KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association released the 2017 All-MIAA Football Team on Tuesday (Nov. 14). Fort Hays State had a new program record 21 players named to the team, including eight first-team selections, while three earned special honors. Nathan Shepherd earned Defensive Player of the Year, Brandon Brown earned Special Teams Player of the Year, and Chris Brown earned Coach of the Year.
Shepherd, the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year, was a unanimous first-team selection on the defensive line, drawing special attention from opposing coaching staffs from week-to-week. He has had a big impact on the defensive play of the Tigers by often drawing double-team, and sometimes triple-team coverage from offensive lines. His impact up front has allowed the Tigers to hold opponents to less than 300 yards per game (292.6), helping the team rank among the top 25 in total defense nationally. Shepherd has 37 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and four sacks from his defensive tackle position. He recently has been invited to participate in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl, held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Brandon Brown, the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year, led the MIAA in kicking points for the regular season with 91. That gives Brown a new single season record for kicking points at FHSU, breaking the record of 88 he set last year. Brown is 15-of-20 on field goal attempts this year, while knocking through all 46 of his point-after-touchdown attempts. Eleven of Brown’s 15 field goals are from 30 or more yards this year. He also averages 58.3 yards per kickoff and has 36 touchbacks this season. He was named the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week five times throughout the course of the regular season. Brown earns first-team honors at kicker this year after a third-team selection last year.
Head Coach Chris Brown earns his first MIAA Coach of the Year honor, guiding the program to its first-ever MIAA Championship in undefeated fashion. Now in his seventh year guiding the program, Brown steadily built Fort Hays State into a contender in the MIAA, improving in wins year-by-year over the first five seasons of his tenure. Last year, he took the Tigers to their second straight bowl game and first-ever bowl win, reaching eight wins for the second straight year. This year, FHSU is making its first appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs since 1995 with an undefeated mark of 11-0, which has the Tigers three wins past their previous program high for wins in a season. Brown now has a record of 49-30 at FHSU, but since the start of 2015, has a record of 27-8.
Joining Shepherd and Brown as first-team selections are running back Kenneth Iheme, wide receiver Monterio Burchfield, offensive lineman Travis Talley, linebacker Jose Delgado, and defensive backs Kamon Clayton and Doyin Jibowu.
Iheme is a unanimous selection at running back after a third-team selection last year. Iheme leads the MIAA in rushing yards with 1,218, averaging 110.7 yards per game. He ranks 13th in the nation in rushing yards. He averages 139.3 all-purpose yards per game, second in the conference only to MIAA Offensive Player of the Year J.T. Luper from Central Oklahoma. Iheme has 1,532 all-purpose yards for the year, adding 314 receiving yards to his rushing total. In his career, Iheme has 2,407 rushing yards and 3,300 all-purpose yards to rank eighth in school history for both categories.
Burchfield, a junior wide receiver, has made his presence known in his first year with the Tigers, hauling in 44 passes for 911 yards and eight touchdowns so far. He has the seventh-most receiving yards for a season in school history. Earlier this year, he had a 217-yard receiving game against Central Oklahoma, the fourth-highest single-game receiving yard total in program history. He has three games this year where he produced at least 173 receiving yards.
Talley is in his fifth year with the program and has been the starting right tackle for the Tigers since the beginning of the 2016 season. He has been the senior anchor on a young offensive line that helps the Tigers produce 452.9 yards of total offense per game. He has helped the team produce six 200-yard rushing games this season. This is Talley’s first All-MIAA honor.
Delgado, a junior linebacker, leads the team in tackles this year with 94. He ranks 31st nationally in tackles per game and fourth in the MIAA. He was an honorable mention pick at linebacker last year and already has 272 tackles in his career at FHSU, seventh on tackles list in Fort Hays State’s NCAA Division II history. He has added 3.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, and three pass break-ups to his resume this year.
Clayton, a senior cornerback, is in his second year with the Tigers. After seeing time as a reserve defensive back last year, Clayton shifted to cornerback for the Tigers this year and has been rock solid. He leads the team in 12 pass break-ups, while recording 36 tackles. He is fourth in the MIAA in pass break-ups.
Jibowu has put together a solid all-around season at the bandit defensive back position. He has 56 tackles to rank fourth on the team, but leads the team in interceptions and ranks second in the MIAA with five. He is third on the team in pass break-ups with nine. Now in his junior season, Jibowu has 213 tackles and seven interceptions in his career. He is now a two-time All-MIAA selection, after third-team honors in 2015 as a redshirt-freshman.
Second-team honors this year go to junior quarterback Jacob Mezera, sophomore tight end Matt Wendelberger, and junior defensive lineman Wyatt Parker.
Mezera has been steady guiding the Tiger offense this year, currently with 2,654 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, while completing 66.2 percent of his passes. He averages 241.3 passing yards per game. He has 5,207 passing yards and 41 touchdowns in his career. This is the second All-MIAA honor of Mezera’s career after an honorable mention selection last year.
