SALEM, ORE. -- Six Willamette University football players have been named First Team All-Northwest Conference for the 2007 season, as selected by the NWC head coaches. An additional four Bearcats received Second Team All-NWC honors and seven WU players were chosen for Honorable Mention.
Willamette's First Team selections were senior offensive tackle Brandon Bennett (San Marcos, CA/La Costa Canyon HS), senior place-kicker Matt Bicocca (San Andreas, CA/Calaveras HS) and senior punter Clinton Moran (Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley HS) on offense and senior inside linebacker Taylor Hermes (Keizer, OR/McNary HS/Southern Oregon University), senior defensive tackle Mitchell MacCready (Manteca, CA/Manteca HS) and senior inside linebacker Phil Sweet (Albany, OR/West Albany HS) on defense.
Players from Willamette chosen for the Second Team Offense were sophomore center Scott Hirschberger (Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS) and senior running back C.J. Washington (Spokane, WA/Shadle Park HS). Bearcats named to the Second Team Defense were senior free safety Ben Fennimore (Salem, OR/McKay HS) and sophomore defensive end Cory Lowe (Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS).
Honorable Mention selections from Willamette's offense were senior tight end Tony Davis (Boise, ID/Mountain View HS) and sophomore quarterback Ryan Whitcomb (Oak View, CA/Nordhoff HS/College of the Canyons). Willamette defensive players named to the Honorable Mention list were junior cornerback Ryan Bettencourt (Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS), junior defensive end Marcus Ford (Marina, CA/Seaside HS/Monterey JC), senior rover Tyler Gill (Fresno, CA/Herbert Hoover HS), senior defensive tackle Matt Gomez (Petaluma, CA/Casa Grande HS) and senior defensive tackle Chris Mulitalo (San Leandro, CA/Arroyo HS).
The 2007 All-NWC Football Team featured 18 players on the First Team Offense and 19 players on the First Team Defense. In addition, 29 athletes were selected for Second Team recognition and 41 athletes were named to the Honorable Mention list.
Whitworth University head coach John Tully was chosen NWC Coach of the Year. Whitworth sophomore running back Adam Anderson was named NWC Offensive Player of the Year. Pacific Lutheran University senior defensive end Andrew Eisentrout and Whitworth senior strong safety Jay Tully shared NWC Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Willamette finished the season with a 4-6 overall record, including a 3-3 record (4th place) in the Northwest Conference. Willamette defeated arch rival Linfield College, 33-32, on Sept. 29 and lost five games by nine points or less. One of the Bearcats' losses came against NWC champion Whitworth, 20-17 in overtime, on Oct. 27.
First Team All-Conference
Brandon Bennett (Sr., OT) was named First Team All-NWC for the third consecutive season after being chosen Honorable Mention All-NWC as a freshman. He led Willamette's offensive line this year, as the Bearcats gained 343.0 total yards and 250.0 rushing yards per game. WU scored 25 rushing touchdowns and six touchdowns through the air. During his four-year career, Bennett helped Willamette rush for a total of 8,960 yards and 94 touchdowns.
Last season, Bennett earned First Team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and was named Third Team A.P. Little All-America. He received Honorable Mention All-America recognition from D3Football.com in 2005 and 2006. D3Football.com also chose Bennett as Third Team All-West Region in 2005 and Second Team All-West Region in 2006.
Matt Bicocca (Sr., PK) scored a career-high 49 points this year. He converted 7 of 12 field goals and made 28 of 28 extra points. He connected on a 42-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to send Willamette to its victory over Linfield. He set WU single game records for extra points made and attempted by hitting 11 of 11 PATs against Lewis & Clark College on Nov. 3.
He was successful on 20 of 29 field goal attempts since the start of the 2005 season. Overall, he concluded his career 22 of 41 on field goals (53.7%) and 102 of 112 on extra points (91.1%). The longest field goal of his career was good from 47 yards against Lewis & Clark in 2006. Bicocca set Willamette career record for field goals attempted and for extra points made and attempted. He also was named First Team All-NWC in 2006 and earned NWC Special Teams Player of the Week honors on Nov. 4, 2006, Sept. 29, 2007 and Nov. 3, 2007.
Clinton Moran (Sr., P) set Bearcat records for career punts (201) and career punting yards (7,289). This year, he averaged a career-high 39.8 yards on 52 punts, including a school a school record 67-yarder in Willamette's win over Linfield. He placed 12 of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
During his career, Moran averaged 36.3 yards per punt. He was credited with 29 punts inside the 20-yard line in his last three seasons with the Bearcats (similar stats were not available for his freshman year). He was selected NWC Special Teams Player of the Week for Oct. 20, 2007 and Nov. 10, 2007.
Taylor Hermes (Sr., ILB) led the Bearcats with 91 total tackles this fall. He also ranked first on the team with 48 unassisted tackles and 43 assists. He was credited with six tackles for losses of 24 yards and had one quarterback sack. He recorded one interception and broke up four passes. He achieved a season-high 16 tackles against Western Oregon University on Sept. 1.
In two seasons at Willamette after transferring from Southern Oregon University, Hermes achieved 148 total tackles on 74 solo stops and 74 assists. His WU career totals also included 10 tackles for losses of 48 yards, four quarterback sacks and seven interceptions. He was named Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2006 and was chosen NWC Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 23, 2006.
