The MIAA had 10 seniors invited to participate on the West squad for the 15th Valero Cactus Bowl Division II Senior All-Star Game, it was announced Monday (Dec. 15).
The game will take place Jan. 9 at Javelina Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M-Kingsville. Kickoff is set for 6:35 p.m., CST.
Three of the 10 selections are from Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks’ invitees are RB Brian McNeill, LB Jeff Souder and QB Zack Miller. Miller has been asked to participate as a tight end.
McNeill, a regional finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, led the MIAA in rushing (131.4 ypg) and all-purpose yardage (146.7 ypg). Souder paced the Mavericks in tackles (6.7 ttpg) and tackles for loss (7.0). Miller was the top rushing quarterback in the conference (96.5 ypg) and was fourth in both total offense (233.5 ypg) and pass efficiency (146.4 rating) — he finished as the No. 2 rusher in UNO history (3,122 yards). Souder was a first-team All-MIAA choice, with McNeill and Miller getting second-team recognition.
NCAA Division II national runner-up Northwest Missouri State and Pittsburg State each had two players requested for the game.
The Bearcats two representatives were OLs Reid Kirby and Tom Pestock. They were part of a line which helped Northwest average 40.0 points and 443.6 yards per game as the Bearcats advanced to their fourth consecutive title game. Pestock was a first-team All-MIAA choice in 2008, while Kirby made the conference’s second team.
The Gorillas had TB Caleb Farabi and WR Marques Nelson invited to play. Farabi was a first-team All-MIAA choice, finishing third in the conference in rushing (106.7 ypg) and all-purpose yards ( 129.6 ypg) while scoring 15 TDs (14 rushing, 1 receiving). Nelson, a second-team all-conference selection, was fourth in the MIAA with 61.7 yards receiving per game, scoring eight TDs on 45 receptions — including a season-long 90-yard connection vs. Central Missouri.
The UCM Mules, Truman Bulldogs and Missouri Western Griffons each had one senior asked to participate.
DL John Wood led Central Missouri with five sacks (0.45 per game — fourth in the MIAA), five pass break-ups, three forced fumbles (tied for third-most in the MIAA) and seven quarterback hurries. He averaged 4.0 total tackles per game en route to getting first-team all-conference honors for the second time.
DL Les Hammers was third in the conference in both quarterback sacks (0.59 per game) and tackles for loss (1.09 per game) while averaging 6.5 total tackles per game. He joined Wood as a first-team All-MIAA choice.
P Jamie Hanson was second in NCAA Division II with his punting average of 43.6 yards per kick. He was a three-time All-MIAA first-team selection during his career.
The Cactus Bowl started as the Snow Bowl in 1991, when it was played at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. The game moved the Kingsville in 2001 where it became the Cactus Bowl. The bowl was suspended in 2007, but resumed in 2008 with the East taking a 42-13 win.
2009 Valero Cactus Bowl West Team
QB – Ted Schlafke, Minnesota-Duluth
QB – Keith Null, West Texas A&M
RB – Caleb Farabi, Pittsburg State (Pittsburg, Kan.)
RB – Brian McNeill, Nebraska-Omaha (Philadelphia, Pa.)
RB – Daniel Thomas, Angelo (Texas) State
WR – Charly Martin, West Texas A&M
WR – Johnathan Ferguson, Abilene Christian (Texas)
WR – Jarrett Byers, Northeastern (Okla.) State
WR – Marques Nelson, Pittsburg State (Kansas City, Kan.)
WR – Jareko Taylor, Texas A&M-Kingsville
WR – John Means, Western New Mexico
TE – Zack Miller, Nebraska-Omaha (Weston, Neb.)
TE – Todd Burkoth, Winona (Minn.) State
OL – Dennis Cooper, Cheyney (Pa.)
OL – Darron Sheppard, Texas A&M-Commerce
OL – Tom Pestock, Northwest Missouri State (Lenexa, Kan.)
OL – Devin Livingston, Tarleton (Texas) State
OL – Joseph Thompson, Abilene Christian (Texas)
OL – Reid Kirby, Northwest Missouri State (Gladstone, Mo.)
OL – Nick Urban, Winona (Minn.) State
OL – Dustin Finn, Central Oklahoma
K – Jared Keating, Mesa (Colo.) State
CB – Terrell Phelps, Bemidji (Minn.) State
CB – Tremaine Wright, Tarleton (Texas) State
CB – Gerrett Burl, East Central (Okla.)
CB – Devon Hughes, Henderson (Ark.) State
CB – Gregory Toler, St. Paul’s (Va.)
CB – Jerome Mann, St. Paul’s (Va.)
S – Tyler Yelk, Minnesota-Duluth
S – Jabir Perkins, Texas A&M-Kingsville
LB – Jared Brock, West Texas A&M
LB – Mark Meng, Fort Lewis (Colo.)
LB – Jeff Souder, Nebraska-Omaha (Bellevue, Neb.)
LB – Blake Freese, Minnesota State-Mankato
LB – K.C. Asiodu, Central Oklahoma
DL – Ryan Kees, St. Cloud (Minn.) State
DL – Les Hammers, Truman (Jacksonville, Ill.)
DL – John Wood, Central Missouri (Miami, Fla.)
DL – Matt Cox, Western Oregon
DL – Chris Burnkhorst, Minnesota State-Mankato
DL – Ronald Green, Eastern New Mexico
P – Jamie Hanson, Missouri Western (Hamilton, Mo.)