In total, Humboldt State football players collected 19 awards in Wednesday's release of the GNAC's all-conference selections. The Jacks' six First Team offensive selections were Gardner, Cappa, quarterback Robert Webber, receiver Chase Krivashei, and kicker Jose Morales. Gardner also earned the First Team nod at kick returner. Defensive back Davaeon Johnson represented the Green and Gold on the First Team defense.
"Ja'Quan is the Offensive Player of the Year and Alex, for the fourth time, was named Lineman of the Year," said Head Coach Rob Smith. "It's a great ending to the special careers they've both had. It is the second time Ja'Quan has been named Offensive Player of the Year having been previously recognized in 2015. He is one of those special players that certainly leaves a legacy here at Humboldt State. Alex, a four-time winner of the Lineman of the Year, has been the dominant offensive lineman in the conference since he stepped on the field. I think he was a slam dunk for this award, and it was a great way for him to end his career with us."
Gardner led the conference in rushing with 1,259 yards and a league-high 19 rushing touchdowns in his senior season. A unanimous choice for First Team running back, the Ceres, Calif., product averaged 125.9 yards per game and 6.2 yards per carry. Gardner became the GNAC's all-time leader in touchdowns scored, points, all-purpose yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns this season, and he was a two-time conference Player of the Week.
Cappa started all 10 games at left tackle and anchored the GNAC's top offensive line. He too was a unanimous choice for the First Team, and the Dublin, Calif., native captured his conference record fourth Offensive Lineman of the Year award. Cappa blocked for the conference's No. 1 scoring offense, total offense and passing offense. HSU finished the season with the second-fewest sacks allowed in the GNAC.
One season removed from representing HSU on the Second Team, Webber proved he was the GNAC's top signal caller in 2017. The quarterback from Corona, Calif., tossed a conference-best 28 touchdowns and averaged 289 passing yards per game. Webber was twice named the GNAC Offensive Player of the week this season, and he became HSU's all-time leader in passing yards, touchdown passes and pass completions this season.
"Robert was the choice of the coaches to be the all-league quarterback," said Smith. "He had a special year for what he did for our football team. He is incredibly deserving of this recognition. He has been the guy at the controls for four straight years, so to see him recognized with this First Team honor is special."
In his fifth season wearing the Green and Gold, Krivashei showed perseverance as he came back from a season-ending injury to secure First Team honors. Krivashei led HSU receivers with 51 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 702 yards, while moving to the top of the program record book in catches and touchdown receptions.
"He is a tough kid. To go through what he has gone through, double hip surgeries, and to come back and have a very solid year. We weren't sure if he was going to play again or not. He was a very special player for us, a four-time team captain – I've never had that. It is great to see him once again recognized by the conference."
In just his sophomore season, Johnson proved he was one of the GNAC's elite defensive players. He played in nine games and ranked second in interceptions with five and passes defended per game with 1.11.
"Davaeon had a very solid season for us and he bounced back and forth from corner and safety. He was second in the conference in interceptions, two for touchdowns, and really became a playmaker this year. Our defense was a season-long work in progress, and I thought they got tremendously better over the course of the season. A lot of that improvement was because of Davaeon in the secondary."
Morales took over the role as the Jacks place kicker and field goal kicker this year and made the most of the opportunity. He was 5-for-8 in field goal opportunities and compiled 23 touchbacks in 75 kickoffs.
"We didn't give him a lot of field goal opportunities, but he was very consistent both as a place kicker and with field goals. I was really pleased to see him get recognized as well."
Receiver John Todd, offensive linemenn Josh Hanson and Jared Layel along with defensive lineman Sefa Tauanu'u, linebacker James Benedix, punter Alex Elterman and Krivashei at punt returner represented HSU on the All-GNAC Second Team.
"One disappointment was Josh Hanson, he is clearly a First Team all-league player and I wouldn't trade him for any other player on the first team outside of Alex," said Smith. "I was very pleased to see Jared Layel being recognized with all he has gone through this season. Here's a guy who dealt with multiple knee surgeries and playing with a knee that provided constant pain, but he just battled and battled. It is great to see that effort recognized here."
HSU's Honorable Mention selections were linebackers Curtis Williams and Jeff Shott and receiver Richard Doctor.