The marathon 2020-21 season was a historic one for Avila football, which recorded eight total wins, a program record; an 8-1 record, a program best; won a share of the KCAC regular season title, the first in program history; ranked in the Top 20 nationally for the first time, finishing the season ranked No. 19, a program best; and finished just outside the postseason playoff field but were firmly in the discussion, once again, a first for the program.

And Eagle football can add some more history to this all-time great season: 16 Eagles were named to the KCAC's 2020 all-conference teams, and five players were named First Team All-KCAC. Under the direction of head coach Marc Benavidez, who this season became the program's all-time leader in wins, Avila also placed four players on the Second Team and seven on the Honorable Mention list.

Junior running back Malik Nesbitt produced one of the best seasons any Avila football player has ever had, regardless of position, en route to First Team honors and his selection as 2020 KCAC Offensive Player of the Year. Nesbitt led the league in rushing yards, all-purpose yards and total touchdowns with 19, and ranked in the top five in the country in all three of those figures. He was named KCAC Offensive Player of the Week three times and NAIA Offensive Player of the Week twice, becoming the first Avila football player to win that award.

One of the most consistent receivers in the conference, senior wide receiver Devin Senerius was named First Team All-Conference this season after making the Second Team a season ago. A preseason All-Conference selection, Senerius lived up to that billing, tallying 32 catches, 10th in the league, for 575 yards, fourth in the league, and six touchdowns, top 20 in the league. The everyday punt returner for the Eagles, Senerius also finished in the top 20 in all-purpose yards. He went over 100 yards receiving twice, including in the season opener against Bethel, and scored a touchdown in each of the final five games of the season, capping his collegiate career the same way he started it – with a touchdown catch. The 2019 Avila Athletics Male Athlete Leader of the Year, Senerius was also the conference's Dr. Ted Kessinger Champion of Character award winner.

The anchor of one of the most efficient offenses in the country, junior Charlie Cunningham started every game at center this season, battling through injuries to pave the way for Nesbitt and company to break the Avila record books. Avila finished first in the country in first downs per game (26.4), fifth in total yards per game and eighth in rushing yards per game. An Honorable Mention selection last year, Cunningham graduated up to First Team honors in 2020.

A captain and leader of the defense, junior linebacker Nikolas Furlow cemented his status as one of the best at his position in the region, earning First Team All-Conference honors for the second straight season. A preseason all-conference selection, he started the year off with a bang, forcing a fumble early in the season opener against Bethel before taking a loose ball 93 yards to the house in game two against Friends, earning his second career NAIA Defensive Player of the Week award for his efforts.  Furlow finished third on the team in tackles, despite missing a couple of games due to injuries, and finished in the top 15 in the league in tackles for loss and top 10 in sacks, and was one of only a half dozen players to force at least two fumbles.

After Avila football famously did not attempt a field goal in the 2019 season, freshman kicker Kaivon Mortazavi revolutionized Avila special teams in his first season in Kansas City. Mortazavi hit the longest kick of anyone in the conference, a 42-yarder in his second career game, and made eight of the ten field goals he attempted, the best percentage in the conference by anyone who attempted more than one kick. He also led the league in PATs attempted and PATs made, punctuating the end of all of Avila's scoring drive, and punctuating his first collegiate season with First Team honors.

When he was on his game, junior quarterback John Jacobs III was one of the most electric players in the conference this season. Jacobs earned Second Team honors and finished second in the league in passing, fifth in rushing, and second in total offense – and all of those marks were better than the player who was named KCAC Player of the Year. A true dual-threat, he finished in the top ten nationally in total offense, and was long one of the most efficient passers in the NAIA.

Junior tight end Andrew Williams was a massive piece of the Eagle offense and graduated from Honorable Mention honors in 2019 up to Second Team in 2020. Williams finished second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, ranking in the KCAC's top 15 in both categories. He was at his best over the middle part of the season, scoring all four of his touchdowns over a five-game span which included his sensational game in Avila's signature win over Kansas Wesleyan where he finished with six catches for 145 yards and a score, the sixth-most yards that any conference player pulled in this season.

Senior defensive lineman Exavior Lowe-Bohannon was a force up front all season. He started every game as a defensive tackle and was stout in the run game, tallying six tackles for loss as well as 1.5 sacks. The senior was left off the postseason teams last year and picked up Second Team honors this season.

The most dependable member of Avila's extremely young secondary, freshman corner Titonio Smith appeared in all but one game for the Eagles and picked off four passes, the most on the team and third-most in the conference. Impressively, all four of those takeaways came in just two games – he picked off a pair of passes against Bethany in October, and then closed out his freshman campaign with two more in the season finale against Sterling, earning Second Team honors in his first year in Kansas City.

