YUMA, Ariz. – The Arizona Western (9-0 overall, 7-0 Western States Football League) football team wrapped up another spectacular regular season over the weekend, and now the WSFL champs grabbed 15 All-Conference selections. Running back Greg Bell III was named the WSFL Offensive Player of the Year, and head coach Tom Minnick was named the WSFL Coach of the Year for the sixth time.
Bell racked up rushing 1,094 yards across nine games and led the WSFL in yards per game (121.6). He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and routinely broke big plays while scoring 10 touchdowns. Bell was an NJCAA First Team All-American last season while rushing for 1,187 yards in 11 games.
The Mats placed eight players on the All-WSFL First Team: Bell (RB), Dominick Anderson (TE), Jahmir Johnson (OL), Tyrik Jones (DL), Roy Yancey (LB), Kaleel Gaines (DB), Bryce Beekman (DB) and Dejhion Parrish (Athlete). Center Zack Bennett and linebacker Ismael Richardson both were named to the All-WSFL Second Team, and Bryce Perkins was an honorable mention.
For the All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference, the Mats had 12 first team selections: Bell, Perkins, Anderson, Jaron Woodyard (WR), Bennett, Johnson, Jones, Yancey, Richardson, Gaines, Beekman and Parrish. Offensive lineman Dontae Powell and defensive linemen Tristan Nichols, Azur Kamara and Noah Jefferson were named to the All-ACCAC Second Team.
Anderson is rated the top junior college tight end in the country, and he finished with 25 catches for 214 yards. Woodyard was the top pass-catcher for the Mats. The speedy sophomore led the team with 30 catches, 462 yards and six touchdowns.
On the offensive line, Johnson, Bennett and Powell helped Arizona Western average 275.7 rushing yards per game, good for sixth best in the nation. AWC averaged 6.6 yards per carry.
Parrish excelled down the stretch of the season for AWC. He ran for 359 yards and five touchdowns in the team’s final two games. On the season, the sophomore averaged a touchdown every five carries with eight touchdowns on 39 rushes for 610 yards.
Jones helped lead a defensive line that made life uncomfortable for opposing backfields. Jones was tied for first on the team with 16 tackles for a loss while also adding seven sacks, 34 tackles with two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Kamara attacked off the other side and led the Mats with 12.5 sacks (second in the conference) to go with 28 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. Nichols (20 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for loss) and Jefferson (13 tackles, half a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one interception) worked the interior of the line and created space for the rest of the defense to make plays.
Yancey led the Matadors with 86 tackles and tied with Jones with 16 tackles for loss. On top of that, the sophomore added three sacks and one pass breakup. Richardson was second on the team with 54 tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss, three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), a forced fumble and one pass breakup.
In the secondary, Gaines and Beekman both made it tough on opposing passers to find seams. Beekman led the Mats with six interceptions, and he had 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup. Gaines tied for the team lead with six pass breakups and was also third on the team with 48 tackles. He also intercepted two passes and had one tackle for loss.
Coach Minnick picked up his 100th career win this season when the team beat Snow College in the fall. He is the winningest coach in Matador history and is the only coach to win 11 games in one season (done three times). Minnick’s teams have made it a habit to have players transfer on after finishing up at AWC, and last season’s team sent 26 players to four-year schools
The Mats are second in the final NJCAA poll of the regular season and are waiting on bowl bids. Bowl bids can be announced tomorrow at noon CST, per NJCAA rules.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.