Monday, January 21, 2013

2012 Linfield Senior Class says "Thank You"

The 2012 Linfield seniors have experienced one of the great runs of Linfield Wildcat football. Over the past four seasons this group has accumulated a 42-5 overall record. Winning 4 Northwest Conference titles and doing it in perfect fashion at 24-0. During the regular season, this group of Wildcats only tasted defeat once over four year (35-1 regular season record from 2009-2012) and compiled a 7-4 playoff record in advancing to the elite eight and a trip to the final four. During their entire career at Linfield, their teams have never been out of the Division III top ten rankings in finishing #3, #8, #6, and #5 in the country and have defeated sixteen top 25 teams along the way.

All these Linfield seniors have done is win and then win some more. It hasn’t been because they slipped on a Linfield jersey and everyone started to fall on their face in front of the 'Cats. They’ve won because of the sheer amount of work and effort they’ve put into Linfield football. A number of these seniors had to put aside their personal wants for the greater good of Linfield football and the result has been a shining example of what it takes to not only make it as a football team but what it takes to make it in life. As a fan, I’m so proud of what these players have accomplished during their time in the ‘Catdome. All of these young men have big things in front of them and I look forward to see what happens.

But now is the time of them to say thank you to those that have helped them to this point of their lives. ‘Catdome!

#2 Lucas Jepson, Receiver

For two years it’s been a tremendous ride to this point. Thank you to my family, my parents have been my biggest fans & have shown me how to be strong through any situation. The saying, “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” That’s my parents, “we’re Jepson’s we always find a way.” My pop is my number one coach; he put in countless hours helping me on the field/court but what he taught me off of it is irreplaceable. My mother sitting through games rain or shine; showing me how to treat people & being there to pick me up when times got rough; the concept of not giving up no matter what. My brother has trained me since high school & is the reason I was able to do the things I did on the field. The countless hours in the weight room or doing speed work, rain or shine, he never stopped. That is why I always say my brother and I are going to make it together and it’s the truth. Our relationship has grown over the years and it’s because we share the bond of doing something we love to do. I love you guys and hopefully I made you proud over the years. But remember I AIN'T DONE YET! So get ready, we still got a long ride to go.

Thank you to all my coaches – ya'll been an instrumental part of me as a person & player. Coach Casey is the sole reason I am here at Linfield, believing in me as a player and person. He wrote a letter of rec that propelled admissions to give me a shot. He set an example & preached values that will last a lifetime. Coach T for the experience of Cabrillo College where I learned a lot about myself as a person & player. Coach Volk for his competitive fire and instilling the concept of looking at things from a different view. Even Coach Mewhinney, we had constant battles as QB and OC, but that’s because we are so much alike; we’re both stubborn, competitive and want to win. I learned a lot about the game and how to read defenses which helped my game at receiver easier.

Thank you to the Linfield coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play like I was 8 years old again. You guys are the hardest working coaching staff in the country. Always putting us in a position to win & had a continual effort in instilling the Linfield L in all of us; it’s something I will never forget; those things are the foundation of what will propel all of us in being successful once we leave this place. Coach Haze - jump suit in every color! Don’t worry I’ll be fitted!

All the trainers - Appreciate all of you. Thank you for keeping me healthy; especially the ones here; Countless ankle taping to ice baths.

Thank you to Ryan Carlson for all the work you do. Your skills in the lab are amazing. Keep doin' ya thing!

I’m thankful for all the good or bad along the way; it has made me appreciate things more and view things in a different light. It’s shaped me and been a stepping stone in my faith growing every day. Faith is a big reason why I am here; God blessed me with a lot of things. Hope, Faith, Love, and Belief in everything I do, especially love, because without love you ain't got nothing.

As always, I thank my grandfather believing in me during the journey. Hopefully, I have made him proud and done things the right way. You’re the reason I tap my shoes and kiss towards the sky after every score. You’re a big part of my life and always will be. Not a day goes by that I don’t have a conversation with you. I learned don’t take anything for granted, seize opportunity, and always work hard. It’s what Jepson’s do! I know you here with all of us; Dreams, Promises, and one day. It’s what drives me; we doing it together. Love you Papa Lou.

