Seven Chadron State College football players were selected as either First Team, Second Team, or Honorable Mention in Tuesday’s All-Conference release from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Awards are voted upon by the league’s 11 head football coaches, and are slotted by position. No coach was allowed to vote for his own players.
First Team selections were Cody Paul at punt returner and Zach Smith at punter. Paul was No. 1 in the RMAC for punt return average – and eighth nationally – at 16.3 yards per attempt, and tied for the most punt return touchdowns, with two. He was one of only nine players in the nation with multiple punt return scores. In addition, Paul was second nationally for combined return yardage, compiling 912 yards on punt and kickoff returns. Smith was the leading punter in the RMAC with 41.3 yards per attempt, and finished 16th in the country in that category. His stats also included 23 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, six touchbacks, and 14 punts of 50-plus yards.
Named to All-RMAC Second Team were Darrien Oliver and Collin Eisenman. Oliver is a three-year starter on the offensive line. While he has been the starter, playing both guard and center, the Eagles have finished third, first, and second in sacks allowed. The 43 sacks registered against the Eagles over the course of those three seasons are the lowest for any RMAC team. Collin Eisenman gets his second All-RMAC award after earning First Team as a sophomore. He recorded 56 tackles in 2016 – up from 41 as a sophomore – including 10.0 tackles for loss of which five were sacks. Eisenman also had five quarterback hurries, two blocked punts, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Also mentioned in the conference release are defensive back Steve Allen and defensive tackle Mitch Collicott who receive Honorable Mention, along with Paul, who was nominated at both kick returner and punt returner positions.
The Chadron State football program has had at least one All-RMAC First Team performer for each of the 26 consecutive seasons since they joined the conference in 1991. CSC is the only member of the conference to claim that distinction.
The conference’s major player awards went to Justin Dvorak of Colorado Mines (Offensive Player of the Year), Drew Hebel of Black Hills State (Defensive Player of the Year), Ryan Sheehan of Colorado Mesa (Special Teams Player of the Year), Clifford Simms of Dixie State (Offensive Freshman of the Year), and Jaylen Moore of Dixie State (Defensive Freshman of the Year).
The Coach of the Year is Black HIlls State’s John Reiners, a former Eagle assistant of 14 years and head track and field coach for 11 years.
All players who received at least one First Team vote or two Second Team votes earned Honorable Mention.