DII football: Common hometown bond has Central Washington thriving in GNAC
Washington's first college football team to go 6-0 this season wasn't the Cougars or Huskies.
Before those national powers took the field for easy wins on Saturday, a team loaded with South Sound talent methodically dismantled a team from California to seize control of their conference.
Despite being displaced for several weeks because of forest fire smoke, Central Washington University is 6-0 and in first place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Wildcats entered the game ranked No. 13 nationally in the NCAA Division II coaches poll.
The team's eight-game winning streak is longest of any college team in the Northwest.
The Wildcats have already swept their conference but now must play the four teams again. Saturday afternoon they beat previously unbeaten Humboldt State, 55-27, in Ellensburg. The Wildcats success comes despite having to move some practices and a game to a high school stadium in Bothell because of poor air quality in the Kittitas Valley caused by forest fires.
Central Washington is loaded with players from the South Sound. Forty-six players attended high school in the South Sound area, compared to 15 for UW and four for WSU. The Wildcats are coached by Orting High graduate Ian Shoemaker.
Half of the team's 34 touchdowns were scored by players from the South Sound.
Tumwater graduate Christian Cummings is the team's leading rusher with 595 yards and five touchdowns. Kentlake grad Austin Pernell has added 278 yards and four touchdowns.
Senior tight end Kyle Self of Peninsula High is proving to be a dangerous weapon for the Wildcats. He has just 17 catches, but leads the team with six touchdowns. He caught three touchdowns Saturday.
On defense, key South Sound players include defensive end Billy Greer (four sacks) of Wilson and defensive backs Jackson Huerta (two interceptions, 39 tackles) of Kentwood, Max McIntosh (one interception, 24 tackles) of Rogers and Darien Williams (one interception, 30 tackles) of Lincoln.
Central is outscoring opponents 42.7-19.3 this season. CWU's next game is Saturday at Western Oregon University, a team they beat 30-23 on Sept. 9 in Bothell. The remaining home games are Oct. 21 against North Alabama and Oct. 28 against Azusa Pacific.
This article is written by Craig Hill from The News Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.