Wednesday, December 21, 2011

...and the North End Zone goes Crazy.

In Wildcat11's mad scramble to start wrapping up all of the Football team's highlight video productions I came back across this little gem from Linfield's victory over CLU in the 1st round of this year's playoff. Our 2nd camera unit, Aaron Heston, turned the camera on the 'Catdome Faithful in the North Endzone after the 'Cats clinched the victory after blocking a potential game trying field goal. Some true excitement was capture and a nice cameo by PLU head Coach Scott Westering at the 23 second mark. Coach Westerning is a smart man who knows where the best place is to be to take in some Linfield NCAA playoff football.



You can check out the video and comments on 'Catdomealumni.com's Facebook page. Be sure to like our page upon your visit.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The 2011 Wildcats wrap up their season with the annual team banquet


Last Friday (Dec 9th) your 10-1 Linfield Wildcats capped off their fantastic 2011 season by getting together at McMinnville's Covenant Church off of 2nd street to toast the accomplishments of another exciting year in the 'Catdome.  During the night the 'Cats Coach Smith reflected on the season, thanked the players, support staff, and each member of this great coaching staff and their families for everything they put into the program.  Then, the 'Cats enjoyed a robust meal while enjoying the debut of the 2011 Linfield Football Highlight DVD.  From there, the programed moved into the team awards (both "awards" handed out by the Seniors and the actual team awards) and the night wrapped up with the staff recognizing the 2011 senior class.  The banquet is always a great time and 2011 was no different.  A great way to wrap a season that will be remember for the 'Catdome faithful for a long time.

2011 Linfield Football Team Awards

Co-Best Defensive Scout Player: Jeremy Girod, Def End, Soph, Vancouver, Wa.

Co-Best Defensive Scout Player: Erik Knapp, Safety, Junior, Eugene, Or.

Best Offensive Scout Player: Bobby Nix, Soph, Center, Bonny Lake, Wa.

Rookie of the Year: Lucas Jepson, Receiver, Junior, Aloha, Or.

Most Improved: Mickey Inns, Quarterback, Junior, Gresham, Or.

Co-Best Special Teams Player: Josh Kay, Kicker, Junior, Salem, Or.

Co-Best Special Teams Player: Kyle Wright, Monster, Soph, Springfield, Or.

Best Offensive Lineman: Jordan Barnes, Guard, Senior, Lake Oswego, Or.

Best Defensive Lineman: Tyler Steele, Tackle, Junior, Salem, Or.

Best Offensive Player: Josh Hill, Running Back, Junior, Portland, Or.

Best Defensive Player: Drew Fisher, Safety, Senior, Gresham, Or.

Offensive Captain: Hayden Mace, Center, Senior, Bend, Or.

Co-Defensive Captain: Kole Krieger, Rover, Senior, Sherwood, Or.

Co-Defensive Captain: Drew Fisher, Safety, Senior, Gresham, Or.

Most Inspirational: Eric Biege, Rover, Senior, Sammamish, Wa.

John LaRosa Commitment to Excellence Award: 
Taylor Skore, Corner, Senior, Enumclaw, Wa.

Willis Baker Team Most Valuable Player: 
Drew Fisher, Safety, Senior, Gresham, Or.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2011 Linfield Senior Class says "Thank You"

The 2011 Linfield senior class is a special group of young men. This class, along with the 2009 & 2010 seniors, have brought Linfield back to where this program should be and that is at a National Elite level. During their four years at Linfield this class compiled a 37-7 overall record, 3 consecutive Northwest Conference Championships (23-1 NWC record), 3 consecutive NCAA Playoff berths (5-3 playoff record), a 2009 West Region Championship (NCAA final four), defeated twelve top 25 teams, and finished with 3 Division III top ten rankings (#3, #8, #5).

Beyond just the pure stats and rankings is how this class went about their business. Coach Smith has a philosophy about his coaching staff that is summed up by the phrase "low ego, high output" and that approach has resonated with this group of Seniors. They have been so key in the success of Linfield football over the past 3 years but they've managed to always keep the team first and represent Linfield football to the fullest both on and off the field. It seems like I say this every year but I will truly miss this group of players. It's been an honor and pleasure to cover this group over the past four years and I'm excited to see where life takes them.

But now is the time for them to say thank you to those that have helped molded and guide them in their life and during their time at the 'Catdome.

 #1 Michael Chopp, Receiver

All I have to say is what an experience. I may not have been around Linfield as long as many of the other seniors, but it has been great ride. I can remember taking a recruiting trip to Linfield back in the spring of ‘07 and even though I didn’t come here out of high school, I knew if things didn’t work out, Linfield would always be there for me. The only thing I can say now is “why didn’t I come here right away”?

Linfield Football has shown me what the real meaning of family is. It took me some time to get close with the guys, as relationships had already been established. But everyone welcomed me in with open arms and man did we have a great time. Winning always makes it easier to come out every day and play the game you love, but the guys and coaches make football at Linfield special. I may have not of been an all-conference performer, but man we had some fun on special teams baby. Whether it was flying down the field with the Hit Squad or taking blocked punts to the house, we got it done. And I don’t care what anyone else says, special teams are an adrenaline rush and we have the most fun on the field, I can guarantee that.

I want to thank my parents for being patient with me through my college career, and allowing me to finish my career at Linfield. I couldn’t have done it without your support and love. To the coaches, thanks for giving me a shot and letting me be a part of the Linfield Football Family. You guys provide guidance, passion, drive, and care towards me and have made me into a better person because of it. And to the Seniors, thanks for letting me be one of the crew. Man we worked hard and we played hard. But it was the best time of my life and I owe it to you guys. Thanks for a great ride the last 1 ½ years. Catdome for Life.

Michael Chopp


#4 Drew Fisher, Safety

The biggest thank you goes to my parents. I couldn’t ask for more support and I couldn’t ask for better parents. They have given me the opportunity to go to college and to play football. Also, to my grandparents, relatives, and other friends that come to the games. It means the world to me to hang out after the games and be the last one to leave the field because I’m catching up with everyone.

Thanks to all my teammates. To the DBs, we own swim Olympics. And it needs to stay that way until the receivers become better looking than anyone on defense. Which will be never. To the seniors, it has been the best time of my life working hard in the offseason and seeing it pay off with playoff runs. There’s something I absolutely love about spending hours and hours with you guys running, sweating, bleeding, doing army crawls, log rolls, up downs, 6am practices, working out in the snow, and watching film until I can’t think anymore. It’s “a neat deal” to be around a group of guys with the same love and passion for the game and I wouldn’t trade the past four years of growing up any other way.

Thanks to all of the coaches. The amount of discipline, responsibility, and obligation to improve and become excellent that you guys taught us will stay with us forever. To be able to put up with my sarcasm, Kalae’s pigeon jargon, Kreecher’s self proclaimed philosophy, and the absence of words from Skore and Dix is quite the accomplishment. It’s no wonder we have 56 consecutive winning seasons under our belt and you guys are the tip of the spear. Special thanks to Fendall. He’s not only a great coach, but a tremendous mentor, leader, and role model with never ending words of wisdom and jokes about life and how to make it. You had your hands full with us for the past four years, but I think we trained the young guys enough to keep you busy for a couple more.

The Catdome has had a huge impact on my life and meant a whole lot to me. I’m going to miss suiting up on Saturdays with the boys but it will be exciting to see this program continue to dominate the NWC and get back to Salem in the near future.

Send ‘Em Up,
Drew Fisher


#5 Taylor Skore, Corner

First, I want to thank my parents for their support throughout my entire career at Linfield and even through pop Warner and High School football. They have made it to almost every game including our long travels to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Delaware. If not for them, I wouldn’t have been able to have the success I have had in this program. Their love and support allows me to keep moving forward and striving to achieve my goals in life.