Thanks to my best friend Megan Wallo; only person who truly knows all I’ve been through to get here. Known her since I was five & I couldn’t have done this without her. Thanks for keepin' me in line, keepin' my head straight, & keepin' things in perspective. You headed for big things this year. Best center fielder in the country! Ya'll better tune in! Meg we just gettin' started. We prolly are going to end up in the home together. Love ya.

All the guys I’ve played with I love ya'll; Aloha Warriors we ball out. The Cabrillo family, absolutely a pleasure; all the coaches and guys - two years well spent. Guys at Linfield, I love ya'll. Dre (aka GQ) you're my boy for life! I better be invited to the wedding! Charlie, you're a lil brother & now officially are Mr. Big Time! Mickey you’ll always be Big Ben. Drew Wert, stay BIG! Bobby Nix, I’m still tryin' to get on your level! Reid - Pinky’s up!

Tyler Steele (White Thunder - always call you an ALL AMERICAN IN PUBLIC) & Josh Hill (Dark Knight), push this team to the next level & win a natty. The cards are set up next year for ya'll so go do it. Don’t let anything get in the way. Fully commit & get each guy to follow. No early exits in 2013. Set the tone in January & carry it through all year; 4 pillars - live those things fully the whole year. Respect All, Fear None isn’t a one year thing; it’s a lifestyle so live it.

Ya'll always have a place with me. No matter what the situation, you need anything, you let the old man know.


Lucas Jepson aka Gpop…..401k……I’m out like shout!

#3 Maika Kunioka, Kicker

First I'd like to thank my parents for being the number one supporters in my life. Through everything I've done and all the decisions I've made, they've always supported me no matter what. They're the reason I'm where I am today, introducing me to sports and allowing me to continue playing club sports my entire life. Though bigger than that, just raising me to be the guy I am today is what I'm most thankful for.

Second I'd like to thank the rest of my family, all my grandparents, my sister, all my uncles, aunties, and cousins for always supporting me and coming to watch all my games no matter how far they were.

I'd also like to thank all the coaches I've had in my life for helping me to become the person I am today and guiding me to a successful athletic career. Coach Haze, thank you for always being honest with me and for never giving up on me. You've definitely taught me a lot these past four years and it is something I'll never forget.

As my career in sports comes to an end, I can gladly say it has been a very successful one. Not because of all the accomplishments I've achieved but because of all the great friends and brothers I've made along the way. The people I've met have been a positive impact on my life and they're the people I'll always remember. Especially all my brothers who I've played with in the 'Catdome. It's definitely been a pleasure and an honor to be able to play next to each one of you guys.

I'm definitely going to miss suiting up every Saturday and the atmosphere in the 'Catdome. Keep the tradition going but always remember the four pillars, T.E.A.C!

-Maika Kunioka

#6 Hoku Kama, Safety

I just want to thank my family, giving me the opportunity to play this wonderful game of football. I also want to thank my coaches and teammates of being apart of my family, supporting and helping me through several adversities. I'm going to miss each and every one of you guys, knowing that I will cherish every moments being with you guys. I am looking forward to make more memorable moments with you guys in the future. I will always and forever be a Wildcat!

Go 'Cats!

#7 Josh Kay, Kicker

It's a shame I never had the opportunity to watch any Linfield ball growing up. I grew up over in Salem with the belief that somewhere over the hill in rural McMinnville there existed a mythical-like football powerhouse. While Linfield dominance is still all the norm, my perspective on WHO & WHAT this team is has changed dramatically. I began my career with the idea I was never going to lose, after all I played for Linfield right? I had just transferred, jumped ship if you will, and we were down at Cal Lu for my first game ever as a 'Cat.

