Jim Townsend of Okanogan and Ryan Nilles of Omak will be playing with Eastern Washington University football mates in the FCS national championship Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas.

The No. 3-ranked Eagles (11-2) dispatched No. 7 Maine (9-4), 50-19, in the semifinals Dec. 15.

EWU will take on the lone undefeated team in the playoffs, No. 1 North Dakota State (13-0), which knocked out No. 5 South Dakota State (9-3), 44-21, in the semifinals Dec. 14.

CORRECTION ON TIME: The national championship starts at 9 a.m. our time and will be televised on ESPN2.

The Eagles reached the title game with a 42-21 win over Nichols State in the second round of the playoffs, followed by a 34-29 win over No. 6 UC Davis.

The Bisons reached the finals with a 52-10 thrashing of Montana State in the second round and a 35-0 shutout over No. 8 Colgate in the quarterfinals.

The top 8 seeded teams received first-round byes.

Maine reached the semis with a 23-18 win over No. 2 Weber State.

South Dakota won its semifinal 27-7 over No. 4 Kennesaw.

The 6-4, 260-pound Townsend (No. 49), a red shirt junior, was one of 18 finalists for the national Piesman Trophy, an annual award given by SB Nation to a “lineman who does something special with the ball in his hands.”

The junior defensive end and Okanogan High School graduate earned the spot by picking up a fumble and rambling 62-yards for a touchdown against Cal Poly in September.

A first-year starter, Townsend finished against Cal Poly with a career-high seven tackles, a quarterback hurry and the key fumble recovery.

The Eags led 28-10 when the Mustangs were driving with eight seconds left in the half. A sack and a forced fumble led to Townsend’s romp, which was very much reminiscent of another former Bulldog – and Townsend’s cousin - Will Derting.

Derting, a linebacker who could play outside and inside, returned an interception for a 98-yard pick six as a red shirt freshman against Nevada.

This wasn’t the lone big play turned in by Townsend this season.

In the FCS semifinals against UC Davis, he recovered sacked the quarterback, forcing a fumble recovered by the Eagles in the final seconds to seal the win.

There were only three from NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) on the ballot, which also included nominees from such schools as Clemson (two), Ohio State, Arizona State and USC.

Kyle Phillips of Tennessee won the award.

Nilles (No. 56), a freshman listed at 6-6, 330, is a 2017 Omak graduate.

EWU lists him as a reserve at left offensive guard.

A redshirt last year, Nilles was the team’s offensive scout team player of the week once.

As of Dec. 21, the Loup Loup Ski Bowl had received three inches of new snow in the previous 24 hours for 16 inches at the base and 18 inches at the top. So far this year, 23 inches had fallen at the hill.

The Loup got its first packing Dec. 17 according to the hill’s website, skitheloup.com.

The site said one to two more feet of snow is needed for full operation.

The weather forecast for this weekend calls for up to a foot of snow for the region.

The Bear Mountain luge run is open, as is snowshoeing.

Fat tire biking is closed.

Last Friday was the first packing/grooming of the South Summit cross country trails.

Little Buck Mountain has been packed/groomed.

Chandler Smith of Brewster scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds (8 defensive boards) in helping lead the No. 21 Gonzaga women’s basketball team to a 70-67 win over Missouri State on Dec. 16.

Smith, who is second on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg), played a team-high 34 minutes and also had three assists.

Jill Townsend of Okanogan played 20 minutes for six points five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

The No. 21 Zags (10-1) hold the best-ever start for the women’s, are on a six-game win streak and lead the West Coast Conference.

Past Gonzaga teams have been to Elite Eight (2011) and to four Sweet 16s, the most recent in 2015 under current head coach Lisa Fortier.

The team is averaging more than 5,000 fans a game, up from 1,500 from 10 years ago.

The Zags have wins over UNLV (70-59), Washington State (76-53), Eastern Washington (63-51), Rutgers (57-40) and Stanford, which was No. 8 when it fell, 79-73.

