Each game highlights a different part of the team, as APU football cruises to a 3-0 record to start the season.
After opening the 2018 football season with three consecutive victories, head coach Victor Santa Cruz is focused on the future.
“Our team has to be motivated because the sun comes up again and yesterday isn’t good enough anymore,” he said.
APU kicked off the new season with a 17-7 win at home against West Texas. The Cougars’ passing game struggled as sophomore quarterback Tyrone Williams Jr. threw three interceptions.
However, what the Cougars lacked through the air they made up for on the ground. Redshirt sophomore running back Zikel Reddick earned GNAC Player of the Week honors after burning West Texas’ defense for 201 yards and one touchdown. Reddick became the first player in program history to rush for 200 yards in their first game as a starter with his historic week one.
Opposite of Reddick, senior linebacker, Aaron Berry, totaled 14 tackles along with two sacks. Berry received the same honor as Reddick but looks at the award as a first step for the Cougars defense.
“We come out each game trying to go 1-0 with a mentality of taking the land and that’s all we care about,” Berry said. “We play 11 man defense and as a collective we should be getting [performances] like that every game.”
Week two for APU was a chance for the Cougars to show off. Simon Fraser traveled to Citrus Stadium for the first GNAC Conference game of 2018 and it was all APU in a 58-14 victory.
The first quarter was tight with the Cougars only leading by 14, but the Cougars came alive in the second scoring 24 points before half. Tyrone Williams Jr led the offense with 301 yards and five total touchdowns, two of which were caught by 2017 All-American Weston Carr.
One of Azusa Pacific’s most decorated athletes, Carr, began 2018 third in career touchdowns with 24 and receiving yards with 2,361. Since then he has upped his total to 26 touchdowns leaving him only five away from breaking a school record with nine games left to play.
For Carr, this season is not about personal records but rather offsetting 2017’s disappointing end.
“This is one of the most talented groups I have seen here at APU. We can win the GNAC title because we have a chip on our shoulder after last season,” Carr said. “We aren’t taking any opponent lightly.”
On Saturday the Cougars traveled to Monmouth, Oregon beating Western Oregon 28-17 in a GNAC Conference game.
APU swept Western Oregon last season, but head coach Santa Cruz is not getting complacent. Santa Cruz gave insight to the Cougar’s mindset before the game.
“The mindset is honestly domination. Our mindset in every game is ‘how do we be our very best”, said Santa Cruz. “We know Western Oregon is really good. They are physical and it’s always competitive. We’re going in saying, ‘let’s play our best game because last week’s not good enough anymore.”
On Saturday Sept.15th, the Cougars began a short two game stretch away from home, which whill wrap up on Sept. 22nd at North Alabama before coming home to face GNAC rival Humboldt State.