I feel very privileged to have been coached by the best coaching staff in the country. Not only do they do a great job in preparing us to play every week but they also make playing the game enjoyable. I want to give a special thanks to coach Fendall and coach Hazenberg as they have influenced my life greatly and have taught me so much about the game of football and life. They have made me into a more well-rounded football player in my time here as well as a more well-rounded person.

Finally, I just want to thank all the teammates I have played with these past four years. I especially want to thank the senior class and our senior DB’s for their hard work and commitment to get better every day. We have shared so many great memories whether it be our undefeated regular seasons, the DB’s dominating in synchronized swimming, morning workouts and 6am spring ball or taking down Willamette three straight years to lock up the conference. I could go on and on. I just really appreciate the relationships I have made with all of you and I wouldn’t trade these four years of being on the field with you for anything, it has been the best decision I have made in my life.

I love this program and I wish it continued success throughout the future, and I hope that all of you underclassmen enjoy the rest of your careers and don’t take it for granted. Keep the tradition alive and keep the streak going.

- Taylor Skore


#6 Nate Dixon, Corner

Most importantly, I'd like to thank my wonderful parents Nate and Yulanda Dixon for all of their love and support sent from Hawaii. I know you both wanted to make every game, but I really appreciate you guys for always being there in spirit when you weren't here. I'm truly blessed to have you both in my life.

Thank you to ALL of the coaches and staff --I don't think it can get any better than you all. Fendall and Haze, I appreciate all that you've done during my career. It's definitely been a grind every year, but you guys helped to make it worth every second. You both have helped me develop as a player and a person. I'm honored to have been coached by you two.

To ALL of my teammates in the past four years - it's been an amazing ride. I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had here (in practice, games, on/off-campus - especially those MUCHAS nights, etc.) for the world. The main reason I came to Linfield is because of the sense of family in this program. This truly is a special place, and I'm glad to have been here with all of you guys. As for my fellow Senior DB's- you guys will be my boys for life...enough said. I want to wish you all luck in wherever life takes you after Linfield. I'm very glad to have been a part of this incredibly special group.

Nate D. aka "DIXonDECK6"


#8 Eric Kozian, Receiver

Dear Cats,
It’s been an incredible four years and I can’t believe it’s all over. I have made so many great memories with the coaches and players and I wouldn’t trade these last four years for anything. I got to play the game I love with an incredible coaching staff and great group of guys. I want to thank everyone on the coaching staff for making our team better football players and better people. Coach Smith was right when he said Football is the greatest class you will take here at Linfield. I will miss things like waking up at 6am in the spring, busting it on the field and in the weight room with the guys. I want to thank the senior class for all the hard work they have put in these last four years and for all the relationships we have created. I have made a lot of great friends and I know we will continue to make more memories the rest of this year. I know football is over but we will be Wildcats forever.

-Eric Kozian


#9 Kole Krieger, Rover

It's hard to decide where to start. The past four years have been amazing. I have had the honor to be surrounded by a great group of coaches and players. I wanna say thank you most of all to my parents, my aunt Cherri and my grandmother if it weren’t for them I wouldn't have been able to go to school here at Linfield. My parents have always been by my side helping me to achieve the very best.

I want to thank Fendall for recruiting me, I've loved having you as a coach and mentor. And thanks for the words of wisdom and the jokes. I want to also thank all the defensive coaches you've taught me a lot and it’s been a great experience.

It has been an amazing time here at Linfield I can't believe its gone so fast. It seems like camp started just yesterday. I have to thank all of my cats over the years, it’s been an honor and I would want to play with anyone else. Keep working and win that National Championship!!
-Kole


#11 Eric Biege, Rover

I couldn’t be happier that I made the decision to come play football at Linfield. This is a football program unlike any other. Playing here means that you are part of a winning tradition that dates back almost sixty years. If you can grind it for four years, you will leave Linfield with an unparalleled degree, a strong work ethic, and lasting friendships that run deep. I am proud to say that I played four years of football at Linfield, but God knows I couldn’t have done it alone. I want to thank the people that made it possible for me to do that.

I first want to thank my family. Pete, Joyce, Brian, Liz, and Laura for all of your love and support over my eight years of football. Thank you for coming to all my games, and being my biggest fans. Our family went through so much during my four years in McMinnville, and I wouldn’t have stayed if it weren’t for your constant prayers and words of encouragement. I love all of you. Joshua 1:9

I want to thank all my teammates. I specifically want to thank the seniors from the 2009 & 2010 teams. You guys were great leaders and friends to us when we were youngens. And to my graduating senior class, I love you guys. I wouldn’t have stuck with it if it weren’t for you guys. Thank you for so many good memories, and good times. Thank you to the eight senior DB’s. Thousands of hours on the field, and off of it, and never a dull moment. I’d do anything for you guys. Thank you Coach Fendall and Coach Haze. You guys are great coaches, and great friends of mine. It has been a pleasure. I could write down a hundred names of guys I consider great friends. But to Hayden, Drew, James, Jason, and Kole, the five guys that had to put up with more of my antics then anybody, thank you. I don’t know how you guys did it, but you managed to get me through four years of college in relatively one piece. My family also thanks you.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me during my time here at Linfield, and to everyone associated with the Linfield football program.

-Biege


#15 James Testa, Rover

First off, I have to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to play this sport back in middle school, as well as the immense amount of support that they have for my ambitions. I want to thank my sister for always coming to my games and supporting me. To all my family and friends who have come to support me while playing football, I am truly grateful. To the coaches I have been fortunate enough to learn from, I cannot thank you all enough. Especially to Coach Fendall for showing me the way back to the field after almost leaving it forever, thanks Coach.

Now the tough part, to my fellow seniors and teammates. The amount of time we have spent together the past four years far surpasses the amount that we have had with our families back home. Having said that, I would not trade a second of that time for anything. The memories and relationships I have made with you all are my most prized possession and I thank you for that. I thank you for all the hard work we have put in collectively as a team and the great football we have played in our tenure here. For my DBs, who I have spent even more time with, I love you boys you are all like brothers to me and I will always be there for you guys. The times we had we're great, but let's not let them outshine the times we will continue to have together as life rolls on.

Thank you to the whole Wildcat family, especially Ryan Carlson for making the best piece of recruiting material I have ever seen... our highlight dvds!

One Love 'Cats,
James Testa #15


#33 Kala’e Parish, Monster

God has been good to me and allowed me to play all these years. Mahalo to my parents for all their love and support. They believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself and supported every decision I made though it was hard for them to see me leave home.

Fendall, thanks for an awesome 4 years. It’s funny how me and the boys would always tease which one of us were your son and you their dad. It definitely wasn’t me, but you were like a dad to all of us on the field. No one wanted to disappoint you and you were always there to pick us up when we needed encouragement. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach, mentor, and friend.

To the rest of my coaches thanks for the encouragement, fun times, and push that has brought me this far. Thank you for believing in me. “I won’t forget it!”

My brothers on and off the field: I’m never gonna forget stepping on the field with all of you. I cherished each and every moment. I’m going to miss all of you (the jokes, the laughs, morning workouts, playing in the snow, road trips, the people). Remember that this team plays for more than just the glory of the sport, but we play for the people around us. You have all become my second family and made leaving home easy for me. Thank you for all the memories!

I have truly fallen in love with this team over the years. The friends I’ve made and bonds we’ve created will go a lifetime. It took me awhile to completely buy in to the program and I would like to thank my brothers and coaches for being patient. I always wondered what the fuss was about when people talked about Linfield football. It isn’t until you play and experience this program, until you truly understand what we all feel and talk about. It’s more than the past rewards and accomplishments. It’s an unexplainable attitude and pride you gain over the years. I questioned my love for football my freshman year and this team/program helped me fall back in love with the sport all over again. It was a humbling experience and I’ve been able to grow from it.