The lone loss was 81-65 to defending national champ and then-No. 1 Notre Dame, where the Zags were in the game until early in the second half.

Should postseason start now, Gonzaga is projected as a No. 6 seed.

The Zags play a nine-player rotation where everyone plays more than 10 minutes a game.

Townsend, a 5-11 sophomore guard, is taking advantage of her playing time. She’s come off the bench in all 11 games to average nine points on 52 percent shooting (best on the team for players in six or more games) and five rebounds (third best on team).

Although three-point shooting continues to be a problem, Townsend sank a huge trey and Smith made a shot in the final three minutes in the Stanford win.

Korin Baker of Curlew and Joe Koepke of Republic were recent class 1B winners announced by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association in its WIAA/Wendy's Athlete of the Week.

Baker, a junior, was the week 15 winner (Dec. 2-8) after she scored 26 points in leading the Cougars past Selkirk, 47-36.

Koepke, a senior, was the week 16 winner (Dec. 9-15) after producing eight points and nine rebounds (five offensive) against Curlew. He also scored nine points and pulled down 18 rebounds (nine offensive) against Cusick.

Each week throughout the school year, the WIAA recognizes varsity athletes who exhibited an outstanding performance for the previous week (based off of nominations).

All varsity level students in good academic standing at their schools are eligible to receive the WIAA/Wendy’s Athlete of the Week Award.

Students may win the award once during any given academic year.

Nominations are open to athletic administrators, coaches, fans and members of the media, with a weekly deadline of Tuesday at noon PT.

Tim and Gail Norman laid down 300 pinochle on Dec. 18 at the Eagles in Okanogan.

There would not be any cards the week of Christmas, said spokesman Buck Workman.

High scores: 7,900, Doug Ralston. 7,590, Vicki Harland and Berent Culp tied. 7,580, Joe Feddersen.

Partners with 300 pinochle: Jim Serles and Peggy Myers; Yank Clark and Valerie Murray; Norma Lawson and Dee Tarnowski; Tim and Gail Norman; Pat Byrd and Dee Tarnowski; Dee Tarnowski and Doug Ralston; Joe Feddersen and Mike Serles; Tim Norman and Mike Serles; Vicki Harlan and Peggy Myers; Buck Workman and Paul Steuermann; Berent Culp and Mike Serles; Jim Serles and Berent Culp.

The Omak No. 1 bowling team earned 30 points, Omak No. 2 won 14 points and Omak No. 3 got 15 points in the Central Washington Travel League Dec. 9 at Eastmont Lanes.

High scores (game, series): Bryden Goyne 234, 606. Bryson Goyne 214, 575. Logan Stensgar 199, 552. Josh Fleming 215, 528. Maesun Matt 190, 506. Jayson Hubbard 175, 477. Carlie Reddington 174, 473. Alberto Moomaw 157, 452. Bishop Stensgar 157, 450. Clay Goetz 165, 448. Ayden Pierce 144, 407. Skyler Christie 167, 389. Julianna Utigard 144, 382.

Standings: 1, Moses Lake No. 1, 92. 2, Wenatchee, 85. 3, Omak No. 1, 78. 4, Eastmont, 69. 5, Omak No. 3, 35. 6, Omak No. 2, 34. 7, Moses Lake No. 2, 26.

In junior varsity play, Omak No. 1 won 29 points and Omak No. 2 won seven points.

High scores: Jovan Mercado 244, 612. Aspen Hoover 199, 512. Deacon Matt 203, 501. Ryan Goyne 170, 459. Malikh Matt 145, 414. Jaylene Hubbard 147, 387. Garrett Hoover 125, 344. Kylee Goyne 110, 289.

JV standings: 1, Eastmont No. 1, 97. 2, Omak No. 1, 90. 3, Moses Lake, 66. 4, Omak No. 2, 48. 5, Eastmont No. 2, 44.

The Loup Loup Ski Bowl west of Okanogan partially opened on the weekend, with only the bottom portion open for skiing.

Al Camp is the sports editor at The Chronicle. Email him at sports@omakchronicle.com.

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