An honorable mention All-American last season and preseason all-conference selection this season as a kick returner, senior Christian Hopkins earned Honorable Mention All-Conference honors in 2020-21 as a wideout after he finished in the KCAC's top 15 in receiving yards and all-purpose yards.

Isaac Johnston and Cor'Darius Wright were massive pieces of the Avila offensive line, jumping into the guard spots as true freshmen and starting every game this season. After struggling at times in the Eagles' season opener against the Threshers, the o-line as a unit made massive strides by the time they next suited up two weeks later, and Johnston and Wright were big reasons why, and both were Honorable Mention All-Conference selections in 2020-21.

On the other side of the line, senior David Crowhurst and freshman Lloydarius Garner also received Honorable Mention accolades. Garner was a force in the run game, and while he only netted 17 tackles on the season eight of them went for a loss – most on the team and tied for 11th-most in the league. He also finished with 2.5 sacks, third on the team. Crowhurst made multiple veterans plays and was an important piece of the rotation, especially in the spring semester. While Garner's impact came mostly on the ground, Crowhurst made some plays through the air, knocking down two passes, including one critical one in the spring season opener against Southwestern.

True freshman linebacker Jose Bautista played in every game this season, but was nothing short of dominant over his final four, working his way into the starting lineup and onto the Honorable Mention team. He recorded at least eight tackles in each of his final four games, including a whopping 16 in the season finale and in that span notched 6.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks, a pick, three breakups, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick.

And speaking of stepping up down the stretch, freshman safety Ke'Tron Jones became a critical piece of the Avila secondary in the second semester once multiple injuries and absences made the defensive backfield look totally different in March than it did in October. Though Jones' most gaudy statistics came in that first semester – he totaled 20 tackles over his first two career games – he was a steadying force alongside veteran Eric Singleton in the second semester, helping the Eagles win all three games in 2021 and picking up Honorable Mention accolades.

KCAC All-Conference teams and individual honorees are decided on by a vote of the conference's 13 head coaches. In addition to the individual accolades for Nesbitt and Senerius, Bethel quarterback Zach Esau was voted Player of the Year; Bethel's Josh Seabolt was named Defensive Player of the Year; McPherson's Melvin Reid was named Special Teams Player of the Year; and Bethel head coach Terry Harrison was named Coach of the Year. Avila shared the regular season title, the first in program history, with Bethel as both teams sported 8-1 records with 6-1 marks in conference play; the Threshers won the automatic berth in the NAIA Tournament by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Eagles way back in September in the season opener.

The full 2020 All-KCAC teams can be found below and on the KCAC website [Avila's selections are in bold].

 

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Zach EsauQBSr.Bethel College
Malik NesbittRBJr.Avila University
Keyshawn WyattRBSr.Southwestern College
Quincy SandovalRBSo.Kansas Wesleyan University
Chantz ScurryFBJr.Bethel College
Stevie WilliamsWRSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Devin SeneriusWRSr.Avila University
Keyshawn JonesWRJr.Southwestern College
Layke HoffmanTEJr.Southwestern College
Dustin RiveraOLSr.Southwestern College
Keegan MartinOLSo.Bethel College
CJ CunninghamOLJr.Avila University
Ryan JunkermeierOLSo.Bethel College
Brett StindtOLSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
 

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Jacob GarciaDLSr.Ottawa University
Cortney CravinDLSr.Southwestern College
Mark LanierDLSr.Bethel College
Malakye AdamsDLJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Josh SeaboltLBJr.Bethel College
Grant TorgersonLBSr.Southwestern College
Colby JohnsonLBSr.Ottawa University
Nik FurlowLBJr.Avila University
Trey PalmerDBSo.Bethel College
Marcus RichardDBSr.Southwestern College
Deven LopezDBFr.Sterling College
Dominic BrownDBSo.Bethel College
 

FIRST TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Brayden FrancisUtilityJr.Bethel College
Brad CaglePSr.Southwestern College
Kaivon MortazaviKFr.Avila University
Melvin ReidKRJr.McPherson College
Melvin ReidPRJr.McPherson College
 

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Isaiah RandalleQBJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Brad CagleQBSr.Southwestern College
John JacobsQBJr.Avila University
Camryn HarrisonRBSr.Bethel College
Derrick CurtisRBSo.Ottawa University
Mason MurrayRBSo.Bethel College
Roy SandersFBSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Andre JonesWRJr.Southwestern College
Tanner GalliartWRSr.Bethel College
Drevon MaconWRJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Andrew WilliamsTEJr.Avila University
Earon GarciaOLSo.Southwestern College
Arnold MendozaOLSr.Ottawa University
Nolan HarrisOLJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Layne BeckerOLSr.Sterling College
Peter KingOLJr.Bethel College
 

