Friday, April 29, 2011

Linfield Football Spring Review: Defensive Line

Returning Starter and All-NWC Defensive End Sparky Gonzales is looking to have big year.
Alright, let's wrap up the defensive side of the ball by talking about the smartest and best athletes on the field...the defensive line! Being a former Defensive End you probably think that I'm a little biased with that statement but it's been scientifically proved that Defensive Linemen possess the athletic ability of a Bengal Tiger while being able answer 85% of Final Jeopardy questions. Just cold hard facts.

Anyways...Linfield's defensive line headed into 2011 has some obvious shoes to fill in the departure of 1st team All-American Eric Hedin (DE) and unquestioned leader and wrecking ball Paul Nishizaki (DT), along with the solid play in Scotty Ray (DT). While that sounds like big holes to fill, which it is, the 'Cats have more than enough talent coming back to be a very tough front unit.

Wildcat11 is expecting a big year from our two returning starters in defensive end Sparky Gonzalez and Defensive Tackle Tyler Steele. Both have a significant amount of experience and are proven playmakers for the Linfield defense but with the departure of Hedin and Nish the onus is on Sparky and Steele to rise their games up a level is even more paramount.

Along with our two returning starters, a trio of vets are going to get an opportunity to make their impact upfront. Shimabukuro, Patrick, and Reyes are going to get their chance to make an impact this year in help solidify the 'Cats upfront. I think both Patrick and Reyes are going to help tremendously up the middle with their size and that Shim's speed and agility will be a big bonus vs pass heavy teams. I expect these three guys to be what any good vets should be...a steady and positive influence on the position group both on and off the field.

And once again, Wildcat11 is excited to see what the young bucks bring to the table. The possibility of this group to become a dominate force during the next 3 seasons is there....if they want it. A number of our up and comers saw the field last year during live action and they proved they have the chops to play and impact the team. However, WC11 just saying that these young kids will excel and that happening isn't a mortal lock. This group is talented but not so talented like a Bruce Assily (for those that have been around the 'Catdome for a long time) where they can just show up day one and breakdown anyone that lines up across from them. It's up to the young 'Cats to put in the time, work, and effort in order to make it happen otherwise there could be some struggles if Linfield sustain any injuries to the vets.

Overall, WC11 is very optimistic about the blend of this position group. There is no easy start for this defensive line as they're going to face a motivated and large offensive line out of the gates next season. However, with hard work and the leadership provided by the vets I think we'll see this group tough it out early and eventually blossom into a big strength of the 2011 Wildcats.

Returning Starters
Sparky Gonzalez, Defensive End, 6-1, 256 lbs, Senior
Tyler Steele, Defensive Tackle, 6-1, 255 lbs, Junior

Steady Vets
Brent Shimabukuro, Defensive End, 5-9, 205 lbs, Senior
Tommy Patrick, Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 255 lbs, Junior
Joell Reyes, Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 270, Senior

Up and Coming
Brynnan Hyland Defensive End, 6-2, 220 lbs, Sophomore
Nathan Herrick Defensive Tackle, 6-2, 270 lbs, Sophomore
KeAlii Poomaihealani Defensive End, 6-1, 215 lbs, Sophomore
Nick Rhoten Defensive End, 6-2, 240 lbs, Sophomore
Jacob Olson Defensive Tackle, 6-2, 227 lbs, Junior
Kyle McLennan Defensive End, 6-2, 220 lbs, Sophomore
Kyle Rehberger Defensive Tackle, 6-0, 240 lbs, Sophomore
Mike Maierhofer Defensive Tackle, 5-9, 220 lbs, Sophomore
Aaron Hanson Defensive End, 6'0, 200 lbs, Sophomore
Dustin Grimps Defensive End, 6’2 230 lbs. Sophomore
Nick Rhoten, Defensive End, 6-2, 240 lbs. Sophomore
James Lohan, Defensive Tackle, 6-1 250 lbs. Sophomore

Talkin' Ball With Defensive Coordinator/D-Line Coach Jackson Vaughan

Coach Vaughan will be entering his 6 year as the 'Cats D.C. and 15th overall with the program.
(Wildcat11) First, thank you Coach for making some time for us today. Know you’re a busy guy with dealing with both spring ball and heading up the #1 softball team in the country. First question that anybody that follows the ‘Cats and the NWC is how is the defense going to replace the production of Eric Hedin at Defensive End?

(Jackson Vaughan) I don’t think you can totally replace the production that Eric had last year because he had such a phenomenal year and was an impact player on so many snaps in every game. But we have guys that are going to step in, play hard, and make plays up front. We will also have to ask our linebackers and secondary to make a few more plays each game to make up for some of the playmaking ability we lose with Eric’s departure.

(WC11)Not too often you have a D-Lineman leads your team in tackles but Eric just did that along with smashing multiple records along the way. Are you concerned about the returning the defensive ends feeling they have to fill those shoes by putting pressure on themselves to accumulate crazy numbers?

