Baldwin wins Coach of the Year, Sherritt is Amateur Male Athlete of the Year and Eagles win Team of the Year
The National Champion Eastern Washington University football team was honored three times by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) in 2010 awards presented in conjunction with the annual Inland Northwest Sports Awards Luncheon in Spokane on Feb. 16.
The Eagles won the Team of the Year Award after finishing 13-2 and winning the NCAA Division I Championship with a 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the title game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas. Head Coach Beau Baldwin was selected as the Coach of the Year, and senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt added to his long list of accolades by being chosen as Amateur Male Athlete of the Year.
It was only the second time an Eastern team has been honored since the awards were first presented in 1948. The 1967 football team, which was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) runner-up that season, was the only other team to be honored.
Baldwin is the fifth Eastern coach to be recognized, and this is the third time Eastern has won the Amateur Male Athlete of the Year. Previous coaches honored were football coaches Dave Holmes (1967) and Dick Zornes (1992), as well as wrestling coach Curt Byrnes (1977) and basketball coach Ray Giacoletti (2004). The athletes previously honored were basketball player Rodney Stuckey (2007) and football player Scott Garske (1973).
The Eagles won their final 11 games of the 2010 season, and finished with a 7-1 Big Sky Conference record to win their fifth league title and third in the last seven seasons. Eastern made its fifth appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs since 2004.
Now 27-11 in three seasons as EWU's head coach, Baldwin was honored nationally as the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the American Football Monthly Coach of the Year. He was also a Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year finalist, as well as for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by The Sports Network.
After guiding the Eagles to a 6-5 record in 2008, Baldwin led EWU to the FCS playoffs with an 8-4 record in 2009 and a 13-2 mark this season that included a co-championship with Montana State in the Big Sky. Baldwin served as the head coach at Central Washington in 2007, leading the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs. He also was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for EWU from 2003-06.
Sherritt received the highest honor he could win in FCS as he won the Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network. He was also selected to six different All-America teams as a first team selection, and was the College Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Defensive MVP. He broke his own league and school records by finishing his senior season with 176 tackles, which ranks sixth in FCS history. He finished the year ranked eighth in FCS with an average of 11.7 tackles per game.
He closed his career with a school-record 432 tackles in his 47-game career (35 as a starter) to rank second in Big Sky history and 10th all-time in FCS. As a junior, he finished second in the voting for the 2009 Buchanan Award. On his way to earning first team All-America honors on five different teams, he had a school and Big Sky Conference record 170 tackles, and led FCS with an average of 14.2 tackles per game.
Sherritt also finished his with three sacks, 14 total tackles for loss (40 yards), three interceptions, six passes broken up, two quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2010. In his career, he had three sacks, 35 1/2 total tackles for loss (79 yards), six interceptions, 13 passes broken up, three quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles and a five fumble recoveries.
Earlier in the playoffs in a 38-31 overtime victory over North Dakota State, Sherritt had 15 tackles to break the school record of 399 career tackles previously held by Greg Belzer (1997-2000). He capped his record-breaking night by forcing the fumble that was recovered by EWU to end the game with NDSU at the Eastern 1-yard line. He added eight tackles versus Villanova in the FCS semifinals and 18 in the championship game -- the 12th time in his career he had 15 or more tackles in a game.