Saturday, December 29, 2012

Coaches reflect on 'Cats 2012 All-American/All-Region Awards

The more I reflect on the 2012 season, the more I'm impressed what this team accomplished.  The 'Cats had a killer opening slate of games, lost key players after the early portion of the season, but this group found a way to battle and won the program's 4th consecutive Northwest Conference title (by an average of 36.5 points per game), and advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA playoffs before dropping an overtime loss to UW-Oshkosh.  It was a fantastic season in the 'Catdome as a number of players were recognized on the Linfield roster with post-season accolades.  Five Linfield Wildcats received All-West Region honors by and four were named as All-Americans ( and AFCA).  That's a large number of players to be named to All-American teams and speaks to the 'Cats entire roster that they are able to produce tremendous players season after season.  Coach Smith and the Linfield staff provided thoughts on each honor with Coach Smith leading us off with this overview on the selections: These five men are all from the pacific northwest, four Oregonians and one Washingtonian.  All five have a tremendous work ethic and a drive to improve to their utmost.  Their ability to pay attention to detail and master their trade is what has allowed them to excel, and their drive and competitiveness has made it happen.   This group of young men are just the tip of the spear, they get the limelight and do the damage, but it is the rest of the spear and the rest of the team that allowed them to get there.   They represent us well and we are very proud of them.   

#41 Brynnan Hyland, Junior, Defensive End
1st Team All-American
( and AFCA)

43 Total Tackles (26 solo, 17 ast.), 20.5 Tackles For Loss, 19 Sacks (led NCAA), 3 quarterback hurries, 3 Forced Fumble, 1st Team All-Northwest Conference, rated top defensive lineman in NWC, 1st Team All-West Region (, voted team's most valuable defensive lineman

Defensive Coordinator/D-Line Coach Jackson Vaughan: Brynnan's emergence into an All-American caliber defensive player has been one of the most enjoyable things to watch in my time at Linfield. He really is a great example of a guy who came into Linfield with some ability but was raw, undersized, and a little unsure of how good he could be at the college level. Then as freshman, a combination of Brynnan's work ethic, ability to grasp our system quickly, and some injuries allowed him to get some pretty significant playing time. During this time Brynnan was able to gain some experience and learn from the older guys that were playing around him – especially Eric Hedin.

Last year, as a sophomore, Brynnan came into camp much more confident and experienced and it began to show with his play. The other big component that Brynnan began to develop throughout the course of last two seasons was a true "feel" for the game. How to use all of the surrounding information around him to develop a pre-snap plan of attack. Throughout the course of his sophomore year you began to see some great plays and an improved ability to rush the passer. Then we ended the season on a sour note with the loss to Wesley and our defensive ends, including Brynnan, got a little bit of wake up call as we got worked over pretty good at times by their offensive tackle. I think that loss was a great motivator to Brynnan and all of our defensive lineman in the off-season as they knew we had to get improve for the following season.

Then this season rolled in and Brynnan had two years of playing experience and deep understanding of our defense to go along with improved strength and explosiveness. That combined with a conference schedule full of spread oriented – pass first teams led to a dream season for Brynnan where on many downs he could just pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. As a pass rusher he further developed his arsenal of outside, inside, and power moves where he had multiple ways in which to beat opposing offensive lineman. That accompanied with awesome desire and effort, the greatest thing he learned from playing with Eric Hedin, led to just an outstanding junior season. All along the way, the thing that has impressed me with Brynnan is his consistency in attitude and work ethic. Brynnan always comes to practice with the same level of dedication, work ethic, and desire to get better regardless of who we are playing or how much success he had the last weekend. I am very excited to see what another off-season and year of experience will lead to next year!

Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith: Brynnan did something that I did not think would happen again for another decade or so, and that is be talked about in the same sentence as Ryan Carlson (1998) and Eric Hedin (2010). His mastery of the defensive end position is just that. A true technical mastery of attacking an offensive tackle. He did so continually all season and helped lead a wrecking machine of a defensive line. I also look forward to him working hard to improve so that his senior season can even be better.

#5 Dominique Forrest, Junior, Linebacker
2nd Team All-American (
West Region Defensive Player of the Year (
NWC Defensive Player of the year

79 Total Tackles (38 solo, 41 ast.), 9.0 Tackles For Loss, 3 Sacks, 4 interceptions, 3 pass break-ups, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Recovered Fumble, Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Northwest Conference (2nd time (2011), 1st Team All-West Region (, voted team defensive captain and most valuable defensive player.

Linebacker Coach Phil Rombach:When I recruited Dom to Linfield I thought he had something special. I don’t think I realized how special he was until I saw him play his freshman year. Once I saw him in action at Linfield, I knew he had the potential to be an All-American Player. Dom is blessed with a great deal of physical talent. Speed comes to mind, smooth, controlled, crazy fast speed. Watch film on Dom and you will see a player that kicks it into another gear when closing on a ball carrier. He’s also very agile, strong, has great power for his size, incredible hops, great hands, etc. But we all know it takes a lot more than talent to be a successful linebacker at Linfield or anywhere else.

