ATHENS, WV -- On the heels of its historic run to a conference championship, the Concord football team has received more well-deserved good news. Lots of it.
Fourteen Mountain Lions have earned All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference recognition, including seven on the 1st Team. Five of those first-teamers are on defense.
What's more, CU head coach Garin Justice is the WVIAC Coach of the Year, and linebacker Joe Greenway is the Defensive Player of the Year.
The Mountain Lions defeated West Virginia Wesleyan last Saturday, 48-40, to win their first league title in 21 years. The next day, Concord earned a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs, which begin next Saturday with a first-round contest at Kutztown University (PA). It's CU's first-ever NCAA bid and the first post-season appearance since reaching the NAIA playoffs in 1992.
Justice took over the Concord program last January and had to assemble an essentially all-new coaching staff. The Mountain Lions dropped their first two contests – one to Elon, an FCS program -- then reeled off seven wins in their last eight games to claim the WVIAC title.
"I appreciate the honor, but it has to do with the whole staff," Justice said. "We have a great group of coaches here and they've done a tremendous job. The players have been outstanding, too. They've worked so hard this year and deserve all the recognition."
Greenway led CU with 12 tackles for loss and averaged 8.9 tackles per game. The senior from Roanoke, VA also nabbed four interceptions -- three in the last two games -- returning one for a touchdown in Concord's 32-29 win at West Liberty on November 5. He was named the WVIAC's co-Defensive Player of the Week on November 7.
Concord's defense topped the conference in interceptions (16) and points allowed (19.3/game), and helped lift the Mountain Lions to a league-best +15 turnover differential.
CU was also 2nd in opponents' first down, 3rd in pass defense and 4th in total defense.
Greenway earned a spot on the WVIAC's 1st Team Defense, along with Jake Lilly, Aaron Martinez, Josh Miller and Riyahd Richardson.
Running back Brian Kennedy and center Brandon Link are on the 1st Team Offense.
Zack Grossi and Mitch Hairston were named to the 2nd Team Offense.
Silas Agyemang, Rashid Baker and Ryan Stewart earned Honorable Mention honors. Carlton Downs and Zach Gibbins were Special Honorable Mention players.
Lilly, a sophomore linebacker from Bluefield, WV, led the WVIAC with 10.9 tackles per game. He also posted nine tackles for loss (TFL), one interception, one pass defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also drew statewide and regional attention after it was learned he saved his father's life after a hunting accident in October.
Martinez, a senior safety from Yorba Linda, CA, grabbed a team-high six interceptions and averaged 7.9 tackles per game. He added eight passes defended, three pass break-ups, three TFLs and two forced fumbles.
Miller, a junior from Pulaski, VA, is listed as a nose tackle on the All-WVIAC team. But he played several positions on CU's defensive line and led the team with six sacks. Miller also had eight TFLs, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and three pass break-ups and three passes defended.
Richardson, a sophomore from Duncan, SC, solidified his reputation as one of the league's top shutdown cornerbacks with five interceptions, 14 passes defended and 10 pass break-ups. He added five TFLs and 4.9 tackles per game. Richardson was the WVIAC's Defensive Player of the Week for November 3.
Kennedy missed all of one game and most of two others due to a mid-season ankle injury. But the senior running back from Centerville, VA, still rushed for 815 yards (90.6/game) while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He rushed for six touchdowns.
"BK" produced an epic performance in CU's regular season finale against Wesleyan. He carried the ball 35 times for a career-high 303 yards and a touchdown, earning WVIAC Player of the Week honors.
Link, a senior center from Cumberland, MD, anchored a CU offensive line that propelled the Mountain Lions to 5.5 yards per play while allowing on 12 sacks.
Grossi, a junior quarterback from Tampa, FL, secured a spot on the 2nd Team Offense by completing 180 of 336 passes for 2207 yards. He threw for 22 touchdowns against just nine interceptions.
Grossi threw five TD passes in a game twice. The first came at the University of Charleston on September 17, for which he was named WVIAC Player of the Week. The second game was against West Virginia Wesleyan, which clinched the conference championship.
Hairston, a junior offensive lineman from Clarksburg, WV, played both right tackle to right guard this season and helped CU offense finish third in the league in pass efficiency and fourth in total offense.
Agyemang, a sophomore defensive end from Alexandria, VA, was a relentless pass rusher from the edge. He was second on the Mountain Lions with five sacks and posted 11 TFLs and two quarterback hits.
Baker, a senior tight end from Frisco, TX, was a reliable target over the middle. He caught 31 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns, including one in CU's championship-clinching win over West Virginia Wesleyan.
Stewart became Concord's main deep threat this season, hauling in a team-high 13 touchdown receptions while averaging 19.3 yards per catch. The freshman wide receiver from Charlotte, NC ended the regular season with 39 receptions for 751 yards. Stewart caught three touchdowns in the win over Wesleyan.
Downs transferred to Concord from Saginaw Valley State (MI) – where he was a former All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection – and became a presence in CU's secondary. The senior defensive back from Detroit, MI averaged 3.9 tackles per game, with two TFLs. He also had one interception and one pass defended.
Gibbins, a senior from Anderson, CA, joined Greenway and Lilly in Concord's play-making linebacker corps. Gibbins snared three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown against West Liberty. He also recorded 6.7 tackles per game, two sacks, one pass break-up, one pass defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Concord's playoff opener at Kutztown next Saturday kicks off at 12:00 pm.
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