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All Region 2016: Northwest (D-I Men's)

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Who are the best players in the Northwest region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.

I’m not an expert on other NW teams, but I can give my opinion on UBC and Victoria.

UBC’s quartet of Canadian U23 players (Peter Yu #24, Brayden Gee #6, Nick Lin #21, and Hugh Knapp #77) deserve special mention for All-Region. Full-field hucks, full extension layout Ds, ridiculous break throws, and incredible skies – these guys can do it all. Each can be game-changing player to have on the field, and their impact on UBC has been immense.

For All-Freshman, it’s a toss up between UBC’s Josh Lam #26 and Kyle Chan #89. Both have made huge contributions as starters on the D-line and O-line respectively, and it’s downright scary how good their ultimate IQ already is. Both have also been selected for the TC U20 Open team this summer.

From UVic, Ben Burelle #73 has quickly become one of the most feared cutters in the NW in the past two years, despite his shorter stature. Along with Trevor Knechtel #16, David Neilson #68, Nick Wright #6, Ashton Pearson #13, and others, UVic has no shortage of players capable of huge plays. Unfortunately Malcolm Bryson #45 has been injured for most of the season, otherwise he would be a shoe-in for All-Region (he is also the only current Canadian college player selected to the TC WUGC Open team).

Here’s a highlight vid of UBC vs UVic featuring some of these players:

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+1 for Yu, Burrelle

Ditto on Bryson. Was bummed to see him on the sidelines at NW Challenge and hoping he’s album to recover for Worlds.

I’d add:

Washington: Benaloh, El-Salaam
Oregon: Rees, Clark, Strub

Does BYU count? Because I’d throw McKeen and Gardner in there as nominees.

I would like to toss a couple names in the hat from the Big Sky section.

As a captain for Montana State I feel obligated to name a couple of guys individually.

-Nick Patterson is a kid who I have had the pleasure of playing with for all of my 5 years. He is a fiery competitor and a pretty unreal jack-of-all-trades player. He can do it all, handling with an unstoppable back hand break, cutting with speed that I have never seen anyone be able to stop, and playing shut down defense against some of the best in our region. In his final season I think he needs some serious recognition.

-Nathaniel Wiggins is another one of our do it all players. He regularly takes the biggest threat on the other team and silences their presence. Most notably against El-Salaam at the NW Challenge in a game that was very close. Khalif is (obviously) a remarkable player and Nathaniel was able to minimize his contribution to the game which was amazing to watch.

Utah
-Josh “Crow” Zdrokowski: I remember when Crow showed up to a tournament he was a terrifying sight. 6’9" (?) and an obvious athlete. Although still figuring out how to use his body to his advantage at the time, Crow has grown into one of the best big men around. I’ve been stoked to play against him in college and club for the past couple of years and see his growth as a player and leader. It’s not often that a guy that big has some of the best throws around. A huge presence and always our biggest worry when we match up. Keep your eyes on him, although he is hard to miss.

Cascadia:
I’m not too familiar with all the guys in this conference but the ones that we had the most trouble with or stood out the most in our matchups at NW Challenge:
-Khalif El-Salaam: His reputation precedes him but he lives up to it. A dominant player everywhere on the field and especially in the air, but you already know that.
-Peter Yu: Super nice guy and awesome to watch on the field, such a shifty handler it’s always fun to watch him play. One of the tightest inside flick breaks around.
-David Neilson: Fun guy to watch play, seen some pretty amazing plays out of him. Competitive and can absolutely fly through the air. Hard to match up with consistently.

-Countless other guys but I won’t embarrass myself by trying to guess names. Stoked for regionals and to match up again with some of the best in the game.

All-Freshman from our conference:
-Robbie Farwell (Whitman): I have played against Robbie when he was on the Fryz and again as a Whitman freshman this fall. He’s a beast. He has lefty throws that are next level and an ultimate IQ to match.
-Trey Taylor (Utah): Trey is another player in our section who was dominant at sectionals this year. Played almost every point in the finals against us and, like Robbie, will be representing our country this year. A good handler with a lot of potential.
-I’d also like to give Zach Baumann a nod for All-freshman. The kid is already a dominant player, although he didn’t make the National team this year I think that he has a bright future and will be one of the best players in the region by the end of his college career (If not already).

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First Team:
Adam Rees - Oregon
Chris Strubb - Oregon
Connor Matthews - Oregon
Peter Yu - UBC
Khalif El-Salaam - UW
Steven Benaloh - UW
Malcolm Bryson - Victoria

Second Team:
Colton Clark - Oregon
Will Watkins - Oregon
Cooper Schumacher - UW
Will Coffin - WWU
Ben Burrelle - Victoria
Hugh Knapp - UBC
Know I’m missing one so I’ll keep an eye out at Regionals. All these guys are proven ballers that have elevated the Northwest to one of the top regions this year. As for Freshman I don’t know too many, but it looks like Will Lohre of Oregon is getting big minutes on the O line so he’s definitely a contender.

