FOOTBALL PLACES 15 PLAYERS ON ALL-BIG SKY TEAM, INCLUDING THREE FIRST-TEAM SELECTIONS
OGDEN, Utah — Dallas Mauga, Cyrus Mulitalo and Mike Brannon were each named first team all-Big Sky Conference, it was announced today. The trio were part of 15 Hornets who earned all-league accolades.
The three first team selections were the most for Sacramento State since four players earned the honor in 2000. This season also marked the first time that the Hornets had multiple first team selections on defense since joining the league in 1996.
Mauga, Mulitalo and Brannon were key to helping Sacramento State lead the conference by limiting Big Sky foes to 99.1 rushing yards per game. A two-year starter, Mauga was a second team selection last season and a first team preseason pick prior to the 2007 season. He led all defensive linemen on the team with 43 tackles, including 8.0 tackles-for-loss and 1.0 sacks.
After earning second team all-Big Sky honors last season, Mulitalo was named to the first team after pacing the team with 98 total tackles. The junior also ranked second on the squad with 13.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks. Against Big Sky teams, Mulitalo was tied for eighth in the league with four sacks and tied for fourth with 11.0 tackles-for-loss.
Brannon was named honorable mention all-league a season ago at defensive end. After transitioning to linebacker prior to the start of the season, Brannon responded with 81 tackles to rank third on the team. The junior also led the team with 18.0 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks. His TFL total ranks third in school history while his sacks rank eighth.
The trio were joined by 12 players who earned honorable mention accolades. That group was comprised of six players on offense, four on defense and two on special teams. Senior Ryan Coogler and junior Tony Washington earned the honor at receiver. Coogler led the team with 38 receptions for 507 yards and three touchdowns while Washington had 29 grabs for 414 yards and three score. Coogler also earned honorable mention in 2005.
On the offensive line, senior center Kyle Leitzke, sophomore guard Matt Lemley and junior tackle Ray Navar were each recognized. The honor was the first for each player.
Freshman running back Bryan Hilliard was the team's lone selection at running back. Hilliard led the Hornets with 826 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He ended the year with three straight 100-yard games, including a career high 243 yard, three touchdown effort in the win over Idaho State on Nov. 17.
Defensively, senior defensive end Blaine Jackson, junior linebacker Mike Hickman and senior safeties Brett Shelton and Brent Webber were each named honorable mention. Jackson ended the year with 39 tackles (9.5 for loss with 3.0 sacks) while starting all 11 games. Hickman was fifth on the team with 66 total tackles during his first season at Sacramento State.
Shelton and Webber were each named all-Big Sky for the fourth-straight season, joining Charles Roberts (1997-2000) and Fred Amey (2001-04) as the only players to perform that feat in school history. Shelton ranked second on the team with 88 total tackles and started all 44 games of his career. Webber was fourth on the squad with 73 total tackles. The pair leave Sacramento State ranked second and fourth, respectively, in career tackles.
On special teams, senior Jody Johnson was named honorable mention as a kick returner and Juan Gamboa at place kicker. Johnson averaged 24.2 yards per kick return and scored an 85-yard touchdown at Portland State. Gamboa led the team in scoring with 49 points and made nine field goals.
Eastern Washington sophomore quarterback Matt Nichols was named the Big Sky Offensive MVP. Montana defensive end Kroy Biermann earned the Defensive MVP and Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins was the Newcomer of the Year.