Johnson, Burke, Jr., and Sullivan Earn Pre-Season All-American Accolades

July 15, 2014

Kansas City, MO – The Avila University football team is well represented on the USA College Football Pre-Season All-American team, with Robert Johnson making the 1st Team list, and Kelwin Burke, Jr. and Da’Veion Sullivan earning a spot on the honorable mention list.

This is the fifth annual Pre-Season All-American list put out by USA College Football. The teams are selected by a national panel including Head Coaches, Sports information Directors, and members of the Football Writers Association of America, as well as a few other organizations.

Johnson, a junior from Willis, Texas, is the only Eagle to make the First Team list. He had a stellar sophomore season, racking up 1,064 all-purpose yards, including 651 kick return yards and 2 touchdowns. His kick return touchdowns came on back to back weeks, with the first totaling 94 yards, and the second covering 90 yards. Johnson also pulled in nearly 300 receiving yards, 115 rushing yards, and hauled in 4 touchdowns.

Burke, Jr., a senior running back from New Orleans, Louisiana, made the honorable mention list after an outstanding junior campaign. He rushed for a team-high 1,336 yards on 264 carries, and found the end zone 17 times. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry on the season, and averaged 121.5 rushing yards per game. Burke, Jr. also hauled in 19 receptions for 96 yards on the season.

Sullivan, a senior wide out from Los Angeles, California, earned his spot on the list by pulling in 37 receptions for 361 yards in the 2013 season. Sullivan also had 2 touchdowns for the Eagles. He also racked up 209 kick return yards on the season, giving him over 550 all-purpose yards.

To see the full list of the 2014 USA College Football Pre-Season All-Americans, click here.

Avila Hosts Local High School Athletes, EON Sports for Special Training

July 14, 2014

Kansas City, MO – Over the past couple of weeks, multiple high school quarterbacks from all around the Kansas City area have come to Avila University to test out SIDEKIQ, an innovative virtual reality training tool created by EON Sports.

SIDEKIQ is innovative software that allows coaches to configure any game situation for their athletes to experience game like repetitions in Virtual Reality.   SIDEKIQ uses virtual reality simulation that allows an athlete to see a play unfold as if they were actually in a game instead of simply just looking at a play in a playbook.

Brendan Reilly, CEO and co-Founder of EON Sports, said that this technology can revolutionize the way athletes practice.

“We know how to make athletes bigger, faster and stronger,” said Reilly. “But what separates a good athlete from a great athlete are the decisions they make and how they see the field.  Before SIDEKIQ, everyone was on the even playing field of repetitions in practices and games.  But now, for the first time in history, we have a way to increase the amount of repetitions a player is exposed to.  Our goal is to get high school and college kids seeing the field like Peyton Manning does.”

The SIDEKIQ software allows players to practice much longer than they would be able to than if they were on the field, and it also allows them to practice safer, only using their eyes and their minds. It gives a player, whether it is at the quarterback position or another position, a chance to run realistic repetitions over and over with a full offense and defense without taking or issuing a hit, helping to solve many safety issues that have come up concerning the game of football.

 “A big issue in all sports right now is injuries, with special focus on concussions,” said Reilly. “We were present at President Obama’s White House Concussion Summit, and have been approached by many high level teams as a way to reduce the wear and tear football players incur during the training process.  The important part is getting real, game-like repetitions, and that’s what we can provide.”

Along with Avila University, local quarterbacks have tested out SIDEKIQ at multiple places around Kansas City, including Dynamic Athletes Research Institute and Staley High School.

The high school quarterbacks were not the only ones who got to join in on the testing. Current Avila quarterback Calvin Jacobson was able to test out the software as well.

The company started selling SIDEKIQ in January of 2014 and is already being used across the nation at many high schools and colleges, including the University of Central Missouri and Western Michigan.

“We now have teams using the software in 14 states,” said Reilly. “If you would have told us that we would be working with this many high schools and colleges so soon I would have thought you were crazy.  It’s been an incredible growth period for us, and being a KC native myself, it is really exciting to work with our local schools here in the area.”

For more information about EON Sports and the SIDEKIQ software, including more information about how it works and pricing, check out their website at

Avila Student-Athletes Celebrate Valentine's Day at Villa Ventura

February 17, 2014

Kansas City, MO - The Avila University football and softball programs spent last Thursday afternoon spreading the spirit of love at the annual Villa Ventura Retirement Community Valentine’s Dance.

This marked the fourth straight year that the football team has volunteered their time at Villa Ventura’s Valentine’s Dance, and the first year that the softball team joined in the festivities.

Avila head football coach Justin Berna said that having the softball program get involved just made the experience that much better for everyone involved.

“We love going over there every year, and I think that our players have as much fun, if not more fun, than the seniors do,” said Berna. “To have the softball players involved this year was great, and I think they will be joining us at the dance for years to come.”

The Avila student-athletes spent their time socializing and playing games with the Villa Ventura residents, and they also spent a great amount of time on the dance floor.

Avila head softball coach Rob Wade was not able to attend the Valentine’s Dance, but he said that the feedback from his team was amazing.

“This was the first year that we attended the Valentine’s Dance with the football program, and our girls absolutely loved it,” said Wade. “It is always great to give back to the community, and I think our girls will want to go back every year from here on out.”

The Avila softball team also made Valentine’s Day cards and delivered them to Children’s Mercy Hospital last week.

To view all of the photos from the Villa Ventura Valentine’s Dance, click here.

Avila Football Inks 18 on Signing Day

February 7, 2014

Kansas City, MO – The Avila Eagles football team was busy on Wednesday, known around the country as National Signing Day, pulling in 18 recruits from across the country. 

Overall, the Eagles received commitments from players in six different states.  While most of the signees were from the state of Missouri, Avila also had players sign from Maryland, California, Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas.

Avila head coach Justin Berna said that he is excited about this signing class, and that he still expects to add more to this class this Spring.

“Our staff and I are very excited about our signees,” said Berna. “We expect big things with this class and this group of young men is a great start to our recruiting efforts this year.”

The Eagles are poised to take another step in the right direction after finishing the 2013 season with a 4-7.

Berna said he thinks that his team can ultimately take the next step in 2014, and that this class should be able to step in right away and fill some gaps.

“This year’s group gives us immediate help at positions where we were really in need,” he said.

For a complete list of the 2014 draft class, click here.

Alberswerth, St. John Earn Scholar-Athlete Honors

January 3, 2014

Kansas City, MO – The NAIA office released their 2013 Daktronics-NAIA Football Scholar-Athlete's list in December, with two Eagles making the list. The following Eagles received the award: Complete List

Chance Alberswerth Grad Student | Higginsville, Missouri

Matthew St. John – 5th Year Senior | Excelsior Springs, Missouri

To qualify for the honor, student-athletes must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. 259 student-athletes nationally have been named 2013 Daktronics-NAIA Football Scholar-Athletes.

Kelwin Burke & Robert Johnson Named to First Team All-HAAC

December 2, 2013

Kansas City, MO – Avila Football’s first ever 1,000 yard rusher, Kelwin Burke Jr. led the way for the Eagles in post-season honors as the Heart of America Athletic Conference announced All-HAAC squads this past week. Burke was joined on the First Team All-HAAC list by sophomore receiver and kick-return specialist Robert Johnson. It’s the first time since Doug Wendell and Nick Saviano received First Team honors in 2007 that two Eagles have been named to the HAAC First Team in the same year.

Along with Burke and Johnson, Eleven Eagles received HAAC honors, with five receiving Third Team honors and four being named to the honorable mention list. View the complete All-HAAC list

In his first year as an Eagle, Kelwin Burke shattered every single Avila rushing record. Averaging 121 yards per game, the New Orleans native ran for a total of 1,336 yards, 368 yards more than any other running back in program history. Burke was near the top of the NAIA leaderboard in most rushing statistics including ranking 10th in total scoring (102) and 13th in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game. Burke, a junior, led the HAAC in rushing yards per game and finished second in total scoring. In the Eagles homecoming game against fifth ranked Benedictine College , Burke rushed for a career high 235 yards on 25 carries, averaging an astonishing 9.4 yards per carry while rushing for three touchdowns.

Kelwin Burke – 2013 Rushing Statistics






Haskell (Kan.)






Bethany (Kan.)






Evangel (Mo.)






Baker (Kan.)






Peru State (Neb.)






Benedictine (Kan.)






Graceland (Iowa)






MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)






Culver-Stockton (Mo.)






Central Methodist (Mo.)






Missouri Valley














After being named to the honorable mention list in 2012, Robert Johnson became the first Eagle to receive First Team honors as a kick return specialist. Splitting kick-off returns with Da’Veion Sullivan and Josh Lewis, Johnson had 651 total return yards, averaging 26 yards per return. The Willis, Texas native was known throughout the conference for his big play potential as he had touchdown returns of 94 yards against MNU and 90 yards against Culver-Stockton bringing his career touchdown return total to three. Fittingly, Johnson began his Eagle career by returning a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown against Lindenwood-Belleville last season. Johnson also received HAAC honorable mention honors for his performance as a receiver for the Eagles.

Robert Johnson - Career Receiving Stats








































Robert Johnson - Career Kick Return Stats

































After redshirting last year, freshman tight-end Luke Oldham received Third Team All-HAAC honors. In his first season on the field, the Rogers, Arkansas native finished second on the team in total receptions with 29, averaging 8.8 yards per catch. With 256 total receiving yards, Oldham caught his first career touchdown October 19 in the Eagles comeback 30-24 overtime victory against Graceland University. Oldham became more and more of a factor in the Eagles passing game as the season went on as he registered 28 of his 29 receptions in the Eagles final six games. 

Da’Veion Sullivan became just the fifth Eagle since 2007 to receive First Team All-HAAC honors last season, and after struggling with injuries early in the year, the junior receiver was named to the Third Team All-HAAC list. Sullivan led the Eagles in receptions for the second straight year, grabbing 37 receptions for 361 yards and averaging 9.8 yards per catch. In his three seasons as an Eagle, Sullivan has 143 receptions for 1,291 yards and nine career touchdowns. 


Offensive lineman Jesse Ruizreceived All-HAAC honors for the second consecutive season. The 6-1, 260 pound senior from Oakdale, California led an offensive line that broke school records in rushing and total points in a season. After transferring to Avila from Modesto Junior College, Ruiz served as a team captain this fall and played a key role in an Eagles offensive line the ranked 15th in the NAIA in sacks allowed giving up just 14 on the year. 

After transferring to Avila from Highland Community College as a junior, Gary Daniels featured in 20 games for the Eagles and received Third Team All-HAAC honors this fall. Daniels led the team in interceptions with two and finished second on the team in solo tackles with 33. The Onaga, Kansas native finishes his two year Eagle career with 89 total tackles and three interceptions. 


Sophomore Josh Lewis spent his freshman year at Upper Iowa University, and made an instant impact in his first year as an Eagle. The Freeport, Illinois native received Third Team All-HAAC honors as a punt return specialist as his 16.5 yards per return average led the NAIA while his 346 total punt return yards ranked 5th in the nation. In his first career game as an Eagle, Lewis returned two punts for touchdowns.


