SPOKANE, Wash. – Northwest Conference football coaches have selected Whitworth senior quarterback Ian Kolste as the 2017 NWC Offensive Player of the Year, headlining a list of 14 Pirate players named to the 2017 All-NWC Football Team, which was released today by the conference office.
Seven Whitworth players, including Kolste, were named to the first team. Four other Pirates are second team honorees and three received honorable mention consideration. Click here for the entire 2017 All-NWC football team.
Joining Kolste on the first team offense are receivers Kevin Thomas and Garrett McKay, offensive lineman Tyler Adamson and kicker/punter Rehn Reiley. Kolste, McKay and Adamson are all on the first team for the second year in a row.
The four Pirates named to the second team are Mason Elms (RB), Nick Kiourkas (WR), Michael McKeown (WR) and Chad Wilburg (DE). Vince Porporato (OL), Tanner Conroy (OL) and Kale Wong (LB) earned the honorable mention nod.
Kolste led the NWC in passing yards (2,483), passing touchdowns (26), passing efficiency (149.5), completion percentage (67.8) and total offense (2,515) in 2017. He did all of that despite the fact that he only played in 25 out of 40 total quarters of football. He missed half of the game against George Fox and all of the game at Pacific Lutheran with an ankle injury. He came out of six other games early after Whitworth had built a comfortable lead. He only played two quarters of three Pirate victories (LaVerne, Puget Sound and Willamette).
Kolste retires as Whitworth's all-time leader in total offense (10,467), passing yards (10,124), passing touchdowns (85), pass completions (946) and pass attempts (1,424). He had a record of 26-6 as the Pirates' starting QB.
Kolste is the fifth player in Whitworth history to earn NWC Offensive Player of the Year recognition, following Scott Biglin (2001), Joel Clark (2006) and Adam Anderson (2007, 2008).
Thomas finished the season with 52 receptions for 740 yards with seven touchdowns. He finished third in the NWC in receptions, second among receivers in touchdowns and led the conference in receiving yards. He led the Pirates, and ranked fifth in the NWC, in yards per catch.
McKay totaled 51 receptions for 521 yards with four touchdowns. He is a first team honoree for the second year in a row. McKay's streak of games with at least one catch ended during the season-ending victory over Willamette at 32 in a row.
Adamson is also on the first team for the second year in a row as Whitworth's starting left tackle. He was a major reason the Pirates led the NWC in fewest sacks allowed (1.1 per game), despite leading the league in pass attempts (439) by a wide margin. Whitworth also led the NWC in third down conversion percentage (49%).
Reiley made 11 of 16 field goals this season and was perfect on extra points (42-42). He led NWC kickers in points scored (75). Reiley also had 37 touchbacks on his 68 kickoffs in 2017, helping the Pirates control field position. He ended the season with a punting average of 39.7 yards, which was the best in the conference. Reiley, who is graduating in three years, ends his Whitworth career with more field goals (33) and points scored (220), than any kicker in Pirate history.
Kulp finished the season with 76 total tackles, which led the Pirates and ranked third (tied) in the NWC. His tackles per game average of 7.6 ranked seventh in the league. Kulp added four pass breakups and an interception while serving as a team captain. Kulp was a second team honoree in 2016.
Roelofs started every game of his Whitworth career at corner back, a total of 41 games. He is a first team selection in 2017 after consecutive second team nods in 2015 and 2016. He finished 2017 with 35 tackles, one interception and a team-high seven passes defended.
Kiourkas is on the second team offense for the second year in a row after earning first team recognition as a tight end in 2015. He caught at least one pass in every game of his Whitworth career (41 games) and finished this season with 27 receptions for 290 yards and two scores.
McKeown finished with 55 receptions for 580 yards and six touchdowns in 2017. He was second in the NWC in receptions and third in receptions per game (5.5). McKeown's selection means all four Pirate starting receivers earned All-NWC recognition in 2017.
Elms became the Bucs' starting tailback midway through the season. He ran for 621 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, which was tops among league ball carriers. He was the NWC Offensive Player of the Week on October 30th for his efforts in a 30-20 win at Pacific (Ore.).
Willburg ended the season with 51 tackles, the third-highest total among Pirate players. He led the Pirates with 9.5 tackles for loss, totaling 38 yards. That total ranked tenth in the NWC.
Porporato and Conroy joined Adamson on one of the best offensive lines in recent Whitworth history. Porporato was a three-year starter, the last two at right tackle. Conroy was in his first season as a starting guard. Both were instrumental in the Pirates leading the league in fewest sacks allowed and third down conversion percentage.
Wong received honorable mention consideration as a linebacker despite missing three games due to injury. He finished 2017 with 33 tackles, including 5.5 for losses of 16 yards.
Whitworth finished the 2017 season 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the NWC, which tied for second place. The Pirates will head into the 2018 season with a five game winning streak.