(JV) I am not worried about that aspect at all. Our guys just need to focus on being the best players that they possibly can. This is something that is talked about with our group a lot. If they start to compare themselves to past or present players or worry about stats then they will lose focus on the task at hand and will not reach their full potential as a player.

(WC11) How are you feeling about the returning DE’s that will be compete ting for that spot on the defensive line and how have they been performing this Spring?

(JV) We are still a work in progress. I like the effort and work ethic. We just need some of our younger players (Hyland, Poomaihealani, McLennan) to get more experience so we can really see what they are capable of. For Sparky and Brent this time of year is really be used to focus on improving small things in their game because they have so much more experience in the system.

(WC11)I think a player that was lost a little in Eric’s season was the play of our other starting defensive end Sparky Gonzales. Sparky had a very solid year with 10 tackles for loss and 7 quarterback sacks and had flashes,(for example vs PLU), of being a dominate defensive player. How good of a Senior year could Sparky have and what do you think he needs to do to raise his game to the next level?

(JV) Sparky is a great athlete with the ability to make a lot of plays and can certainly has the potential to be a dominate player. The biggest things he needs to work on to elevate his game to a dominate level are in his physicality and mental approach to the game on every snap. Up to this point in his career Sparky as always been able to be the “Robin” to Hedin, Estrada, etc’s “Batman”. For us to be great on defense we need Sparky to step up as “the guy” and be a consistent force both against the pass and the run with a relentless motor on every snap.

(WC11) Those that are close to the program know just how much Paul Nishizaki meant to the Defensive line over the past 3 season at that DT position and also Scotty Ray. While Nish and Ray didn’t put up huge numbers that wasn't really their job as they caused big issues for the opponent's run game and I think there was no question that Nish was the leader of that group. I think we have a budding force in Tyler Steele coming back at DT but how are you feeling about our depth right now at Defensive Tackle?

(JV) Yes, graduating Nish and Scotty is certainly a big loss. They were both great players and great teammates and Nish was really part coach his last two years. Those intangibles are certainly going to be hard to replace. However, you can still see Nish and Scotty’s footprints all over the returning DT’s with the work ethic and approach to the game that they handed down to the younger players. If our younger guys can learn to play with the same heart and attention to detail as those guys we will be in good shape. As for our depth, I feel pretty good about things. We have one established guy in Tyler Steele who is certainly one of the most talented and hardest working guys we have in the program. After Tyler everything is pretty wide open and really won’t be decided until camp next fall.

(WC11) Do some of our vets have an opportunity to make waves and how are you feeling about our up and coming DT’s?

(JV)The one returning veteran who we are hoping can step in and play a lot of snaps is Tommy Patrick. Tommy is a good athlete who does some really nice things and shows a knack for rushing the passer and making plays. Joell Reyes is another veteran who is athletic and understands our defense very well – we are just working on his transition from DE to TE to DT and the emphasis on pad level and physicality that playing inside requires. After Tommy and Joell you are primarily talking about sophomores with Nathan Herrick, Mike Maierhofer, and Kyle Rehberger leading the charges in that class. All of the younger guys certainly have some encouraging strengths that keep me excited for the future but are still raw enough that they keep me pretty grounded and focused on the daily improvement of our entire group.

(WC11) Want to change it up on you a little and ask you about the overall defense for next season. Personally, I think the potential is there to have another great year on the defensive side of the ball. I see the identity being different from last season but with the talent and speed you have across the field if this group can perform early I see them growing as the season moves along. What do you see as the identity of this defense next year and what do you see as our weaknesses and strengths as of today?

(JV)I think our identity on defense never changes a whole lot at Linfield. It will be based on having good athletes who are tough, disciplined, read well, and fly to the football. The thing that does change is the leaders and the way in which each defense responds and handles adversity. The face of our defense last year really began with Hedin and Nish. Those guys are now gone and we have this very experienced and talented secondary who now must be the backbone of the defense if we want to be great next season. They will certainly have more responsibility on their shoulders to make plays and keep the defense heading the right direction in good times and in bad. If they succeed in this area then we have a chance to be a pretty strong defense again next fall.

As for overall strengths at this point of the year I would have to say our depth talent in the secondary, our young talent at linebacker, and our overall speed on defense are definite strengths. The biggest weaknesses right now are lack of experience with our linebacking corps and physical size on the defensive line.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Linfield Football Spring Review: Special Teams

WC11 is hoping punt coverage teams see a lot of the back of Taylor Skore's jersey this season.
Wildcat11 wasn't going to forget about the often overlooked but a critical part of any football game...special teams.  You can have a great offense and solid defense but if you have terrible Special Teams it will eventually come back to bite you on the backside and cost you games.  How many times have you seen the momentum of a game change on a Special Teams play?  Yeah, that's why this phase of the game is vitally stressed at Linfield and the program has seen mass improvements with these teams over the past few seasons.