Logan Epley (WR – Rowlett, Texas) wrapped up the awards on the offensive side as he was selected to the HAAC Honorable Mention List. 

On the defensive side, KC Moorman (DL – Troy, Mo.), Cornell Ellis (LB – Kansas City, Mo.), and Justin Davies (S – Kansas City Mo.) were also named to the honorable mention list. Ellis is receiving honorable mention honors for the second consecutive year while Davies is receiving honorable mention honors for the third straight year.

Eagles Beat CMU For First Time Since 2006 40-14

November 14, 2013

Fayette, MO - The 40-14 win over Central Methodist University (4-6, 3-5) shows just how successful this Avila Eagles football team can be when they play well for all four quarters. What a fantastic last road game for the graduating seniors.

Avila’s defense held strong many times throughout the first half, only allowing CMU into the red zone once and forcing them to kick a field goal, which they missed. The strong defensive performance gave the Avila offense good field position and led to two quick touchdowns at the end of the second quarter. Avila had three big drives down the field in the first half to set up two mid-range field goals made by Andy Meyers and one of those drives ended with a 10-yard scamper into the end zone by Kelwin Burke Jr.

Burke Jr. has had an extremely impressive season here at Avila, but a running back does not usually get over one thousand yards rushing in a season without a great offensive line.

Kristofer Moore, Jesse Ruiz, Clayton Driskill, Matt St. John, and Joe Roberts are the five men up front that have literally moved mountains for Burke to break the school rushing record. It is a shame there are no stats taken for cut blocks and pancakes. As a group they have had five games with no sacks and they led the way for six games of +200-yards rushing.

Kelwin Burke Jr. followed his offensive line against CMU racking up 118-yards and a season high four touchdowns.

Robert Johnson played both quarterback and receiver in the game against CMU. He put up 67- yards on 9 carries and had 3 receptions for 44-yards for a combined total of 111-yards.

Jacob Hick had a good day through the air going 15-for-24, accumulating 168-yards, and finding a wide open Logan Epley for a 30-yard touchdown. Epley had 3 receptions on the day for 60-yards and 1 touchdown.

The Avila defense shut out CMU in the first half. One key to Avila’s success defensively was their success on third and fourth down. Avila held CMU to 20% on 3rd-Down Conversions and did not let CMU convert on all three of their fourth down attempts.

Defensive back Garry Daniels showed up to play in his last away game as an Avila Eagle. He not only co-led the team in tackles, but had a spectacular interception trapping the ball in between his legs before tucking it away and returning it 15-yards down field. Defensive lineman Chris Harris read a screen play to perfection and caught the first interception of his career. Harris also returned his interception 15-yards. Linebacker Aaron Wiggins accompanied Daniels at the top of the board with 6 tackles (1 assisted) and one tackle for a loss.

November 16, 2013

This week Avila will be facing Missouri Valley College (7-2, 7-1) who are coming off a big win against Benedictine College. There is a three way tie in the HAAC conference for first place between Baker University, Benedictine College, and Missouri Valley College, which will give the Eagles a chance to knock Missouri Valley out of the playoff race if they win on Saturday. This weekend will also be Senior Day as the Eagles honor 11 seniors. The contest against Missouri Valley College will be held Zarda Athletic Complex with kickoff set for 1:00 PM.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Eagles Fall on Final Drive To Culver-Stockton 42-35

November 7, 2013

Kansas City, MO - The Eagles trekked to Canton, Missouri on Friday to play Culver Stockton College (1-8, 1-6) on Saturday November 2, 2013. It was a high scoring, down to the wire kind of game, which ended in a Culver Stockton victory, 42-35. Box Score

For the seventh time this season Kelwin Burke Jr. rushed for over 100-yards. Burke finished the game with 111-yards on 21 touches and found the end zone once on a 16-yard run.

Burke Jr. was not the only running back to score in the game against the Wildcats though. Derek Pugh gashed the Wildcat’s defense for a 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Pugh accumulated 88 yards on 4 carries which comes out to 22.0-yards per carry.

Sophomore Robert Johnson shocked everyone last week with a 94-yard kickoff return to start off the game against the Pioneers, but completely knocked everyone’s socks off with his return this week.

After a Culver-Stockton touchdown with 1:31 to go in the fourth quarter, the Eagles trailed 35-27. While the Avila offense prepared to run a two minute drill and drive down the field, Robert Johnson took the game into his own hands as he returned the kickoff 90-yards untouched into the end zone. With the Eagles needing a two-point conversion to tie the game up, Jacob Hicks ran the ball up the middle for a successful 2-point conversion to tie the game, 35-35.

Johnson also had 3 receptions for 35-yards and 2 receiving touchdowns from 10 and 27 yards out.

Safety Jacob Rhoades lead the team in tackles with 9 (7 assisted) and forced the only turnover of the game. Rhoades caught the quarterback from behind and knocked the ball loose to give the offense a chance to score in the second half.

Brendan Gabbart finished with the most solo tackles with 6, but suffered a concussion and had to leave the game early. Outside linebacker Aaron Wiggins tackled the ball carrier 7 times (3 assisted) and sacked the quarterback twice.

November 9, 2013

Avila will travel to Fayette, Missouri to take on Central Methodist University (4-5, 3-4) for the second to last game of the season. CMU is coming off of a 48-23 loss to Benedictine and are currently on a three game losing streak. Kickoff with be at 1:00 PM on Davis Field.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Avila Falls Late to MidAmerica Nazarene 44-30

October 31, 2013

Kansas City, MO - Having not beaten MidAmerica Nazarene (2-5, 2-4) in ten years, the Eagles planned to end that losing streak aided by the momentum gained in the OT win against Graceland the week before. Avila lead 28-22 through three quarters, but the Pioneers bounced back in the fourth quarter with three unanswered touchdowns and claimed a 44-30 victory. View Box Score

Sophomore receiver Robert Johnson started off the game with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which turned into 8 points when sophomore James Lewis ran into the end zone for a seemingly unplanned 2-point conversion.

This was Johnson’s second kickoff return for a touchdown in his two year career at Avila University, his first being an 80-yard return against Lindenwood-Belleville in 2012. He has also accumulated over 500-yards returning the ball this year. Johnson then went on to have two catches for 23-yards.

Junior running back Kelwin Burke Jr. has become an extremely well-known name across the HAAC. He is one of the most elusive running backs in the conference, and has been a tough running back for other teams to scheme against. In the game against the Pioneers, Burke had 148-yards on 32 carries and 1 touchdown, which made him the first ever Avila University running back to rush for more than 1000-yards in one season.

Burke now sits at 1047-yards, ranking 10th in the NAIA, and has 12 touchdowns ranking 11th in the NAIA so far in the season. It will be interesting to see how many more yards he can scarf up in the last three games of the season.

Avila was also successful through the air completing 18 passes thrown by senior Jacob Hicks. He had 192-yards on 36 attempts, one touchdown, and two late interceptions. Hicks also had 63-yards rushing on 7 attempts with a long of 21-yards.

Senior receiver Logan Epley caught Hick’s only touchdown pass and had a total of three catches for 49 yards. During Epley’s touchdown catch there was a flag thrown for defensive interference, which only kind of explains the difficulty of pulling the ball in. It was a splendid catch for the seasoned veteran and was a great way to start the third quarter.

Red-shirt freshman tight end Luke Oldham again had the most catches for the Eagles with eight, a career high, picking up 51 yards. Oldham has now 22 receptions over the past three games.

On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore defensive back Brendan Gabbart proved to be a turnover machine. Creating turnovers not only on defense but also special teams, Gabbart intercepted the Pioneers two times, forced one fumble on punt team, and recovered two fumbles.

Gabbart started at corner in the game against the Pioneers, but had been a safety for most of the year before this game. In his freshman year he played as a corner, so the switch back from free safety obviously was not a problem. Gabbart also ended the day with 3 tackles (2 assisted).

Senior linebacker Cornell Ellis led the Eagles in tackles with 7 (4 assisted) and also forced 1 fumble. Sophomore defensive end Joe Sublette had a season high and game high 5 solo tackles, he also recorded 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss.

With extremely limited reps, senior middle linebacker Chance Alberswerth picked up 2 tackles, one being a sack and the other being a tackle for loss. Alberswerth also forced a fumble on a punt.

November 3, 2013

This upcoming Saturday the Eagles are travelling to Culver-Stockton College (0-8, 0-6) in Canton, Missouri. While the Wildcats are winless so far this season, they have played close games with some of the better teams in the conference. It will be roughly a 4 hour trip from Avila University for anyone interested in attending the game. We hope to see you at Ellison Poulton Stadium at 1:00 PM this Saturday.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Fourth Quarter Goal Line Stand Propels Eagles to 30-24 OT Victory Over Graceland

October 23, 2013

Lamoni, Iowa - Avila (3-4, 1-4) traveled up to Lamoni, Iowa to play Graceland University (1-6, 0-5) on October 19. Graceland was coming off a five game losing streak and Avila was coming off a four game losing streak. Both teams were looking for their first conference win when they met last Saturday. Avila triumphed with a come from behind win in overtime to secure their first conference win of the season. This was a huge win for the team and the program. It was a magical way to start the second half of the football season, and it will hopefully kick start an Avila win streak.

The first half was not a total disaster as the score board showed the Eagles trailing 24-3. Defensively, the Eagles forced Graceland to punt three times in the first half and did not let them make methodical drives down the field. The Eagles had 28 first-downs throughout the game to the Yellow Jackets 11. Graceland’s first two touchdowns were both over 70-yards, and as some would call “flukes.” One happened to be a run to the left which was blocked extremely well and the other came from a tipped pass that landed in the Graceland receiver’s hands. The third touchdown was a 10-yard pass into the end zone after a blocked punt. The Graceland offense had 327 total yards of offense in the entire game, but the Avila defense held them to less than 100 yards in the entire second half and overtime.

The start of the second half signaled a turn-around as the Eagles had a 15 play, 72 yard drive that started on their own 28, and ended with an Eagle touchdown pass. The defense kept the momentum going as David Kepus registered his first career sack, which was also the only sack for either team on the Yellow Jackets first snap and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Graceland. The Eagles forced four Yellow Jacket fumbles on the day, all of which were recovered by Graceland.

The most impressive point of the game was when Graceland had their last drive of the game before overtime. They started on their 28 yard line and drove 71 yards to the Eagle’s 1. Graceland fumbled once and converted a 4th and 1 on the Eagle’s 9 yard line to keep the drive alive until it was stopped on the 1.

The score was 24-24 with about 3:00 left in the game when the defense lines up on their 3 yard line. Graceland attempts to run the ball up the middle on 2nd and goal, but gets stopped at the 2 yard line by linebacker Jesse Kribbs and safety David Gamboa. Graceland then tries to run the ball up the middle for the second time in a row, but Jesse Kribbs is again waiting for him in the hole and with a helpful arm tackle from lineman Tyler Whisenhunt they stuff Graceland at the 1 yard line. Kribbs, in his fourth season as an Eagle, led the Eagles in tackles with 9 (4 Solo).