We (BYU) had the chance to play 9/10 teams heading to regionals next weekend and got a look at a lot of great players. Seems like we’ve got Cascadia players covered pretty well in the thread,so I’ll keep my comments to some of the guys that stuck at to me from our games and film in the Big Sky. Gonna be hard to justify anyone from Big Sky on 1st Team as Cascadia has dominated the region tournament for years, but definitely a couple guys in this mix for second team and FOTY considerations.

Utah
Josh ‘Crow’ Zdrowski 6’6" and uses his size well at all positions and on both sides of the disc. Great breaks, good reads, athletic. Records at least 2 poach Ds per game. He’s the guy on this squad that we gameplan for each time we line up against ZCU.
Michael ‘Tic’ Affleck does a nice job running the ZCU offense. Great IO Flick Hucks, Great hair.
Brady Ohlsen opens up the break side well for ZCU. Also uses his size and consistently breaks open deep, especially because Crow usually draws the deep defender on the other team.
Trey Taylor a lock for FOTY team. Good luck at Worlds.
Nod for Josh Letsinger as their coach. Traditionally ZCU has relied heavily on their top 2-3 to carry the team. Josh still runs the disc through his best players, but has developed nice depth with the team this year. Lots of athletes and they’ll only be getting better. Program on the rise.

MSU
Really impressed with their squad this year–enjoyed watching them play close games at NWC and congrats on winning Big Sky Conferences. Patterson, Friesen, Payne, Shanafelt, and Guzzarde are all guys that I remember from club last summer and college this year, but I’d trust Hank if he says Patterson and Wiggins are the guys that should get the nod.

Montana
Never got a look at their real team this year. But a nice win over USU to move on is neat.

Utah State
Brandon Pederson is nearing the 2nd team cutoff. Great athleticism and height, and will continue to get better as he gets a bit more big game experience.

Utah-

-Hunter Levis- Senior captain, D-line stud moves over to offense for important points. Also a founding member of the Pizza Kids. His Callahan video is online.

-Josh “Crow” Zdrowdoski, hardest cover in the region 6’6" so people back him. Bad idea because of his incredible throws (handles against zones for the team). Front him and he takes you deep for days. Currently drives a minivan named ladybug for what it is worth.

-Brady Ohlsen - Probably the best athlete in the northwest can take anyone deep because of his size, and has one of the dirtiest hammers around. He is also a bronzed god from all the time shirtless on the ski slopes.

They call Brady and Crow the two towers for a reason. Both would cut on every o line in region.

-Trey Taylor - Freshman of the year. Headed to Poland for worlds this summer. Incredible handler, incredible hair

-Josh Letsinger - Coach of the year. Forces every player to run 15 suicides and do 1000 burpees before each practice. But for reals, he just took the ninth seeded team at regionals to natties. Enough said.

I coach UW. Like everyone else I believe there are a bunch of guys from my team/conference worthy of recognition. That said, I place a high value on the awards going to the most deserving individuals as that maintains the honor inherent in the award. Between that and getting to see most of the region at least a little bit, I hope the following is fairly unbiased and representative.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is hard. We’re all lucky to play in a region with both quality and quantity of talent. There are too many deserving individuals for all of them to win. That’s just the way it is in the NW. Anyhow, here’s my two cents.

COTY: Jay Janin, Oregon. Ego integrated a ton of new players this year, but their collective play is as smooth as ever. They simply look more “well coached” than anyone else.

COTY Runner-Up: Bryce Merrill, BYU. BYU’s Sundays/bid situation is a bigger distraction than anyone else had to deal with, and Bryce’s steady hand led BYU to their best season to date. It’s also quite clear that they win as a team.

POTY: Khalif El-Salaam, #3 UW. Everyone knows him for his skies and big plays, but he often doesn’t get enough credit for his speed/ability to get open consistently and his throws (varied and lethal). Leaf also shoulders more of a load for his team than his nearest competitors for this award. He was simply unstoppable on the dirt road this past Sunday (7g/3a vs UBC for example). Teams knew they had to stop or at least contain him, and simply couldn’t.

POTY Runner-Up: Adam Rees, #24 Oregon. Adam is truly a complete player who would be the best player in many regions.

Other 1st Team All-Region:
-Peter Yu, #24 UBC. Spirited leader with best set of breaks in the NW.
-Chris Strub, #70 Oregon. Well rounded star. One of the best handler covers in NW.
-Colton Clark, #26 Oregon. Matchup nightmare. Ably stepped into Trevor Smith’s shoes as Ego’s primary distributor.
-Steven Benaloh, #14 UW. Quick, bomb-launching handler.
-Josh Zdrodowski, #66 Utah. Talllll with throws. Plus Utah deserves some love after regionals.