I could go on forever of how thankful I am to have played in this program. I appreciate everyone who has made this experience unforgettable. I love you all and keep believing. “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

-Kale’e Parish


#34 Bryan Anderson, Fullback/Tight End

I would like to thank all of the coaching staff and players for giving me a great college football experience. I will always remember the good times. It was great to be able to get out and see different parts of the country. I met most of my best friends through football and it was great being with such a tight group of guys. The coaches were always able to push us to be better but still be our friends at the end of the day. That is one of the things that I really respect about the coaching staff here. They also have a great commitment to excellence and played a huge role in our success. I think that we have a great thing going here with an awesome tradition that breeds success. I can’t wait to come back and watch some games next year.

My parents played a huge role in supporting me throughout my college career and a lot of my thanks go out to them. They were able to make it to all but one or two games and that was the California games my sophomore year. I wouldn’t have been able to make it to where I am today without their guidance and support. I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences I have made here for anything else. The Linfield football program has shaped me into a better person and I am very grateful for that.

Bryan Anderson #34

 #36 Christian Hanna, Corner

‘Catdome,

Playing football for the Linfield program was absolutely the best decision I could have made for myself. I am tremendously thankful for the coaching staff that chooses to sacrifice their time in order to maintain and improve the best team I have ever been apart of. You have taught me an uncountable number of skills and tools that I am sure will prove to be crucial in my future success. I am thankful that I am part of a program that organizes priorities to allow for excellence both on the field and in the classroom; I would not be the student I am today without that trust. What has been most impressive to me is knowing that any football player who finishes his four years in the Linfield program can go on to be a successful coach using all the football knowledge that has been passed to us and the principles this program rests on. Coaches at Linfield turn average ball players into leaders destined for success, I will always be thankful for you all.

Although the coaches lay the foundation and instill discipline in us, it is the players on the Linfield team who trust in the program and in each other that make it truly special. Over these last four years I have been humbled by my teammates and friends. I am honored to have struggled through the workouts, meetings, and practices with you and thankful you always pushed me to work harder. I am most thankful that you guys accepted an Idaho foreigner like me into the group and let me embarrass myself with dances and Ducks gear. You guys inspired me to play harder and faster, speak louder, smile more, and enjoy the ride. You are an unforgettable group of comrades and I am forever thankful to be able to call you my friends.

Thanks again,
Christian Hanna


#65 Hayden Mace, Center

Coaches, I know you hear it a lot from some of our older guys who understand it, but you truly are one of the best staffs in the nation. I always felt like we had a schematic advantage going in each week and that is solely because of all of the time and effort you put in week in and out. I wish I would’ve had a chance to get to know the defensive staff a little better on a personal level, for example, I wish I could’ve experienced a ride on that Clue Bus that Coach Vaughan was always giving away tickets for. Thanks for everything that you have all taught me!

Returners, I know you felt the pain that I did exiting the playoffs as soon as we did this year, so I hope you remember that feeling every morning when you’re out there in the rain. If you’re wondering if all of the work is worth it, the answer is simply, yes. Nothing would make me more proud than to see the 2012 Cats make another playoff run for the title. Put in the work, and go win Linfield a national championship.

Thank you to the entire Wild-Mace family, both offense and defense, and past, present and future members! It’s been a glorious three seasons, and I think it’s finally safe to say that the defense never really stood a chance. Hopefully another QB-wanna-be-dreamer will come along next year and take the reins! Not a better feeling than watching opposing coaches watch us pre-game and try to figure out what the hell we were doing.

Seniors, I’m proud of the changes that we helped make during our four years, and I hope the 2011 Cats are remembered for their hard work, brotherhood and desire. I think the characters really made this class a special one. For example, there’ll never be another kid who looks like Jane and plays like Tarzan quite like Fish did. And I guarantee there’ll be another guy who loves Panda…but not like my guy, Donald. And I’d like to thank this other guy, who flip-flopped from offense to defense a few times, who made it socially acceptable again to rock a sketchy mustache as an elementary school teacher. Mr. Anderson, you’re now the reason I will consider private school for my children. Be sure to remember my O-line brother, Barnes, and his conspiracy theories and my main man, Testa, and his special Led Zeppelin connection with Coach Smith. And who could forget one of my best friends, BG, who loved kick return more than anyone in Linfield history. To all my seniors, I love you guys!

Thanks for the memories!

Wild-Mace


#67 David Balfour, Guard

Thank you to the teammates, coaches and alumni who were a part of my experience and time here at Linfield. Coach Smith was “in reality” correct when he said, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I know Linfield and Linfield football is directly responsible for me growing up, seeing the world, and learning the values it takes to be successful in this world. All the great and not so great experiences really helped me learn about myself and who I want to be. I am proud of what we accomplished, learned and experienced here.

By the way, Log Rolls are the worst punishment you can put on a person.

-David Balfour


#70 Jordan Barnes, Guard

First off, I would like to say thank you to my family for supporting me and coming to every game they could. They have always been supporting and encouraging me through whatever path I chose and have always pushed me to do my best. I don’t think I would have been the person and football player I have become without their help and love.

The offensive line is a family within the Linfield family. I will forever remember our bento Fridays, joke filled meetings, and hard work we put in every day. I just want to thank everyone on the oline for making my four years a tremendous experience and for being a great group of people to be around at all times. I will truly miss hitting the sled and meeting under the goal post with everyone after the games. These times and memories we share is what I will truly take away from Linfield. Thank you for staying on the grind every day and I encourage the older guys to teacher the younger guys the same.

Seniors, it has been a great ride these past four years. I truly feel blessed to be in a class of such high caliber people on and off the field. I loved playing every second on the field with you guys and for us to bring Linfield back into the national spotlight is a very fulfilling feeling. It wouldn’t have been possible without the collection of the type of men that Linfield has in the program. I am also grateful for the relationships and lifelong friends I was able to develop throughout my years at Linfield.

Last but certainly not least, a thank you to everyone that put up with my sarcastic comments as well.

Roll ‘Cats,
Jordan Barnes


#75 Eric Anderson, Guard

The past four years have been an incredible ride with the wildcats. It is hard to believe that it is over. I feel an immense amount of pride just knowing that I was a part of the greatest football tradition in the country. Looking back now I realize how much work has been put in by so many Wildcats before me and just how special the tradition really is.

Linfield football gave me so much more than just memories on the field, a sense of morality, a sense of purpose and an understanding of true work ethic. I am a better man for having been under the tutelage of the coaching staff here at Linfield. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to play under the coaches here at Linfield, especially Smith, Vaughn and most of all coach Hire. They were all willing to put up with my constant joking around and were always there to offer any sort of assistance I might need. One time my freshman year my car broke down and I needed to get it fixed. I asked coach smith if he knew a good place and within half an hour he sent me an email back with the phone number and address of four different auto repair places.

Most of all I am thankful for my teammate I had the honor to play with. Whenever I felt like I could not put forth the effort in to staying with the program I would just have to see one of my teammates, just as tired and sore as myself and know that I could not quit on them, and I could not quit on myself. I found two of my best friends on this team in Tommy Patrick and Bryan Anderson. Even though they might not ever amount to anything resembling success with their lives, they sure made it fun to show up every day.

So many people sacrificed just for me to have the chance to play here at Linfield and I am eternally grateful for them. To my parents, the coaching staff and all the Wildcat football players of the past and present thank you for making my experience here so great. My last parting thought is a statement about commitment. My freshman year Coach Elliot, in his first long distance away game as quarterback coach, forgot the game balls in the stadium. With few people to turn to he called me, and without a moment’s hesitation I drove the game balls from Maxwell stadium to PDX, just before the plane took off. As Coach Elliot was running back into the airport with the balls he turned to me and said “Anderson, I owe you lunch.” I am still waiting for that lunch….

Eric Anderson #75


#82 Joe Kloucek, Receiver

As a player, I used to see all of the faithful alumnus return to give their congratulations, thoughts and wishes to us as they reminisced on how good we had it being a Linfield Football player. When you’re young, it doesn’t mean much. As your days dwindle, however, you begin to realize how important each day is and what an impact every participant on the team has—each bringing with them a piece of themselves, their family, their community and so on. Linfield Football is all about demanding the best out of yourself and your brothers, regardless of the situation, in order to produce a championship caliber team.