Wendelberger has been key with his physicality at tight end, used often as a blocker, but he has also been instrumental in the passing game. He has 22 receptions for 252 yards this year and two touchdowns, averaging 11.5 per catch. This is also his second All-MIAA honor after an honorable mention selection last year.
Parker leads FHSU defensive linemen in tackles with 51, which includes 2.5 sacks, 5.5 drops for loss, and a forced fumble at defensive tackle. He is helping the FHSU defense rank 11th nationally against the run.
Third-team honors go to Charles Tigner at running back, Donald Blackmon and Pat Kelly on the offensive line, and Dante Brown at punter.
Tigner has been a great complement to Iheme at running back this year, putting together 631 rushing and 116 receiving yards. Add in 37 kick return yards, Tigner has 784 all-purpose yards for the season. The sophomore already has nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards in just two years on the field at FHSU.
Blackmon and Kelly have also been staples on the offensive line this year, starting every game at their respective positions. Blackmon has played every game at left guard, while Kelly has played every game at left tackle. Both have been key to the Tigers’ offensive success this year of scoring at least 30 points in nine of 11 games this year.
Dante Brown is one of the top punters in the nation this season, averaging 43.5 yards per attempt. Brown currently ranks sixth in the nation in punting average. The top two punters by average nationally are the first and second team selections this year, Justin Marcha’ of Emporia State and Zach Davidson of Central Missouri. Brown has placed 18 kicks inside the 20 this year, and 19 punts that have been at least 50 yards.
Honorable mention nods go to wide receivers Tyler Bacon and Harley Hazlett, defensive backs Tanner Hoekman and Connor Shedeed, defensive lineman Luke Wright, and linebacker Kolt Trachsel.
Bacon is in his fifth year with the program and has been a steady performer for the Tigers as a slot receiver the past two years. The senior has 36 catches for 376 yards this year and two touchdowns. He has 813 receiving yards on 84 receptions in his career.
Hazlett, a sophomore, is in his first year with the Tigers after transferring from Garden City (Kan.) Community College. He has been a versatile offensive player, catching 17 passes for 225 yards and rushing for 83 yards on 17 carries. Add on 115 kick return yards and eight interception return yards, Hazlett has 431 all-purpose yards this season. He had the game-deciding touchdown and game-saving interception at Northwest Missouri State that lifted the Tigers to their first-ever MIAA Championship.
Hoekman, a sophomore playing the bandit defensive back position, ranks second on the team in tackles with 77. He has started every game at the bandit back dating back to the start of the 2016 season. He also has an interception return for a touchdown this year and two fumble recoveries.
Shedeed is a junior free safety that ranks third on the team in tackles with 65. He also has one interception and two pass break-ups this year. He has a total of 153 tackles in his three seasons on the field for FHSU. This is his first all-conference selection.
Wright, a senior defensive lineman, earns his first all-conference nod now in his fifth year with the program. He has started all games this year, putting together 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two pass break-ups.
Trachsel, a sophomore linebacker, earns all-conference honors for the first time in his career. He has 51 tackles this season, including 5.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. He also has an interception return for a touchdown and three pass break-ups.
2017 All-MIAA Football Team
MIAA Offensive Player of the Year – JT Luper, WR, Central Oklahoma
MIAA Defensive Player of the Year – Nathan Shepherd, DL, Fort Hays State
MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year – Brandon Brown, K, Fort Hays State
MIAA Freshmen of the Year – Devante Turner, RB, Central Missouri
MIAA Coach of the Year – Chris Brown, Fort Hays State
First Team (Offense)
QB – Brook Bolles, Central Missouri
RB – Kenneth Iheme, Fort Hays State**
RB – Devante Turner, Central Missouri
WR – Justin Brown, Emporia State
WR – Monterio Burchfield, Fort Hays State
WR – JT Luper, Central Oklahoma**
TE/FB – Seth Hebert, Central Missouri
OL – Kane Barker, Central Missouri
OL – Codey Funk, Pittsburg State
OL – Bob Marco, Washburn