It is now 4th and goal on the 1 yard line and Graceland has a huge decision to make, go for it or take the easy field goal and put the pressure on the Avila offense. They elect to go for it, and again try to punch it in with a run straight up the gut. The defensive line prevents the push creating a massive pile of bodies just in front of the goal line, the Graceland running back sees this and tries to leap over the mound of people, but cannot clear them!

Avila offense takes over on downs and runs the clock down to 0:00, forcing the game into overtime. Avila stops the Graceland defense in overtime and forces them to kick a field goal, which they miss. The Eagle’s offense then gives the ball to Kelwin Burke Jr. who gets into the end zone in spectacular fashion with a 12 yard run, which wins the game for Avila University.

Avila racked up 452 yards of total offense, 197 passing and 255 rushing. Kelwin Burke Jr. rushed for 178-yards and had 2 touchdowns, one being in overtime to win the game. He has now gone over the century mark five times this season in only seven games. Jacob Hicks also had a good day at the office with 197-yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Hicks found Luke Oldham in the end zone to give Oldham his first career touchdown and also give the Eagles their first touchdown of the day. Oldham a Rodgers, Arkansas native once again had a career high seven receptions for the second consecutive game. Junior Da’Veion Sullivan had his only catch of the day, a 23-yard reception in the third quarter.

October 26, 2013

The next game will be at home against MidAmerica Nazarene University (1-5, 1-4). MNU are coming off a 45-40 loss to #5 Benedictine University. The kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM Zarda Multisport Complex. Come out this Saturday and support the Avila University football team!

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Eagles Fall in Shootout with Fifth Ranked Benedictine

October 15, 2013

Kansas City, MO - Avila fans gathered from all over the nation to watch their Eagles (2-4, 0-4) in the homecoming game against No. 5 Benedictine College (6-0, 4-0) on October 12, 2013. The sun was out, the breeze was cool, and a click was heard across Zarda Athletic Complex as the Avila offense took the field.

Struggling to consistently put together long drives in the previous five games of the season, the Avila offense finally took control of the ball and pounded it drive after drive down the field and into the end zone. The Eagles accumulated a season high 570-yards of total offense with 366 rushing yards and 204 passing yards. While the final score didn't reflect it, Avila had more offensive yardage than Benedictine College by 28-yards.

Leading the attack on the ground, junior running back Kelwin Burke Jr. ate up 235-yards on 25 touches, scored 3 rushing touchdowns, and had an 81-yard run from the Eagles 1 yard line. No single running back in Avila history has ever rushed for more than 100-yards against Benedictine College until Burke obliterated the old record of 99-yards by 136-yards. Burke also had three touchdowns; he crossed the plain twice from the 2-yard out and once from 52.

For his performance, Burke received BSN Athlete of the week honors. This is the Eagles first BSN award of the year, and the second consecutive year an Eagle running back has claimed BSN honors.

Quarterback Jacob Hicks also broke into the 200’s for the first time this season with 204-yards passing on 39 attempts and 24 completions and a touchdown. He was also a threat with his legs putting up 81-yards on 9 attempts. Hicks spread the ball around his receivers quite well this game and got both Da’Veion Sullivan and Luke Oldham 7 catches on the day. Sullivan made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone to give Hicks his only touchdown on the day.

The offensive linemen are not usually talked about in sports articles because they never touch the ball, but it is time for these unsung heroes to be recognized for their hard work. No team rushes for 366-yards without a phenomenal showing from the big men up front. On top of creating a run game, they did not let Jacob Hicks get sacked all game. Winning the battle down in the trenches is always the first step to having a successful offensive game, and the Eagle’s offensive line did their job to set up their offense for success.

There was a new face on the field this game for the Eagles; Trent Nichol made his first appearance on the field as one of three Avila punters. Primarily a soccer player for Avila University, the Eagle’s coaching staff asked him to become a dual sport athlete and get a few extra kicks. He had 119 total punting yards with a long of 54-yards on 3 punts bringing his average per punt to 39.7-yards.

After punting on Saturday, Nichol went out on Sunday and scored two goals for the Eagles men's soccer team as Avila defeated Central Methodist 2-0. For his performance, Nichol received HAAC Men's Soccer Offensive Player of the Week honors.

On the defensive end, freshman linebacker David Kepus had his best day as an Eagle as he led all players with 11 tackles on the day. Meanwhile, senior linebacker Cornell Ellis made his impact felt on his final homecoming as an Eagle as he collected his first career interception and made eight total tackles.

After being outscored 41-17 in the first half, the Eagles defense buckled down as Avila was outscored by a single point in the second half 21-20.

Eagle kicker Andy Meyers also went 1 for 1 hitting a 34 yard field goal to open the Eagles scoring.

Avila looks forward to their next contest against Graceland University (1-5, 0-4) as they are coming off of a 35-7 loss to Missouri Valley College. The game will be held in Lamoni, IA which is roughly 2 hours away from Avila University.  Kickoff will be at 1:00 PM. Hope to see tons of Avila fans in the stands supporting their Eagles on the road.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Avila Fall to No.13 Baker 17-63

October 1, 2013

Baldwin City, KS - Avila (2-2, 0-2) made the hour trip to Baldwin City, Kansas to take on the #13 ranked Baker (3-1, 1-1) Wildcats. While the Eagles suffered a 46 point defeat, the game did have a few shinning points for the Eagles, and will stand as a test of character throughout the rest of the season.

Defensive end Joe Sublette was a relentless pass rusher and found the ball carrier quite well against the Wildcat’s offense last Saturday. He accumulated 6 tackles (2 assisted), 1 sack, and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Sublette currently ranks 30th in the nation in total tackles for loss with 6.5 in four contests. Defensive end KC Moorman also collected a sack on the night.

The Avila special teams improved since their game against Evangel. Kicker Andy Meyers put a 30-yard field goal through the uprights and went 2-2 on PATs against the Wildcats. With a brand new punt scheme, freshman punter Danny Spencer, a former ruby player, felt at home with the ruby style punt that Avila showed against Baker. Spencer had 3 punts for 112-yards with an average of 37.3 and long of 48. 

Junior running back Kelwin Burke Jr. put on a show once again with his quick moves; even the referee gave him a fist bump and told him he was a treat to watch. He continued his streak of at least one touchdown a game with a 5 yard gallop in the second quarter. That touchdown run capped off the second longest drive for the Eagles in 2013, an 84 yard drive on 8 plays. Burke Jr. currently ranks 20th in the nation in total rushing yards with 412 on the year.

Chris Session replaced quarterback Jacob Hicks after he came off with an injury. Session had 6 completions on 9 attempts, one of which was a 38 yard touchdown strike to receiver James Lewis. Session threw it up trusting Lewis could maneuver himself into position to make the catch.

The Avila defense won the battle down in the trenches by stopping the Wildcat’s running game. They only gave up 115 yards on 35 attempts, Bakers lowest rushing total in a game this season, which forced Baker to throw the ball. Unfortunately, the Wildcats excelled at moving the ball through the air, and had some big plays from some of their receiving core.

The Eagles will be hopoing to bounce back from this loss and shift their focus on to their upcoming opponent. They face #24 Peru State College (3-1, 1-1) who are coming off a 45-51 loss to Benedictine College (4-0, 2-0). The game will be held at Jug Brown Stadium in Falls City, Nebraska as Peru State's on campus facility continues to undergo renovations. Falls City is about two hours from Avila University and kickoff is scheduled for 1:00PM. Directions to Jug Brown Stadium can be found on the schedule section of the Avila Football page. Hope to see you there.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.


Eagles Fall 20-43 to Evangel

September 24, 2013

Kansas City, MO - Coming of a historic win against Bethany College, Avila University (2-1) had high hopes to make history again at their home opener by defeating Evangel University (1-1).

The Eagle’s defense came out strong in the first quarter, stopping the Crusaders first drive. Avila’s offense then took over streaking 72-yards down the field on 3 plays. After getting a first down on two run plays, Jacob Hicks connects with senior receiver Logan Epley who takes it 60-yards to the house.                                                                                                                               

 Avila- 6 Evangel- 0

Another stop by the defense gives the Eagle’s offense a chance to score again, but they cannot get a drive going and are forced to punt. After the punt, Evangel moved 31-yards to the end zone with a 10-yard touchdown catch by Otis Brown.                                                                    

Avila- 6 Evangel- 7

Avila got the ball back and was again forced to punt, but the Evangel punt returner muffed the fair catch call giving Chance Alberswerth a fumble recovery as he jumped on the ball giving the Eagle’s offense first and ten on the 21 yard line. They would run 5 plays ending in a 1-yard touchdown dive by Kelwin Burke Jr.

Avila- 12 Evangel- 7

At the end of the first quarter, Evangel drove the ball 63 yards on 6 plays before being stopped by the Avila defense on the 6 yard line. Evangel decided to kick the 23-yard field goal instead of going for the first down on fourth.                                                                                                     

Avila- 12 Evangel- 10

The Avila defense held the Crusaders to a field goal again later in the second quarter. Evangel drove 43-yards on 7 plays to the Avila 18 yard line only to be stopped on a third and one by the Eagle’s defense. The Crusaders settled for a 35 yard field goal.                                                   

Avila-12 Evangel- 13

The Crusaders got the ball with a short field again after the Eagles punted from just outside their own end zone. Evangel went 45 yards on 6 plays ending in a 3-yard run by quarterback Andrew Brimhall.                                                                                                                                   

 Avila- 12 Evangel- 20

After an Eagle two-minute drive stalled around midfield, the Crusaders would take their 8 point lead into the locker room to end the half.

Evangel would go on to score 23 consecutive points in the third and fourth quarter before an Avila 12 play, 85 yard drive was capped by 18 yard touchdown pass from Jacob Hicks to Derek Pugh. The Eagles would capitalize on the two point conversion to bring the final score to:

Avila – 20 Evangel – 43

Key offensive performers for the Eagles included Kelwin Burke Jr. who rushed for 101 yards on 23 attempts. Burke has now rushed for over 100 yards in three consecutive games. Hicks went 8-for-22 for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

On the defensive end, Chance Alberwerth led all players with 12 tackles (6 solo, 6 assist) while Davies led all players in solo tackles with seven.

This Saturday, Avila will be facing Baker University (0-1) in Baldwin City, Kansas. The Wildcats are coming off a 42-28 upset by Benedictine College. Baker accumulated over 500 yards of total offense last week and created 4 turnovers in their loss against Benedictine College. The Eagle Football program and players loved the support of the home crowd this past weekend and would love to see the same sea of purple in Baldwin City at 6:00 PM on September 28th.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.


Eagles Claim a Historic 41-14 Victory Over Bethany

September 17, 2013

Louisborg, KS - Avila University traveled over 200 miles to put a 41-14 victory in the history books against the Bethany College Swedes. For the first time in Avila football history, the Eagles have started their season 2-0.

Take-aways and field position spelled victory for the Eagles on Saturday. With five forced fumbles, Fourteen tackles for a loss, four sacks, and two interceptions, the Avila defense can only be described as relentless.