Coach Smith always says that Linfield Football is the best class you will take at Linfield. I believe this is true, as long as you realize that everyday brings its challenges and the only thing you can control is how you respond to these challenges. Whether you wake up before it rises or after, during the season or during the offseason, while you’re a player or long after, the sun will rise again, bringing with it a new set of challenges to conquer and overcome. And when the time comes when these challenges seem unfeasible, remember your brothers.

I want to thank all the coaches, trainers, managers, supporters, hydration committee and players (especially this year’s senior class). I would also like to thank my parents and family for all of their love and care. Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my receivers. Keep catching the rock, making the block and STH. I’m out.

-Klo


#81 Buddy Saxon, Receiver

I want to thank my family for the support they have shown me over my entire football career. I can count on one hand how many football games they have missed, and to have support like that is pretty uncommon. They were always my biggest fans whether I had the best or worst game of my life. I want to say thanks to Coach Wakefield back in Grants Pass. His coaching throughout my four years of high school really developed me as an athlete, and more importantly as a man, and without it I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle the adversity that college athletics can bring.

Coach Fendall – Just want to say thanks for the “pull your head out” (nicer way of putting it) reality check you gave me freshmen year. I was on a path that was leading nowhere good, and without that talk I probably would not have made it through college and I owe you big for that. My grades were awful before that talk, and now they are the best I have ever had.

To my fellow seniors, what a wild four years that I promise you I will never forget. It got a little suspect on whether some of us were going to make it all four years, and we all pulled together and got it done. As a group we went into the toughest teams houses across the nation and battled it out, and I am proud as hell of that. So I want to say thank you for everything and can’t wait for the alumni game to suit up with you all again.

-Buddy Saxon


#89 Joell Reyes, Defensive Tackle

Wow these 4 years have gone by in such a blur. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing this game with each and every one of you guys. Seniors, we have been through so much and this has been a great ride. I love all you guys and I feel so fortunate to have been standing among you. Coaches, thanks for all your time and effort putting together all the game plans and spending time away from your families. I truly appreciate all your hard work and dedication. Our program would not be successful without all of the staff. Young guys, keep up all the hard work every day at practice and make sure to get in the weight room during the off season. All those 6 am work outs will pay off and bring everyone closer together. I feel like a lot of our success this year was how well everyone on the team got along and trusted one another. All that trust sprouted from all the time we have spent with one another, trying to get better. I want to thank my parents for all the support they have given me here at Linfield especially driving down to all the home games. Special shout out to all the D-line, I know I have bounced around at a lot of positions but I found my home at the D-line. Thank you guys for all the effort each and every day.

Roll ‘Cats! Catdome!

Joell Reyes #89


#92 Brent Shimabukuro, Defensive End

I want to thank my parents first of all without them I would never have come to Linfield. I owe plenty of thanks to my brother. He really was my inspiration for playing football and to continue playing after high school.

I would like to thank all the friends I have made through football during these four year. They have become my family. I would like to thank the coaches for believing in each and every one of us. They all seemed to see the potential in every player under them. Them not giving up on us made us not want to give up ever.

Overall words cannot truly express how thankful I am to have played such a great game. Looking back on my nine year career I have learned so many things about myself and about life. I look back at the places football has taken me, places I wouldn’t even have gone if it wasn’t for this sport. I am thankful for all the emotional highs and lows that nothing else in my life will ever give me. I would not trade my football experience for ANYTHING. I thank God everyday for the opportunities that I have been given.

Brent Shimabukuro


#93 Sparky Gonzalez, Defensive End

First and foremost I’d like to thank my parents who gave me the opportunity to further my education and allow me to play football at the next level. I also want to thank my mom for trying to make it out to as many games as possible, even the freezing cold in Minnesota. My parents are my number one fans and when they can’t make a game they still tune in and listen to me play.

Seniors: I’d like to thank all the seniors of the 2012 class. I couldn’t ask for a better class of men that I became so close with. It’s been a long journey together; there were a lot of ups and a couple downs, but I don’t regret any moment or feeling left out on the field with you all. You guys mean so much to me and I’m glad I had the privilege to be your teammate and friend.

I’d like to thank a special group of people and they are the “old guys” from Hawaii. These guys have been with me since day one. There is a special bond between the small handful of guys that are left, but I’d just like to say that I probably couldn’t have made it all four years without you guys.

The coaches: Thank you all coaches that I had the privilege to play under. This is an incredible staff that has taught me many lessons on the field and off. You guys have molded me into a better person and allowed me to find out whom I really am inside. Coach Hire, you opened my eyes to the Linfield family and I don’t regret any of the choices I have made on coming to Linfield. Coach Smith, Thank you for being a great mentor to me, and believing in me to get it done. Coach Vaughan, Thank you for making me into the player that I am today, thank you for believing in me and trusting me to get the job done, I will never forget our memories with the DLine. Coach Rombach, you’ve been the closest coach since day one. Thank you for everything, you’ve been there for me every year and you always have your door open to me, I appreciate everything. I’d also like to thank Mack Farag. He is the most genuine and nicest man I’d ever met, thanks Mack.

To the young guys, thank you guys for keeping me on my feet and keep me competing every day. You guys are the future of Linfield Football, and I’d have no problem with passing the torch to you guys. You have potential for greatness, its just how you prepare and how bad you want it. My one piece of advice is to buy into the program and cherish every moment possible. Buy in and be apart of everything you can, you never know when you’ll be in and then suddenly out with a potentially season ending injury. Always work hard and have no regrets. Represent yourself and the name on the jersey everyday of your life and I guarantee you’ll be a better man at the end of the day. Good luck to you all

Send Em Up
Sparky Gonzalez #93


#95 Tommy Patrick, Defensive Tackle

I would like to take a moment to thank my parents, my teammates, my coaches and the whole Linfield community for providing me with such a great football experience. Without my parents support I never would have had the chance to come here. They made it to nearly every game and I am very thankful for them being in my life. It was a great four years and I have no regrets; I would do the same thing if I had to do it all over again. My teammates are my greatest friends and that is the main reason I value my Linfield experience. This program does a great job evaluating players not only on a physical talent level but even more on a class and integrity level. I think this program speaks for itself and I’m glad I could be a part of something with so much tradition and I look forward to seeing that tradition continue for many years to come. I also would like to thank the coaches for the countless hours of preparation that they put in to make us the players we are today. Go Catdome!

Tommy Patrick #95

Monday, November 28, 2011

Linfield’s 2011 season ends in Delaware 49-34

 Saturday was the ultimate tale of two halves as the ‘Cats rode a big play offense and solid defense to take a commanding 27-7 halftime lead to only see Wesley storm back in epic fashion to end the ‘Cats 2011 season by the score of 49-34.  It was such a hard way to end the season as Linfield was in control of the game at half but two early 2nd half turnovers wildly swung momentum over to Wesley and once the Wolverines had the home crowd fired up, Wesley quarterback Shane McSweeny and the Wesley defense couldn’t do anything wrong as the Wesley offense made play after play and their defense bottled up an explosive Wildcat offense.   It was such a crappy feeling to watch the 2nd half unfold for our ‘Cats, not only because the season came to a close, but because that half of football was on a big stage and wasn’t truly reflective of what this 2011 Linfield football team was all about.  The 2011 Linfield Wildcats were a great football team.  Yes, those two quarters of football was downright terrible for the ‘Cats but there isn’t a single doubt in my mind this team had the goods to play for it all and I guess that’s why Saturday stings the worst.  This team had the skill, scheme, coaching, and players to make an even deeper run into the playoffs but ran into a very fine team on Saturday that rallied and made more plays to put the ‘Cats away.  You just have to tip your cap to Wesley and congratulate them on something the 10 previous opponents couldn’t do and that’s stop our ‘Cats.

