Finishing the regular season with its passing offense ranked No. 8 in the FCS and No. 3 in the Big Sky Conference, Northern Arizona had Case Cookus, Elijah Marks and Tyler Shank earn All-Big Sky first-team honors Tuesday afternoon.
One of just four to earn at least their second career first-team selection, Cookus bounced back from a lost season a year ago due to injury to rank inside the top 20 in passing yards (3,235, 10th) and passing touchdowns (21, T-19th). Much of that production went to Marks, who finished his final regular season with 117 yards and 7.1 receptions per game, both good enough for the top 10 of the FCS.
Shank’s senior season at left guard included starts in all 11 games, a year after he finished his junior season as an All-Big Sky second-team honoree.
Tallying nine total players across the three teams, Northern Arizona’s secondary also filled up the conference’s honorees. Safety Wes Sutton earned a spot on the Big Sky’s first team as he finished third on the Lumberjacks in total tackles, second in tackles for loss and fourth in interceptions.
Along with the junior strong safety, sophomore cornerback Khalil Dorsey and junior safety Kam’ron Johnson each ended up on the second team. Johnson finished with a team-high four interceptions and was second in tackles, and Dorsey added three interceptions. Junior cornerback Maurice Davison landed the core four of Northern Arizona on the conference’s recognition list as an honorable mention after leading the team in pass breakups with eight and tying Dorsey with three interceptions.
Northern Arizona enters the FCS playoffs ranked 16th in passing yards allowed per game at 169.4, 18th in defensive pass efficiency (110.03) and seventh in interceptions with 16.
An All-Big Sky third team honoree as a junior, senior center Blake Porter repeated as a the third-team center in the conference while joined by running back Cory Young and defensive lineman James Walton.
Young finished his first season with the Lumberjacks with a team-high 739 rushing yards on 132 carries, splitting the job nearly identically with Joe Logan. Averaging 5.6 yards per carry and eight touchdowns, Young added another 185 yards through the air with 19 receptions and a touchdown. Walton finished atop Northern Arizona’s defense with 13 tackles for loss, tying for sixth in the Big Sky.
Logan, offensive tackle Cole Habib, defensive end Clarence Smith and linebackers Byron Evans and Taylor Powell all came away with honorable mention roll calls. Evans and Smith are the lone two seniors among the team’s defensive honorees, as the Lumberjacks will return nine starters next season.