Avila struck first on a 4-yard run by Kelwin Burke Jr. after a 75-yard drive on 10 plays. Midway through the drive on a 3 down and 8, Jacob Hicks completed a crucial 27 yard pass to Robert Johnson while getting tackled to keep the drive alive. Avila up 7-0

The Swedes Freshman Quarterback Bo Savage did not have the start that anyone expected. Coughing up the ball twice on his first three snaps, the freshman was replaced with senior Zach Dovenbarger by the Swedes third series. Savage’s first fumble was forced by KC Moorman and recovered by Aaron Wiggins on the Swedes 35 yard line, and his second fumble was  forced by Aaron Wiggins and recovered by Chance Alberswerth who scampered 19 yards into the end zone for six. Avila up 14-0

Bethany came back out to put a decent drive together, going six plays to end up on the Avila 23 yard line. The Swedes were stuffed on 3rd down and were forced to kick a field goal. Breaking through the line, Kenny Coleman blocked the field goal attempt, which was scooped up by Justin Davies and taken 70-yards for the second defensive touchdown of the game. Avila up 20-0

After the Eagle defense holds Bethany to a three and out, the Swedes responds by forcing Avila to punt on the Eagle’s 30 yard line. Maximilliano Flores blocks the punt and returns it for a touchdown at the end of the first quarter. Avila up 20-7

Early in the second quarter Kenny Coleman created another big play by stripping the ball from Swede running back Jarrot Bell. This set up a short field for the Eagle offense who eventually punched it in with a 2-yard run by Kelwin Burke Jr., which gave him his second touchdown on the day.  Avila up 27-7

Bethany answers back with a 57-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rodney Molette. Avila up 27-14

With 1:49 left in the second quarter David Gamboa clobbers Swede wide receiver Rodney Molette forcing  him to fumble on the 1 one yard line, right before he crossed the plain. The ball was picked up by Garry Daniels in the end zone for a touchback. Running down the clock then punting, Avila went in at half up 27-14.

Neither offensive team could find a rhythm in the third quarter. Avila turned the ball over twice, one interception and one fumble. The Eagles defense on the other hand stuffed the Swedes on three fourth and short situations, and forced Bethany to punt twice. The Swedes were not even allowed into the red-zone the entire third quarter. Neither team scored in the third quarter. Avila up 27-14

Avila started the fourth quarter by throwing an interception, but once again David Gamboa created a turnover as he took an interception to the Swedes 27 yard line. That set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Derek Pugh. Avila up 34-14

On fourth down and nine, Avila defensive end KC Moorman exploded off the line blowing past the Swede’s left tackle and pummeled senior quarterback Zach Dovenbarger. Sacking Dovenbarger on the Swede’s 15 yard line, KC Moorman set up phenomenal field position for the Eagle offense to take over. Getting in their heavy personnel, Avila ran the ball down Bethany’s throat ending in a 1-yard touchdown blast by Derek Pugh. Avila up 41-14

Near the end of the game, the Swedes put together a 10 play drive down to the Eagle’s 20 yard line, which ended with an interception in the end zone by senior corner Garry Daniels.

On the Swedes final drive, senior quarterback Zach Dovenbarger fumbled the exchange, which was then recovered by freshman Corbin Minniefield. This brings out the Avila victory formation to run down the last few seconds on the clock.

Avila wins 41-14 over Bethany College to make Avila 2-0 for the first time in school history.

Unfortunately this win came at a heavy price. Sophomore running Ryan Nace went down with a gruesome injury in the 3rd quarter. Nace was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he stayed overnight and had surgery the following morning. Being one of the many work horses on this Avila football team, Ryan will be sorely missed on the field not just as a player but as an example of heart and hard work. Another injury came early in the fourth quarter when a Swedes player viciously hit freshman receiver Lane Epperson. Lane was also taken to the ER, but with proper rehab has the possibility to return this season. 

“Who’s Next?”

Picked 4th in the HAAC preseason poll and 22nd nationally in the NAIA preseason poll, Evangel University in Springfield, MO will be traveling to Avila this Saturday for the Eagles home opener.  Evangel (0-1) is coming off a 38-28 loss against Kansas Wesleyan.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Lewis Named HAAC Special Teams Athlete of the Week

September 10, 2013

Kansas City, MO– The Eagles made headlines in its season opener with a record-breaking 80-13 triumph on the road at Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.) and Lewis was a big part of the win. A sophomore from Freeport, Ill., Lewis had punt returns of 56 and 63 yards for touchdowns as the Eagles scored the most points by a HAAC team since Lindenwood (Mo.) tallied 90 points on Oct. 16, 2010.

In his first game as an Eagle, Lewis became the first Eagle to have multiple punt returns for touchdowns in a single game and currently leads the nation in total punt return yards with 144 and averages 36 yards per return.

In addition to his national rankings, Lewis leads the HAAC in all-purpose yards (192), is second in scoring (12), and was the only conference player to score a special teams touchdown in the first week of play.

Eagles Score Record High 80 Points in Victory Over Haskell

September 10, 2013

Lawrence, KS - Avila ran away with their 80-13 win over Haskell Indian Nations University. The Eagles broke the previous record for most points scored in a game (67) by 13 points. They also scored more points in this year’s first game against Haskell than they did in their first four games of last season, and had a record six rushing touchdowns in one game.

Defense and special teams took over in the season opener creating two defensive touchdowns, five turnovers, and returning two punts for touchdowns. Haskell was held to only 76 rushing yards on 35 attempts and 150 passing yards with 9 completions on 24 attempts. Before the game, it was made apparent that Haskell’s running back, Malcolm Coleman, had to be stopped. Coleman rushed for an impressive 215 yards against Bethel College in the opening game of the year. With only 69 yards on 25 attempts and one touchdown, Malcolm Coleman was successfully shut down by the Avila defense.

Sophomore corner Kyle Spain started the interception party with a 38 yard return for a touchdown. Senior safety Justin Davies was next attending the party and went 94 yards for an Eagles touchdown. Sophomore linebacker Jakub Lopez came last and returned his interception 16 yards to their eight yard line to set up an easy Eagles touchdown. Sophomore David Gamboa also created a turnover by literally stealing the ball right out of Malcolm Coleman’s hands, giving Avila a short field to work with on offense.

Sophomore punt returner Josh Lewis had a total of 144 yards on 4 punt returns with 56 and 63 yard returns for touchdowns. In addition to Lewis’ special teams contribution, true freshman Cam Cosey sprinted down the field on an Eagles punt and forced a fumble in his first ever college football game, which was recovered by David Gamboa to set up a quick touchdown for the Eagles.

Avila’s running backs had a busy night racking up 247 yards on the ground and scored touchdowns with all three running backs, Kelwin Burke Jr., Ryan Nace, and Derek Pugh. Having a successful night breaking ankles and evading defenders, Junior Kelwin Burke Jr. gained 122 yards on 12 carries and found the end zone twice from 2 and 55 yards out. Just shy of having two running backs over the century marks, sophomore Ryan Nace put up 94 yards on 11 carries and also found his way into the end zone with a 1 yard touchdown run. The third running back to score was true freshman running back Derek Pugh, who made the most of his one carry, bouncing outside and going 16 yards into the end zone.

Senior quarterback Jacob Hicks went 3 for 5 for 44 yards and connected with sophomore Robert Johnson for a 38 yard touchdown. Hicks also had a spectacular diving touchdown after deciding to run on a roll out pass. The coaches took him out in the second quarter after a massive helmet to helmet hit, which put sophomore quarterback Chris Session at the helm of the offense for the rest of the contest. This change in quarterback did not change the effectiveness of the Eagles offense; Session went 6 for 6 with 66 yards. Copying Jacob Hicks, Session also threw a touchdown pass to Robert Johnson and ran one in for a touchdown.

Now 1-0, Avila looks forward to facing Bethany College in Linsborg, Kansas at 4:00PM on Sept. 14th. Last season, the Eagles beat Bethany 35-19 completely shutting down their offensive attack in the second half. The Bethany Swedes are coming off a tough 35-20 victory last week against Southwestern Assembly of God University. The Swedes were down 20-7 at one point, but came back to win by outscoring the Lions 21-0 in the second half.

Come Support Your Eagles!

It was awesome to see all the Avila University fans make the trip to Lawrence for the Haskell game. Thank you for coming out and supporting us on the road. It would be great to see everyone again  September 14th in Lindsborg Kansas. Kick-off is scheduled for 4:00PM at Clyde & Glenn Lindstrom Field. Hope to see everyone there.

Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.



Avila v Haskell - Game Preview

September 5, 2013


This Saturday marks the beginning of the Avila University football season. The Eagles will be traveling to Lawrence, Kansas to face Haskell Indian Nations University.

2012 Eagle Recap

This time last year, the Eagles hoped to have their first winning season in Avila football history. Throughout preseason camp the team adopted the slogan “Be the First.”  Being in the Heart of America Conference, winning six games does not come easily due to the level of competition. The Eagles went head to head with five programs that were ranked in the NAIA Top 25 Poll (#3 Missouri Valley College, #11 Mid-America Nazarene University, #14 Baker University, #22 Benedictine College, and #23 Evangel University). With a record of (1-10) overall (1-8) conference, the Eagles did not meet their high hopes; even so they proved to the HAAC conference they are extremely close to being a serious contender. They lost 5 games by six points or less, which shows how only a handful of plays could have completely changed the 2012 season.

Once all the statistics were compiled, the Eagles found a silver-lining as they broke 19 school records. Some of these records include: rushing yards in a season (2,172), tackles for a loss (29), passing yards in a game (373), completions in a game (32 for 49), and most points scored in a game (67). Also, Avila had one of the most successful offensive attacks in their 11 years of football history.

Players to Look out for - Avila University

With 15 returning starters (7 offense, 8 defense), the expectations for success are higher than ever before. Coming off of a year with many close games, these returners now have the experience to lead their team to victory late in the fourth quarter.

Leading last year's offensive attack, senior quarterback Jake Hicks passed for 1,725 yards, completing 169 of 296 attempts with 10 touchdowns and rushed for 309 yards with two rushing touchdowns. With six other returning offensive starters from last year, Hicks has both familiar faces down field, and big men up front to protect him. One of Hicks' go to receivers last year was Junior Da'Veion Sullivan

Sullivan led the conference in receptions last year with 78, was chosen to be a 1st Team All HAAC receiver, and a Pre-Season All- American coming into this season. In addition to Sullivan, the Eagles football team has many other deadly weapons to utilize at the receiver position. Robert Johnson, a sophomore slot receiver out of Willis, Texas, proved his worth last year with two touchdowns and 377 yards on 27 catches. Johnson had limited playing time last year, but with Sullivan out this game we will have a chance to see him play to his full potential. Senior Logan Epley and Sophomores Josh and James Lewis will also be key receivers to watch in Saturday’s game.

Harley Kreisman, a 3rd Team All HAAC running back, graduated last season and will be replaced by junior transfer Kelwin Burke Jr. Kreisman left a position that will be hard to fill, but from watching Burke through pre-season camp, it is safe to say that hopes are high for the new comer. Burke will take his first hand-off as a college athlete this weekend against Haskell.

