're dying on the field has been part of soccer for decades (and the main reason I don't watch the sport) and you may think that flopping is a newer phenomenon that has only been infecting the world of basketball for only the past few years. However, while Wildcat11 was cleaning up some archived video flies the other night I came across an example of flopping in FOOTBALL in 1998 that made me sick to my stomach that I felt a little piece of America had to have died on that night.

In 1998 Linfield was hanging onto a tight 24-23 lead over the host University of Redlands Bulldogs late in the 4th quarter. Deep in Bulldog territory on 3rd down a pass attempt was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell incomplete but Wildcat Linebacker Joe Pate benignly hit Redlands Wide Receiver Danny Ragsdale as Pate saw Ragsdale was the intended target and was trying to break up the potential reception.

It was a nothing hit but Ragsdale fell to the turf like he was just shot with a sniper bullet and laid on the turf motionless. The ref fell for this colossal flop threw the Personal Foul flag that extended the Redlands drive. The worst part is that Ragsdale didn't drag himself off the field with a limp or holding his head and then sprint back on the field on the next play. Nope, this guy had the moxie to actually jump back on his feet and high-step it back to the huddle while looking back at his bench basically saying "I can't believe the Ref bought that total drama queen act" right in front of the official!

I'm just proud to know that we at Linfield don't flop and that's part of the reason the 'Cats still hold a 5-0 record over Redlands. So when you see flopping in college basketball or the NBA just know that this ugly trend didn't happen on the hardwood but on the gridiron on that September night in 1998 by a faking little WR named Danny Ragsdale.

Monday, January 24, 2011

3 Linfield Wildcats named to's All-Decade Team

The source of Division III football recently announced their All-Decade team (2000's) and three Linfield Wildcats were named to this elite of the elite group of Division III players.  The All-Decade team consists of 4 teams (1st - 4th) and has a total of 100 players selected.  You man think..."100 players?  That seems like a lot of players?" but you need to keep this in perspective.  Over a 10 year period there has been over 175,000 players suit up on Division III rosters around the country.  On top of that, has named 1,000 All-Americans over the past 10 years so this All-Decade team is the top 10% of the most elite players to step on Division III fields over a ten year period.  Bottom line, it's a remarkable group of players to be associated with.

The three Linfield Wildcats selected to the All-Decade team are Quarterback Brett Elliott (2nd team, 2004-05), Wide Receiver Casey Allen (3rd team, 2002-05), and Place Kicker Scott Birkhofer (4th team, 2005-2008).  Linfield was the only team in the Northwest Conference to have multiple players selected on the team as Whitworth, Willamette, and PLU each had a player selected and the 'Cats are 1 of only 13 teams in Division III with multiple players picked and only 1 of 6 of those located in the West Region.

2nd Team - Quarterback #5 Brett Elliott (2004-2005)

Incredible career for the 'Cats as Brett holds over 31 school records and his name is pasted all over the NCAA Division III record book:  1st in most passing TDs in a season (61 TDs, 2004) and 5th in the same catagory with 49 passing TDs, 2005,  Most yards gained in a season (4,663 yards, 2004), 1st career passing yards per game (358.9 yards), 1st career total yards per game (364.6 yards), 3rd career passing efficency rating (193.7), 8th career passing TDs (110 in two seasons (04-05)).

Along with the record numbers is the massive amounts of honors.  WC11 is going to list the ones I found but I might have missed a few:  2x Team MVP, 2x NWC 1st team QB, 2x NWC Offensive Player of the Year, 2x 1st Team All-West Region, 2x West Region Offensive Player of the year (2004 Football Gazette, 2005, 2004 1st Team AP Little All-Amercian QB, 2005 3rd Team AP Little All-American QB, 2x 1st Team All-American, 2005 Offensive Player of The Year, 2x 1st Team Football Gazette All-American, 2x Football Gazette Offensive Player of the Year, 2x AFCA 1st Team All-American, 2x Ad Rutschman Oregon Small College Athlete of the Year, 2005 Melberger Award, and 2005 Gagliardi Trophy Winner.

What more can you say about Brett?  He was just a heck of a football player and more than deserving of this honor (should have been named 1st team, IMO).

3rd Team - Wide Receiver #8 Casey Allen (2002-2005)

His teammate simply called him "The Beast" and those that watch #8 run past, through, and over opposing DB's for a 4 year period know why.  Casey was a man among boys through out his playing career at Linfield and holds number of receiving records that may never be broke.  Not only did Casey have excellent size (6' 3" 220 lbs) and speed but he had great hands and was a tough nosed player. 

