It was announced earlier today that the University of Redlands football team gained a conference-leading 14 awards among 13 Bulldogs on the All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) lists, with an even split between the First and Second teams. Ten Bulldogs collect their inaugural such honor with this year's accolades.
On offense, senior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA), junior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA), junior wide receiver David Molina (Laguna Hills, CA), and sophomore offensive lineman Calhoun Helmberger (Tacoma, WA) secure their first All-Conference nods. Furthermore, senior offensive lineman Tommy Garcia (La Habra, CA) repeats as a member of the First Team for his third overall award.
Among the defensive honorees, senior linebackers Nick Castro (La Verne, CA) and Peter Riccolo (Morris, IL), junior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA), sophomore defensive back Marvin Perkins Jr. (Las Vegas, NV), junior defensive lineman Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA), and junior punter Alexander Raya (Jamul, CA) all become All-SCIAC honorees for the first time. In addition, senior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA) and senior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) join the repeat selections for Redlands.
Beyond their individual accomplishments, this group played a huge role in the team's conference co-championship run that culminated in a 6-1 record. Redlands also earned an 8-2 overall record while hitting the eight-win mark for the ninth time in school history.
Besides surpassing 1,000 rushing yards on the season, Kennedy paced the Bulldogs with 767 yards in seven conference games to land on the First Team. While scoring seven touchdowns, he racked up more than 100 yards per game to rank second in the SCIAC. His biggest output came in the 51-23 thrashing of Cal Lutheran University during the Smudge Pot game, when he churned out 180 yards on the ground for two scores.
Roy lands on the First Team after playing a monster role as the Bulldogs' top tight end. In addition to key blocks, he provided 17 catches for 228 yards and five touchdowns in six conference games played. He averaged more than 13 yards per catch and scored in four consecutive games, as highlighted by a two-touchdown effort in the team's 35-17 win over the University of La Verne.
With back-to-back First-Team selections, Garcia supplied consistency and success as the Bulldogs' starting center. He played an instrumental role in the team's scoring average of 34.9 points per conference game, which came off of a conference-best 2,913 yards of total offense over the seven games. Garcia helped Redlands to gain more than 240 rushing yards and 5.1 yards per rush against SCIAC foes.
Molina and Helmberger represent Redlands among the Second Team as members of the offense. Molina successfully stepped up as the team's top wide receiver, reeling in 18 catches for 251 yards and one touchdown. He averaged nearly 14 yards per catch. In the Maroon and Gray's 51-23 victory over CLU, Molina snagged four catches for 89 yards, including a long of 35.
Helmberger moved into a critical role among the offensive line that contributed to the team's 16 rushing touchdowns and 78% conversion rate in the red zone against SCIAC competitors. With his involvement, Redlands scored 244 points and tallied 168 first downs in seven conference games.
Among the First Team for defense, Munroe earns back-to-back awards as a stellar and persistent lineman. As the anchor of the Bulldogs' defense, he recorded 22 tackles, one sack, and one interception against SCIAC foes. His first-ever pick came in the Bulldogs' 51-23 triumph over Cal Lutheran and resulted in a 48-yard return to the Kingsmen 24-yard line that set up an immediate score. During conference action, he also blocked a pair of PATs on Special Teams.
With tenacity and skill, Castro shined throughout the season as the Bulldogs' signal caller for a stingy defense that limited opponents to a conference-best 72.6 rushing yards per game. In seven SCIAC games, Castro supplied 47 tackles and tallied three pass breakups en route to being named to the First Team. He hit double figures with 13 tackles against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges earlier this season.
Virgil also gains a spot on the First Team as an outstanding free safety for the Maroon and Gray. He tallied 29 tackles and one interception, and recovered one fumble while competing in seven conference contests. His versatility, persistence, and speed allowed him to be a threat against the pass and at the line of scrimmage.
Hierlihy picks up his fourth All-SCIAC award in two seasons, with this year's selection coming as the First-Team kicker. Against conference foes, he converted seven field goals, including a long of 48 yards in the team's 52-20 win over Occidental College in the final game of the season. He also made 29 PATs and scored 50 total points during SCIAC action. He racked up a season-high 15 points off three field goals and six extra points during the Maroon and Gray's 51-23 showing against Cal Lutheran.
Among the Second-Team honorees for defense, Riccolo tallied 22 tackles, as highlighted by 10 solo hits, to go along with one sack as a versatile competitor with agility and quickness. His physical presence was felt throughout the season as a consistent starter for the team that led the SCIAC in red-zone defense.
After taking on a significant role in his second season with the Bulldogs, Perkins becomes an All-Conference defensive back with 34 total tackles while playing in every conference game. He contributed 5.5 tackles for a loss of 27 yards as well. Perkins also hauled in three interceptions for 30 return yards and recorded six pass breakups. Two of his picks came in the Maroon and Gray's hard-fought 15-13 win over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges.
Raya provided consistency and quality to the punting game, with 24 punts for an average of 38.5 yards during seven conference contests. He pinned nine of them inside the 20-yard line and forced seven fair catches. With his help, the Bulldogs currently rank fourth in the nation for net punting this season.
Finally, Hackney secures two All-Conference Second-Team awards in his third season with the Bulldogs. For defense, he supplied 24 total tackles and two sacks for 12 yards in seven SCIAC games played. As a team, the Bulldogs ranked second in the SCIAC for sacks with 19. Hackney also contributed to the Maroon and Gray's remarkable rush defense the held opponents to less than 73 yards on the ground per conference game. For Special Teams, he blocked four kicks to limit opponents' scoring and momentum. Two such blocks served a critical role in the team's 15-13 win at Pomona-Pitzer.
With seven First-Team awards, Bulldog football gains the most in its history since 2013.
For a complete list of the All-SCIAC Football Teams, please visit the conference website.