Thunderbird football players earn All-Conference honors


The Big Sky Conference has revealed their 2017 All-Conference Football Teams, with several Thunderbirds receiving recognition for their performances during the Conference Championship campaign.

In total, 22 members of the Southern Utah football team were named either First Team, Second Team, Third Team or Honorable Mention.

Four Thunderbirds were recognized as First Team All-Conference athletes, with center Zach Larsen, defensive tackle Anu Pole’o, linebacker Mike Needham and cornerback Jarmaine Doubs Jr. all receiving the honor from the conference office.

Larsen held down the o-line for the Thunderbirds all season long, starting at center for the squad all season. Pole’o finished the regular season with 33 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks for a loss of 26 yards. Needham led the team in tackles with 89, including 6.5 tackles for loss and six pass breakups to go along with a fumble recovery. This was the third time Needham has been honored as a First Team All-Conference member. And at corner, Doubs Jr. locked down opposing wide receivers all season and led the team with four interceptions to go along with 44 tackles.

Four more Thunderbirds were named to the Big Sky All-Conference Second Team. Offensive tackle Marquez Tucker and running back James Felila got the nod on the offensive side of the ball, while defensive tackle Robert Torgerson and linebacker Chinedu Ahanonu were added to the team on the other side of the ball.

Tucker and Felila were part of an impressive offense and running attack for the T-Birds. Despite missing the final two games with an injury, Felila still leads the team in total rushing yards with 699. He also broke into the end zone eight times during the season. Requiring a double team most of the season, Torgerson had 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack this season, and led the team in the quarterback hits category. Ahanonu led the team in tackles before being sidelined with an injury during the Eastern Washington contest, and finished the season with 70 tackles, nine tackles for loss three forced fumbles and one sack.

Members of the All-Conference Third Team Offense included PJ Nu’usa at guard and Sefesi Vaa’ivaka at fullback. The Thunderbirds started using the defensive lineman as a fullback in short yardage situations, and converted multiple times with him in the backfield.

Taylor Pili and Taylor Nelson both were members of the Third Team Defense. Pili finished the season with 29 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also recovered two fumbles. Nelson was second on the team in tackles with 74, had six tackles for loss and recovered four fumbles during the season.

The Thunderbirds also had a number of Honorable Mentions to the All-Conference Teams. That list included: Landen Measom (WR), Logan Parker (TE), Patrick Tyler (QB), Jay Green Jr. (RB), Chance Bearnson (DE), Kyle Tauili’ili (OLB), Tyler Collett (S), Mitch Dalley (S), Rashaan Miller (P) and Alan Holsten (SP).

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