Here is the list of Linfield records that belong to Mr. Allen: Career Reception Yards (3,550 yds),  Career Pass Receptions (219 receptions),  Career Pass Reception TDs (59 TDs),  Career Total Points Scored (356 points), Career Touchdowns Scored (59 TDs),  Career Blocked Kicks (who knew?) (5 blocks), Single Season Reception Yards (1,410 yards), Single Season Pass Receptions (2004 -90 receptions), Single Season Pass Reception TDs (2004- 23 TDs), Single Season Receptions per game (2005 -7.09 receptions), Single Season Most TD receptions in single game - (4 TDs, three times)

Along with the jaw dropping stats Casey was named 2x 1st team All-NWC, 2x 1st Team All-West Region (2004 Football Gazette, 2005, 2x 1st Team All-American, and 2x 1st Team Football Gazette All-American.

4th Team - Place Kicker #14 Scott Birkhofer (2005-2008)

The best leg in the history of the program and I don't think anybody would argue this.  During the 2007 and 2008 season Birkhofer was a treat just about anytime the 'Cats were able to cross midfield.  Not only did Scott possess a huge leg he was also very accurate from distance too.  Let's just take a look at Scott's stats during the 2006-08 seasons.

2006: 7 FG made out 8 attempts (87.5%), 4 out of 5 from 40-49 yards with a long of 44 yards

2007: 11 FG made out of 17 attempts (64.7%), 6 out of 6 from 30-39, 3-6 from 40-49, and 2-5 from 50+ with a long of 53yards

2008: 10 FG made out of 18 attempts (55.6%), 4 out of 5 from 30-39, 2-5 from 40-49, and 3-6 from 50+ with longs of 54 & 56 yards

Scott was twice named the team's most valuable special teams player, 2x 1st Team All NWC, 2nd team All-West Region (2007), 1st team All-West Region (2008), Honorable Mention All-American (2007), 1st team All-American (2008), 1st team AFCA All-American (2008).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From High School to the 'Catdome.

For fans of Linfield football each fall bring in the expectations of winning conference titles and competing for a chance to play for a National Championship and along with that are fresh faces to the program that are experiencing the 'Catdome for the very first time.  I'm always interested in just how these young men arrived at Linfield and decided to play for YOUR Linfield Wildcats so we reached out to some of our 1st year Wildcats and asked them to share a little insight about why they choose Linfield and just how their 1st year of playing for the 'Cats went.  After reading what these players had to say, Wildcat11 feels rather confident that the future of this programs remains just as bright as it ever did.

#15 Dominique Forrest, Linebacker, Portland, Or. (Jesuit High)

When I was looking for a college program to play at I took factors like having a winning tradition, good coaches that know how to push their players, and a team that knows how to get it done on the field. From my visit to watching the team play my family and I felt that Linfield did all of these things very well and so much more. It was an easy decision to make to come here.

I didn’t know how special Linfield was until I actually got to play in a game with the guys. Nothing is like those Saturdays. The moment I knew that choosing Linfield was the right decision was the day it was announced that we would be able to play Cal. Lutheran again for that first round game. The first game against them was a tough one, but the way our players and our coaches bounced back to go undefeated the rest of the season up until that point was amazing. As a team we found our weaknesses and grinded everyday to improve and we did just that and it led to us being successful. That’s the kind of team I would play for any day. It was a good weak and we came out for that game and put on a show!

During the season I discovered a lot about this team. A lot of people only get to see us perform on Saturdays and they don’t know this team as we are throughout the week. The team is full of guys that work hard in meetings and on the field for not just themselves, but also for the guys that line up next to them, the guys they run down the field with, and the coaches that prepare them. The team truly is an accepting team with guys that respect and work hard for one another. It’s something about this team that for me, being a first year player loves and respects. I’m blessed to be a ‘Cat.

I am proud of what we accomplished this year and it was full of a lot of memories that will be around for awhile. The road is bright for the team we have coming back and I look forward to see what we can do.

#49 KeAlii Poomaihealani , Defensive End, Kahalu'u, Hawaii (St. Louis)

I was convinced Linfield was my best bet when I found out about their successful athletic program. Not only do they offer a substantial education, but Linfield is also known for their continued dominance in football. I wanted to be a part of that. I love winning and playing football at a high intensity in front of a crazy crowd, what more could you ask for.

During recruiting season, I mainly spoke to Phil Rombach and Doug Hire. I first heard about Linfield through Coach Rombach at a summer football clinic my junior year going into senior year. Brent Shimabukuro (Jr. Defensive End) was Coach Rombach’s assistant and after camp was over he introduced me to him, and Rombach told me to send him my junior year highlights. Since then, we kept in contact throughout my entire senior year.

The only thing I knew about Linfield was that it was a Division III college whose team colors were purple and red. I never really knew “Linfield” until late in the recruiting months of my senior year when Coach Hire came to my school to recruit and show the highlight tape of their 2009 season. Despite the team colors, I knew this was what I wanted after watching that highlight. All I remember is high intensity play with a pretty crazy crowd. That really drove me and sold me to becoming a Wildcat.