During the 2010 season the 'Cats saw major improvement in our coveage teams and a lot of that is due to the mass of young talent the 'Cats brought on the roster last season.  Linfield was tops in the NWC during the 2010 season in kickoff coverage and has made steady improvement over the past three years in coverage.  Linfield only gave up 17.0 yards per kickoff while giving up 18.3 in 2009 and 20.2 in 2008.  While that may not see like a huge number what that tells me that our kickoff teams didn't allow as many BIG returns during the course of the year.   The punt coverage teams also had an outstanding year in only allowing 2.3 yards a punt return and that's freaking great.  Compare that to punt coverage in 2009 (7.5 yards a return) and 2008 (10.2 yards a return) and I think you could say coverage was pretty solid last season.

As for the kicking itself the season was up and down all year long.  Now, it wasn't for the lack of talent and capability but rather the lack of experience in WC11's mind.  Our field goal kicking was only 50% on the season and we missed some key kicks in the playoffs that hurt out in UST.  What I love is the confidence in the coaching staff to run these guys out in pressure situations to make kicks and I think the experiences of last year will pay dividends this season when our kickers are in those crucial situations again.  I think all 4 kickers in the program right now have considerable strengths they bring to the position.  However, someone to has to separate themselves from the pack and establish themselves as "the guy" on punt and place kicking.  This will be a position battle to watch early next fall for sure.

With a relatively young offense in the some key positions (QB and RB), Linfield's special teams is going to be HUGE early next season and that's why Wildcat11 is paying so close attention to this group.  Every aspect of the group will need to be on the job next season in order to help this team achieve its goals.

Returning Starters

Nate Dixon, KR/CB, 5-10 180 lbs, Senior
Josh Hill, KR/RB, 5-10 190 lbs, Junior
Taylor Skore, PR/CB, 5-11 185 lbs, Senior

Steady Vets

Maika Kunioka, K, 5-5 140, Junior
Josh Repp, P/K, 5-9 165, Junior
Drew Fisher, PR/Safety, 6-2 190 lbs, Senior

Up and Coming

Josh Kay, P/K, 6-0 165 lbs, Junior
Jordan Walker, P/K, 5-8 215, Sophomore

Talkin' ball with Special Teams Coordinator Coach Brandon Hazenberg
Coach Hazenberg will be in his 3rd season in leading the 'Cats Special Teams (6th year overall)
(Wildcat11) Coach Haze, The ‘Cats had very good improvement last year with the coverage team being ranked top in the NWC in kick coverage by having a net average of 41.6 yards per kick off and 2nd in the conference in punting with 31.8 yards per punt and only allowing a 2.3 yard return per punt. There was a considerable improvement in this part of our game from 2009 to 2010. What was the difference between 2009 and 2010 and why are these coverage special teams so important to the program? Where do you see our coverage teams looking like in 2011?

(Coach Hazenberg) Well WC11, it's great to chat with you again! 2010 was an excellent year of Special Teams for our Wildcats. Our major goals as a Special Teams Unit were to create and halt momentum, execute our assignment and play with as much passion as possible. We talk in every meeting about being great for the situation and our kids did just that. Special Teams is about knowing what your TEAM needs at that moment, as doing your best to provide whatever is needed. We have a very smart and savvy group coming back and I am very excited to work with them. In no particular order lemme give a shout out to the boys we bring back. Hanna, Biege, Roby, Chopp, Anderson, Domo, Edmonds, Wright, Zarosinski, Reyes, Varnell....and that doesn't even count some of the starters that will moonlight, guys who just barely got their feet wet or freshman who are ready for their turn to get onto the field.

Special Teams starts and ends with talent....and we were much improved in 2010 in that category. The freshman class really stepped in and provided some much needed athleticism on the coverage teams. You add that mix of young guys to the returners we had and things really began to take shape. Chopp, Hanna and Robitaille made plays all over the place last season! I also think that our Kickoffs were vastly superior to those of 2009. Jordan Walker was exceptional in the latter portion of the season and has the inside track to kicking off next season. Talent and deeper kicks equaled a dangerous Hit Squad. As a team, the importance of our coverage teams is directly related to the talent pool and depth we have on our squad. Right now in my opinion, you are seeing the future of our program out there playing their tails off.

For next season, I think we have great potential as a group. We need to avoid complacency and strive to be the best we can each and every time we step on the field. I have no doubt our guys will play with the passion, will and energy of a championship level football team. KBO boys!

(WC11) Let’s talk punters. Last season Josh Repp and Jordan Walker handled the majority of punting duties. Repp came into the 2010 season as the starting punter but was lost to an off the field injury and Walker picked up the punting responsibilities late in the year. Is the competition for the punting job wide open at this point and have either Repp or Walker separated themselves during spring ball? What do you see as their strengths as punters and what are the areas do they need to improve?

(BH) The job is wide open WC11. Each punter brings some different qualities to the table, but consistency will win over at this position battle. Repp is very seasoned for a young guy. He is calm and collected at the toughest of moments. This is something you cannot teach and I feel very lucky for us to have. Heck, the kid kicked field goals for us versus UWW two seasons ago cause Kunioka got injured in warm ups! His directional kicking has been very consistent over the last two years. Walker on the other hand has a huge leg, it's just a matter of controlling the football. Each will have a chance to win out this fall. Watch out for Josh Kay as well. He is going to pick up punting as well once he finishes up his golf season at Linfield. They just qualified for Nationals last week as a team so best of luck Josh!

