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Six Tritons earn All-America status

—Photo by Paul DeCoursey Iowa Central’s daquan cross was named to the NJCAA All-America first team as a linebacker, his second honor with the Tritons.

Fresh off another win in The Graphic Edge Bowl and a second consecutive winning season, six members of the Iowa Central football team were named to the NJCAA All-America teams.

Richard Rodriguez and Daquan Cross were selected to the first team, Eugene Brown and Rashad Witty to the second, and DJ Irons and Tanarious Achan landed on the honorable mention list.

The Tritons, who finished the year ranked 18th in the nation, were also ICCAC champions and won the Kinney Cup this past fall. Iowa Central played five of the Top-10 teams this past year and seven of the Top-20.

Rodriguez, a freshman offensive lineman, helped pave the way for a ground attack that averaged almost 160 yards rushing per game.

Overall, Iowa Central averaged 370.5 yards of offense and just under 30 points, including a win in the bowl win over Nassau.

“It’s insane to me (to be honored), but none of it would’ve been possible without my coaches,” Rodriguez said. “They put me in the position I am now and also my teammates for always pushing me to try and be the best I could be.”

Rodriguez, who was a standout at Spencer in high school, will be returning to Iowa Central next fall for his sophomore season.

Cross, a sophomore linebacker, led Iowa Central’s defense with 81 tackles. He also had six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an interception. Cross also broke up five passes on the year.

Last year, Cross was one of three Tritons honored as an All-American, earning honorable mention honors. He finished his two-year Iowa Central career with 158 tackles, eight sacks, 15.5 stops for loss, five forced fumbles, three picks and 11 pass breakups.

Brown, a sophomore member of the secondary, was second on the team with 75 stops. He had three fumble recoveries and broke up four passes with a tackle for loss.

“This means a lot and I am just grateful and blessed to make the list,” Brown said. “I’m just not satisfied yet. I still have a lot to improve on, but I’m glad that people supported me through this journey and that none of my hard work went unnoticed.”

Witty, a sophomore wide receiver, was named as the return specialist. He finished with 1,077 all-purpose yards, averaging 25 yards per kickoff return and 15 yards per punt return.

“Being honored as an All-American is by far an awesome feeling,” Witty said. “It’s also humbling knowing I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the 10 other guys making pathways for me. To me personally, the entire special teams are my All-Americans.”

Witty, who has signed with Morningside, was one of the top receivers and led the Tritons in return yards last year as well. He finished his two seasons with 85 catches for 1,169 yards, 10 touchdowns and 1,291 return yards.

“The past two years have been the best two years of my life,” Witty said. “I’ve grown into the man I always wanted to be and met some great people while being here. It’s harder to leave this school than it was to leave home.

“I love this place with all my heart and I’ll forever be a Triton, proudly.”

Irons, who led the nation in quarterback rating, threw for 2,039 yards with 21 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. Achan, a sophomore, was the leading wide receiver for Iowa Central with 54 receptions for 805 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“It’s a blessing and I just want to thank God, my coaches, teammates, family and everyone else for their support in getting me to where I am now,” Irons said. “I’m just going to accept the honor and grind some more so next time I will be first-team.”

Achan was fourth in receptions in the country, seventh in yards and third in TD catches.

“Being an All-American is very special to me and is a great honor,” Achan said. “I couldn’t have accomplished it without my teammates or coaches. These last two years, I grew as a person and learned a lot about myself more than anything.”

Iowa Central has had nine players named to the first, second or honorable mention All-America teams over the past two years and 16 since 2014.