Liberty lands a total of 11 players on the NWOC all-star team, including six talented underclassmen

A rash of late-season injuries hampered Liberty’s football team this fall, but the upshot of those bumps and bruises was that the Falcons learned they have some promising weapons in their arsenal for 2014.

Liberty’s injury woes forced a number of younger players into action this year and those youngsters stepped up big time, helping the Falcons land 11 players — including six underclassmen — on the All-Northwest Conference football team, which was released at the end of the regular HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Liberty sophomore Devin Kaneshiro earned a spot on the second team All-NWOC football team after rushing for 373 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.

“I think we had the most underclassmen of any school recognized as all-league,” Liberty coach Eric Mahlum said. “Obviously we’re excited about that for the future. The guys worked hard this season and I definitely felt like they were deserving of the recognition.”

Leading the way for the Falcons was junior Byron Greenlee, who was a two-way selection to the All-NWOC first team. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Greenlee was honored as both a wide receiver and defensive back. He was joined on the all-league first team by sophomore linebacker Devin Thompson and senior defensive lineman Javier Picard, who was also a second team pick as an offensive lineman.

Liberty’s other second team all-league selections included senior offensive lineman Austin Krieck, senior safety Kyle Rose, junior linebacker Austin Mason, sophomore quarterback Blake Walker and sophomore running back Devin Kaneshiro.

An injury against Sandy on Oct. 11 cut short Walker’s promising season. To that point, the sophomore had completed 64 percent of his passes for 883 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for three more.

Senior running back Matthew Langbehn, an honorable mention all-league pick, also had his season limited due to injury. He finished the year with 691 total yards and eight touchdowns, but eventually yielded carries to Kaneshiro, who exploded onto the scene late in the year.

Kaneshiro, a 5-7, 160-pound running back, was called up from the JV team in late September and rushed for 373 yards and five touchdowns in the Falcons’ final four regular-season games, averaging 7.9 yards per carry.

“Devin was absolutely explosive, and I think the other coaches recognized the fact that almost any time he got his hands on the ball, there was a chance he would break one,” Mahlum said. “He started the year at JV and it showed that if you keep working hard, it will pay off.”

Liberty’s honorable mention picks included Langbehn, senior linebacker Hunter Dehlin, junior defensive lineman Zane Chitwood and junior wide receiver Austin Mason.

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