We lost that game... and I couldn't believe it (that loss fueled that team to an undefeated regular season and a trip back to the playoffs). I thought, "Wait, I go to Linfield College now, we don't lose games." I learned that rookie year that you're entitled to nothing in life and especially football, and you've gotta work if you want to achieve. When I came in I knew I had the talent, but it took me an entire year to realize I was so caught up in myself that the only thing keeping me off of the field was my MIND. Everyone in this program has work ethic, you wouldn't be here if you didn't have it... so given you're working as hard as you can, but are you working as smart as you can? Thankfully, I was surrounded by inspiring coaches and solid teammates who reminded me of how much of a PRIVILEGE it is to play for Linfield. I took a lot for granted that year, and it literally makes me upset looking back on it now as a much more mature man. I believe had it not been for my struggle, I wouldn't have succeeded in the way I did, so for each of you who is reading this and thinking your going through some unique struggle, don't worry, most everyone has been in your shoes at one point or another... except Haze he's been balling since the cradle. There's a certain level of commitment that is expected of everyone in this program, and I rose to the occasion as an individual, but I did it with the help and encouragement of everyone around me. That's what is special about this program fellas, and it may sound cliche but real talk we're a FAMILY. I was so caught up in trying to be a stud out there I lost sight of the real reason I was out there... which was to ball with my boys, in Linfield fashion of course!

I know this is supposed to be a heart felt thank you and goodbye (it kind of is) but I feel that it's important for the squad to hear this... and especially you young guys... and even more so the transfers and freshman we have coming in who read this blog. Don't take this experience for granted. Don't let a day go by where you have any sort of regret about your time spent; because time is all we have. I'm talking about each and every rep (on the field) and what you're doin' when no one is looking (off the field). Ray Ray has his 5 P's, "Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance," and we've got our pillars. Team Excellence Attitude Class. It's no joke guys. Our famed win streak is a testament to how we have conducted ourselves as a program for over half a century. It's been an honor to compete alongside you these past three years. I've got mad love for you all, and it truly has been an honor. Don't be a stranger, I will surely not be one. If you ever need anyone to talk with, don't hesitate to get ahold of me. My ears and heart are open to all Linfield Ballers. One Love.

#11 Brian Dundas, Linebacker

I want to first thank my mom for everything she has done for me. She has been my #1 fan, supporter, and my hero. She has made my dreams possible. Though she never wanted me to play football when I was a kid, she finally gave in and has supported me 100% my entire career. The things she and I have been through together have only brought us closer together. Ultimately, my mom is the reason I decided to transfer back to Linfield after playing at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. Leaving the northwest took away the opportunity for my mom to watch me play. Coming back to Linfield I knew she would be there for me every weekend, and I would have an opportunity to make her proud athletically and academically. My mom is my rock.

I also need to thank the friends and family that have supported me throughout my life. My friends and family along with my mom helped me make it through the toughest of time and have always encouraged me to chase my dreams. I have truly been blessed with amazing people throughout my life.

I want to thank all of my coaches prior to Linfield that have helped me develop as a football player and as a man. My high school coach, Doug Trainor, pushed me to work hard and believe in myself. He believed in me when few others did. Coach Hansen from Cabrillo College really helped me develop physically, but most importantly, mentally in football and in life.

Finally, thank you to the entire Linfield family. From the players I met during my first journey to Linfield in 2007 to all of the current teammates and seniors. The second time around here at Linfield I was really surprised by the true family and all of the love throughout the program. Having a different route to Linfield I didn't quite know if I would feel like a part of the family, but sure enough when it was all said and done it was undeniable. I need to thank the Linfield coaching staff for all that being a Linfield coach entails. The hours and hours of hard work they put in to put us in position to win championships is astonishing. I've learned a lot about the game of football, being a leader, and life in general.

Thank you 'Cats!


#11 Mickey Inns, Quarterback

First of all, and most importantly, I want to thank my parents, Mike and Melanie. They have supported my athletic career since the beginning, taught me values that have shaped me as a man and made me a successful athlete, while allowing me the opportunities to pursue my goals and dreams. I will most likely never be able to repay them for all they have done for me but I am so grateful to have them as my parents.

Next I would like to thank my coaches, especially the offensive coaches who I spent most of my time with and enabled me to be successful. Although he has moved on, I want to thank Coach Elliott for all he has done for me. He molded me into the quarterback I was and much of my success is due to his coaching. I would also like to thank Coach Boehme. The final year we had together as Cats’ will be one that I will always remember. He has been a great role model as a player as well as a coach, teaching me just as much while he was playing in front of me as he did as my coach.