The experience so far at Linfield is crazy. I feel I’ve endured so much, and its only the end of my first semester. I’ve still got a long way to go. From the very beginning it was a totally new and overwhelming experience for me. Coming from a high school that does not have many defensive schemes and plays, learning the Wildcats playbook within a week during camp was unbelievably crazy for me. But it all pays off on gameday! Playing in the Catdome is so crazy, it’s a thrill I can’t explain. It’s something you have to experience yourself. The bond created with your teammates is strong and inseparable, I've never made so many friends within five months. The overall experience is just awesome. I definitely made the right decision and this is exactly how I pictured everything to be.

#84 Jacob Priester, Tight End, Patterson, Ca. (Patterson High)

Until about last February I was still unsure about where I was going to end up at college. Then coach Hazenberg insisted that I come visit the school on a recruiting weekend. That weekend was the first time that I really learned anything about Linfield, as I had only been in contact with the coaching staff for about two months before I arrived for the recruiting visit. When I set foot on campus, I felt like I had come to a place that felt like home, because it was definitely a college atmosphere but it was small enough to feel like I could easily become part of the town. And as I walked the streets of campus with my father, we discussed my options for college, in which we were starting to lean toward Linfield until we reached the Catdome.

The moment we stepped into the stadium was the moment I knew that I wanted to play football at Linfield. I think when I saw the banner telling everyone who entered the field that Linfield was still continuing the longest winning season streak in history, I realized the importance of this program. I realized that I would be playing for something much bigger than myself, I would be playing for a spot in the history books. Coming from a high school that never even won a league title in my time there, I could not help but want to be a part of this team.

Throughout the entire process of choosing a college to attend, the most important person in my final decision was my father. He traveled with me to every recruiting visit to every college which had interest in me and voiced his honest opinions about them. His honesty was very helpful in finding my home in Linfield. As we visited other programs, he always reminded me about the winning tradition of Linfield. He reminded me that winning was just some kind of a pattern here, it was expected, and that was something I had never been a part of before. My father finally helped me narrow my choices down and eventually select Linfield as my college choice, and I don't know where I would have ended up without my father's honesty and help.

So far Linfield has been a crazy ride. Stepping onto the field for the first day of practice, I immediately realized that I was no longer playing high school football. There were no slouches on the field, everyone had athletic ability and everyone I ran into was a competitor. As the season progressed and I got settled into the college atmosphere I found that Linfield quickly became not just a college but also my home. In my first semester I met people that I know will be life long friends, on and off of the football. But nothing at Linfield compares to the time I spent on the field. I was very fortunate to have been able to have a sizable amount of playing time this year as a freshman, and while every player on the field created a much greater challenge for me that any high school player ever did, when I found success on the field it felt so much more satisfying. Thus far, scoring a touchdown against Lewis and Clark and flying to Minnesota to play St. Thomas were my favorite moments from Linfield football. But these moments are few and far between at this program because it is based on a selfless attitude and being able to push yourself to work harder than anyone on the field. Linfield creates a very competitive atmosphere that took some adjusting to get used to, but all of the work is worth it when I remember than I am fighting for my spot in history.

#24 Tyler Robitaille, Safety, San Jose, Ca. (Bellarmine Prep)

After my high school season was over, I wasn't really looking to play college ball. I had decided to attend the U of Oregon just as a full time student. Coach Smith visited my school and I went to the meeting just to humor my coaches. I went in not ever hearing of Linfield before. That night I received a call from Coach Haze and he actually saw me play on another player's game film. He told me I could play and that I should look into Linfield. I had a trip planned up to Oregon in the following month so I put Linfield on the stop. Once I got here I could see myself going here to play football.

When I got back home I knew that i wanted to play at Linfield. The fact that I could go to a school and play the sport I loved was an amazing opportunity. My mom made the trip with me and she influenced my decision greatly. I had two brother both in college in California so I was going to be the first to go away to school. The day I moved in to my dorm i was a little nervous. Was I going to be as good as the other freshman? What will college be like? How are the girls? Questions every freshman ask themselves. But the experience was more then expected. The first two weeks I made friends instantly, you didn't have a choice. You spend over 12 hours a day for two weeks with these guys, if you don't make friends quick, its going to be a bumpy ride.