2nd Team All-Region:
-Connor Matthews, #55 Oregon. 1st team talent. On my 2nd team because he unfortunately appeared to be injured a fair amount (though nowhere near enough to prevent him from 2nd team at minimum).
-Jason McKeen, #64 BYU. Tall and athletic handler whose breaks key their offense.
-Trevor Knechtel, #16 U-Vic. Lanky thrower who can hurt you downfield as well.
-Nick Wright, #6 U-Vic. Tall and athletic handler who can carry the offense.
-Cooper Schumacher, #16 UW. Lethal deep threat. One of the best block generators in the NW.
-Will Coffin, #12 Western. Takes (and wins) the toughest matchups. Runs the D-line O on the turn.
-Eric Callahan, #5 OSU. Short, but speedy playmaker. Big throws and big bids.

Honorable Mention:
Oregon - #66 Will Watkins
UW - #6 Curty Rusch, #2 Tian Chuan Yen
UBC - #6 Brayden Gee, #21 Nicholas Lin
BYU - #22 Lance Gardner, #10 Ben Olpin
Utah - #11 Hunter Levis
U-Vic - #73 Ben Burelle, #68 Dave Neilson
Western - #3 Dennis Casio, #44 Seth Johnson
OSU - #3 Jake Ramsey, #0 Aaron Peterschmidt

Apologies to Malcolm Bryson, Connor McFadyen, and Dongyang Chen, who are all great talents, but sadly seemed to spend too much time sidelined.

FOTY: Hugh Knapp, #77 UBC. The T-Bird offense runs through him.

FOTY Runner-Up: Will Lohre, #42 Oregon. Front and center in all of Ego’s highlight reels.

Other All-Freshmen Team:
-Robbie Farwell, Whitman. Lefty handler, big throws. Team USA player. Already a leader on Whitman as a freshman.
-Trey Taylor, Utah. Another Team USA player.
-Xander Cuizon-Tice, #23 Oregon. Starting cutter on their O-line. Quick, always open, rarely turns it.
-Daniel Mah, Western. Starting cutter on their O-line. Big grabs and smooth throws.
-Manny Eckert, #1 UW. Tall handler who starts on the O-line. Excellent breaks.

Freshmen Honorable Mention:
Leandro Marx, #64 Oregon
Cameron Ficher, #3 Oregon
Josh Lam, #26 UBC

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Asst. Coach for Utah:

It was really cool seeing play at Regionals from the sideline. From cascadia, I would agree with almost everything said.

Strubb is a gentleman, scholar, and phenomenal player. Pretty sure Rees is the fastest human. Khalif is phenomenal and plays every point for what it’s worth. However everybody knows these guys.

I get it, the Big Sky is still catching up, but this was definitely a breakthrough sort of year with MSU, BYU, and Utah. I’ll give my two cents about those teams and then step back.

Montana State:
Nick Patterson - Great handler that uses strong break throws to set the tempo for their offense. Good on-field energy and leadership. I’ve been happy to see the growth of their team in a part of the country with little going on at the youth level.

BYU:
Jason McKeen - Just watch him. He does it all for their Offense. He’s a dream handler with great defensive play as well.

Lance Gardner - Lance has always been a big time cutter in my mind, and seeing him slide into a handler role this season shows his versatility as a player. Also a fast human.

Utah:
Josh Zdrodowski - Needs consideration for POTY honestly, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve joked that he’s a 6’6 player in a 5’10 body because of his crisp handling ability. However, when he decides to be tall, there isn’t a player in the NW that can guard him. Nobody could at regionals.

Brady Ohlsen - Dubbed He-Man by UBC for good reason. NCAA athlete turned ultimate, and it shows. Intelligent player on defense and unstoppable in the air due to his massive frame. The Gronkowski of deep cutters with the best hammers in the Big Sky Section.

Hunter Levis - Callahan nominee for consistently keeping all parts of the team functioning at a high level and being the most versatile player on the team. Took over the D-line and made it the strength of the team when there was a huge need for a leader. Josh Letsinger (head coach) said it best on his Callahan Nomination. Go see.

Trey Taylor - USA Player this summer, Freshman Athlete of the Year at the University of Utah, and just one of the greatest kids on the planet. Insanely critical of his play and always seeking to get better even though he has surpassed his peers quickly, and advice is getting harder and harder to give. Great hair.

Michael Affleck - Allows our big guys to really shine. Takes the deep shots that nobody else has the guts to put. Biggest heart and loudest voice on the team.

The rest of the Big Sky has good players, but without depth, those guys can’t really shine.
Honorable mentions: Justin Warnecke (Boise State), Ryan Martin (Utah State), Brandon Pederson (Utah State).
All Pizza Team: Jack Carol