SEWARD, Neb. – Since Great Plains Athletic Conference football began in 2000, Concordia had yet to have a representative named conference player of the year. That changed on Tuesday when the GPAC tabbed senior strong safety Darnell Woods as the league’s 2013 Hauff Mid-America Sports GPAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Concordia head coach Vance Winter lauded his star defensive back with high praise, saying “Darnell’s the best player in our league at any position.”
Woods receives the GPAC’s highest honor for a defensive player after leading the Bulldogs with 88 total tackles despite missing one game due to injury. The Phoenix, Ariz., native’s tackle total topped all GPAC defensive backs and marked a career high for Woods.
“Darnell is the most physical presence in the league from the secondary position,” Winter said. “He’s highly regarded throughout the GPAC for his physicality and how hard he plays. When he tackled somebody, it was noticeable. He’s a physical, athletic safety who was one of the reasons why our defense was one of the best in the country.”
Known throughout the league as one of the GPAC’s most devastating hard-hitters, Woods also added one interception, two pass break ups, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal on the season. Woods racked up 10 or more tackles five times, including a career best 17 versus then No. 1 Morningside, and led Concordia in tackles in five of 11 games.
Woods is part of a continuing tradition of top-notch defensive talents to come through Concordia.
“We’ve had some good defenses throughout the years. I think statistically this has been the best defense we’ve had,” Winter said. “We’ve got a great tradition going there. We have to continue to get guys like Darnell, who bought in whole-heartedly to the system and our defensive coaches.
“To have the top defensive player in the GPAC speaks volumes for where our program’s going.”
With Woods serving as a punishing force in the secondary, the Bulldogs enjoyed their first winning season since 2001 and ranked as one of the top defensive units in the NAIA. Concordia’s defense led the NAIA in pass defense (134.7) while ranking fifth in total defense (285.5) and fifth in scoring defense (17.0). The Bulldogs did not allow a rushing touchdown until the seventh game of the season, went three-straight games without giving up a touchdown (Sept. 25 – Oct. 12) and surrendered more than 300 total yards only twice all season.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Woods finishes his Concordia career with 190 tackles, six interceptions, nine pass break ups and one interception return for a touchdown in 30 games over the last three seasons.
Woods was also named on Tuesday to the GPAC’s first team defense for the second-straight season. In addition, he was a 2012 Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska selection.