Defensively, Avila has eight returning starters who are ready to pad up this Saturday and smash a different colored jersey. Senior middle linebacker Chance Alberswerth has been a NAIA Scholar Athlete for the past two years by maintaining above a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and uses those brains on the field to direct the defense. Not only does he have brains but he knows how to take down the ball carrier, tallying 42 tackles and 3 sacks for 24 yards last season.

Double redshirt freshman Joe Sublette is one defensive end whose season got cut short last season due to a fractured wrist. Sublette got off to a quick start with nine tackles in his game and a half of playing time until the injury, and is expected to have a great comeback season starting Saturday. Another defensive lineman who looks to have a show out year is 6’ 5” 275lbs, Chris Harris. With his size and strength, Harris has the ability to make his presence known in the Haskell backfield.

Sophomore defensive back David Gamboa led the team in tackles with 68 and had 3 interceptions last season. Gamboa established himself as a key part of the Avila secondary and plans to continue the tradition of great defensive backs at Avila University. With the graduation of 2nd Team All HAAC corner Joe Scott, last year’s defensive playmaker with 7 interceptions, someone will need to step up for the Eagles on defense and make the big plays Scott did last season.

Players to look out for - Haskell Indian Nations University

When looking at the Haskell Indian’s 41-24 loss against Bethel College on August 31, 2013; one player stands out above all the rest, Malcolm Coleman. A Haskell Indians running back, Coleman pounded the ball down the field with 215 yards on 40 attempts and two rushing touchdowns. On top of a stellar rushing performance, he had 28 yards receiving and a touchdown reception. Ball security will be a priority for Coleman because he gave up a fumble in last week’s contest.

The man sitting back in the pocket for Haskell will be Maverick Lane. Throwing for two touchdowns with 177 yards on 18 out of 36 attempts last week, Lane is getting the ball down field to his receivers successfully. Twice last week, Lane was intercepted, which might have been due to the first game jitters. Lane’s number one target was Canku One Star who had one receiving touchdown with 83 receiving yards on 6 catches and 35 rushing yards on 6 attempts. Canku and Coleman are Haskell’s two main offensive weapons and together had 79% of the total yards gained last week. It will be important for the Eagles to stop this duo to be successful against the Indian’s offense.

Haskell runs a blitz heavy 3-3 stack with a mixture of cover three and man to man coverage. Defensive back Derrick Hammer had four unassisted tackles and one assisted tackle, one tackle for a loss, and one forced fumble. Linebacker Darwin Holyan had the only interception for Haskell last week.

Support the Eagles-

The game will be held at Haskell Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. It is only a 35-45 minute drive from Avila University, so pile into your cars and get over there at 6:00p.m. to cheer on your Eagles!


Article written by Avila Football player Luke Oldham. A redshirt freshman from Rodgers, Arkansas; Oldham will be providing insight to Eagle Football all season long.


Experience, Leadership Should Add Up to More Wins for Eagles in 2013

2013 Season Preview

August 12, 2013

Kansas City, MO - Don’t judge a book by its cover. As far as Avila University head football coach Justin Berna is concerned, that old axiom also could apply to his Eagles football team. On the surface, the Eagles won fewer games last year than in his first season in 2011. But that didn’t tell the whole story. Not even close, Berna said.

“Our last three games, we were within one or two plays of winning,” Berna said. “We were just a few plays from having the best record in school history. Numbers-wise, we had the best offense we’ve ever had here. We lost five games by six points or less.

“Our first year, we either got blown out or we blew our opponent out. Last year, we had some real nail-biters. I almost wish we could switch those seasons.”

What decided those close games, Berna thinks, were a lack of senior leadership and an absence of experience in winning. He thinks he has that this year with the return of 14 key seniors and contributors.

“I think that’s a huge deal,” he said. “These guys should have that down-to-the-wire mentality. We learned last year what we need to do and what we’re able to do to get over that hump.”

Berna is excited about the talent he has returning in 2013. The key to the offense revolves around two players – junior wide receiver Da’Veion Sullivan, a first-team all-Heart of America Athletic Conference selection who caught 78 passes last season, and the man who will be throwing Sullivan the ball, senior quarterback Jacob Hicks. Junior Cole Muder returns at running back, while freshman Kyle Washington and sophomore Ryan Nace also should find time in the backfield.

Kris Moore, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior, and Jesse Ruiz, a 6-1, 260-pound senior all-conference lineman, will be looked upon to lead the protection up front.

As good as Berna thinks his offense will be this fall, he thinks the Eagles’ defense will be even better. Everyone returns, led by three talented linebackers – Cornell Ellis, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, Chance Alberswerth, a 6-2, 225-pound senior and Jesse Kribbs, a 6-2, 230-pound senior. Aaron Wiggins, a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore, and Jacob Lopez, a 5-11, 215 sophomore, also should see time at linebacker.

Up front, Joe Sublette, a 6-3, 240-pound sophomore, returns healthy after suffering a broken hand in the Eagles’ first game last season. Tyler Whisenhunt, a 6-1, 260-pound sophomore, is another anchor on the line. The defensive backfield looks to be led by all-conference safety Justin Davies, a senior, while sophomore David Gamboa and senior Gary Daniels also return, at safety and cornerback respectively.

“On paper, we look like a better team,” Berna said, “but we’ll have to see how quick we gel and how the injury situation shakes out. We’re close, but then again, it’s football, so you never know. But, we’ll have an opportunity, if we stay healthy, to be good.”

The Eagles open their season Sept. 7 at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. They play the next weekend at Bethany before opening the home season Sept. 21 against Evangel.


Eagles Tabbed to Finish Eighth in HAAC Preseason Poll

August 7, 2013

Kansas City, MO – The Eagles were picked to finish seventh in the annual HAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released Tuesday afternoon at the annual Media Day festivities at the NAIA National Office. After a 2012 season where the Eagles broke several team records, the Eagles return First Team All-HAAC receiver Da’Veion Sullivan as well as senior quarterback and two year starter Jacob Hicks. The offensive line will also be anchored by senior guard Jesse Ruiz. To watch the 2013 HAAC Football Media Day, click here.

On the defensive side, the Eagles will be led by senior linebacker Cornell Ellis who registered 60 tackles and four fumble recoveries in 2012, as well as senior defensive back Justin Davies who received HAAC honorable mention honors for his 55 tackles and 2 interceptions last season.

The Eagles kick off their 2013 season in Lawrence, Kansas when they take on Haskell Indian Nations University September 7. Kickoff is schedule for 6:00PM at Haskell Memorial Field.

2013 HAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll

School (Points)

1. Missouri Valley (80)

2. MidAmerica Nazarene (70)

3. Baker (67)

4. Evangel (56)

5. Benedictine (51)

6. Peru State (40)

7. Graceland (29)

8. Avila (25)

9. Central Methodist (22)

10. Culver-Stockton (10)

NFL Record Holder Darren Sproles Hosts Camp At Avila

July 9, 2013

Kansas City, MO – While the Zarda Multisport Athletic Complex on the campus of Avila University has played host to several top college athletes from around the country, the field had a first last week as it hosted NFL superstar Darren Sproles.

Sproles, a member of the New Orleans Saints, brought his 2013 edition of the Sproles Empowered Youth Camp to Avila University after hosting it in Olathe for the past two years.

Sproles and his wife Michel created Sproles Empowered Youth (SEY) to empower teen boys and girls with essential life skills that encourage them to become responsible and successful adults. The camp utilized several Avila facilities including the Zarda Complex, athletic weight room, and the Avila athletic pavilion.

Some of the key life-skills taught to the campers included handling finances, business education, health and sex education, self image, fitness, and sportsmanship. Of course, the highlight for the guys came from learning about the fundamentals of football from Darren Sproles as well as fellow NFL players.

Sproles has deep Kansas City ties through his high school career at Olathe North and his college career at Kansas State where he was fifth in the Heisman voting his senior year. In addition, his father, Larry, was a running back at fellow HAAC member MidAmerica Nazarene.

Eagle head football coach Justin Berna played a key role in bringing the camp to Avila and has hopes that the camp will continue to come back to campus for many years to come. "It was great having Darren on campus and I hope we can continue this in the future. I am very happy to see him helping out local youth and having his camp at Avila is huge for the university and our football program".

Eagles Wrap Up Busy Spring With Defensive Victory In Spring Game

May 9, 2013

Kansas City, MO – It’s been a busy spring for the Avila Football program and Head Coach Justin Berna. While players have been working hard to improve on the field and in the classroom, Berna has been working hard to build his 2013 coaching staff.

The Eagles have added five new members to the coaching staff including Paul Charbonneau (Asst. Head Coach) formerly of Valley City State University, Brad Vickroy (Def. Line) formerly of the University of Mary, former Avila player Josh Hewitt (Running Backs), former West Georgia player Andre Pope (Safties), and former St. Mary’s player John Annino (Def. Asst.).

In the weight room, the Eagles have been under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Sal Badali and have seen vast improvements. After another successful Lift-a-thon earlier this year that saw the Eagles Football program raise $4,300, the following players led the way in amounts lifted:


Kenny Coleman – 550 LBS

Tyler Whisenhunt – 530 LBS

Joe Sublette – 505 LBS

Nick Meissen – 505 LBS

Power Clean

Chris Harris – 335 LBS

KC Moorman – 310 LBS

Nick Meissen – 305 LBS

Split Jerk

Nick Meissen – 335 LBS

Kris Moore – 315 LBS

Chris Harris – 315 LBS

Incline Press

Kenny Coleman – 315 LBS

Dylan Hogan – 300 LBS

Jesse Ruiz – 285 LBS

Four Lift Total

Nick Meissen – 1,425 LBS

Kenny Coleman – 1,420 LBS

Chris Harris – 1,370 LBS

Body Mass Total

Isiah Bryant – 7.15

                  Body Weight – 172 LBS

                  Total Lifted – 1,230 LBS

Da’Veion Sullivan – 6.8

                  Body Weight – 181 LBS

                  Total Lifted – 1,225 LBS

Ryan Nace – 6.5

                  Body Weight – 186 LBS

                  Total Lifted – 1,215 LBS

On the field, offensive lineman Clayton Driskill received the Offensive Most Improved Player award while defensive lineman Chris Harris was selected as the Defensive Most Improved Player. Driskill, a Sikeston, MO native took his redshirt year this past season while Chris Harris saw action in six contests.

Meanwhile, Da’Veion Sullivan was honored at the Avila Athletic End of the Year Annual Banquet for his play last season as he was named Avila Male Athlete of the Year. Sullivan, the first player under Coach Berna to be named to the 1st Team All HAAC Squad, finished the season with 78 receptions, ranking 7th nationally and first in the HAAC, and collected 1,343 all-purpose yards on the season ranking 23rd in the NAIA. In his two years as an Eagle, Da’Veion has 102 receptions ranking third all time, while his seven touchdown receptions puts him in a tie for fourth with Jonas Serfozo (’06-’07). Sullivan also received honorable mention honors as a kick return specialist this season.

To wrap up the spring, the Eagles defensive claimed a 43-22 victory in the second annual Purple / White game. Notable performers for the defense included Marquis Williams who intercepted a Chris Session pass in the end zone, Nick Zavala who capitalized on a bad snap and leveled RB Ryan Nace to claim the fumble recovery, and Thomas Greger who also recovered a fumble in the second half of the contest.

