Derek Sunkle, Parker Nielsen, Tyler Carskadon make first team

Derek Sunkle probably wasn’t a household name in Northwest Oregon Conference circles before the season started.

Wilsonville football coach Adam Guenther, though, knew all along that he had a special talent in Sunkle.

by: GREG ARTMAN / FILE - Parker Nielsen was one of three Wilsonville football players to earn all-NWOC honors this season. The senior tight end joined running back Derek Sunkle and linebacker Tyler Carskadon.The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, who was used as a backup quarterback in 2012, emerged this year as one of the best running backs in the league — and in the state.

Sunkle amassed 1,888 yards and 14 touchdowns on 255 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per rush, and crushed the Wildcats’ previous single-season rushing record of 1,392 yards.

He also caught 12 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns, threw for 118 yards and three touchdowns and added 204 yards as a kick returner.

“He was our power horse,” Guenther said. “A lot of times, he was able to just go off. He was the backbone of our offense this year.”

Sunkle was one of Wilsonville’s three first-team all-league honorees this year, joining senior tight end Parker Nielsen and senior outside linebacker Tyler Carskadon.

Nielsen, who earned honorable mention as a tight end last year, caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also logged 15 tackles and two sacks as a defensive lineman.

“If he chooses to be a coach someday, he’ll be a phenomenal coach,” Guenther said. “He was the one checking plays and telling people what to do.”

Carskadon tallied 52 tackles, three for loss, recorded two sacks and added a 23-yard interception against Sherwood. He started the year at quarterback but became a key player off the ball.

“That was his mainstay,” Guenther said. “He’s phenomenal at what he does. He’s disciplined. He deserved that spot. He was a leader of the offensive side and the defensive side.”

Guenther expressed disappointment at having only one defensive player on the all-league first team considering the Wildcats held seven different opponents to 14 points or fewer.

Wilsonville did have three defensive players on the all-conference second team.

Despite his 5-foot-8, 160-pound frame, Colin Cubbage made an impact as a defensive lineman. An honorable mention last season, the senior tallied 13 tackles, recovered two fumbles and had two sacks in the Wildcats’ play-in win over Eagle Point.

“He’s a little wrestler, and he relies on his relentless mentality and his speed,” Guenther said. “You’ve got to get a hold of him. He’s squirrely.”

Inside linebacker Cooper Whittaker finished his standout senior campaign with a team-high 87 tackles, 13 for loss, a team-high seven sacks, six hurries and two fumble recoveries. An honorable mention last year with a team-high 79 tackles, he ended his Wilsonville career with 113 solo tackles, 202 total tackles and 11 sacks.

Guenther said Whittaker deserved first-team recognition.

“He was the heart and soul of the defense,” Guenther said. “I wouldn’t trade Cooper for anybody in the state. Our defense would not have been half of what it was without him.”

Senior cornerback John Bohard also made the second team. He logged 16 tackles and deflected three passes while holding his own in man-to-man coverage against top receivers.

“He was one of our senior surprises,” Guenther said. “In the Sprague game, we put him out there and he did a phenomenal job. We tell the guys, ‘When you get your opportunity, and you want to earn more playing time, you better take advantage of it.’ That was John. We said, ‘This kid’s got to play.’ He was a stud.”

Six of Guenther’s players earned all-league honorable mention. Brandon Chao, Steven Sawyer and Sam Garrison were recognized for their contributions on offense, while Jose Velazquez Rojas, Tanner Crooks and Cole Wilson were rewarded for their defensive efforts.

Chao caught nine passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns as a senior wide receiver. An honorable mention cornerback last year, the 5-foot-6 defensive back also had 13 tackles and two interceptions this season.

Sawyer tallied 186 yards on 11 catches as a senior tight end, also tallying 12 tackles and two sacks on defense.

Garrison provided stability at center, a position that became particularly important as the Wildcats experimented with different quarterbacks early in the season. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior also had two sacks as a defensive lineman.

Velazquez Rojas was honored as a defensive lineman. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior had 31 tackles, four sacks, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

Crooks had 44 tackles and two sacks as an all-league inside linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior, whose interception return sealed Wilsonville’s win at St. Helens, also caught six passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end.

Wilson earned honorable mention as a punter, averaging 37.46 yards per attempt on 24 kicks. The junior also rushed 37 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns, caught six passes for 59 yards and a score, made 54 tackles and recorded four sacks.

Sherwood running back Keegan Lawrence and Parkrose quarterback Jonathan Boland were named co-NWOC offensive players of the year, while Bowmen linebacker Jake Reimer was voted the league’s defensive player of the year.

St. Helens senior Jacob Zartman was honored as lineman of the year. Putnam receiver John Bradley was the utility player of the year.

Greg Lawrence was selected as the NWOC coach of the year after leading Sherwood to a league title.

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