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Avery HawkinsDLJr.Bethel College
Robert GarciaDLSr.Friends University
Markeese JonesDLJr.Southwestern College
Exavior Lowe-BohannonDLSr.Avila University
Zyair VelazquezLBSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Caleb HelsleyLBSo.Southwestern College
David AkaoLBJr.Friends University
Clayton DownumLBSr.Southwestern College
Brooks GardnerLBSo.Tabor College
Dominique CopelandLBSr.Bethel College
Titonio SmithDBFr.Avila University
Esaias FreemonDBFr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Devin JohnstonDBJr.Ottawa University
Scott HelsperDBSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Travon CrockettDBSr.Southwestern College
 

SECOND TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Keyshawn JonesUtilityJr.Southwestern College
Brayden FrancisPJr.Bethel College
Bobby SchmidtKJr.Friends University
Trey PalmerKRSo.Bethel College
Keyshawn JonesPRJr.Southwestern College
  

HONORABLE MENTION OFFENSE

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Dan DawdyQBSr.Friends University
Juan SalazarRBSr.Friends University
JJ AllenRBFr.Bethany College
Jaqulis ColemanRBJr.Southwestern College
David MacMahonFBJr.McPherson College
Joaquin DiazFBSr.Bethany College
Eren JenkinsWRSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Tyson NonetteWRFr.Tabor College
Dylan FoosWRSr.Ottawa University
Colton DavisWRSo.Ottawa University
Brayden FrancisWRJr.Bethel College
Melvin ReidWRJr.McPherson College
Christian HopkinsWRSr.Avila University
Cade NagyWRSo.Friends University
Chance WhiteheadWRJr.Sterling College
Jermaine ZieglerWRJr.Ottawa University
Jake McClureTEJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Jaron UsherTEJr.Tabor College
Greg McMahonTESr.Ottawa University
Janson RobesonTESr.Sterling College
Jarren HightowerOLJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
John SmithOLSr.Southwestern College
Grayson SniderOLJr.Southwestern College
Lucas SantanaOLJr.Tabor College
Tony Aiono Jr.OLJr.Ottawa University
Dalton WomackOLJr.McPherson College
Issac JohnstonOLFr.Avila University
Brock JohnstonOLSr.Friends University
Jacob KerbyOLSr.Friends University
Josh CastilloOLFr.Bethany College
Dawson LivingstonOLSr.Bethany College
Cor'Darius WrightOLFr.Avila University
Marvin PhillipsOLJr.Bethel College
Chase StrotherOLJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
 

HONORABLE MENTION DEFENSE

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Darren HicksDLJr.Southwestern College
Shane RodriguezDLSo.Southwestern College
Rafael SanginesDLSr.University of Saint Mary
Parker FolksDLJr.Tabor College
Aaron SchoemannDLJr.Ottawa University
David CrowhurstDLSr.Avila University
Kevin McKenzieDLSr.Friends University
Adam BrownDLJr.Friends University
David SerranoDLJr.Bethany College
Isaiah VealDLSr.Ottawa University
Lloydarius GarnerDLFr.Avila University
Jhalen HaynesLBJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Drew SmithLBJr.Southwestern College
Israel HarperLBSr.Southwestern College
Hennessey ThomasLBJr.University of Saint Mary
Riggs RobbenLBFr.Tabor College
Kolin GoeringLBJr.McPherson College
Jose BautistaLBFr.Avila University
Jason WeahLBJr.Friends University
Larry HallLBJr.Bethany College 
Ryan ClarkLBSo.Bethel College
Jagger BlubaughLBSo.Friends University
Austyn FletcherLBFr.Bethany College
Hunter PattersonLBSo.University of Saint Mary
Justin SullivanLBSr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Drew LabertewLBSo.McPherson College
Angelo TrujilloDBJr.University of Saint Mary
Wyatt LeppkeDBSo.Tabor College
Gunnar ReissDBJr.Tabor College
Jaylin KingDBSr.Ottawa University
Grant GolemonDBFr.Ottawa University
Ke'Tron JonesDBFr.Avila University
Christian RyanDBSr.Friends University
Drake DamonDBSr.Friends University
Nick HolmesDBSr.University of Saint Mary
Jordan SuckowDBJr.Tabor College
James LangDBSo.Tabor College
Bailey SitesDBJr.McPherson College
 

HONORABLE MENTION SPECIAL TEAMS

NAMEPOSITIONCLASSINSTITUTION
Tony BrownUtilityJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Colton DavisUtilitySo.Ottawa University
Chance WhiteheadUtilityJr.Sterling College
Josh CarterUtilitySo.Southwestern College
Aaron MainKJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Joe CannonKSo.Tabor College
Logan DemondKSo.Bethel College
Joey ChiavettaPSo.Tabor College
Bobby SchmidtPJr.Friends University
Drevon MaconKRJr.Kansas Wesleyan University
Drevon MaconPRJr.Kansas Wesleyan University