Mitchell MacCready (Sr., DT) registered 12 solo tackles and eight assists this season. He had 6.5 tackles for losses of 20 yards and two quarterback sacks. He started all 10 games.
Over the four years of his Willamette career, MacCready accumulated 77 total tackles, including 40 unassisted tackles. He provided the 'Cats with 20.5 tackles for losses and 7.5 sacks. He also broke up two passes and recovered two fumbles. He was named Second Team All-Northwest Conference in 2005 and 2006. He earned a career-high 31 tackles and had seven tackles for losses during the 2006 season.Phil Sweet (Sr., ILB) ranked second for Willamette this season in total tackles, as he stopped opponents 61 times. He intercepted one pass, broke up one pass, achieved three tackles for losses of 13 yards and had one quarterback sack. He started all 10 games.
Almost always near the football, Sweet recorded 291 tackles during his career, with 109 unassisted tackles and 182 assists. He earned 11 tackles for losses, picked off three passes and broke up four pass attempts. He also forced three fumbles and recovered four fumbles. He was named Second Tam All-NWC in 2005 and 2006, after achieving Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition as a freshman in 2004. He was the NWC Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 26, 2005.
Second Team All-Conference
Scott Hirschberger (So., C) has started all 19 games in his two seasons with the Bearcats. He has provided solid snaps as WU's center and has also contributed solid and consistent blocking. He helped Willamette rush for 250.0 yards per game and score 25 rushing touchdowns this season. His efforts in protecting the passer allowed the 'Cats to earn an additional 93.0 yards per game through the air for 343.0 total yards per game. As a freshman, he supplied solid blocking, as the Bearcats averaged 294.4 total yards per game.
C.J. Washington (Sr., RB) carried the ball 114 times for 576 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and ranked sixth in the NWC with 57.6 rushing yards per game. He also caught seven passes in 2007, including a 54-yard touchdown catch against Pacific Lutheran University on Nov. 10. During his career, Washington achieved 870 rushing yards and 107 receiving yards. He ran with the ball 181 times and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
Ben Fennimore (Sr., FS) made 39 total tackles this fall, including 27 unassisted tackles. He broke up three passes and earned one interception, which he returned 15 yards. He concluded his career with 110 total tackles (58 solo) to go with six pass break-ups, two interceptions and two tackles for losses. He registered a career-high 45 total tackles in 2006, on his way to earning Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition.
Cory Lowe (So., DE) finished fourth on the Willamette tackles chart in 2007. He produced 45 total tackles during the year, including 25 solo stops. He earned 12 tackles for losses of 61 yards and contributed 7.5 quarterback sacks. He achieved four sacks in the season finale against Pacific Lutheran, including three sacks in the second quarter. In two seasons at WU, Lowe has amassed 61 total tackles, with 15 tackles for losses, two pass break-ups and one forced fumble.
Honorable Mention All-NWC
Tony Davis (Sr., TE) caught eight passes for 78 yards and one touchdown this year, while providing the Bearcats with quality blocking on running plays. The Bearcats rushed for 2,500 yards and average 5.0 yards per carry. In 34 career games, Davis caught 31 passes for 448 yards and two touchdowns. He was named Second Team All-NWC in 2005 and was Honorable Mention All-NWC in 2006.
Ryan Whitcomb (So., QB) led the Bearcats with 677 rushing yards on 128 carries. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. He started the year as the back-up quarterback and also played wide receiver. He became the starting quarterback for the final five game after Grant Leslie (Jr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) suffered a season-ending knee injury against Linfield. For the year, Whitcomb completed 44 of 85 passes (51.8%) for 480 yards and three touchdowns.
Ryan Bettencourt (Jr., CB) registered 23 tackles during the season, including 16 unassisted stops. He broke up a team-high 11 passes, including three against Gustavus Adolphus College on Sept. 8. He also blocked one kick this fall. His career statistics feature 53 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks, 12 pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Marcus Ford (Jr., DE) amassed 52 total tackles, almost evenly distributed between unassisted tackles (25) and assists (27). He made eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage for 40 yards in losses. He also recorded three quarterback sacks, broke up two passes, forced a fumble by Linfield College and returned another fumble 21 yards for a touchdown against Southern Oregon.
Tyler Gill (Sr., ROV) was chosen Honorable Mention All-NWC for the third time, after earning similar honors in 2004 and 2006. He was a Second Team All-NWC selection in 2005 and was named NWC Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 5, 2005. This year, he was involved in 43 tackles (24 solo) and made 1.5 tackles for losses. He broke up five passes, recovered two fumbles and forced a fumble. During his career, he earned 204 tackles (110 solo), to go with nine tackles for losses, 18 pass break-ups, six interceptions, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Matt Gomez (Sr., DT) provided eight total tackles and blocked one kick for the Bearcats this fall. He helped Willamette limit its opponents to 97.8 rushing yards per game and just 2.8 yards per carry. Over the past three seasons, he has earned 19 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for losses and 2.0 quarterback sacks. Chris Mulitalo (Sr., DT) supplied the 'Cats with 20 tackles this year. Two of his tackles were behind the line of scrimmage. He recovered a fumble by Linfield on Sept. 29. Over the past three seasons, Mulitalo amassed 57 total tackles and broke up three passes. He earned 5.5 tackles for losses, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and blocked one kick.
2007 All-Northwest Conference Football Team