(WC11) Onto our kickers. Again, the job was divided up between three Wildcats throughout the season and the group had up and downs all year by going 8 of 16 in Field Goal attempts. There is no doubt talent within the group. The group has the ability to knock it down but what do you think needs to happen for this group to take the next step and become dependable weapons for this team? Are you and the staff looking for one of the kickers to take up the mantel of being the Linfield's game-in and game-out place kicker?

(BH) We just need to continue to work hard each day. We as a staff try to provide as many pressure situations for our kickers as possible. Whether it's crowd noise, people dancing or talking trash, we try to push our kickers buttons. I would love for a guy to step up and win this battle outright, but the problem is that each guy is working his tail off and they were just all so close last year. Time will tell with this question, as I am very interested to see how it plays out. Either way, we have plenty of talent in this group and we will find our guy.

(WC11) Kick and punt returners. A huge weapon for any team can be their returners and we have some solid guys back that can either return kicks or punts. At this point, are the returners solidified or is the program looking at young ‘Cats also to mix in on the return duties. Just what goes into being a great return man and how much importance does the program put into the return game?

(BH) We will always try to use a blend of youth and experience in the return game. It's a great place for a talented young guy to get some early touches. With that said, early on next year I expect our vets to take most of the catches. Skore, Fisher, Dixon and Hill will all touch the ball at some point. This is the area that our Special Teams needs to improve on the most I believe. Many times last year with Punt Return or Kick Return, our overall philosophy was don't screw it up (meaning make sure Boehme gets the ball)! This season I want our return teams to think big! Huge returns, changing of field position and touchdowns! We were very close to some big ones last year, we just need to pay attention to the small details that make the big difference.

What goes into a great return man? 3 things...and without number 1, don't expect to step on the field.

1. Great decision making
2. Great teammates
3. Vision, anticipation, creativity, fearlessness and determination!

I will leave you with this, as I shared it with our squad during fall camp last season. It is from a book on ST's and is very applicable for all of us.

"The main requirements are spirit and enthusiasm. Although spirit and enthusiasm are top requirements, many special teams players will also need a special skill that you can work to utilize. Above all, select those players who love to play and who will take pride in their special team."

Go Cats
Coach Haze

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cutting Room Floor: 2010 at Pacific Lutheran

Not everything makes the Linfield College Football highlight DVD so each week the ADvantage will bring you what was left on the cutting room floor. This week we bring you those moments from the 'Cats trilling 35-21 road win vs the Pacific Lutheran Lutes. You can watch the full game highlights here on

Monday, April 25, 2011 Video of the Week: Linfield vs Menlo

Don't forget to check out's video of the week: 2010 Linfield vs the NAIA's Menlo Oaks out of the San Jose area. The 'Cats have now beat Menlo 11 straight times as they put on the 38-0 shutout this past season. 2010 Linfield vs Menlo

Friday, April 22, 2011

Linfield Football Spring Review: Defensive Backs

Quarterback and Receivers beware
Welcome back to our next edition of our Spring Football review. WC11 is excited to talk about this group of players as I feel they have been key with the success of the previous two NWC championships and Playoff Runs.

I'm not going to say there isn't a more complete group of defensive backs in division III because with over 200 teams it's impossible to measure up but player-for-player I think you would be hard pressed to find a more talented group of DB's.

I know if Coach Fendall just read that last line he's probably cringing some as he's not one to play to ego or overly pump up his kids but there isn't a coach around that believes more in their players that Coach Fendall and Corner Coach Brandon Hazenberg.

The 'Cats are returning the entire defensive backfield that is going on 3 to 4 years starting for the 'Cats. I can remember it like yesterday when Coach Smith and staff decided it was time to get more aggressive about getting these guys on the field as freshmen after Linfield loss to Willamette in 2008 and that move has paid major dividends for Linfield ever since. Drew Fisher, Kahale Parish, and Kole Krieger will be roaming around the middle of the defense once again and that spells very bad news for those receivers running crossing routs vs the 'Cats defense.

On the outside the trio of Nate Dixon, Taylor Skore, and Christian Hanna will be manning up the corner positions once again for the defense. Coach Fendall was quick to point out the impact that Corner Coach Brandon Hazenberg has made at this position over the past two years; "Coach Hazenberg has worked with this group of corners for the last 2 years and deserves much credit for the development of this group. He has improved our position tremendously." So that should pretty much cover it right? We have a great starting group so that should be it here...not so fast my friends.

Let's talk a little about our Young 'Cats. Once you peal back that layer of returning starters and our steady vets what you have is a young group of VERY talented young defensive backs. I mean, they still have a long ways to go and have a lot of work to put in but last year's Freshmen could have been just as talented if not more than this class of Seniors back in 2008. "Sure, Wildcat11.  Just more Linfield hyperbole" is probably what you're saying but I truly believe this young group of DB's have the potential to be stand out if they keep working hard.   There is a great combination of size, speed, and play making that will find a way on the field in 2011. Keep an eye on these young 'Cats in 2011.