Those two weeks really put the season into perspective for me. The work required to feel success, the frustration you face when learning plays, the endless Smith talks, the Fendall meetings where it seems like your doing nothing right, but everything wrong. But everything that I went through this season has made me a better player. Facing adversaries in size, injuries, intelligence, experience, all these factors I had to work on to get my chance to play. I was fortunate enough to get playing time as a freshman and took advantage of the situation. Trying to make myself and my teammates better by going hard all the time, even though you might be doing the wrong thing. The upper class men were amazing this year. Taking the freshman under their wings and really showing us what Linfield football is all about. They made my season, hands down. The program is awesome, successful but humble. The coaching staff are the best around and enjoy what they do, which makes football even more fun. My teammates were class acts, always setting good examples and not making me feel like a freshman.

All in all the friendships and memories I've made from this season make me want to get out on the field and get ready for next season. Can't wait to see what the Catdome has in store for my career.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2010 Highlight DVD is in the can!

 Last week WC11 put the finishing touches on the 2010 Linfield football highlight DVD.  It’s actually been “done” since the day of the team banquet (which is a whole stressful story I won’t bore you with) but I had to run it back in the lab and make a few changes and polish up the final-final copy.  Each year I always say “this year’s highlight DVD is the best one yet" and while I just love the 2009 highlight DVD the 2010 version is on par if not just a smidge better in the end.  It’s tough to say but I think it’s a real solid product that the players, families, and fans will enjoy over and over again.

The season highlights span an opening clip and Linfield's 11 contests during the 2009 season. The total run time is 1hr 6min and 52 sec and the action moves quickly. Yeah, it takes time, some basic knowledge of the editing software, and some thought to put together a fun highlight DVD but 99% of it comes down to your raw materials, and by that, I mean the product on the field.  What the players at Linfield have done this past year was awesome as they just produced huge TD after TD and bone jarring hit after hit.  They make this process so easy because of the nature of their play.  Not only with their play but the players make it easy on me by accepting my camera in their space and sometimes in their face when they may not what it there.  The ‘Cats have always made it easy on me and I want to thank them for that.  Along with that, there are a number of people that helped contribute to this project and I want to be able to publicly thank them for their contributions.

Video: Brad Hazenberg worked the visitor’s sideline of the Willamette and Pacific game and it was my 2nd year working with Brad and thank him for his contribution.  Also, like to thank Linfield Wildcat Trevor Gomez who worked the visitor’s sideline during the Menlo, Whitworth, and CLU games.  Trevor did a great job but I only get him this year as he’ll be on the other side of the lens next season.  Once again the crew that shoots for Linfield Sports was huge.  Aaron Haugen’s (top/crow's nest camera) shots are huge for the home game clips and save my bacon often.  Evan Hilberg and Spencer Crepeaux (sideline) also provided huge shots for the home games this year.  Also, need to thank the Coach Staff (Coach Yen and Rombach) for hooking me up with coach’s film for our road games.  They are always quick the help and get me what I need.  Thank you coaches!
Photography: Again, we incorporated a number of still photos in the highlights. I want to thank Linfield S.I.D. Kelly Bird (Linfield Sports Photo Gallery) for photos for the La Verne, UPS, PLU, and L&C games. Special thanks to Dan Harris ( the road CLU game photo, and to Tim Ward of for use of the great photo at St. Thomas (WC11 takes back everything bad I’ve said about SJU....for today!).  And again a real special thank you to Brad Thompson (Brad Thompson Photography) for use of his photos that we use as the blog headers, and the game shots of Willamette, Pacific, Menlo, Whitworth, and the CLU playoff game.  Brad hooks up WC11 all the time and I can’t thank him enough.  Go to all of these guy’s sites and purchase a picture for yourself or a loved one.  They shoot these games because they love small college football/sports and a printed photo will last much longer and look better than just keeping an electronic copy on your CPU.

Radio:  Bill Johnson is a long time radio vet but this was his first year working for the ‘Cats and it was a true pleasure getting to know Bill.  He loved being around this program this past season and you could hear it on his call and you’ll hear his voice throughout the highlight DVD.  Bill did an outstanding job and looking forward to seeing him and hearing him in 2011.  Also, needed to thank color analyst and Linfield Legend Dave Hansen for his contribution the past two seasons with the radio call.  People like Dave are what makes Linfield a great place!

WC11 also wanted to thank Linfield Athletic Director Scott Carnahan and Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith for always trying to take care of and help WC11.  Their support of is flat fantastic and I wanted to personally thank them for letting us do our thing.

Last but not least….Mrs. Wildcat 11.   Guys I can’t tell you enough about how much she loves the ‘Cats.  We had the greatest single event happen in our lives (Baby14) arrive with two weeks left in the season and with so much going on at the home front she had my back and support in getting this highlight DVD done the right way.  She took a huge bullet in having me come home from work and pushing to finish the DVD during family time.  Mrs. 11 is phenomenal and I’m so lucky to have her to keep me from being a complete mess.  I love you Kel!

First clip of the year will start on Monday, March 7th (2010 Scoreboard). Be sure to mark that down.  Go ‘Cats!