Concordia's Lane Napier earns defensive honor by piling up tackles

Concordia’s Lane Napier led the NAIA with 142 tackles in 10 games this season. He also led the Bulldogs in tackles for loss (12½) and sacks (four). “He’s just a nasty competitor,” said Concordia coach Patrick Daberkow.

Lane Napier has set a pretty high bar during his first two seasons at Concordia.

“Somebody said after one of our games that Lane only had 12 tackles today. For 12 to be pretty pedestrian is an accomplishment in itself,” Concordia coach Patrick Daberkow said.

Napier, who was a two-time all-state player at David City Aquinas, finished with 97 tackles in 10 games as a freshman, even though he didn’t start early in the season. This season, Napier led the NAIA in tackles, finishing with 142 in 10 games. That earned him a spot on the Associated Press’ NAIA All-America first team.

He’s also the honorary defensive captain on the NAIA/NCAA Division III All-Nebraska football team.

“Whether we’re doing some offseason lifting competition or we’re doing a goal-line drill in practice, he’s going to find a way to win,” Daberkow said. “He’s just a nasty competitor.”

Napier also led the Bulldogs in tackles for loss (12½) and sacks (four) this season. He had 21 tackles in a 16-13 early-season win at Jamestown and recorded a career-high 22 tackles twice, against Briar Cliff and eventual national champion Morningside. Over the last six games, he averaged 16.7 tackles.

“He’s a phenomenal player,” Daberkow said. “What’s great about Lane is he’s very instinctual and his work ethic matches his play. He’s just what you want in a college football player.”

The All-Nebraska defensive team also includes Hastings defensive back Anthony Murray, who was named to the AFCA All-America first team as he returned two of his first three interceptions for touchdowns. He was the Broncos’ first defensive All-American since 1995.

Another Bronco, senior running back Tahj Willingham, is the offensive honorary captain as he topped 1,200 yards rushing for a second straight year.

Willingham rushed for 1,256 yards and had more than 1,700 all-purpose yards. That put him in elite company in Hastings’ record books. He finished second in career rushing yards with 3,675 — 37 behind Eric Moody — fourth in rushing touchdowns with 40 and had 5,231 career all-purpose yards.

Running back Shaka Taylor was put in the all-purpose slot after he rewrote Nebraska Wesleyan’s record book. He finished his career as the school’s top rusher (2,771 yards) and leader in all-purpose yards (4,664). He also is the leader in total touchdowns scored (29) and fourth in receptions (130).

Jack Kalina of Doane (2,143 passing yards, 60.1 completion percentage) edged Wesleyan’s Jonathan Curti (2,477 yards, 54.1 percentage) as the All-Nebraska quarterback. Kalina played baseball for three seasons at UNO before transferring to Doane over the summer.

NCAA Division II

Another player who finished his collegiate career with a strong senior season was the Division II honorary offensive captain, Nate Rogers of Wayne State.

Playing on a team that went 3-8 and averaged 19.4 points per game, Rogers caught 70 passes for 1,009 yards and 11 touchdowns. He caught touchdowns in seven of Wayne’s 11 games.

The South Sioux City graduate finishes as Wayne’s career leader in touchdown catches (38), third in receptions (177) and fourth in receiving yards (2,456).

The All-Nebraska offense also includes Chadron State lineman Travis Romsa, who was a first-time All-American. The Eagles averaged 37.2 points a game this season as quarterback Dalton Holst threw for 2,603 yards and 22 touchdowns and Kevin Coy rushed for 962 yards and 15 TDs.

UNK’s offense was sparked by first-year running back Darrius Webb, who rushed for 998 yards and 10 touchdowns.

UNK went 5-6 this season, the first time it won more than three games since 2011. The Loper defense was a big reason for that, and the leader on that side of the ball was honorary defensive captain Sal Silvio, a linebacker with 108 tackles and three forced fumbles.

Against two of the top MIAA teams, Silvio had 13 tackles against Northwest Missouri State and 17 against Fort Hays State in back-to-back weeks. He had a combined 21 solo tackles in those two games.

Wayne’s Tyler Thomsen finished with 120 tackles, which was ninth-best in Division II.

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