That game is going to hurt for awhile but it’s ok for this to hurt.  How could it not?  The players, staff, and support people put so much into Linfield football that when you come up short of your ultimate goal it’s going to sting hard.   Coach Smith nailed it beautify after the game when he talked about this team and program “daring greatly” and brought that home by quoting an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship In A Republic” speech that is well known as “The Man In The Arena” .  Coach Smith talked about how much he appreciates the fact this team puts it out there that the goal of this program each year is to not only play for but win a National Championship.   It’s a daring statement to make that you believe so much in what you’re doing as a program that if the team executes and performs at a high enough level during the course of the season you’ll wind up being the last team standing.  “…the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”    There are those that might snicker at that goal especially with Whitewater and Mount Union have played against each other in 6 consecutive Stagg Bowls but those are programs or people that are probably too afraid of being hurt  to ever put so much on the line.  

That’s what I think I’ll remember the most about this 2011 team.  From this past spring this team said there are other programs that want what Linfield has and since that’s the case go on and “Send ‘Em Up because the ‘Cats will be waiting” and once they’re done with them then Linfield will be onto their biggest goal.  That statement wasn’t arrogance but an attitude of confidence forged by the work and preparation the program has put in over the previous seasons.  It’s a belief system that Linfield has in place that prepared this team for the challenges of 2011 and will carry them forward through a difficult ending to what was a spectacular season.

This is a special group of young men that the Linfield community should be wildly proud of.  They handled both victory and loss with grace and dignity and we should celebrate everything they’ve accomplished on and off the field.  I’ll talk more in later posts about the numbers the 2011 ‘Cats put up and about a program changing senior class but right now I just want to thank the 2011 Linfield Wildcats for everything they’ve provided to the fans of the ‘Catdome.  You guys were not only a top rate football team but represented everything that’s right with Linfield and right about college athletics.  Please keep daring greatly on and off the field.  Send ‘Em Up!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NCAA Playoffs Round 2: Linfield vs Wesley Live Twitter Feed

Your Live Linfield game day Twitter Feed is back.  You can now follow live updates of the 'Cats at Wesley via folks that will be tweeting the action. Join twitter (it's easy) and be a part of the action. Just make sure you hash-tag "Catdome" in your updates. i.e. #catdome

Also, there is a live video feed of today's action via the folks at D3football.com

WATCH LINFIELD VS WESLEY


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NCAA Playoffs Round 2 Preview: Linfield (10-0) at Wesley (10-1)

I have to tell you that it's so dang nice to be writing a Linfield game preview two weeks after the regular season ends.  Heck yes!  After the 'Cats outlasted the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran 30-27 this past Saturday, Linfield jumped out of the West Region Power frying pan and right into the National Power fryer as the 'Cats will travel cross country and play in Dover, Delaware against the Wesley Wolverines.  You maybe asking yourself "Why is Linfield going across the country to play at a team who's lost once this year?"  I have no bloody idea but that's the decision that was made and the only thing for the Wildcats to do is embrace what is a fantastic opportunity.  Think about it for a moment.  All of the other small college players in the Pacific Northwest (Division III, Division II, NAIA) have been sitting at home the past two weeks catching up on homework, playing video games, cleaning out their locker rooms, and generally looking forward to the 2012 season while the players on the Linfield roster are still in a championship hunt.  Only 16 Division III teams out of the 236 remain and the 'Cats are once again one of them.  It's an awesome honor this team has earned with an incredible amount of hard work so why not go on across the country and play against one of D3's top programs?  Let's tee it up and see how Linfield measures up.

Wesley is a top level division program.  The Wolverines have made 4 National Semifinal trips since 2005 and boast a lofty 16-6 NCAA playoff record.  This year's Wesley's team has been equally impressive to their squads of the past as the Wolverines scores 41 ppg while only allowing 12.  They're talented, well coaches, and play very well at home.  Bottom line, this is a big challenge but Linfield has faced teams of this magnitude over the past couple of seasons (Whitewater, Mary-Hardin Baylor, St. Thomas, California Lutheran) and the 'Cats have held their own and then some.  There are an excellent football program but with only 16 teams remaining...who isn't?  It's going to be a matter of playing another full 60 minutes of Linfield football in order to get the job done and this team is built for a challenge like this.

Get To Know A Wildcat
#33 Kala'e Parish, Senior, Safety

Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: Wildwood

Favorite Movie: Role Models

Favorite Music: Reggae music!

Favorite TV Show: Jersey Shore

Favorite Pro Football team: Dallas Cowboys

Class I Most Look Forward to: Business Law I & II. I had a great professor and the subjects were very interesting.

Mac or Pc: Mac

Twitter or Facebook: Facebook

Short Board or Long Board (do you even surf?): Long board. I prefer to catch more waves rather than get more tired paddling on a short board. There's no sense in making my fun any harder.

Xbox, PS3, or WII: None, there is only Nintendo 64, Favorite Game: Super Smash Bros. I like the "old school" games, plus I like to think that I'm pretty good at this one.

Favorite Coach Fendall Saying: No particular sayings. Really enjoy his pre-game jokes before the games. Classics!

Some might know but your in a popular local band called Na Hemo. What's a bigger rush...being on stage with a good crowd or making a big play on the field? Definitely a big play on the field. I can't describe the feeling. It's that burst of adrenaline that you can't control. Playing music is more carefree and expressive. Football is all that and more.

If you had to choose one Na Hemo song to describe the 2011 Wildcats what would it be? "Coldest Zone" by J Boog "to all my soldiers who ain't afraid..." SEND EM UP

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: Playing with a group of men who are always beside you, ready to run to the battle with you, and play with an aggressive passion for the game.

Post Linfield aspirations: Establish myself here in the mainland before moving back home to Hawaii. I'm leaning towards a possible career in sales. I thought about becoming a sports agent.

Wildcat11's Keys To Victory

Embrace the road less traveled:  It's so easy for teams that are not accustom to so much travel to let it be a distraction.    The distance, flying, time zone changes, hotels, are all easy outs for a team to point in why they fail on the road.  The 'Cats 1st step to victory this Saturday starts on Thursday as Linfield heads out to the East Coast.  The players need to enjoy the opportunity by coming together and making the most about getting to play a game on the other side the country.  Linfield likes to take the 'Catdome all around the West Coast and this is no different.  'Catdome East Coast!

Start Strong: Wesley has been a very strong 1st quarter team (outscoring opponents 104-13 on the season) so it's imperative for Linfield to run to the battle and establish themselves early as a team that is going to fight every down for 4 quarters.

Have to be able to run the ball:  Wesley's defense is only giving up 2.2 yards per rush but Linfield can't let that sway them from trying to establish Josh Hill and the Linfield rushing attack.  We've seen it time and again that if Linfield is able to be effective running the ball the 'Cats are going to be tough to beat.

Take away the Wesley rushing attack: Wesley is a very balanced offense in averaging 201 rushing yards a game and 200 passing yards a game. The 'Cats have to be able to limit one aspect of the Wesley offense and that has to be the Wolverines rushing attack. That's going to be a tall task as Wesley All-American QB Shane McSweeny is a duel-threat QB that has established himself as an electric scrambler. McSweeny might get his in running around the pocket but the 'Cats can't let Wesley's base run game get traction.

Pressure without extra bodies/don't give up big plays: The 'Cats defensive line need to have a huge day on passing downs in allowing the 'Cats to keep their nickle backs/linebackers in coverage and not having to dial up extra bodies. If the 'Cats front four can get pressure it's going to go a long way towards getting the Linfield defense off the field.

Solid Linfield pass protection: The 'Cats offensive line need to stay on a roll in keeping Mickey Inns upright. It's going to be tough as Wesley averages around 3.5 sacks per contest. I have a lot of believe in this offensive line and Saturday is a big stage to show the division what they're made of.

Solid Special Teams: If this unit can keep on playing at high gear it makes the job of the offense and defense so much easier. Wesley has a huge amount of speed but there is no reason why this group can't have a great day in coverage and in kicking the ball. This group doesn't have to put the "S" on their chest but they can have a big impact by just doing their job.

