ELLELNSBURG, Wash. - Three Central Washington University student-athletes have received Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week recognition for football.
Junior Johnny Spevak (Edgewood, Wash./Puyallup HS), senior Chris James (Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine Prep), and senior Courtney Smith (Stockton, Calif./East Union HS) were named the Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively, following the Wildcats' 38-31 Homecoming football victory over Western Oregon on Saturday at Tomlinson Stadium. The win also secured Central's fourth outright GNAC championship in the six-year history of the conference.
Spevak had 10 receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns, setting a new GNAC record with his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season against the Wolves. Spevak came into the game ranking second in the NCAA Division II in receiving yards and tied for first in pass receptions, and for the season, he has already totaled 1,192 yards on 74 catches with 13 touchdowns.
James spearheaded the Wildcats' defensive efforts with a season-high 12 tackles. He also forced a Western Oregon fumble inside Central's 10-yard line, and helped cause an interception in the end zone late in the half by hurrying Wolves quarterback Josh Riddell.
Smith scored the game-clinching touchdown early in the fourth quarter with his 98-yard kickoff return that pushed the Wildcats' lead to 38-24 after the Wolves had closed to within seven. It marked the second kick return for a touchdown by Smith this season, which set a GNAC single-season and career record in the process. The length of the return was also a conference record. Defensively, he had an interception and was credited with three tackles.
Spevak shares this week's offensive award with Dixie State quarterback Dexter Hill, while Smith shares the special teams honor with Western Washington's Rick Copsey.
The individual awards are the second of the season for both Spevak and Smith, and the first for James. Central Washington has now had at least one conference player of the week in eight of the first nine weeks of the season.
The Wildcats, who at 8-1 (7-0 GNAC) have secured a postseason berth -- either in the NCAA Division II playoffs or in the Dixie Rotary Bowl on Dec. 6 at St. George, Utah -- play their final non-conference game of the season this Saturday (Nov. 1) at Azusa Pacific (6 p.m. kickoff). Central Washington will then return home for its regular-season finale against archrival Western Washington on Nov. 8.