Offensively, Ryan Nace’s 75 yard touchdown run was a bright spot for the Eagles in the first half while Chris Session’s pass to Robert Johnson for a 62 yard touchdown in the second half brought the estimated 250 fans in attendance to their feet.

Head coach Justin Berna feels that through all the change this spring, the program has certainly improved as it has done the previous two seasons under his leadership. “Once again, we’ve improved our strength in the weight room, and our kids have worked hard to improve on the field and in the classroom. We’ve added some great coaches to the staff and we’re feeling very confident about the future of Avila Football. As for the spring game, it’s always great to see some of the younger players shine”.

The Eagles will continue to work hard through the summer as they offer offseason workouts to their local players. They open their 2013 campaign in just 121 days as they travel to Lawrence, Kansas to take on Haskell University September 7.

Hernandez and Scott Sign with Professional Indoor Teams

March 13, 2013

Kansas City, MO – Former Avila Linebacker Jarrett Hernandez and Defensive Back Joe Scott have both made history this past month as the first players to be recruited and play under head coach Justin Berna and make it to the professional level. Hernandez signed locally with the Kansas City Renegades while Scott signed with the Topeka based Kansas Koyotes.

The Koyotes and Renegades are members of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL) which features ten teams from Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Iowa.

Hernandez, who signed with the Eagles in 2011, was a key contributor his junior year, finishing second in total tackles with 57 (34 solo) and leading the team in tackles for loss with ten. Hernandez was ineligible for his senior season, but continued to serve as a leader off the field, and plans to graduate with his degree in Kinesiology this December.

After taking part in a two week minicamp, which saw the team start with upwards of 70 players, the Renegade progressively made cuts to come to their final roster size of around 40. Hernandez views the opportunity as “another chance to continue playing the game I love and put off a future big boy job” said Hernandez. Perhaps most exciting is the fact that his parents, who live just two blocks from Avila, will continue to make a short trip to see Jarrett in action. “When I told my dad I’d made the team, I think he was more excited than I was”.

Hernandez described the Renegades as a veteran team and finds himself included in a small rookie class. The Renegades are made up of mostly former Division I players from schools such as Miami and Florida Atlantic, and Hernandez is one of only three former NAIA players signed for the 2013 season.

Scott, who played his senior year at Avila after transferring from Midland University in Nebraska, was a second team All-HAAC and BSN National Player of the Week. His seven interceptions in 2012 ranked sixth in the NAIA and continued a traditional of excellence at the defensive back position for the Eagles.

The Koyotes, who came under new ownership this past year, and are making the jump to the CPIFL from the APFL and currently tout former New York Jets receiver Chris Davis, former Benedictine College quarterback Efi Eyo, and former Kansas State receiver Attrail Snipes as some of their top newcomers for the upcoming season.

Coach Berna wishes Jarrett and Joe the best of luck and mentioned that he and the rest of the staff are "excited to have the chance to be able to go watch former AU playres continue their careers at the professional level and continue to represent Avila University and the football program".

The Renegades will play their home contests at Kemper Arena while the Koyotes will be playing at the Kansas Expocentre. The Two former teammates will face each other on two occasions, in Topeka on April 12, and in Kansas City May 25.

Hernandez and Scott join Avila assistant women's soccer coach Estelle Johnson and former Avila Baseball Player Chris Thomas as Avila Eagles who have signed a professional contract over the past twelve months.

Football Team Dacnes with Villa Ventura Seniors for Mardi Gras

February 18, 2013

Kansas City, MO – For the third year in a row, the Avila Eagles football team put on a themed dance at the Villa Ventura retirement home. The dance took place on Fat Tuesday and was appropriately given a Mardi Gras theme and featured live music, beads, and colorful headdresses. Last year, the Eagles football team partook in a Valentine’s Day dance at Villa Ventura.

A dozen or so players from this year’s squad attended the dance that lasted just over an hour. Both head coach Justin Berna and Avila dance professor Vicki Strawder coordinated to put on the event and plan to continue the event for many years to come. Berna had the following to say on the event, “It’s a great opportunity for our players to get out into the community and make an impact.”

Four Eagles Receive Scholar-Athlete Honors

December 12, 2012

Kansas City, MO - The NAIA office released their 2012 Daktronics Scholar-Athlete's list this week, with four Eagles making the cut, up from three in 2011. The following Eagles received the award: Complete List

Chance Alberswerth - Junior | Higginsville, Missouri

Vincent Beltran - Sophomore | Garland, Texas

Matt St. John - Junior | Excelsior Springs, Missouri

Paris Walkup - Senior | Mountain View, Missouri

The Eagles finished with the third most scholar-athletes in the HAAC while Baker University led the way with twelve.

Chance Alberswerth and Matt St. John both received the Scholar-Athlete award in 2011 as well. To qualify for the honor, student-athletes must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status in order qualify. 259 Football student-athletes nationally have been named 2012 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Eagles Rewrite the Record Books in 2012

December 4, 2012

Kansas City, MO – Nineteen; that’s the number of school records the Eagles set this past season. To the passive AU football fan, this may come as a surprise, but for the coaching staff, players, and fans who traveled across Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, and Iowa to watch the Eagles play, it’s no surprise at all.

It’s easiest to list the number of school records broke this past season, and it’s a very long list:

  • Most Points in a Season (294)

  • Average Yards per Game (401)

  • Sacks Given Up In A Season (16)

  • First Downs in a  Game (37)

  • First Downs in a Season (262)

  • Passing Yards in a Game (373)

  • Completions in a Game (32 of 49)

  • Most Points in a Game (67)

  • Receptions in a Game (14)

  • Rushing Yards in a Season (2,172)

  • Yards per Carry Average in a Season (5.1)

  • Receptions in a Season (78)

  • Total Yards by an Individual in a Game (470)

  • Rushing Touchdowns in a Season (21)

  • Rushing Touchdowns by an Individual in a Season (13)

  • Points Scored by an Individual in a Season (80)

  • Yards Per Carry by an Individual in a season (6.0)

  • Tackles for Loss (29)

  • Longest Touchdown Return (103)

After a quick glance, it becomes clear that the Avila offense in 2012 may have very well been the best in the eleven year history of the program. The Eagles had a balanced attack as they passed for 2,238 yards and rushed for 2,172 yards on the year. Junior quarterback Jake Hicks led the attack through the air as he passed for 1,725 yards, completing 169 of 296 passes with 10 touchdowns and rushed for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Hicks’ carried a quarterback rating of 111.1, and through the year, there was no doubt that sophomore Da’Veion Sullivan was his go to receiver.

Sullivan ranked 8th in the nation and first in the HAAC in total receptions with 78 on the season, 19 more than any other HAAC receiver. With 599 reception yards, and three touchdowns, the Los Angeles, California native averaged 54.5 yards per game. Senior Darrell Dunston wasn’t far behind Sullivan in total yards with 413 on 30 receptions, averaging 13.8 yards per catch and scoring two touchdowns.

Freshman Robert Johnson, a Willis, Texas native, also had two touchdowns on the year with 377 yards on 27 receptions.

On the ground, senior Harley Kreisman took over the majority of the workload after sophomore Alyn Jackson was forced to miss his second consecutive season, this time due to injury. Kreisman proved to be more than ready in second season as an Eagle as he rushed for 904 yards, ranking 29th in the nation, and set the programs single season scoring record with 80 points on 13 touchdowns, ranking 22nd in the nation.

Nicholas Muder and James Russell also saw significant time in the backfield for the Eagles as Muder rushed for 299 yards on 68 carries while Russell rushed for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Eagles were led by Freshman David Gamboa. A Belvidere, Illinois native, Gamboa led the Eagles in total tackles with 68, had six tackles for loss (17.5 yds.), and had three interceptions including a 103 yard touchdown return for a touchdown in the Eagles homecoming contest against Culver-Stockton College.

Junior defensive back Justin Davies led the Eagles in solo tackles with 33, ten of which came in the Eagles final game of the year against Peru State and four fumble recoveries. Cornell Ellis also contributed 60 total tackles and four fumble recoveries while senior lineman Christian Smith had 54 tackles, and led the Eagles in tackles for loss with 9.5 on the year (23.3 yds.).

Senior lineman Derrick Lewis led the Eagles in sacks with five while Chance Alberswerth had three.

Joe Scott, made the most of his one year career as an Eagle, leading the team in interceptions with seven in just eight games as he missed the first three contests of the year. His seven interceptions fell just one short of Tyler Cardwell’s eight interception performance last season and ranked seventh in the nation. Scott also ranked first in the HAAC in interceptions per game.

On special teams, Da’Veion Sullivan and Robert Johnson handled all the return duties and were the best kick return duo in the nation as Sullivan ranked 8th in the nation in Kick Return yards with 645 yards while Robert Johnson ranked 24th in the nation with 497 yards. Sullivan and Johnson beat out Brandon Sheppard and Trent Schuett of Wayland Baptist by 49 yards to claim the honor of best kickoff tandem.

Senior Tim Gilday handled the kicking responsibility for the Eagles for the second straight year, and finished 7-of-11 with a .636 percentage, ranking fourth in the HAAC. His seven made field goals, including a career long 42 yarder against Baker, ranked 30th in the nation.

Similar to past years, the Eagles continued to play one of the toughest schedules in the nation as their opponents had a combined record of 63-58. The Eagles faced four programs that finished 2012 ranked in the NAIA Top 25 Poll (#2 Missouri Valley, #9 MidAmerica Nazarene, #11 Baker University, #22 Benedictine, and #23 Evangel University). Of those four programs, three made the NAIA National Tournament (Missouri Valley, MidAmerica Nazarene, Baker), and Missouri Valley made it to the semifinals.

While reflecting on the 2012 season, two key points arise for second year Head Coach Justin Berna. The first is the Eagles ability to win close games. Outside of the loss at Missouri Valley, Berna felt the Eagles were competitive in every contest they played in. “For the first time in the programs history, we’ve played in ten games that have all come down to a handful of plays. It’s both physically and mentally draining and most of our players haven’t experienced that before at this level.” With 15 starters returning next season (7 offensive, 8 Defensive), Berna sees the Eagles gaining experience from this closes losses and coming up on the right end of the result in the future.

The Eagle graduate 14 seniors including: K/P – Tim  Gilday, WR – Paris Walkup, DB – Joe Scott, OL - Deonta Wade, LB – Robert Reiff, DL – Chris Smith, RB – James Russell, LB – Nik Folken, RB – Harley Kreisman, WR – Darrell Duston, DL – Derrick Lewis, DL – Alex Taylor, TE – Trey Swager, OL – Josh Hewitt.

Coach Berna had the following to say on the senior class: “I couldn’t be prouder of our seniors. They’ve made it through three coaching staffs in four years and that’s not easy. Lots of guys quit, and all of these young men have stuck it out, and they can walk away feeling good about leaving the program in a better place.”

While the Eagles will continue to have an overall young team next fall, Coach Berna stressed the importance that several underclassmen have at least a years playing experience of seeing significant minutes which bolds well for the future.