OL – Sam Noble, Central Oklahoma
OL – Travis Talley, Fort Hays State
K – Brandon Brown, Fort Hays State
PR/PR – Corey Ballentine, Washburn
First Team (Defense)
DL – Austen Eskew, Northwest Missouri
DL – Jonathan Harris, Lindenwood
DL – Simanu’a Thomas, Pittsburg State
DL – Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State**
LB – Ben Althoff, Northwest Missouri
LB – Gabe Cleveland, Emporia State
LB – Jose Delgado, Fort Hays State
LB – Cody Lindsay, Missouri Western
DB – Kamon Clayton, Fort Hays State
DB – Doyin Jibowu, Fort Hays State
DB – Marcus Jones, Northwest Missouri**
DB – Monteze Latimore, Central Missouri
DB – D.J. Olmstead, Washburn
P – Justin Marcha, Emporia State
Team Reflects Tie in the Voting
Second Team (Offense)
QB – Jacob Mezera, Fort Hays State
RB – Landon Nault, Emporia State
RB – Michael Rose, Pittsburg State
RB – Koby Wilkerson, Central Missouri
WR – Shawn Bane, Jr., Northwest Missouri
WR – Gary McKnight, Jr., Northeastern State
WR – Jaylen Zachery, Central Missouri
TE/FB – Matt Wendelberger, Fort Hays State
OL – Hayden Eatinger, Missouri Western
OL – Zach Flott, Northwest Missouri
OL – Chris Gomez, Central Missouri
OL – Max Oeser, Missouri Western
OL – Thomas O’Grady, Emporia State
K – Tyler Basch, Missouri Western
PR/PR – Kendell Sparks, Lindenwood
Team Reflects Tie in the Voting
Second Team (Defense)
DL – Tre Vaughn Ammons, Emporia State
DL – Darrian Bass, Missouri Western
DL – Caleb Mather, Northwest Missouri
DL – Wyatt Parker, Fort Hays State
DL – Trey Parker, Washburn
LB – Alex Figueroa, Central Oklahoma
LB – Derrick McGreevy, Washburn
LB – Austin Miller, Central Missouri
LB – La’More Wise, Northeastern State
DB – Corey Ballentine, Washburn
DB – Marcus Brantley, Pittsburg State
DB – Anthony Lane, Northwest Missouri
DB – Jonathan Owens, Missouri Western
DB – Bakari Triggs, Lindenwood
P – Zach Davidson, Central Missouri
Team Reflects Tie in the Voting
Third Team (Offense)
QB – Chas Stallard, Central Oklahoma
RB – Calen Campbell, Lindenwood
RB – Mickeel Stewart, Washburn
RB – Charles Tigner, Fort Hays State
WR – Josh Crockett, Central Oklahoma
WR – Austin Panko, Pittsburg State
WR – Kyrion Parker, Central Missouri
WR – Deantrell Prince, Lindenwood
TE/FB – Jordan Grove, Northwest Missouri
OL – Donald Blackmon, Fort Hays State
OL – Pat Kelly, Fort Hays State
OL – Akil Williams, Lindenwood
OL – Bo Farrow, Pittsburg State
OL – Kyle Hinton, Washburn
K – Alex Langer, Central Missouri
PR/PR – Austin Panko, Pittsburg State
Team Reflects Tie in the Voting
Third Team (Defense)
DL – Carson Smith, Central Oklahoma
DL – Hinwa Allieu, Nebraska-Kearney
DL – Bobby Gruenloh, Northwest Missouri
DL – Ben Spaeth, Northwest Missouri
LB – Colton Lindsey, Central Oklahoma
LB – Nick Hess, Northwest Missouri
LB – Ethan Fugitt, Pittsburg State
DB – George Brown, Nebraska-Kearney
DB – Omari Cole, Central Oklahoma
DB – Brandin Dandridge, Missouri Western
DB – Diaron Rhodes, Central Missouri
DB – Darrius Williams, Lindenwood
P – Dante Brown, Fort Hays State
Central Missouri: Jake Heckler, OL; Connor Flagel, DL; Triphinue Taylor, DL; Garrett Cline, Long Snapper; Wes Thomas, WR; Alex Lackey LB
Central Oklahoma: Caleb Moss, TE; Noah Hammons, OL; Aaron Williams, OL; Riley Galyon, DB; Stephan Robinson, DB; Alex Quevedo, K
Emporia State: Braxton Marstall, QB; Louis Dailey, WR; Gary Woods II, DB; A.J. West, DB; Jake Warehime, OL; Estevan Arana, OL
Fort Hays State: Tyler Bacon, WR; Harley Hazlett, WR; Tanner Hoekman, DB; Luke Wright, DL; Kolt Trachsel, LB; Connor Shedeed, DB
Lindenwood: Evan Pumphrey, OL; Ace Rogers, DB; Michael Crowder, P; Lucas Beddow, OL; Antonio Davis, DL; Najee Jackson, QB
Missouri Southern: Aaron Leo, OL; Chris Williams, DE; Alex Wade, S; Carter Rees, S; Mike Dzierzega, OL; Roc Robbins, LB
Missouri Western: Shawn Rouse, OL; Austin Burau, TE; Ian McIntosh, FB; Nate Iloilo, DL; Shamar Griffith, KR/PR; Jonathan Owens, KR/PR
Nebraska-Kearney: Josh Stoltenberg, OL; Tye Spies; DL; Sal Silvio, LB; Dallas Vaughn, DB; Malik Webb, DB
Northeastern State: Brian West, OL; Zac King, WR; Caleb Hash, OL; Michael Davis, FB; T’nheous Smith, DL; La’Vonte White, DB
Northwest Missouri: Zach Martin, QB; Shane Williams, WR; Clayton Wilson, TE; Ryan Huff, OL; Tanner Owen; OL; Samuel Roberts, DL
Pittsburg State: Jovon Wilson, TE; Zach Thomas, OL; Bradley Payne, DL; Morgan Selemaea, LB; Darian Taylor, LB; Juante Baldwin, DB; Josh Hornback, DB; Carnell Lewis, DB; Jared Vincent, K
Washburn: James Brania-Hopp, WR; Peter Pfannensteil, DB; Ca