Nine football student-athletes from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) were recently named D3football.com All-West Region as announced by the organization.
Earning a spot on the All-West Region first team for offense was Chapman returner Nico Ragas, while Panthers' punter Elias Deeb was named first team defense. Also earning a spot on first team defense was California Lutheran's Obasi Dees.
A pair of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) players garnered second team All-West Region recognition on offense - running back Garrett Cheadle, and guard Brian Wahl, while Redlands' tight end Blake Roy was also selected to the team. Second team defense honors went to Stags' linebacker Mitchell Allan and the Kingsmen's defensive lineman JW Windsor, while placekicker Nathan Hierlihy of the Bulldogs was named to the All-West Region third team.
Ragas led the SCIAC and ranked second in NCAA Division III with two touchdown returns, breaking both the Chapman single-season and career record in the category. The Lakewood, Calif. native returned a kick for 100 yards against Redlands, tying the longest kickoff return in program history. Ragas averaged 31.9 yards per return to rank first in the SCIAC and sixth in the nation. This is the sophomore's first All-Region selection after earning a spot on the All-SCIAC first team earlier this season.
Deeb was a consistent weapon for the Panthers in the constant battle for field position since his arrival on campus. This is the punter's second first team All-Region selection after earning the award in the 2016 season and going on to earn All-America Honorable Mention. Deeb was critical in reversing field position, pinning teams deep in their own territory game after game. He averaged 42 yards per punt, ranking first in the SCIAC and fourth in the nation. The Newport Beach, Calif. native helped the Panthers rank second in the nation with 37.56 net punting yards per game. He pinned opponents inside their own 20-yeard line 13 times this season and put just one punt in the end zone for a touchback.
Dees earned his first All-West Region defense honor and is only the fifth Kingsmen to garner a first team selection. Dees is the third Cal Lutheran cornerback to make first team. Dees, who was a First Team All-SCIAC selection following the 2018 campaign, recorded 18 tackles and seven pass break-ups helping the Kingsmen to a 4-6 (3-4 SCIAC) overall record.
Cheadle, the SCIAC Offensive Player of the Year finished this season with 1,305 yards, placing him second all-time in program history, behind only the 1,486 yards that Chris Dabrow rushed for in 1987. He was the first Stag to cross the 1,000-yard barrier since Ryan Gocong in 2002, and broke the single-game rushing record for the program with 274 yards in a 34-21 win over Whittier. Cheadle had a chance to break the single-season rushing record, but carried the ball for the last time early in the second quarter of the regular season finale against Pomona-Pitzer, due to injury.
Wahl was a key member of a veteran offensive line that helped pave the way for Cheadle's rushing onslaught this season. CMS finished the regular season ranked second nationally in time of possession per game (36:05) while churning out over 200 rushing yards per contest (205.6), ending with 190.3 after the NCAA Division III Championship first round game. Wahl was named the SCIAC Offensive Player of the Week after helping the offensive line put together a 10:14 fourth-quarter touchdown drive to seal the win at Redlands, finishing with almost 200 rushing yards against a team that came in allowing only 33 rushing yards per game. Wahl and the line also helped maintain the ball for over 43 minutes in the SCIAC-clinching win over Chapman, when 64 of the 74 CMS plays were on the ground.
Roy collects his inaugural All-Region award in his third season with Redlands. In addition to providing key blocks for the offense, he served as the team's top receiver with 32 catches for 403 yards and six touchdowns while playing in nine games. He averaged more than 12 yards per catch and hauled in a long of 46 yards in the Bulldogs' 20-12 win over George Fox University (OR) to open the season. Furthermore, he broke into the end zone twice to help defeat La Verne by a score of 35-17.
Allan, a four-year starter and two-year captain for the Stags, was also named the SCIAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the defense with 78 tackles from his middle linebacker position. After yielding 45 points in the season opener to Puget Sound, Allan and the defense held its opponents to 10 points or less six times over the last nine regular season games, including a 20-10 road win at Redlands that decided the SCIAC regular season title, and a 16-9 win over Chapman that clinched an NCAA bid for the Stags.
Windsor was selected to the All-West Region second team on defense in his first year with the Kingsmen. He is only the second Cal Lutheran defensive tackle to garner All-West Region honors and the first since 2012. A First Team All-SCIAC selection earlier this season, Windsor led the SCIAC with 12.5 tackles for loss (3.5 sacks) for a total of 50 yards. He forced two fumbles and recovered one. He added 68 tackles, with 29 being solo tackles during the 2018 season.
Hierlihy repeats as an All-West Region selection in back-to-back seasons. This year, he converted nine field goals, including a long of 48 yards that came in the season finale against Occidental. He split the uprights in a perfect 3-for-3 showing in the team's 51-23 triumph against Cal Lutheran during the annual Smudge Pot game. In 10 games played, Hierlihy went 35-for-37 on extra points for a 95% conversion rate. He also led the Bulldogs in scoring with 62 points.