Finally I have to thank all the players and Wildcat supporters that I have had the opportunity share this experience with in my four years. It has truly been an honor to play for this school and I have made many relationships that will last forever. Choosing to play for Linfield was the best decision I have ever made. There are so many people that make this place what it is and I am going to miss it greatly.

- Mickey Inns

#13 Erik Knapp, Rover

First off, I want to thank my family. They have supported me through everything, and I would never have gotten here without them. My parents have come to all of my games since kindergarten, and I can't begin to explain how much they mean to me. Going to Linfield has been an incredible experience, and I can't thank them enough for all they've done to help me along the way.

I am immensely thankful for our coaching staff. Coach Haze has done an exceptional job with the DBs, and I'm excited to see what the group does in the future. Practice and meetings can sometimes drag on, but with Haze's leadership, sense of humor, and love of the game, we stayed focused and had a great time doing it. The DB group as a whole took a lot of pride in constantly getting better and being more prepared than anyone we played, all while never forgetting to enjoy the game of football.

I cannot possibly thank my teammates enough. Out of all the success we have had, all the games and preparation, the thing I will always remember the most is the time spent with my teammates. Playing football at Linfield is tough, but when you are surrounded by some of the hardest-working, most supportive and funniest guys you'll ever meet, you can't help but cherish every minute. I can honestly say that I've had the time of my life playing football at Linfield. I met some of my best friends on the team, and it's a great feeling to get to play the best sport in the world alongside so many guys you care about.

To the seniors, you guys are awesome. Our senior class is certainly a lot smaller than it was when we first got here, but those of us that stuck it out got to be a part of something special. This team accomplished some great things, and we were right there leading the charge. To my fellow senior DBs, Hoku and Pietrzyk, it's been a pleasure playing with you guys. All those countless hours of preparation were a ton of fun with you guys there, and I'm proud of how far we've come.

My time at Linfield was unforgettable. Going through the highs and lows with this group of guys has taught me so many important lessons, and I am definitely a better person because of this team. I will always be proud to be a Wildcat.

Erik Knapp

#17 Aaron Hire, Receiver

Feelings of bitterness, frustration and shame took hold of me in my first few years at Linfield when told that I would have to wait to play. Being out of the mix, I wondered how I could possibly live up to the expectations of my last name at this school. In the midst of transferring and changing positions I felt purposeless and hopeless.

It is in these humbling events where I found the meaning of Linfield football again— meaning that I first felt in past Linfield seasons & the ‘00—‘05 seasons, which I witnessed as a child. It is in this change, that I would like to thank Coach Nagel, possibly the only person besides my father to have the utmost faith in me. I’m not sure I would have stayed at Linfield if it weren’t for your support.

Looking back, I’m glad my role was not one to put up big numbers, or have to have my name in the papers. I found out that finding a role—and being a full man—more often than not means that you put in countless hours for little reward. It means that you serve, dedicate and lay down your body for others. When all your effort is toward a single cause, and the reward of said cause is a few moments, those moments become monumental and last a lifetime. I will cherish my few moments for all time, and remember being part of a legacy.

A past player by the name of Paul Nishizaki, was one of the best nose tackles to come out of Linfield, but never once mistreated or bad-mouthed a scout team player. I took inspiration from him, Maika Kunioka, & so many others, and like them, I hope I embodied a rare tradition of always thinking of others first. People who know me know that I will go to whatever end for them. I want the young guys to realize that finding a role and humbling yourself may be the most beautiful & rewarding part about Linfield football, and the game of football in general. For this, there are so many to thank. In the end, it’s about the people you were with—and I am so thankful to have played this game with so many people I love.

Thank you seniors, especially Mickey, Deidre, Jepson, Kaston, Kama & Maika. Thank you past players for your example, especially the 2011 team. Thank you coaching staff for the foundations of excellence. Mahalo to Carlson, Mack & water specialists for your dedication and efforts. Thank you Jah Almighty for the health to play. And lastly thank you to my family.