Fourteen Eagles Receive All HAAC Honors – Sullivan Selected to First Team

November 27, 2012

Kansas City, MO – While the Eagles record may not reflect the quality of this year’s team, the 2012 HAAC All Conference list certainly did as the Eagles had fourteen athletes receive honors. Sophomore receiver Da’Veion Sullivan led the way as he was the first player to be selected to the First Team All HAAC squad in Head Coach Justin Berna’s two years at the helm.

Avila also had a pair of Eagles receive Second Team honors and Third Team honors while nine others made the Honorable Mention list.

Sullivan, a 5-9 Los Angeles, California native finished the season with 78 receptions, ranking 7th nationally and first in the HAAC, and collected 1,343 all-purpose yards on the season ranking 23rd in the NAIA. In his two years as an Eagle, Da’Veion has 102 receptions ranking third all time, while his seven touchdown receptions puts him in a tie for fourth with Jonas Serfozo (’06-’07). Sullivan also received honorable mention honors as a kick return specialist this season.

Senior offensive lineman Josh Hewitt received All HAAC honors for the third time in his four year career at Avila. After being named to the honorable mention list in 2010 and 2011, the St. Louis native was selected to the 2nd team All HAAC in 2012. Hewitt anchored an offensive line that 17th in the nation in total rushing yards (2172) and seventh in the NAIA in first downs per game (23.8). Josh started in all 43 games of his college career.

Joe Scott, a senior defensive-back from Santa Barbara, California was selected to the All HAAC Second Team as well in his first and only year at Avila. Scott continued to the tradition of excellence at the cornerback position for the Eagles as he ranked sixth in the nation in interceptions with seven on the year. Scott also forced and recovered three fumbles on the year and was voted a BSN Defensive Player of the week.


Harley Kreisman was also voted a BSN Player of the week for his 191 yard, three touchdown performance against Graceland. The 6’0, 220 senior from Oroville, California was ranked 22nd in the nation in total scoring with 80 points on the year and 29th in the nation in total rushing with 904 yards, good enough for fifth in the HAAC.


Chris Smith received Third Team All HAAC honors for the second consecutive year. The Blue Springs, Missouri native ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 54 on the year and forced a team leading three fumbles. Smith’s nine and a half tackles for loss ranked fourth in the HAAC.


Trey Swager (TE – Port St. Lucie, Fl.), Darrell Dunston (WR – St. Louis, Mo.), Robert Johnson (WR – Willis, Texas), Jesse Ruiz (OL – Oakdale, Calif.) and Tim Gilday (P – Leawood, Kan.) were all selected to the HAAC offensive honorable mention list.

On the defensive side, Nicholas Childs (DL – San Diego, Calif.), Cornell Ellis (LB – Kansas City, Mo.), and Justin Davies (S – Kansas City, Mo.) were voted to the honorable mention list. Davies, a junior, received this honor for the second consecutive year.

Kreisman Named BSN Player of the Week

November 7, 2012

Kansas City, MO - After rushing for 191 yards on 20 attempts, and scoring three touchdowns, senior runningback Harley Kreisman has been selected at a Beyond Sports College Network athlete of the week at the NAIA level for Week 10. Harley, a Oroville, California native, joins Joe Scott as the second Eagle to receive the BSN Player of the Week award this season. Scott received the award for his performance in Week 4 against MidAmerica Nazarene.

Kreisman opened up the scoring for the Eagles this past weekend against Graceland University with a 35 yard touchdown rush, his longest rush of the day. That touchdown run alone was also enough to out-gain Graceland total rushing yards for the whole contest (30 rushes for 30 yards). Kreisman also scored on runs of seven and two yards. The Eagles fell to Graceland 20-26.

Nationally, Harley ranks 20th in the nation (4th in the HAAC) in total scoring with 72 points, 28th in total rushing yards (798) and 35th in rushing yards per game (79.8).

Kreisman was joined on the BSN POW list this week by fellow HAAC athletes Sean Ransburg (MNU - QB) and Greg Gates (MNU - RB).

Click here to view the entire BSN Player of the Week List. Click Week 10

Eagles Defeat Wildcats 67-29 In Two Day Marathon

October 15, 2012

Kansas City, MO – The Eagles 2012 homecoming football game was one for the history books in several ways. Records for the longest game played, most points scored in a game, and longest interception return for a touchdown fell as the Eagles (2-5, 1-4) defeated Culver-Stockton (0-7, 0-7) in a contest that took 22-hours to complete 67-29.

Culver-Stockton jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, their only lead of the contest, from a 34 yard field goal from Michael Camargo with 5:30 to play in the first half. The Eagles response came quickly as junior quarterback Dominic Carmazzi called his own number and opened the scoring with a six yard quarterback keeper. The Eagles capped the first quarter with a 45 yard touchdown strike from Jacob Hicks to Logan Epley as time expired in the quarter. Hicks would also connect with Paris Walkup for a 48 yard touchdown in the second quarter as the Eagles took a 28-3 lead into the intermission.

The Eagles defense opened the scoring in the second half as Joe Scott forced and recovered a fumble taking it back 30-yards for the score. Shortly after, the game experienced it’s first of five weather delays which ultimately lead to the games suspension with 8:38 to play in the fourth quarter. Culver mounted a brief come back prior to the games suspension with three successive touchdowns to close the deficit to 47-29.

The teams resumed play Sunday morning with a Wildcat two point attempt from a Kyle Elmore run that the Eagles stuffed at the one-yard line. From that point, the Eagles outscored CSC 20-0 with the highlight of the day coming from a David Gamboa pick six which was returned 103 yards for the score, an Eagle record.

James Russell finished off the scoring with a 1 yard touchdown run with 0:15 to play as the Eagles scored a record breaking 67 points, eclipsing the old record of 59 in their 2007 home victory over Haskell. The Eagles are also 54 points away from breaking the all-time season scoring record.

The Eagles rushed for 234 yards as a team with senior running back Harley Kreisman leading the way rushing for 84 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Kreisman’s second touchdown tied him with Laurance Subelka for third all-time in career rushing touchdowns with seven. The Eagles currently rank 20th in the nation in total rushing with 1344 total yards.

Hicks finished the day going 9/16 for 204 yards and two touchdowns bringing his total to six on the year and reached the 2000 yard mark for his career in passing as an Eagle. The junior quarterback from Shelton, Washington currently sits third on the all-time career leaders list in completions (189), touchdowns (15), and yards (2000).

On defense, the Eagles forced five turnovers (3 interceptions, 2  fumbles recovered) and were led by junior cornerback Gary Daniels as he finished with 8 tackles (4 solo, 4 assisted) and one interception. Linebackers Cornell Ellis and Robert Reiff both collected 7 tackles as well. Joe Scott continued to be a turnover machine for the Eagles as he forced and recovered two fumbles, had one interception and gathered five tackles. Scott currently ranks fifth in the nation with four interceptions on the year.

Derrick Lewis led the Eagles in sacks with two.

The Eagles will look to pick up their second road win of the year this Saturday when they head to Springfield to face Evangel University (5-2, 4-1). The Crusaders are riding a three game win streak with wins over Benedictine (54-44), Graceland (35-14), and Peru State (38-23). As a team, Evangel rank 3rd in the NAIA in passing offense (2200 yards) and are led by junior receiver Jesse Vaughn who leads the nation in receiving yards with 949 on the year. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30pm at JFK Stadium.

Joe Scott Named BSN Defensive Player of the Week

September 25, 2012

Kansas City, MO – While the Eagles ended up on the wrong side of a 9-38 result against the thirteenth ranked MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers, senior defensive back Joe Scott provided a silver lining for head coach Justin Berna.

The Santa Barbara, California native recorded five tackles (three solo), two interceptions, and a pass breakup in his first game as an Eagle and was rewarded with the title of BSN Defensive Player of the Week. His two interceptions rank him 16th in the nation in INT’s and led the team on the year.

The Eagles (0-4) will be looking to pick up their first win of the year this weekend when they travel to Linsborg, Kansas to take on Bethany College (2-2). Avila will be looking to avenge a 13-30 home loss to Bethany in 2011.

The Sweeds are coming off a 31-33 loss to Kansas Wesleyan University and will feature sophomore running back Tevis Linnebur who ranks seventh in the NAIA in total rushing with 439 yards on the year.


Football Team Looks to Take Another Leap Forward

2012 Season Preview

July 23, 2012

Kansas City, MO - The 2011 season was a big one for the Avila University football team. The Eagles doubled the number of victories from the season before – improving from a 2-8 record to 4-6 – had their best record in eight years and established several team records, including most Heart of America Athletic Conference wins in a season, most touchdown passes in a game and most points scored against an opponent (50 vs. Graceland). Perhaps most impressive was that the Eagles won four of their last five games of the season.

Now, beginning his second season at the helm of the program, head coach Justin Berna has no illusions that such a quantum leap again this fall will be easy. Yet, the coach believes the stage definitely is set for more improvement.

What has Berna most excited are the sheer numbers he has out for football this Fall, including a stellar and deep recruiting class.

“If we started tomorrow, we’d have 108 on the squad,” Berna said July 13. “We only have 100 lockers.

“We did a really good job recruiting locally, which is what we wanted to do. We have a lot of kids here who are used to winning.”

It’s the same recruiting model, Berna said, that was used when he was an assistant coach at Lindenwood, when his team qualified for the NAIA playoffs two of the three years he was there  – dominate recruiting locally with high-quality kids who know how to win. He said he especially was bolstered about 40 of his players stayed in town over the summer to lift and condition.

“We have a ton of players back, both old and new,” he said. “We have our nucleus back, and then we’ve done a great job of recruiting great depth and players who can come in and contribute immediately.”

Berna especially feels good about his offense’s quarterback situation. Jacob Hicks, a 6-foot-5 junior, returns after going 4-1 as a starter last season, and Dominic Carmazzi, whose brother played for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, provides nice depth and different talents.

Sophomore Alyn Jackson, who led the HAAC in rushing as a freshman two seasons ago, returns after eligibility issues sidelined him a year ago. Cole Muder, also a sophomore, had a couple of 100-yard rushing games last season.

Da’Veion Sullivan, an honorable mention all-conference choice last year as a kickoff returner and wide receiver, and Trey Swager should be Hicks’ two main targets at receiver.

The defense looks to be led by junior linebacker Cornell Ellis, a transfer from the University of Missouri who had to sit out last season. Jesse Kribbs, Jarrett Hernandez and Nike Folken will join Ellis at linebacker.

Junior Tim Gilday returns as the Eagles’ starting kicker and punter.

“For the first time, we’re coming back with the same system,” Berna said. “We’re recruiting for what we want.”

Berna said to expect the usual suspects to be battling it out for the top of the conference standings – Baker, Benedictine, MidAmerica Nazarene, Missouri Valley. With a few breaks, perhaps a new name could enter that mix.

“If we can stay healthy,” Berna said, “posting our first winning season is a very attainable goal.”

Eagles Team Up With Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City To Coach Football Camp

May 26, 2012

Kansas City, MO – This past Saturday (May 19th), the Eagles coaches and players put on a free football camp for the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. The camp was held on the Chiefs outdoor practice facility and lasted four hours.