Returning Starters:
Drew Fisher Safety, 6-2 190 lbs, Senior
Taylor Skore Corner, 5-11 185 lbs, Senior
Nate Dixon Corner, 5-9 180 lbs, Senior
Kole Krieger Rover, 6-2 195 lbs, Senior
Kalae Parish Safety, 5-11 193 lbs, Senior
Christian Hanna, Corner, 5-10 195 lbs, Senior

Steady Vets:
Eric Biege Rover, 5-10 190 lbs, Senior
James Testa Rover, 6-1 200 lbs, Senior
Erik Knapp Safety, 5-11 190 lbs, Junior
Hoku Kama Corner, 5' 10" 170 lbs, Junior

Up and Coming:
Tyler Robitaille Safety, 5-11 175 lbs, Sophomore
Brandon Funk Corner, 5-9 160 lbs, Sophomore
Kyle Wright Safety, 6-0 195 lbs, sophomore
Michael Link Corner, 5-11 170 lbs, Sophomore
Ian Zarosinski Safety, 6-0 180 lbs, Sophomore
Colin Forman Corner, 5-11 180 lbs, Sophomore
Josh Smith Rover, 6'3"215 lbs, Sophomore
Ryan Miller Corner, 5-8 160 lbs, Sophomore
Nick Popma, Safety, 5-8 190 lbs, Sophomore
Austin Schilling Rover, 5-10 180 lbs, Sophomore

Talkin ball with Defensive Back Coach Neil Fendall
Coach Fendall will be leading his Defensive Backs in his 6th season with Linfield.
(Wildcat11) Just how excited are you to have back this experienced and this deep of a position group?

(Coach Neil Fendall) It’s nice but there’s never a perfect scenario when coaching a group. I have really focused on developing very specific parts of their game. I want them to continue utilizing their strengths and have tried to give them a specific list of items for improvement. They probably think I can never be satisfied with their play.....And they’re right. I think all the attention they get for being returners hurts them more than helps them so I tell them to stay off the blogs (no offense) and and newspapers (with our expansive coverage by the Oregonian and all). It’s every bit as challenging as breaking in a new group.

I hate it when people think you’re better at a position just because you bring a player back for another year. That is extremely misleading.

(WC11) Tell us what the defensive backs are working on during spring football? How has the group been performing during Spring?

(NF) As a group, we want to continue to play the ball better. We’ve been good at times but I want this whole group to be savage ball attackers.

We also have to improve keys, run fits and tackling. We missed some last year that cost us scores and big plays. This is a tough area during the non-padded spring however.

(WC11) You have a cornerstone of returners and vets but how much impact are the younger DB’s making on the team and with the defense? A number of these guys played some significant minutes during last season…do you expect for them to continue to push for more time?

(NF) More than you think. There’s some pretty good young players and they’ve handled the scheme very well. They got the whole playbook thrown at them this fall and my vets didn’t really see that their first year. We really kept it simple for this current group when they were young because they were starters pretty early. As 2’s, this young group is doing more at a younger age than the vets. The young guys have some strengths that compliment the vets. You could argue some of those strength surpass the guy in front of them. I would like to see these young guys play more this year. The young guys love to play and I think they are good at the ball. A few of them are hitters and they have a chance to be an equally effective group if not better. You’ll see!

(WC11) Fisher, Skore, Dixon, Krieger, Parish, Hanna, Biege, Testa…this will be your 4th year coaching up this crew. You’ve taken them from green players to proven vets, all-conference players, and All-Americans. What’s your relationship like with this group of ‘Cats at this point?

(NF) Well Skore, Dixon and Hanna hardly talk so your guess is as good as mine on how our relationship is! The good part about them is they don’t complain so I like them....alot.

Biege is a clown and thank goodness we have had him around these last few years or our meetings would sound like a morgue.

Testa and Krieger are usually sitting on the side of the room and just nodding their heads.

Parish just says “yes coach.” It’s a pretty automated response that with my voice tempo and inflection can lull him into some responses even though I’m not asking him.

Fish runs his mouth if I let him and is quick to point out my mistakes and weaknesses.

In all seriousness, I feel very close to these guys. I know they don’t see it yet but I care a tremendous amount for them. They are kind of the first “group” of my guys in this position so I will always be indebted to them. In this business, the players really make your career and I can’t express the amount they’ve affected my life. I think our relationship will be lasting and will only improve as they graduate. For now, I don’t want ‘em thinking I’m all soft on ‘em!

(WC11) Headed into 2011 what do you feel is this group’s biggest assets/strengths and what areas are you pushing for the most improvement in?

(NF) Most would say experience is our asset. If you’ve coached for any period of time, then you’ve seen that factor be worthless if you’re not finding ways to get better. I think this group has remained coachable all along the way. They don’t think they know it all and they are humble enough to take a good butt-chewing (from Coach Vaughn, not myself of course). That’s probably what I consider our biggest asset. We don’t sit around thinking about how good we’re going to be. If we’re good, then we’ve failed. We have to be way better than that.

