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Eastern Washington notebook: A look back at the Eagles’ decorated senior class

Eastern Washington back Antoine Custer Jr. (28) and wide receiver Jayson Williams  celebrate a touchdown against Portland State in the first half Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Cheney. (James Snook / For The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington back Antoine Custer Jr. (28) and wide receiver Jayson Williams celebrate a touchdown against Portland State in the first half Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Cheney. (James Snook / For The Spokesman-Review)

Eastern Washington’s steady senior class had a 27-5 record in Big Sky Conference play, advanced to the FCS national title game appeared in the 2016 FCS semifinals.

Here’s a look at their decorated careers after Senior Day on Saturday, a 53-46 win over Portland State to help the Eagles (7-5, 6-2 Big Sky) lock up a 13th straight winning season.

Antoine Custer, running back: Custer was one of the conference’s finest running backs his senior season, totaling 1,228 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. A product of national prep football power De La Salle (California), the All-Big Sky talent’s career totals include 3,049 rushing yards, 780 receiving yards and 43 total touchdowns.

Dehonta Hayes, safety: Hayes was shot in the neck in a downtown Spokane shooting in July, and immediately bounced back to lead the Eagles in tackles (115).

Jayce Gilder, tight end: The big target from Montana went from walk-on to senior captain, totaling 64 catches for 654 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career. He was key in EWU’s run to the 2018 title game.

Jayson Williams, receiver: A physical receiver who enjoyed laying out defensive backs as much as hauling in passes, Williams was a steady target, totaling 91 catches for 1,221 yards and six touchdowns in his career.

Dre’ Sonte Dorton, receiver: The dangerous kick returner (two touchdowns) also showed his speed as a receiver this past season before a season-ending injury in October, hauling in 27 passes for 477 yards and four touchdowns.

Spencer Blackburn, center: The sixth-year All-American and team captain anchored offensive lines that reached the FCS national title game in 2018 and the FCS semifinals in 2016. Among the top centers in program history.

Chris Schlichting, right tackle: Schlichting was the ironman of the program, starting all 52 games of his All-Big Sky Conference career.

Kaleb Levao, right guard: The sixth-year senior came to EWU as a defensive lineman and left a three-year starter and All-Big Sky Conference selection.

Will Gram, left guard: From the little town of Troy, Idaho, Gram held to torch for former 8-man football players by earning a starting job at EWU this fall.

Dylan Ledbetter, defensive tackle: A versatile talent on EWU’s defensive line, the senior captain started three seasons and seemingly mastered the art of the blocked kick with six total blocks in his career.

Jim Townsend, defensive end: The two-year starter led the Eagles in sacks (3 1/2) and hurries (11) this past season and finished his career with 143 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 19 tackles for a loss.

Tysen Prunty, safety: Prunty was a two-year starter at safety and also floated to rover. Despite injuries, he totaled 145 tackles.

Andrew Katzenberger, linebacker: Katzenberger added depth to a talented group of linebackers and earned starts when standout linebacker Chris Ojoh went down. He had 58 tackles and a scoop-and-score touchdown this season.

Trevor Davis, linebacker: Davis also added depth to EWU’s group of linebackers, totaling 20 tackles and three quarterback hurries in nine games.

Darnell Hogan, defensive line: Hogan helped plug up the middle, totaling 12 tackles and an interception he ran back for at touchdown against Lindenwood.

Bradley Alexander, cornerback: A transfer from Grambling State, the reserve defensive back appeared in 19 games at EWU.

Note: Linebacker Jack Sendelbach, running backs Tamarick Pierce and Dennis Merrit, offensive lineman Tristen Taylor and defensive end Jusstis Warren are listed as seniors on EWU’s roster, but are likely eligible for an additional season to an injury hardship from past and current seasons in which the player missed the majority of the season. If granted by the NCAA, most players pursue the additional year.

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