Central Washington prepares for season opener vs. Texas A&M King - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Central Washington prepares for season opener vs. Texas A&M Kingsville

CWU led the NCAA in tackles for loss last season. Photo: Central Washington Athletics CWU led the NCAA in tackles for loss last season. Photo: Central Washington Athletics

By Central Washington Athletics

The Central Washington University football team opens its 2017 season this Saturday when they travel to Kingsville, Texas to faceoff with Texas A&M Kingsville at 5:00 p.m. PDT.
 
 
LIVE STATS: http://www.sidearmstats.com/tamuk/football/
LIVE VIDEO: http://www.tamuk.tv/
2016 CWU Stats
2016 TAMUK Stats
 
SERIES HISTORY
The Wildcats and Javelinas have a short history, having played three games in three-consecutive years starting in 2011.  The Javelinas were victorious in each contest, the closest coming on Sept. 7, 2013 where TAMUK scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to take home a 21-14 victory in the Wildcat's season opener.
 
 
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
Central Washington brings back a host of players from last year, most notably linebacker Kevin Haynes who earned All-American honors after leading the CWU defense to a top 25 ranking.  Haynes' performance earned him a Great Northwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year selection.  The senior racked up 100 tackles, 19 of which for loss, which ranked in the top ten nationally.
 
In total, the Wildcats return 45 letter winners from 2016, including 17 starters.  Offensively, the Wildcats will feature a veteran offensive line highlighted by junior left tackle James Moore who earned All-Region honors in 2016.  
 
A Year Later...
For offensive lineman Nicholas Streubel, and defensive lineman Elisha Pa'aga, week one marks 365 days since they last saw regular season action, as both suffered season-ending injuries in 2016's season opener against Portland State.  Both players enter 2017 healthy and in the starting lineup, giving the Wildcats much needed depth at each position.
 
Haynes Chasing Down History
Senior linebacker is 104 total tackles from becoming the school's all-time leader in the category.  Haynes comes into 2017 with 281 tackles, with Buddy Wood (2005-09) holding the top spot with 385.  Haynes also ranks fifth all-time in unassisted tackles with 178, and needs 31 to break Blake Walker's (2001-04) school record.
 
Replacing Jesse Zalk 
The Wildcat wide outs have some big shoes to fill with all-American Jesse Zalk graduating last season.  Zalk led the Wildcats with 52 receptions, 1029 yards and 15 touchdowns.   Central has a number of senior receivers ready to step up, including Justin Peterson whose 21 catches in 2016 were second best.  In Fact, four of the Wildcats top six pass receivers from last season are back, including three-time all-GNAC tight end Kyle Self.
 
Dominating Defense
The Wildcats bring back the core of its defense that led the NCAA in tackles for loss a year ago.  Central averaged 10.7 TFL per game, with Kevin Haynes taking care of 19 himself.  Haynes' running mate, Sean Elledge, was tied for second most on the 2016 squad with 17.5.  The Wildcats will be without Tovar Sanchez who graduated last season and is the school's all-time leader in sacks and TFL, but they bring back six different players who had 4.5 or more TFL last season.  The CWU defense was especially dominant against the run, giving up 51 or less yards on the ground on six different occasions.
 
 
SCOUTING THE JAVELINAS
 
Texas A&M Kingsville is coming off a fantastic finish to its 2016 season, winning the final seven games on the schedule, including a 24-17 victory in the Agent Barry Live United Bowl over Southern Arkansas.  Two of the Javelina's two losses that year came to teams ranked in the top 15.
 
OFFENSE:
The Javelinas lost their top passer, rusher and pass receiver from a year ago, but will have a seasoned offensive line behind all-conference trenchmen Ralph Rubalcaba and Stuart Sanchez.  
 
It is unknown who the signal caller will be for the Javelinas in 2017.  TAMUK lists five quarterbacks, and none have seen the field as a member of the program.  However, the Javelinas added two quarterbacks with Division I experience in Conner Smith and Beau Reilly.  Both players initially signed with Colorado State, with Smith seeing action in the final six games of the 2012 season, including four starts.
 
DEFENSE:
The TAMUK defense brings back the bulk of its contributors from last season, headlined by preseason All-American defensive lineman Brandon Jones.  Jones totaled 11 sacks a year ago and 14 tackles for loss.  Jones will have plenty of help in Trevor Moses and Braedon Robinson who were the Javelina's top tacklers a year ago.
 
 
Be sure to follow @CWUathletics on Twitter and Instagram for live game updates, and information on all 13 CWU Varsity teams.

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