Jeremy Horne, a second year receiver for the chiefs out of the University of Massachusetts, made an appearance and spoke with the 50 kids in attendance. Eagle players in attendance included Chris Harris (So. Defensive Lineman); Jake Hicks (Jr. Quarterback); Alyn Jackson (Jr. Running Back); Jacob Rhoades (So. Quaterback); Chance Alberswerth (Jr. Linebacker) and Darrell Dunston (Jr. Receiver). Avila head coach Justin Berna and assistant coach David Flores were also in attendance.

The camp broke players up into specific positions working on topics such as footwork, zonal defense, route running, and throwing motion. The camp finished with a 7 on 7 tournament allowing many of the kids to experience organized football for the first time.

White Claims Victory in Purple/White Spring Game

May 26, 2012

Kansas City, MO - With over 300 fans in attendance, White claimed a 31-21 victory over Purple in the Second annual Purple/White game on the campus of Avila University earlier this month.

Notable performances came from receiver DaVeion Sullivan who had a big touchdown catch from a Vince Beltran pass, spring transfer quarterback Dominic Carmazzi who ran for a touchdown, and junior quarterback Jacob Hicks as he wrapped up a solid spring in which he never threw an interception.

On the defensive end, sophomore defensive lineman Chris Smith set the tone while Justin Davies returned an interception for a touchdown.

The Eagles improved in the classroom as well as on the field this spring as the team GPA went from a 2.73 to a 2.98 for the spring semester.

Head coach Justin Berna, who will be heading into his second season at the helm this fall had the following to say on the Eagles spring improvement: “We had a great spring, we are way ahead of where we were last year and most importantly we are healthy. We are going to have a great group of guys here this summer allowing us to continue to improve. We have set goals for this upcoming fall and we are all excited to see what we can do on the field in 2012.”

Football Raises $5,000 in Lift-Off

April 16, 2012

Kansas City, MO – Senior defensive lineman Christian Smith proved to be the strongest Eagle at the first annual Football Lift-Off that took place April 7th. The 5’10, 250 pound Blue Springs, Missouri native lifted a combined total of 1045 pounds as he Incline pressed 280 pounds, squatted 475 pounds, and cleaned 290 pounds. Smith received the award for heaviest incline as well as the overall title.

Jeryn Collier, a senior linebacker had the biggest squat at 505 pounds while Chris Harris, a sophomore defensive lineman had the biggest clean at 305 pounds. A complete list of players who lifted over 1000 pounds can be  found below.

Freshman receiver Isaiah Bryant won the relative strength award. The 5'8, 180 pound receiver lifted just over six times his body weight (980 lbs.)

The program raised an impressive $5,000 that will go towards the teams operating budget. The program just recently purchased a brand new set of dumbbells for the weight room with money raised through past fundraising events and head coach Justin Berna plans to use some of the money for further weight room enhancements.

  Incline Squat Clean Total
Christian Smith 280 475 290 1045 (Won Tie Breaker)
Jeryn Collier 245 505 295 1045
Nik Folken 275 460 2795 1030
Cornell Ellis 255 470 295 1020
Matt St. John 225 500 285 1010
Deonta Wade 265 445 300 1010
Aaron Anderson 245 460 300 1005

Second Annual Purple/White Game Scheduled for May 5

April 9, 2012

Kansas City, MO – The Eagles will partake in their annual spring Purple/White game May 5th with kickoff set for 10 AM. The spring game will take place on the Zarda Multisport complex on the campus of Avila University. Justin Berna will be entering his second spring at the helm. The Eagles went 4-6 last season, their best record since 2003 and broke several program records in the process:

  • 4 Conference Wins – Most Ever (Culver-Stockton, Evangel, Graceland, Peru State)

  • Most TD passes in a single game (4 vs. Graceland)

  • Most points scored against a conference opponent (50 vs. Graceland)

  • Most All Conference Award Winners (15 Players)

  • First Ever All American (Tyler Cardwell)

The Eagles will be returning 14 of their 26 starters and return 59 letter winners while losing just 18. Top returners and key losses for the Eagles include:

Top Returners






Awards, Stats, Info

Chris Smith





3rd Team All HAAC Defensive Line in 2011

Alyn Jackson





1st Team All HAAC Running Back in 2010, Sat out 2011

Da'Veion Sullivan





Honorable Mention All HAAC Wide Receiver and Kick Returner in 2011

Josh Hewitt





Honorable Mention All HAAC Offensive Line in 2011

Jesse Kribbs





Honorable Mention All HAAC Linebacker  in 2011

Jake Hicks





Went 4-1 as a starter last 5 games

Key Losses






Honors Received, Stats

Tyler Cardwell





2nd Team DB BSN All American, 2nd Team DB HAAC,(8 INT’s tied for 3rd in Nation in NAIA)

Chris Morefield





3rd Team All HAAC Offensive Line

Jarrett Brooks





Honorable Mention All HAAC Defensive Line

MJ Bland





3rd Team All HAAC Wide Receiver

Eagles Take Part in Valentine’s Day Dance

February 22, 2012

Kansas City, MO – For the second year in a row, the Avila Eagles football team put on a themed dance at the Villa Ventura retirement home. The dance, which took place on February 16, was appropriately selected to be a Valentine’s Day theme, and featured live music. A dozen or so players from this years 4-6 squad attended the dance that lasted just over an hour. Both head coach Justin Berna and Avila dance professor Vicki Strawder coordinated to put on the event and plan to continue the event for many years to come. Berna had the following to say on the event, “It’s a great opportunity for our players to get out into the community and make an impact.”

Eagles Release Signing Day List Including 21 Players

Kansas City, MO – Second year head Coach Justin Berna was looking to capitalize off an Eagles 2011 campaign that saw them finish with the second best record in school history. He did just that as the Eagles released their signing day list of 21 players who have committed to play for the Eagles this fall.












Dominic Carmazzi




Sacramento City College



David Gamboa




Harper C.C.



Sean Morrow




Topeka Hayden HS



Joe Strauch




Butler HS



Ryan Nace




Grain Valley HS



Jonathan James




Rogers Heritage HS



Brendan Gabbart




Cameron HS



David Kepus




St. Pius HS



Utah Finley




Marshfield HS



Patrick Moore




Topeka Hayden HS



Jared Dotson




Liberty North HS



Danny White




Parkway South HS



Antonio Love




Coffeyville C.C.



Nick Rellihan




Lee Summit HS



Caleb Carillo




Bishop Carroll HS



Edward Beasley




Joy Christian HS



D.J. Dunn




Troy-Buchanan HS



Zach Lacy




Dexter HS



Eddie Sola




Park Hill South



Tyler Whisenhunt




Knob Noster



Luke Oldham




Rogers Heritage HS



The Eagles will continue to sign players through the summer, but Justin Berna was more than pleased with the progress his coaching staff made up to this point in the off-season. The Eagles will open up their 2012 season on the road in Belleville, IL as they take on Lindenwood University on September 1st. The Eagles home and HAAC conference opener will take place the following weekend when they take on Central Methodist September 8th.

tylerCardwell Selected as BSN Second Team All American

Kansas City, MO – Tyler Cardwell, a 5'11 senior from Blue Springs, Missouri was selected to the Beyond Sports College (BSN) Network NAIA All American Second Team. Cardwell finished the season with 8 interceptions, ranking 3 rd in the nation and first in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Cardwell finished his Avila career with 14 picks, ranking second on the Eagles all-time list. Tyler also had 57 tackles on the year, ranking second on an Eagles defense that lead Avila to its highest win total since 2006. Cardwell is the first Eagle to ever receive the BSN All American Award.

Cardwell's BSN profile can be viewed at the link below:

Highlight Reel

15 Eagles Named to All HAAC Teams

December 2011

Kansas City, MO – After finishing the 2011 season with a 4-5 record in HAAC play, their best conference record since finishing 5-5 in 2003, the Eagles featured a record 15 players on the All HAAC squads. Tyler Cardwell topped the list for the Eagles making the second team, while a quartet of Eagles made the third team. Ten Players in total made the honorable mention list.

Second Team All HAAC

Cardwell, a senior safety from Blue Springs, Missouri led an Avila defense that played a key role in Avila reaching their highest wins total since 2009. Cardwell's eight interceptions ranked third in the NAIA and led the Heart of America Athletic Conference. He finishes his career second all-time in interceptions with 14. His 57 tackles on the year ranked second on the Eagles defense. Cardwell was selected as a Third Team All HAAC member in 2009.

Third Team All HAAC

Four players earn Third Team All HAAC. View the awards page for more details.

Honorable Mention All HAAC
10 players earn Honorable Mentions All HAAC. View the awards page for more details.

Avila Football Finished Season with 26-23 Victory Over Peru State

November 2011

Kansas City, MO – The Eagles closed out their 2011 season in Peru, Nebraska and defeated HAAC newcomers Peru State 26-23. The two sided played to a scoreless first quarter, and a Tim Gilday field goal at the 14:55 minute mark gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead.

Peru State would get their opening points of the game on the board courtesy of a Ryan Ludlow 8 yard run. Da'Veion Sullivan restored the lead three minutes later of a 20 yard pass completion from Jacob Hicks and the Eagles would go into half time with a 10-7 lead.

The Avila secondary caused havoc again forcing Peru State into three interceptions, two of which were forced by Senior Eagle Tyler Cardwell. He will finish the season with eight interceptions, ranking third nationally in the NAIA. He will finish his career at Avila with 14 Interceptions, ranking second all-time at Avila. Cardwell also led the Eagles in tackles with 9 in the game while Jesse Kribbs and Aaron Anderson followed closely with 8.

Fellow senior Jason Vizcaino followed up his two pick performance last week with one interception that he returned 58 yards for his first career touchdown.

Peru State made a game out of it late, outscoring the Eagles 10-3 in the fourth quarter, but ran out of time as the game finished 26-23.

Harley Kreisman led the Eagles on the ground gaining 54 yards on 13 carries. Jacob Hicks went 23-41 for 250 yards, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown.

Coach Berna had was pleased with the Eagles ability to close out the 2011 campaign saying ““Our guys played hard and it was good to see us finish a game that was a close back and forth battle”. He added “You can see our character as a team starting to really develop”.

The start of the 2011 season was one filled with tests for first year head coach Justin Berna. After losing his top 2011 returner, Alan Jackson, a 2010 1 st Team All HAAC selection, due to eligibility issues, the Eagles went on to lose their first six games of the year. The schedule was not kind to the Eagles either as their first six opponents, four of them ranked in the NAIA Top 25, had a combined record of 38-12 this season.

The turning point of the year proved to be a 27-13 victory on the road against Culver-Stockton on Oct. 15. The Eagles went on to win four of their last five contests, going 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the road. The Eagles 2011 record of 4-5 doubled their wins total of two from last fall.

bernaCoach Berna summed up the season with the following: “The coaching staff and myself have been very pleased with how the players have improved each and every week, not just on the game field but on the practice field and in the weight room. The players have really made strides believing in the program and what we are trying to accomplish as a team and you could see that throughout the progress of the season”.


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