Nov. 5, 2009
HAMPTON, Va. - The Fayetteville State football team is having its cake and eating too.
Two days before the Broncos face Bowie State in the CIAA Championship game, eight FSU players were named to the ALL-CIAA team.
Austin Turner was named the CIAA Special Teams Player of the Year and was joined on the all-conference first team by seniors Marcos Esquivel and Jeffery Gowdy.
Gowdy had six interceptions this season and earned all-conference honors for the third consecutive season. His 16 career interceptions are tied for the most in school history with Jermel Johnson (1998-2001) and Walt Williams (2003-04).
While he's excited about the honor, Gowdy is focused on something else.
"This is the first championship game I've gotten a chance to play in," he said on Saturday. "It's almost surreal, because our only goal is to get to the championship game and we finally get a chance to do it."
Esquivel was named to the all-conference first team for the second straight season.
A native of Kearny, Az., Esquivel led the Broncos and ranked second in the CIAA in tackles (88) and tackles for loss (19).
Tight end Tyson Gurley, offensive lineman Dillon Kestner, running back Calvin Harris, defensive lineman Darius Powell and linebacker Joseph Brown were named to the second team.
Gurley, Kestner and Harris pace a FSU offense that is hitting its stride at the right time.
Over its last five games, the Broncos' offense is averaging 36.6 points per game. Gurley and Harris have combined for seven touchdowns during that span.
Kestner and the offensive line have paved the way for FSU's rushing attack, which features two of the top eight rushers in the conference. Brown has 73 tackles on the season and Powell leads FSU with 8.5 sacks.
All eight players have received weekly CIAA honors this season.
Since 2007, the Broncos have lost just two CIAA games.
Head coach Kenny Phillips said his teams' record reflects positively FSU.
"We've got a solid program here," he said. "We just have to continue to improve on some things. We have to keep going forward and make sure we don't move backwards, especially with Winston-Salem State coming back in next season."
Gurley, Harris, Brown, Gowdy and Esquivel are all seniors.
They arrived at Fayetteville State one year after the Broncos' last CIAA Championship game appearance in 2004. They have a 29-21 overall record.
"We all want a championship," Harris said. "We want a ring on our finger like some of the past classes. We just really want to go out there and give it our all and bring the title back to Fayetteville."