Dom possesses many of the intangibles that make a physical talented player great. The first thing I will say is that Dom is dedicated and hard working. He works hard in the off-season, putting on weight and gaining strength while still maintaining his speed. Dom also works on his weaknesses. He takes criticism well, identifies area he wants to improve, and focusses on them throughout practice. His hard working attitude enables Dom to be a great leader on our team. Dom has become the vocal and emotional leader of the defense and the team. He is a guy that we count on to lead the team next year. The last intangible that I want to mention is that Dom has a nose for the football, he is a play maker. We talk a lot about executing our assignment, finding the ball, and making plays when plays present themselves. That’s what Dom does, and that’s what people saw in the playoffs. He was physical with blockers, his tackling was sound, he stripped the football, and made plays on the ball in the air.

Dom Forrest is a pleasure to coach. He always has a smile on his face, a quick joke, an uplifting word for a teammate, or an enthusiastic rally cry for the defense. He is one of the most talented players on our team, he is a hard worker, a leader, a playmaker, and a great teammate. I’m very proud of Dom and what he’s accomplished this year. I look forward to great things from him in the future. 

Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith: Dom had as fine a season as any of our storied linebackers have had. I loved seeing him step up into the emotional and schematic leader of our defense. When Tyler went down much of that leadership mantle fell to Dom. I think he rose to the occasion and more than met the high expectations that our staff had for him. I am excited to see him recover from his injury and have an even better senior year. I have no doubt he will train to his utmost for it.

#61 Drew Wert, Senior, Offensive Guard
2nd Team All-American

1st Team All-Northwest Conference, 1st Team All-West Region (, Voted team's most valuable lineman

Linfield Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach Doug Hire: By far one of the most physical and toughest players I’ve coached. Knows how to play through pain, every game and every down. Andrew played consistently through out the season where he matched up with some of the best DT and DE and made them look silly at time in how he physically dominated them. Even during the playoffs he performed at a high level against some of the most elite teams and interior defensive lines in the country.

Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith: Andrew was an incredible lifter and his work ethic in the wt. room allowed him to be a physically dominant lineman for us the past two years in particular.   His physicality was contagious and made others better around him.   His ability to play through injury and pain this year was remarkable, and shows the mental toughness that Andrew possesses.    Everything was always about team with Andrew, as he was the consummate team player.   Andrew’s wit and intelligence stands out, as he was a joy to coach not only because of the great on field performance, but also because of his outgoing personality.

#11 Mickey Inns, Senior, Quarterback
4th Team All-American (
Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year 

3,288 Passing Yards, 30 TD passes against only 8 picks, 60.8% completion ratio (253 completions, 416 attempts), 274.0 passing yards per game, Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Northwest Conference (2nd time (2011), 2nd Team All-West Region (, voted team offensive captain, most valuable offensive player, and team MVP.

Linfield QB Coach Aaron Boehme: Looking back on Mickey's career, you cannot help but be impressed. Ending up on top of the season and careers record books in many of the passing categories, Mickey will be touted as one of the all-time great Linfield quarterbacks. The thing that set him apart, as he moved his way up the depth chart, was his attention to detail and willingness to work. Like many of the players in our program, Mickey put in countless hours, honing his craft in the off-season. From the first game he started, he showed a true grit and feel for the position. He had a knack for making big throws and standing in the pocket, taking the defense's best hit.

This year was challenging for Mickey, just as it was for the entire team in several ways. With the loss of two All-Americans and senior leaders, a lot of pressure was placed on Mickey to pick up the slack. He answered the call. I was very proud to see him grow as a vocal leader and become the true heart of our offense. We put a lot on Mickey. At times, he had checks on every play in some games. He handled it all in stride and performed under pressure.

The thing I am proud of the most, is how he was a great role model for the younger players. He always did the right thing. I know the younger QB's had an abundance of respect for him and would tell you that they learned from him every day. He was like having a second QB coach on the staff and made my job easy. I know Mickey will be a great leader in whatever field he goes into, and is certainly a Cat for life! I'm proud to call him my player, teammate, friend, and brother!

Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith: With the injuries to Tyler Steele and Josh Hill, Mickey had to take an even greater leadership role on this team.  In reality, I feel as if Mickey took this team on his back this year and said “I’ve got this, lets go!”.   I could not be more proud of how a young man has led this football team by example and vocally in all my years here at Linfield.    Mickey is embodiment of what this program is about, taking the talent you have and maximizing it to the utmost.   His play on the field was tremendous, as he completing tore apart most defenses we faced this year.   He was the steering the ship, making the decisions, adjusting our attack to what he saw in front of him.   I love the fire in his eyes when he was not happy with his performance, and I will miss that but not forget it.   Mickey is amongst the Greats that have ever played quarterback here at Linfield.

#78 Steven Schultz, Sophomore, Offensive Tackle
2nd Team All-West Region

2nd Team All-West Region (, 1st Team All-Northwest Conference, Rated as top offensive lineman by the NWC's head coaches

Linfield Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach Doug Hire:  Potential could be one of the best OT’s I’ve ever coached yet has 2 more years to improve. Steve is very athletic with great feet and technique.  His greatest strength would be his ability to pick up concepts and techniques with out a lot of work. He is by far one of the best at this- quick study. He will need to work on the physical part of the game.

Linfield Head Coach Joe Smith:
Steven moved to the left side and anchored down the blind side for us all season.  His athletic ability is quite remarkable for a man his size.   Steven has a chance to be a dominant tackle for us for the next two seasons as well.   He has the rare opportunity to be a 4 year starter, and if he continues to improve and train, could be one of the elite tackles to have played here.

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