Overall

'Cats by 7. A huge game on a huge stage. This is why players come to Linfield, to play in games like this. It's simple really and cliche but this is the truth. The team that executes, takes advantages of the opportunities, and limits mistakes is going to walk away the winner this weekend and I truly feel the 'Cats have the mental toughness to push away the distractions and find a way to beat one of the divisions finest. There's going to be lows and highs on Saturday but if this team can handles both and keep doing the little things right the 'Cats are going to be there in the 4th quarter. I believe.....do you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield blocks CLU’s bid to advance in the NCAA playoffs

Photo Courtsy of Brad Thompson: View and Purchase Brad's Photos here

You smell that? That’s not the smell of fear but it’s actually the smell of the Wildcat’s 30-27 playoff victory over California Lutheran. What a great day in the valley and a great day in the ‘Catdome between two very worthy teams. It would be easy for me to take some light hearted jabs at CLU about the ‘Cats beating them for the 3rd year in a row in the playoffs but I can’t do it. They’re a very good team and as someone who was in St. Thomas last season to see your team put it all on the line and have it end in heartbreak us Linfield fans and our players know the feeling of coming up short. Bottom line, both teams punched and counter-punched. Both teams had flags go against them that put each other in tougher situations. Both teams made big plays to keep the game close, but at the end, the Wildcats ended the game in the area this Linfield team as excelled in all year long: special teams. The ending couldn’t have been more perfect.

Rounding back to the days headed up to the game I was struck by the very confident tone of CLU fan base about this match-up. Hey, our fans are always beyond confident (me included) but this week’s tone was different than the previous two seasons. Some were guaranteeing a CLU victory, comments such as this the “best CLU team” fans have ever seen, and CLU was on such a dominate roll in the SCIAC that they couldn’t be stopped. Etc, etc, etc. Obviously, this was the closest game of the previous 3 years but I felt like some on the CLU bandwagon was discounting what makes Linfield…well…Linfield. The ‘Cats are so solid in all three phases of the game, have outstanding coaching, toughness, fundamentally sound, and we have a lot of darn good players too. As a fan, I was nervous during fall camp headed into the season opener vs. this CLU team. We weren’t very healthy, I wasn’t sure how Inns and our young defensive front were going to perform, and it was hard not to question our chances were versus a hyper-talented and veteran laden team like CLU. As we all know, the ‘Cats put those questions to bed and gave you a look to why this team was going to be exceptional. This is not just a team but this is a brotherhood. It’s a group devoid of ego and focused on being in the moment. I may have had a small doubt in the late days of August but I don’t have any doubt now. Unlike the CLU faithful, I won’t guarantee a trip to the Stagg Bowl  but I will say that I wouldn’t bet against this Linfield team anytime soon.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

Total Team Effort: All three phases did their part to pitch in to get the job done on Saturday and that's what you want during the playoffs. A great effort by the staff, scout team, all the support people, and the players on the field.  The 'Cats got it done the "Linfield Way".

Special teams/Josh Kay: The 'Cats special teams were once again great. There were only a couple of issues that bubbled up during this phase of the game but the coverage was good, the kickoff team set up the offense with great field position.  Then you have the blocked field goal to win the game and Josh Kay was freaking clutch all game long. Coach Smith was right when he said Kay should have been the NWC special teams player of the year as Kay has proven all year long to be a big time weapon for Linfield.

Offensive Line/Josh Hill: I thought the 'Cats offensive line played brilliantly on Saturday. It was their biggest test of the season and the Linfield offensive line was physical, determined, and provided excellent protection in the pass game. A great effort by them and what can you say about Josh Hill's performance running the ball? It seems the bigger the game the better J-Hill plays.

Wide Receivers: Yeah, I know the offense only threw for 152 yards but I loved the way the Linfield wide receivers played. Totally fearless and battled about as fine of defensive backfield in the nation.

Defense, Defense, Defense: While CLU put up 444 yards of total offense but the bottom line is the Linfield only gave up 20 points on the day vs a team that had averaged almost 60 ppg in their last 6 contests. CLU put pressure on the 'Cats defense but time, after time, after time, the 'Cats defense turned CLU away when it mattered most and that's what made the 'Cats defense so great this year: they find a way to get it done.

Drew Fisher’s TD saving tackle: When Daniel Mosier broke that run early in the 3rd quarter I was 100% sure that he was gone for the touchdown. There was no way the 'Cats were in position to bring him down but the 'Cats All-American Safety might have made his greatest tackle in a long list of great take downs. The remarkable rundown tackle kept the touchdown off the board as Linfield was able to limit CLU to a field goal and changed the complexion of the game. It was an all-american play by one of the divisions very best players.

Linfield Faithful: Easily the smallest crowd of the season with the students starting Thanksgiving break and CLU not bringing up much of a crowd but the hardcore Linfield fans that were at the game rocked the 'Catdome all game long. Don't believe me just listen to the raw audio of the field goal block and it sounded like 20,000 fans instead of just a little under 1,600. Great effort 'Catdome!
Linfield CLU Block FG Raw Audio by Wildcat11

The Bad:

3rd Down Play: It was the 1st time all season long the 'Cats were outdone on 3rd downs (CLU 8 of 16, Linfield 5 of 14) on the season and it showed up in the total yardage as CLU was able to extend multiple drives off the legs and play-making of Laudenslayer. The 'Cats will need to tighten up this down this week out in Dover in order to give Linfield the best possible chance for success.

Giving Up Big Plays: I can't remember the stat but I believe the 'Cats gave up 3 or 4 plays of more than 30 yards and that's just way too many and it almost bit the 'Cats hard on Saturday. Credit CLU for making that happen but again the 'Cats have to get the big plays under wraps this upcoming Saturday.

Not Putting CLU away in the 1st half: Linfield had a prime chance to take a 20-3 lead into the half and possibly send CLU into the locker room with a lot of doubt creeping into their minds.  However, CLU was able to convert a Hail Mary with no time left to make it a 20-10 Linfield lead and give CLU the momentum. It was a big play as the 'Cats were unable to shake CLU for the rest of the game.

The Ugly:

Linfield fans limited access to 2nd round game: I'm not complaining about having to go on the road in the 2nd round but I do think it's too bad that Linfield has to travel such a great distance during a holiday week. This combination just makes the trip such an expensive proposition to overcome. I feel for the fans that want to go but even more so for the player's and staff's family that have sacrificed and supported their 'Cats year after year. Just a shame on announcing the site location so late(as every day counts in terms of costs of airfare) and for sending the 'Cats almost 2,500 miles away. Again, I'm excited to play a team of Wesley's caliber but not thrilled with how the NCAA handled it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Linfield Block For The Win and Cal Lutheran Post Game Interviews.

What a great victory yesterday at the 'Catdome as Linfield held on to send home California Lutheran 30-27 in an instant classic DIII playoff game. For Linfield what a perfect ending to what has been a stand out aspect of this unit: special teams. I'm telling you that the players on the Linfield sideline just felt that block coming on as Defensive End Tyler Steele made first contact and WR Buddy Saxon finished it off. I don't need to say anything more just watch the clip below.



After the game WC11 grabbed Linebacker Dom Forrest, offensive guard Drew Wert, and senior corner Taylor Skore to talk about the 'Cats 3rd consecutive playoff victory over Cal Lutheran.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NCAA Playoffs Round1: Linfield vs Cal Lutheran Live Game Day Twitter Feed

Your Live Linfield game day Twitter Feed is back.  You can now follow live updates of the 'Cats at California Lutheran via folks that will be tweeting the action. Join twitter (it's easy) and be a part of the action. Just make sure you hash-tag "Catdome" in your updates. i.e. #catdome


Friday, November 18, 2011

Around The 'CatdomeO'sphere: Playoff Edition

Send 'Em Up!
Yes, so great to be back with a very special Around The 'CatdomeO'sphere as we trim the fat and focus in on the 'Cats 1st round playoff game vs Cal Lutheran. All the links below are all about Linfield and CLU. Granted, there has been a big run of stories on the feel good Lewis & Clark Pioneers.   I can understand the interested in them starting the season so well, but after reality came crashing down in the form of the right hand of Linfield, all of those interviews and special stories dried up faster than Puget Sound's run game. No need to say it but tomorrow is a big day at the 'Catdome and I'm excited to see how the 'Cats battle. Bundle up and get yourself to the game. We're lucky enough in DIII to be able to settle it on the field so make sure you don't miss the chance to be a part of it. 'Catdome!

