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Cougars Lead Parade of All-Indys

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December 9, 2010
Gary Pine

AZUSA, Calif. -- Coming off its finest season in 5 years, which included a berth into the 16-team NAIA Championship Playoff Series, Azusa Pacific had 10 players selected to the 2010 NAIA All-Independent Teams, including the NAIA Independent Offensive Player of the Year, junior QB John van den Raadt

In all, 56 players from the 9 NAIA independent football programs were honored on the 2 teams, and Azusa Pacific, along with Webber International University and Southern Oregon University, led the way with the most number of honorees.

Van den Raadt, a 6-foot-3 junior out of Mira Loma, Calif., fashioned one of greatest seasons ever by a Cougar QB in which he proved to be one of college football’s top dual-threat signal-callers, throwing for 1,638 yards and 14 TDs while rushing for 972 yards, the most by an NAIA quarterback this season, and another 14 TDs. He posted 5 100-yard rushing games, including a personal-best 162 yards vs. Chapman, the most ever by a Cougar QB. In a victory over Whittier, he tallied 384 yards of total offense in just 3 quarters of play, throwing for a season-high 249 yards and rushing for an additional 135 on just 11 carries.

Joining van den Raadt on the first team offense are junior OT Joe Bolgnesi and sophomore RB Johnell Murphy.

A transfer from NCAA Division II Mesa State College, Bolgnesi anchored a vastly improved Cougar offensive line that spearheaded a ground game that averaged 252 rushing yards a contest, the most an Azusa Pacific team since the recording setting season of eventual NFL Pro Bowler Christian Okoye in 1986. In addition, the o-line allowed just 9 QB sacks on 248 pass plays this season

Murphy, also a newcomer and a transfer from NAIA member Sterling College, was one of the primary benefactors of the rebuilt offensive line, rushing for 820 yards in 9 games (91.1 avg.) this season and reaching the end zone 9 times. He recorded a trio of 100-yard rushing games, including a personal-best 206 vs. Chapman, only the tenth Cougar ever to eclipse the 200-yard plateau in a game.

On defense, junior Jake Jones earned first team recognition after finishing among the NAIA’s top 3 in quarterback sacks. Jones collected 10.5 sacks, including 5 in back-to-back road games at Western Oregon University and Southern Oregon University, to wreak havoc on opposing aerial attacks which in turned helped the Cougar defense rank second in the NAIA in pass defense (132.1 avg.).

The second-team honorees included 6 Cougars. Sophomores Graham Paterson and Tim Taylor played keys roles on the revamped offensive line, Paterson moving into a starting role at center while Taylor proving to be a pleasant surprise at tackle after transferring from Fullerton (Calif.) College. Combined with Bolgnesi, Paterson and Taylor were unsung heroes of a Cougar offense that averaged 424 yards a game, the most by an Azusa Pacific team since the 1999 NAIA semifinal squad.

One of just 4 seniors to start for Azusa Pacific, WR Aaron Wall completed his 2-year Cougar career with all-independent second-team recognition. The 6-foot-4 Wall led the Cougars with 26 receptions, several of the spectacular variety, for 347 yards and 4 TDs. His best game of the season came against Humboldt State when he had a season-high 7 grabs for 121 yards and a pair of TDs. Wall caught a pass in all 21 games he played at Azusa Pacific.

Senior TE Josh Anderson completed his 2-year Cougar career with all-independent second team recognition.

Four-year starter Jay York received a nod on second team defense after leading the Cougars in tackling for a third straight year. The senior linebacker out of Katy, Texas, registered 76 take-downs, including 3 for loss, to finish his outstanding Azusa Pacific career with 341 tackles in 42 games.

Junior college transfer Kenneth Parker came on strong over the second half of the season and his play was so prevelant at defensive end that it accorded him second team recognition. Parker recorded 49 tackles, posting 4.5 for loss, 2 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery to aid his resume.

Azusa Pacific finished the 2010 season with a 6-4 record.