I want them to contribute to this program, not just this team. What I mean is they need to leave their legacy on this place by showing the rest of the team how consistent they are with their effort. These guys are great leaders by example and the team needs to see that. They show up every day (except Thursdays) and they definitely come to play on Saturdays. I think this season they need to really affect the whole team with their example.

We have a chance to be a dominant secondary. That will be affected by our offense and the pressure we put on Quarterbacks. BUT, I think the second you start thinking you’re a good position group, it all goes in the tank. We’ve been good in some other positions and that’s allowed the secondary to be good. In 2009 we led the nation in Interceptions. We were good up front and our offense could score the ball. We also gave up 22 touchdown catches that year and that’s awful. Nobody remembers that part! That was an area we got better at last year by only giving up 11. The fact is, no quarterback is good without protection. No RB can run without an OL. Most definitely, no secondary can be good if we don’t have DL and LB groups that can play. So all this talk means nothing.

We are working on being good at our assignments, helping the players around us fill in for graduated starters and only then can we make plays on the ball.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Linfield Football Spring Review: Linebackers

Wildcat11 is betting Junior Axel Cederberg will have a huge year for the 'Cats
YOUR Linfield College Wildcats are 1/2 way through their 2011 spring football campaign and Wildcat11 knows that I've been behind with the coverage of what's been happening at the 'Catdome.  The 'Cats have two weeks left of practice and unfortunately I won't be able to provide you guys with video clips from practice but I have something that might even be better.  

What we're going to do is review each Linfield position group and try to run down and chat up the coaches that head up the groups.  It should provide you with some good insight on what returners the 'Cats are loading up on, who's up and coming, and a good temperature check on the development of the 2011 version of the Linfield Wildcats.  These posts won't be covering incoming 'Cats or transfers (we'll get to that later) but these posts will be talking about the talent we have right now (which is freaking good).

Starting us off will be the quarterbacks of the Linfield defense and of course I'm talking about Linebackers.  For the 3rd year in a row the Linfield defense will be seeing two new names in the starting line-up at LB for the 'Cats.  After the departure of Jackson, Takachuk, and Partlow in 2009, the Linebacker position was a huge questions mark going into 2010.  The answer was the steady improvement that eventually turned into rock solid play by Bubba Kukahiko and Sam Higgins.  Kukahiko and Higgins wound up being a great blend of physicality and speed that produced game after game of the Linfield defense.  Problem is both 'Cats were seniors so once again the 'Cats have two open positions in the heart of Linfield's base 4-2-5 defense.

Rest easy my Linfield faithful as there is no need to hit the panic button as the 'Cats have in their pocket what could develop into one of the most talented and deepest group of Linebackers the 'Catdome has seen in a very long time.  While Kukahiko and Higgins started for the 'Cats there was plenty of opportunity for the names below last year to get some time and starts under their belts.  The base defense is a 4-2 but Linfield's defense plays a lot of situation football and often you would see a 3-3-5 with Linfield running in a 3rd linebacker.  So while the names below don't have a huge amount of starts this group of Linebackers are not without experience.

Leading this group of Linebackers headed into 2011 is Junior Axel Cederberg.  Axel was the team's 7th leading tackler last year with 32 total tackles, 5.5 for loss, and 1 QB sack.  Cederberg has a great combination of size, speed, and toughness that should pay dividend for Linfield over the next two seasons.

Dominique Forrest started a handful of games earlier in the season when Higgins was injured and accumulated 15 tackles, 3 for loss, and 1.5 QB sacks during his frosh campain, and Tim Edmonds saw a significant chunk of time during his Frosh season and walked away with 19 tackles, 1 for loss, and 1 sack.

While Forrest and Edmonds saw the primary action for the Frosh class of Linebacks, Wildcat11 is excited to see guys like Colasurdo, MacClanathan, Norris, and Gauksheim develop along with the rest of the class.  All of these guys have talent and the potential to contribute.  In my opinion; who is going to start and a be a part of the rotation at Linebacker for the 'Cats this season open for the taking (sans Cederberg).
Steady Vets
Axel Cederberg 6' 3"  220 lbs, Junior
Up and Coming
Dominique Forrest 5' 11" 209 lbs, Sophomore
Tim Edmonds 5' 11" 200 lbs, Sophomore
Louie Colasurdo 5' 10" 205 lbs, Sophomore
Michael MacClanathan 6' 2" 215 lbs, Sophomore
Logan Norris 5' 11" 200 lbs, Sophomore
Sam Gauksheim 6' 1" 210 lbs, Sophomore

Billy Simon, 5' 10" 200 lbs, Sophomore
Jackson Holstein 6' 0" 205 lbs, Sophomore
Kyle Petheram, 6' 1" 225 lbs, Senior

 Talkin' Ball with Linfield Linebacker Coach Phil Rombach
Linfield's Linebacker coach Phil Rombach enters his 5th year on the 'Cats Staff
Coach, 3rd year in a row where ‘Cat fans will see a new set of starting linebackers. We’re getting our money’s worth out of you. Just how are things going this Spring with the LB’s? Can you tell us what the group is up to?