News-Register: Ben Schorzman's live blog of Linfield's 47-14 mauling of Lewis & Clark

The Linfield Review: 'Cats wrap up another undefeated season, NWC title, and playoff birth in 47-14 beating of L&C.

The Linfield Review: Study room in Nicholson Library dedicated to former 'Cats football player and fallen solider of Vietnam war, Mike Barrow (class of '68)

The Pioneer Log:  "Solid" Lewis and Clark defense holds 'Cats down to only 34 1st half points.

wildcatspread40.blogspot.com: Wildcats Crush Pios 47-14...

Linfield Sports:  The 'Cats Shimabukuro and Gonzalez have been teammates for life.

wildcatspread40.blogspot.com: What WCS40 learned about the 'Cats during the regular season

Statesman Journal: 'Cats take Lewis & Clark out with the trash.

Oregonlive.com: Inns has Linfield singing a playoff tune.

Oregonlive.com: Linfield puts the Pios away in the 1st half.

The Linfield Review: The Review tries to make sense of wild playoff bracket.

Oregonlive.com: 'Cats host a familiar face in the opening round of the playoffs.

The CLU Echo (page 10 of .pdf):  Kingsmen looking to avenge only loss of their season as they head back to the 'Catdome

D3football.com's Around The Nation: D3fb takes a shot a their playoff picks, surprises, and disappointments

D3blogs.com's Triple Take: D3football.com crew picks 1st round games.

D3football.com Road To Salem Feature: CLU and Redlands go their separate ways in the 1st round of the playoffs.

VCstar.com: Cal Lutheran halftime adjustments lead to big 3rd quarter results.

VCstar.com: CLU's Ben McEnroe "We can beat anyone in the country, anywhere in any conditions right now."

VCstar.com: Cal Lutheran fishing regular season in style in 70-20 torching of Occidental.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 NCAA Playoff Round 1 Preview: Linfield (9-0) vs California Lutheran (8-1)

Once again we meet with our good friends from California Lutheran. For the 3rd year in a row the ‘Cats will line up against the Kingsmen for the right to advance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. For those that follow both programs know this is actually the ‘Cats 5th meeting with CLU in Linfield’s past 22 games (past 21 for CLU) and at this point I think each teams' players and staff know each other so well they could recite the others playbook by heart.

Even though the frequency of this game is almost at a nauseating level, it’s still intriguing to me on a number of levels. I think there’s zero doubt that both of these teams are in an elite class of Division III football teams this season and while it’s too bad we have to face off in the 1st round, it’s just our reality in DIII out in the far west. It would be easy for me to go on a tirade about the brackets being unbalanced and how the seeding is ridiculous but it’s pointless. Both of these teams say they’ll play anybody, anytime, anywhere, so we might as well buckle it up and get down to business against a top flight team now instead of getting a sacrificial lamb from the weak auto qualifiers from the Midwest. Hell, why not? Send ‘Em Up!

For California Lutheran, the season opening 24-14 loss to Linfield can to a surprise to the CLU fan base and even to their Head Coach Ben McEnore who told the Ventura County Star “…in all honesty, I am surprised we lost this football game. Give Linfield credit, they took advantage when they had chances. But for the most part, this was a winnable football game for us.” The loss at the ‘Catdome wasn’t in the plans for the Kingsmen and they looked a little uneven the next week in defeating PLU 28 – 17 at Moorepark College but then came a pivotal moment in CLU’s season. On the opening night of play at CLU’s brand new stadium, the SCIAC title was eventually on the line as Redlands came to town. It looked like the wheels were falling off as Redlands raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead but CLU turned the tables on Redlands and stormed back by putting up 28 consecutive 2nd half points to take the big 28-24 win. Since that half of football CLU has been on a major roll in defeating Whittier, La Verne, Pomona-Pitzer, CMS, Chapman, and Oxy by an average score of 59 to 13. Supporters and fans around the CLU program are saying this is the best CLU team ever and they have been playing up to their potential over the last 2/3rds of the season. Needless to say, the CLU confidence is at an all-time high as they head into this weekend.

Get To Know A Wildcat
#65 Hayden Mace, Senior, Center


Favorite Place in Mac to Eat: I don’t have a favorite, but I get into a pretty good weekend routine, so I’ll share it with everyone: Friday O-line meeting: Bento from 76. Post-game dinner: GVB. Saturday night: Muchas. Sunday afternoon: Carl’s Jr.

Favorite Movie: I go back and forth on this a lot, but the movie that’s always in the running is The Dark Knight.

Favorite Music: Alternative rock (Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy) and the blues, acoustic and jazz genre (The Jack Johnson, John Mayer and Colbie Caillats of the world).

Favorite TV Show: I have a plethora, but The Office is hands down my #1.

Favorite Pro Football team: GO HAWKS!

Class I Most Look Forward to: The best class on campus is Economics of College Sports by Randy Grant.

Mac or PC: PC

Cpu Homepage: ESPN

Twitter or Facebook: Can I say both? No? Well then, Twitter.

Car or Truck: I drive a 1992 Ford Taurus. If anyone is looking for a classy car, let me know.

Xbox, PS3, or WII: Xbox

Favorite Coach Hire Saying: Oh, wow! There are so many to choose from. His two favorites this year have been, “Just take him on the angle” and “We wear our swag on our helmets and facemasks.”

Favorite Movie Director: You’re killing me with all of these favorite questions, you know? Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight & Inception) has two of my top-five favorites, so he has to be the guy.

All you can eat buffet at Izzy's. Which O-lineman could do the most damage in one evening: Barnes can put the food away, it’ll just take him all day to do it.

Your Favorite Part About Playing at Linfield is: The coaches and the players make the difference. The guys that choose to play here at Linfield are great guys, both on and off the field. The combination of the brotherhood that this team has along with the best coaching staff in the nation makes for a winning culture.

Post Linfield aspirations: Hopefully get a job with Nike or a finance company in the Portland area and become an offensive coordinator or head coach for a high school team.

Wildcat11’s Keys To Victory

Nothing else but a full 4 quarters of Linfield Football: In order to win this game the ‘Cats need to take the approach that has worked for this group all season long. Be 100% focused on being in the moment and doing your job to the very best of your ability. There are going to be high’s and low’s on Saturday and if the ‘Cats are able to handle both adversity and success for the duration of the contest then I like our chances to slug out a win.

Have to limit the CLU run game: This is no disrespect to the Kingsmen ability to strike in the air (because they’re dangerous throwing the ball) but if you let Daniel Mosier loose on the ground you’re going to make it awfully hard to slow down the CLU offense. Linfield’s defense has to limit the CLU run game in order to take away their balance and give the ‘Cats defense a shot to make plays when CLU is put in positions to throw the ball. That’s easy for WC11 to type because the Kingsmen line is pretty darn big but the ‘Cats have to find a way to beat blocks and put on a tackling clinic on Saturday.

Keep bodies off of Mickey Inns: During the 1st game of the season against CLU, Mickey Inns took way too many hits on the day. Inns and the ‘Cats passing game has grown tremendously over the course of the season and it will be a major key this Saturday to keep Inns on his feet and Kingsmen out of his face.

Have to win field position game: The Kingsmen offense is too explosive to give them opportunities to work with short fields. Good field position isn’t just about special teams but it’s about all three phases of the ‘Cats game keeping the action on CLU’s side of the field. If the ‘Cats can make CLU work long fields and get the offense chances to work with short porches the ‘Cats will be in a great position to win the game.

