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‘Cats lay foundation for 2019 season

Despite losing in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs for the second consecutive year, the Weber State University football team earned a record number of accolades during another double-digit win season.


The Wildcats finished the 2018 season with a record of 10–3. They were eliminated from the playoffs with a loss to Maine at Stewart Stadium on Dec. 7.

“We’re building,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said. “This is two straight ten-plus win seasons, and we’ve been to the quarterfinals twice. We deserve to be in the top eight teams in the country. We’re right there with them. The future is very bright.”

After the conclusion of the season, seven Weber State players were named All-Americans. Senior offensive lineman Iosua Opeta led the way, being named to five different classifications of All-America teams. He was named a first-team All-American by STATS and the Walter Camp Foundation.

Senior linebacker LeGrand Toia and senior fullback Brady May earned first-team honors from HERO Sports. Sophomore return specialist and wide receiver Rashid Shaheed was named to the second team by HERO Sports while freshman running back Josh Davis earned HERO Sports All-America third team honors after he won the Jerry Rice Award as National Freshman of the Year.

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Josh Davis, Wildcat running back, finds his way around the defensive line. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

In addition, junior defensive end Adam Rodriguez and senior defensive tackle Filipe Sitake earned third-team All-American honors from HERO Sports and the Associated Press, respectively.

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Adam Rodriguez hypes the crowd up between plays during Saturday's game. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

Davis set a WSU freshman record with 1,362 yards and finished with 1,779 all-purpose yards. He contributed to several victories throughout the season. Davis eclipsed 200 yards on the ground in wins over Northern Colorado and Southern Utah. He also returned a punt 75 yards for a score in a 14–6 Homecoming victory over eventual national championship finalist Eastern Washington on Oct. 13.

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Josh Davis makes the catch for WSU (Bella Torres / The Signpost)

The first half of the Wildcats season saw a revolving door at the quarterback position. Freshman Kaden Jenks began the year as the starter but was replaced by sophomore Jake Constantine after an injury.

During the next four games, Jenks and Constantine split time under center, both having led multiple drives in each contest. A turning point in the season occurred just before halftime against Montana State on Oct. 20, when Jenks kept the ball on a carry for a first down. On the play, he suffered a broken ankle that ended his season.

Constantine stepped in and led his team to a victory. He did so again and again, leading the Wildcats to a Big Sky Conference championship-clinching win at Idaho State on Nov. 17.

Constantine started the final four games of the regular season and passed for a total of 918 yards, throwing six touchdown passes and just two interceptions.

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Jake Constantine, starting quarterback for the Wildcats, runs with the ball. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

Weber State received a playoff seed for the first time in school history. Their number two seed heading into the postseason meant they had the luxury of hosting up until the national championship game, if they continued to win out.

The playoffs couldn’t have started out better for the Wildcats as they dismantled Southeast Missouri State 48–23 on a frigid Dec. 1 at Stewart Stadium. Constantine threw four touchdown passes in an explosive second quarter.

Neither freshmen wide receiver Devon Cooley nor sophomore wide receiver Isiah Jackson had ever been on the receiving end of a touchdown heading into the contest, but both added the milestone in the second quarter, Jackson hauling in his second score in the waning seconds of the half.

The ‘Cats ultimately met their match the following Friday. The seventh-ranked Maine Black Bears led the nation in rush defense. They kept WSU’s run game off the board and then some. Weber State finished with -1 rushing yards.

Despite a highlight reel touchdown catch in the back of the end zone from Cooley, the Wildcats’ fate was sealed when Constantine threw four interceptions in the second half, three in the fourth quarter. Maine prevailed with a 23–18 victory before losing at Eastern Washington in the semifinals.

Weber State reached as high as No. 3 in the FCS Stats poll during the season, the highest ranking in school history.

Following the campaign, WSU bid farewell to 16 seniors. Standouts like Toia, Opeta, May, wide receiver Darryl Denby, running back Treshawn Garrett and the sibling duo of Jordan and Parker Preator in the secondary have all played their final game for the team.

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Wildcats surround and pounce. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

The oft-injured Garrett made the most of his opportunities when healthy, racking up 2,123 yards on the ground to go with 19 touchdowns. Denby played five seasons as a Wildcat, catching 13 touchdown passes.

With 2018 in the books, Weber State will now shift its attention to the 2019 season. The Wildcats will play a 12-game regular season for the first time since 2014, which includes six home games.

The ‘Cats travel to San Diego State for an Aug. 31 matchup with the Aztecs to open the next chapter in Weber State football history. The home opener will be Sept. 7 against Cal Poly.

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Rashid Shaheed, wide receiver for the ‘Cats, blows passed the final defender on the way to the endzone. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)
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LeGrand Toia comes up with a leaping interception in his final career game against Maine. Photo credit: Kelly Watkins
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