I think Spring Ball is going well for the LB's. The rest of the coaches and I have been very impressed with the raw talent that this group possesses. There are some very good athletes in this group. Unfortunately we do lack experience and that is a concern for our defense and our team. We are consistently emphasizing leadership and communication with this group. The guys have identified their lack of experience as a potential weakness and are working hard to get up to speed. They've taken this as a challenge and are meeting it head on.

While folks may be worried about new starting LB’s, this is not a group without talent. Can you tell us about the strengths of our 2nd year linebackers coming through the ranks? Where do they need to make immediate improvements for next season?

Yes this group definitely has a lot of potential. The guys are strong in all the areas that you would expect from a young group of Linfield LB's. They have the speed to play from sideline to sideline but are still physical enough to play in the middle with the big boys. There are also some LB's on our squad who seem to have very good defensive instincts, a nose for the football and the ability to make plays. I'm excited to see these young LB's progress over the next three seasons.

While we have potential, we are still very rough around the edges at this point. A few areas we need to continue to improve are our overall knowledge of the defensive scheme, our communication, reads, and our tackling. Tackling has to be a major emphasis for us once we enter doubles this August. This is the main area that we struggled in at the beginning of last season. The good news is that this is a hard working group and I have no doubt we'll significantly improve in these areas before September.

Axel Cederberg: stand-out athletic ability, size, speed, and a proven player in the program. How good could Axel be over the next two seasons for the Linfield defense? What does he need to do to take his game to the next level?

Axel definitely has the ability to be a very good LB for us. He has a great frame, speed, and explosion, but also has the mental toughness, work ethic, and determination he'll need to be successful at Linfield. Axel needs to continue to develop his understanding of our schemes so that he can be the assertive voice our defense needs from a Veteran LB. If Axel continues to work as hard as he has this spring, I'm sure he'll be a great player for us in the future.

Huge tests right of the gates with CLU and Willamette during two out of the 1st three games of the season. I’m not worried about this group meeting the physical challenge but how are you feeling about this group handling making calls, adjustments, putting people in the right place, and having to make plays? Our defense is not simplistic by any means.

We definitely have our work cut our for us playin CLU & Willamette early in the season, but I'm sure this group is up to the challenge. To be ready for these games, the LB's need to improve their knowledge of our defense and get to the point where they feel comfortable and confident making checks and adjustments. This confidence comes from repetition on the field and in the meeting room. Rest assured that we are putting in the time necessary to make sure we improve in this area. This is a smart group of guys. They've already made significant progress this Spring and I know they'll be ready once we start implementing game-plans this Fall.

Monday, April 18, 2011 Video of the Week: Linfield at Pacific Lutheran

Don't forget to check out's video of the week: 2010 Linfield vs the Pacific Lutheran Lutes as the 'Cats won this critical game, 35-20, vs their historical rival. 2010 Linfield at Pacific Lutheran

On a side note: WC11 is efforting new material for the blog this week that covers sping ball. Just been a VERY busy spring for the 11's on all fronts but WC11 is trying his best to get you the Wildcat coverage you crave.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cutting Room Floor: 2010 vs Pacific

Not everything makes the Linfileld College Football highlight DVD so each week the ADvantage will bring you what was left on the cutting room floor. This week we bring you those moments from the 'Cats 66-14 win vs the Pacific Boxers. You can watch the full game highlights here on

Monday, April 11, 2011 Video of the Week: Linfield vs Pacific

Don't forget to check out's video of the week: 2010 Linfield vs the Pacific Boxers as the 'Cats rolled 66-14 on their Forest Grove neighbors. 2010 Linfield vs Pacific

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cutting Room Floor: 2010 Linfield at Puget Sound

Not everything makes the Linfileld College Football highlight DVD so each week the ADvantage will bring you what was left on the cutting room floor. This week we bring you those moments from the 'Cats 55-14 win vs the Puget Sound Loggers. You can watch the full game highlights here on

Thursday, April 7, 2011

YouTube Commentor doesn't think Ohu McCabe's monster hit was that great

The video above isn't new. Wildcat11 posted it up after the 'Cats opening season game down at CalLu where Linfield Corner Taylor Skore picks off a CLU pass and while returning the ball up the 'Cats sideline, Linfield defensive end Ohu McCabe just unleashes a devastating block on Cal Lu's right guard that was trying to make a play on Skore.

It was a fantastic return by Skore and just a lights out hit by McCabe who would unfortunately suffer a season ending injury later in the game. However, YouTube Commentor "giolapp" didn't think the hit was all that great.

Yes, California Lutheran starting right guard #50 Giovanni Lapp was crushed by McCabe and spent a minute or so on the ground counting blades of grass but YouTube Commentor "giolapp" is mistaken to think the impact of said hit to Giovanni Lapp caused the injury to McCabe.  However, I can understand how giolapp thought that there is no way possible that McCabe couldn't have suffered some sort of injury when he leveled the CLU right guard due to the violent nature of that impact.  It was pretty devastating.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

UPS Attendance number: More reported than meets the eye?

