2017 was Warrior football’s best season in over a decade. Initially unranked in the AFCA preseason poll, WSU opened their season on an eight-game winning streak – its longest in a decade. Their season ended with a 10-2 record, the sixth 10-win season in program history.
Their reward for such an impressive season was earning the No. 4 seed in Super Region Four and hosting fifth-seed Texas A&M-Commerce in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs – marking their first appearance in an NCAA playoff game since 2007, and first home postseason game since 2004. And while they fell to A&M-Commerce 20-6, they held their opponent to its lowest scoring output since week one of the season and slashed A&M-Commerce’s season average of 40.4 points per game in half.
All-in-all, it was a successful season that saw the team land 15 players on the 2017 All-Conference Team. The Warrior defense ranked second in the country in total interceptions (24), third in turnovers gained (37), and sixth in scoring defense (14.6 ppg); and top players and Head Coach Tom Sawyer received numerous accolades.
Senior defensive back Andrew Spencer was named Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association All-America First Team, American Football Coaches Association Division II All-America First Team, and NSIC Defensive Player of the Year.
He set career highs in every statistical category and ranked second in the NSIC (and sixth in the country) in interceptions (7), returning two of those interceptions for touchdowns. He also led all of Division II in interception yards (217), which set a new WSU single-season record. His total career interception return yards (336) sets a new program record and his 14 career interceptions rank ninth all-time in Warrior history.
Spencer also totaled 83 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, and 59 solo tackles – ranked fifth in the conference. His robust stat line this season also included two sacks, two forced fumbles, and seven pass breakups.
Senior kicker Carter McCauley also ended on a high note, ranking third in the NSIC in field goals made (19) and second in total points (104). He now owns four Warrior football records: single-season point total (104), single-game kicking points scored (17), longest field goal made (59 yards), and career field goals made (55), the last also setting an NSIC record. On top of it all, McCauley has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA at WSU, and was named to the College Sports Information Directors Division II Football Academic All-America Team for the third time in 2017, garnering first team status in each of the last two seasons, and second team in 2015.
Steering the helm was Head Coach Tom Sawyer, who was named NSIC Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career, previously winning the award in 1997, 2000, 2001, and 2004. Additionally, he was named the American Football Coaches Association Region 5 Coach of the Year for the first time in his career.
Sawyer’s 22nd season as Warrior Head Coach brought his career record to 174-78. He has led the Warriors to all six NCAA Playoff appearances as well as all six 10-win seasons.