Keep CLU’s big play strikes down: The CLU passing game features a fine group of receivers led by their All-American candidate Eric Rodgers. While Rodgers has hurt Linfield in the past, the ‘Cats still need to be mindful of the other big play threats on the field and not allow CLU to get behind the ‘Cats defense. I know I’m asking a lot to both stop their run game and also don’t allow big plays downfield but I have faith the defense will give it their best effort to do both.

Run the darn football: Linfield’s saving offensive grace in the season opener was rushing for 256 yards against CLU. I’m sure that isn’t a fact that’s loss on CLU’s coaching staff as they put together their defensive game plan. Regardless, of the extra attention CLU will probably put on the ‘Cats run game, Linfield has to be a balanced offense on Saturday and that starts by running the ball.

Special Teams having a day: CLU has explosive returners and play solid special teams so this will be a good challenge for what has been a stand-out year for Linfield’s special teams unit. Linfield needs to have a great day in covering returns to help win that field position battle.

Overall

‘Cats by 7. This has the potential to be a whale of a game. I respect the heck out of CLU’s ability and talent but I love what this Wildcat team brings to the table. There many CLU supporters that think the Kingsmen will break through against Linfield on Saturday. That just plays into the overall feeling I get that CLU believes they shouldn’t have lost that season opener and that’s fine. However, there is a reason Linfield has and will continue to be an elite team in Division III and I’m looking forward to those reasons being on display this Saturday. Go ‘Cats!

Monday, November 14, 2011

‘Cats Win!!! Linfield fixes Lewis & Clark's wagon in 47-14 mauling at the ‘Catdome.

Photo Courtsy of Brad Thompson: View and Purchase Brad's Photos here

Lewis & Clark brought a knife to a gun fight as the ‘Cats put the game away before the horn went off to signal the end of the 1st half. Honestly, it could have been a much worse score than 34-0 but regardless it was total and complete domination of a team that was a nice little story headed into their last games of the season. Linfield was sharp, focused, and once again proved they are the cream of the Northwest Conference crop. In victory, the ‘Cats sealed the NCAA playoff automatic birth, the program’s 3rd consecutive NWC title, and the Linfield’s 35th overall conference championship. Since the Northwest Conference was reinstated in 1996 the ‘Cats have now captured the NWC title 9 times over the past 16 years. Since the 2000 season, the ‘Cats have run their NWC record to an astonishing 60 wins against 5 losses. Just flat out dominate.

This 2011 Wildcat team has been on the same level of those conference champions of year's past in winning their NWC games with a margin of victory of 32 points per game (avg score of 46-14). The ‘Cats have done it in all phases this season in mauling teams with a suffocating defense, stand out special teams play, and a more balanced offensive attack that has shown tremendous growth during the season. I’ve heard some coaches around the NWC state that while Linfield is a great team they don’t have the 2 or 3 stars to carry them. I’d argue with them on that point but where this team stands out to me compared to the rosters of previous years is the depth. To me, this is one of the deepest Linfield rosters I’ve seen in terms of speed and talent. This Linfield team comes at you with wave after wave of fast and tough minded football players. They’ve been an honor to cover and watch.

But let’s round back to Saturday. The big question people had was if the ‘Cats would be able to limit mistakes and hold down the Pioneer offense. The ‘Cats answered with an emphatic “yes” to both of those questions and it was apparent early on the 'Cats were ready to roll. Both the ‘Cats offense and defense dominated Lewis and Clark in out gaining the Pios 381 yards to 90 yards in the 1st half of play. It was so one-sided that the student section bailed at halftime and one Wildcat fan in the North End Zone said to me “I’m kind of disappointed. I was hoping to see a game today.” Myself….I was fine with how the game turned out.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

The ‘Cats played Linfield Football: After a rocky performance at Whitworth the week before I was curious to see how the ‘Cats would respond. I’ve stated before that when this team is on their game they’re going to be hard to beat and the ‘Cats were hitting on all cylinders this past weekend. That just doesn’t happen on Saturday but that comes from a great week of preparation, the Scout Team busting backside, and the whole team zeroing in on playing Linfield football. The ‘Cats were not afraid of the moment and came out and rolled physically and emotionally.

Defensive Domination: The Wildcat’s once again faced a highly touted NWC offensive player and did what the ‘Cats seem to do with regularity in this situation: suffocate and dominate. The Pioneers had 90 total yards of 1st half offense but if you take out their single drive of 65 yards, the ‘Cats defense only allowed 14 yards on L&C’s other 7 first half possessions. The ‘Cats shark tank was in a feeding frenzy.

Offensive Explosion: At times it looked like the ‘Cats were play a summer pick up 7-on-7 skelly session as Linfield raced up and down the ‘Catdome surface in posting up 34 1st half points. Linfield knew coming into the game they would be able to score points but it was almost surgical in how Linfield took apart Lewis and Clark’s defense.

Tackling: Against a team that spreads you out sideline to sideline you have to be able to tackle well and that’s just what the ‘Cats did. Fantastic job in wrapping ball carries and being smart along the sideline in getting carries out of play but without a chance of getting any late hit flags tossed. Very solid fundamental contest by Linfield.

Josh Kay going 4 for 4 in Field Goal attempts: Josh Kay and the Field Goal/PAT team has been locked in all season long and yesterday was another great example. Great protection, great snaps, great holds, and Josh was automatic on all 4 attempts. Outstanding.

‘Cats rushing game: The passing game was there all day long but so was the rushing attack. The ‘Cats out rushed Lewis & Clark on the day 181 to 128 as the ‘Cats Josh Hill led all rushers with 111 yards on 18 carries (6.2 ypc). The whole offensive unit was busting tail blocking and J-Hill was electric. It was also great to see Aaron Williams back and regaining that All-Conference form with 32 rushing yards in only 5 attempts. Josh Hill, Stephen Nasca, and Aaron Williams are a darn good trio of backs headed into the playoffs.

3rd down defense: L&C came into Saturday with almost a 50% conversion rate on 3rd down but Linfield’s defense was up for the task in only allowing the Pios to convert on 25% of 3rd down chances (3 of 12).

‘Cats passing attack: Mickey Inns and the offense competed 67% of Inns passes on 20 of 30 attempts for 286 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero picks. 8 different ‘Cats caught passes and the receivers were impressive in accumulating the yards after catch. The Linfield passing game was very sharp.

The Bad

Giving up 5 sacks: Honestly, I was pretty surprised at this number as Inns hardly seemed under duress through the game but in looking back L&C had a sack to close out the half and got to Inns on back-to-back plays early in the 3rd. Yoder took two more sacks late in the game but this offensive line knows keeping Inns upright is a major priority headed into next weekend. I think the 5 sacks is a little deceptive but the ‘Cats still need to button this up.

The Ugly

Lewis and Clark player mean-mugging Linfield before the game: As the ‘Cats headed into the locker room after warm-ups, L&C was still on the field going through their routine. One L&C player that wasn’t participating in the Pios O vs D walk through was standing at midfield near the Linfield sideline and was in full out mean-mugging mode. If you don’t know what “mean-mugging” is here is a definition “To glare at another person with a scowl, or other antagonistic facial expression, with malicious intent, hoping to provoke a response from the intended recipient. I.E. glare, smirk, leer, or stare.”

Yes, this L&C player was about ten feet away was trying his best to intimidate the ‘Cats as they entered the locker room. It was rather comical and the ‘Cats thought so to as I heard some chuckling and head shaking. Listen, this team and program has seen the Whitewaters, Hardin-Simmons, Mary Hardin-Baylors, USTs, and the Cal Lutheran’s of Division III. Those teams actually don’t do any of that nonsense because they already know they’re good. The point is that display was like a little leaguer trying to brush back Albert Pujols. Save that for Pomona-Pitzer and just worry about playing football when you finally get to see an elite team.