YUMA, Ariz. – In the final NJCAA football poll of the season, Arizona Western College finished third. AWC finished the season 11-1 overall after falling 25-22 to first-ranked Garden City in the NJCAA National Championship game at the El Toro Bowl.
Arizona Western tied the most wins in team history for the third time under head coach Tom Minnick. All three of the team’s 11-win seasons have come under his direction. This is the sixth time in the last eight seasons that Arizona Western has been in the top 10 in the final poll of the year. Coach Minnick was named the Western States Football League Coach of the Year for the third time.
AWC finished the year with the second-best defense in the country (9.4 points per game), and the Mats forced 46 turnovers. Sophomore linebacker Patrick Macon was the WSFL Co-Defensive Player of the Year after leading the nation in tackles for loss (27.5) and forced fumbles (nine). Macon led a group of 14 players who earned All-Conference selections. The Matadors won their fifth conference title under Coach Minnick.
In the poll, Garden City was the unanimous choice for first place, and East Mississippi moved to second. Trinity Valley stayed in fourth. Three other teams from the WSFL finished in the top 20: Mesa (fifth), Eastern Arizona (13th) and Snow (18th).
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 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.