As Wildcat11 was getting ready to upload's video of the week, 2010 Linfield at Puget Sound, I started to think about an issue that rubbed me the wrong way the first time I laid eyes on this game's  box score: Puget Sound's reported attendance numbers.  Leading up to the 'Cats October 9th trip up to Puget Sound, the Loggers had three previous home games where UPS was reporting attendance numbers of 2,888 (vs Pacific), 2,334 (vs Whittier) and 3,978 (vs PLU).  My first thought was that the change in coaching and promise of some UPS wins must have fired up the Logger fan base as those are some pretty solid numbers for a program that has been on the rocks for an extended period of time.

So comes October 9th.  A complete and total drenching rain storm.  You know it's coming down hard when people from the Pacific Northwest were turning to each other and saying "Can you believe how hard it's raining?".  As I was getting ready to do my thing during the game, I surveyed the UPS home grandstands and thought "Yeah, that's a solid 1,500 fans...maybe 1,650 tops."  The Linfield fans braved the elements and probably had a few hundred fans on the visitor sidelines.  UPS doesn't have fans in the end zone and there are just a few scattering of fans watching from beyond the track.  So with that in mind, you could imagine my surprise when I picked up the box score and saw that UPS reported attendance on the day was a whopping 3,878 fans.  Needless to say I was a little surprised by that number.

That just didn't seem to jive at all.  Maybe, I'm just really horrible at looking at a small college grandstand and estimating the attendance.  Now mind you, some programs don't have people tracking fans coming through the gates so the person in charge will provide a general estimate of what they think they had for attendance (I.E. 1,500, 3,500, etc. etc)  and fill that in stat sheet and call it good.  So, you might think that's the case with UPS but each home attendance figure was not a nice rounded number you see when home teams estimate the crowd but UPS reported numbers would lead you to believe they are taking an actual count.

If that's over 3,500 fans then WC11 is turning in a 4.3 forty

I muttered for about and hour or two about this attendance number to Mrs. 11.  She told me I'm being silly, that I might be crazy for complaining about this (very true) and to get over it.  I managed to take a passing shot at the reported attendance number in "The Ugly" in my game wrap and moved on.

However, WC11 started to pick that scab this week as I was reliving the solid performance of the 'Cats this past season at Puget Sound and my neurotic and curious nature became the best of me.   So, I fired up Google machine for UPS home photos in hopes of find a good solid crowd shoot and my hail marry was answered.  I came across this photo set of the Loggers 2009 homecoming tilt vs the Menlo Oaks.  Included in the set was a great high resolution photo of the UPS grandstand in all of its glory.  On that day, the Loggers reported attendance of 3,217 fans on hand to watch the Loggers go down 14-3 to the Oaks.

We all know how great the Menlo Oaks fan base travel. (if you didn't know, that was heavy sarcasm) You can usually find a few dozen Oak fans in attendance so it had to be up the Logger home fans to hold up the bulk of that reported 3,217 fans.  I really didn't want to go down this road to crazy town but I just had to know.  I downloaded that hi-res photo, opened it up in Microsoft paint, and started click a paint spot on each person, 100 fans at a time.  It didn't actually take very long to count every single fan in the grandstands because the final number was nowhere close to 3,200.  The final number was 1,001 fans in the stands.  Yup.....1,001. That number includes everyone except people in the pressbox/radio booth.  Students, adults, teens, and babies.

UPS 2009 Menlo Crowd Shot = 1,001 fans
Let's be generous and say Menlo brought 200 fans to the game because by looking at photos here and here that's being kind.  So that means we're short about 2,000 fans.  Are they all in the bathroom?  Concessions?   Did they leave because it was a blowout?  Probably not since it was a 10-3 game in the 4th quarter.  Yeah, maybe some fans came and went but it would be hard to imagine that being over 2,000 people.

This isn't a scientific post where I have photos from the Loggers game with PLU, Whitter, L&C, and Pacific to compare.  Maybe those attendance numbers are 100% correct.  Maybe?  However, my eyes tell me that twice during the past two seasons UPS is reporting attendance numbers that are overestimated by a few thousand fans each time.  One time could be just a mistake but this happening twice leads you to believe it could happen often.

So when you see UPS post up big attendance numbers in 2011 just remember that in order to get a more accurate picture you may just have to hack or chop off about 2,000 fans to get a more accurate picture.

Monday, April 4, 2011 Video of the Week: Linfield at Puget Sound

Don't forget to check out's video of the week: 2010 Linfield at Puget Sound as the 'Cats handle the Loggers 55-14 on the 'Cats 1st NWC road game of 2010  2010 Linfield at UPS Highlights

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cutting Room Floor: 2010 vs Willamette

Not everything makes the Linfileld College Football highlight DVD so each week the ADvantage will bring you what was left on the cutting room floor. This week we bring you those moments from the 'Cats 35-7 win vs Willamette Bearcats in 2010. You can watch the full game highlights here on