Fa'afetai lava, with Aloha,

-Hire Jr.

#37 Stephen Nasca, Running Back

Wow. What a crazy past 4 years it’s been here at Linfield. To be playing from second grade until now has been such a blessing. While football has taught me many things on the field, this program has truly shown me what I needed to do in order to better myself as a man. To play in this program has easily been the highlight of my football career. I had my ups and downs along the way but with these trials and times of success I have a better athlete and person. Though these past 4 years have been awesome I could not have done it without those who supported me through it all.

To my parents and family, no words can justify the amount of respect I have for all of you and the amount of love I have for all of you. You were there through the thick and thin and always knew the way to keep me pushing forward. Without you, I would truly be nowhere. The fact that you made it to almost every game is remarkable and I appreciated every Saturday knowing that I would get to see you guys and that you came to see me be a part of this team. You guys were my rock through it all and I couldn’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done.

To my Linfield family, what a ride it’s been. To say it is over now would be a lie. You guys are just like family and in these past 4 years I have developed relationships that will last a lifetime. To the coaches, you guys were such amazing role models. You taught me so much about the game and so much about life. The reason I came to Linfield was because of the culture and the beliefs you had as coaches. You have taught us to be better men and gave us the opportunities to be successful on and off the field. You truly gave us the opportunity to see our hard work come into fruition during these past years. Thank you for the lessons you have taught as. Also to Mac daddy Farag, thank you for always believing in me and helping me with all that I needed. You truly are an incredible person. To my teammates, you guys are my brothers. I wouldn’t have wanted to play on any other team in the nation these past 4 years because of you. As Coach Smith would say, you guys are a cut above the rest. Battling with you has been so memorable and something I will take with me for the rest of my life. To four amazing years.

Best to all you guys,
“Fast like a Nascar” Nasca

#38 Nick Pietrzyk, Rover

Transferring to Linfield for the last two years of my football career was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was great being surrounded by such a fantastic group of players and coaches. First and foremost, I would like to thank parents for all of the love, care, and support they have given me throughout my life. None of the achievements or opportunities I have had in my life to date would have been possible without them.

I want to thank Coach Hazenberg for initially helping me though all the steps to give me an opportunity to play for this wonderful program despite my late arrival. I also want to give a special shout out to the Rompus Room for making my arrival that much easier with a warm welcome.

Unfortunately, I was only able to play two years of football here at Linfield, but it was worth every second. I want to thank all the coaches for all of the time, energy, and effort they put into the program and the players. The work ethic and drive by everybody involved with Linfield football is contagious and I am very fortunate to have been a part of it. I am very proud to be part of the Linfield football family.

Nick P.

#69 Kaston Gleason, Offensive Tackle

First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents for supporting me throughout my football career, coming all the way up from Hawaii at least once a season to catch a game or two, and making it possible for me to come to Linfield in the first place.

I would like to thank the coaches, especially Coach Hire and Kyle, for being patient, and developing me as a player and as a person. This coaching staff was truly the best and hardest working that I have played for.

Lastly, I would like to thank all of the boys, from those who were seniors when I was a freshman, to those who are freshman now that I'm a senior. It was an honor, a privilege, and a pleasure getting to know and play with each and every one of you. Thanks for the memories.

To all of my fellow seniors, it has been one hell of a ride and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Here's to staying lifelong friends.


#77 Eddie Fennimore, Offensive Tackle

I would like to thank my parents first and foremost. Without all of their help and support I would not have had the 13 year football career that I did. I would not be the man I am today without them either. My drive, determination, strength, and inspiration all comes from them and I can't thank them enough.

Secondly, I would like to thank the amazing coaching staff at Linfield for a great four years. They are all very enthusiastic and really enjoy what they do. I think this translates directly to the football field and our success.

I have to thank my teammates as well. They are now some of my best friends and I wouldn't trade them for any other group of guys.

Also, got to give a shout-out to all the awesome fans that came and watched all of our games no matter the weather. It got cold during all of our playoff runs, but our dedicated fans stayed strong.

Eddie Fennimore #77

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